Saturday, March 8, 2014

Augie Doggie — Growing, Growing, Gone

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
No credits. Layout – Tony Rivera?, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas?, Written by Mike Maltese, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Peggy Poodle – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961.
Plot: Augie decides to act like a grown-up.

There’s a question that has been debated by generations of Hanna-Barbera cartoons fans without a successful conclusion—what happened to Mrs. Doggie Daddy, anyway? She’s as mysterious a figure as, well, if you want a somewhat appropriate analogy, Jimmy Durante’s Mrs. Calabash.

“Growing, Growing, Gone” may supply us with a clue.

There were few female characters in the Augie Doggie cartoons. The next door neighbour in “Treasure Jest” was one. There was the librarian in “It’s a Worm Day.” And, to the left, you see Peggy Poodle. She’s a friendly character who offers to share her lollypop with Augie and tells him she likes him. Augie responds by running as fast as he can for home to get away from her. “Dat’s my who’s growin’ up,” Daddy cheerfully tells us in response. So, we’re left to conclude that Doggie Daddy ran away from his wife years ago and took Augie with him.

(Actually, I suspect the explanation for the lack of a Mrs. Doggie Daddy is partly because Hanna-Barbera worked with a two-character dynamic—Yogi and Boo Boo, Quick Draw and Baba, Chopper and Yakky—with a third character used only as an antagonist/lifestyle interrupter).

Peggy is standing in front of stylised isosceles triangles that are standing in for trees, so I’m presuming the layouts were handled by Tony Rivera. I have two versions of this cartoon and that credits are incorrect on both. I’m really not well-versed on H-B artists after a certain period. For example, the cop in this cartoon is designed with fortune cookie ears. I’ve seen that before but haven’t really compared all the 1961-62 season cartoons to see who liked drawing incidental characters that way.

As for the background artist, both Bob Gentle and Dick Thomas used loops to signify foliage in bushes and by this time, both were using sketchy zig-zags to indicate patches of grass. I’m leaning toward Thomas because of the blue sky and the fairly literal way the exterior of the house is drawn. I haven’t tried to go back and compare artwork on the walls in previous cartoons (either Augie or Pixie and Dixie). Here are some of the backgrounds.



The animator’s even more of a mystery to me, so I put the question to Howard Fein, who’s pretty good at spotting the animators from the Flintstones/Jetsons/Top Cat period of the studio’s life. He thinks it’s John Boersma. The first thing that caught my attention is Doggie Daddy’s eye is partly above his head in the opening scene.



There are some quick exits in this cartoon and they’re all drawn differently. One has brush-strokes, but no character outline, like Hicks Lokey drew.



This one has a character outline, like Brad Case drew in several cartoons.



And there’s one that’s just a standard character-runs-away cycle. Here are a couple of scrunch takes.



Mike Maltese has come up with the kind of story we expect out of Mike Maltese. Augie wants to use a carving knife to sharpen his pencil. No, Daddy says, he’s too young for that. Dialogue sample:


Augie: You’re laughing at me, thoughtless dad. And I abhor ridicule.
Daddy: Dat’s my boy dat said dat. And I wish I knew what it meant.
Augie: Well, it simply means “let there be hilarity and mirth, but let it be tempered with a certain reserve signifying a consideration for the feelings of others.”
Daddy: Never-the-none-the-less, it’s time all little smart boys were in bed. Ipso factori.

Eventually, Daddy tells him the outside world will make him grow up, so Augie runs away into the outside world. That’s Maltese’s set-up for a typical Augie Doggie cartoon story—Doggie Daddy tries various things in front of his son and fails miserably. In this case, it’s trying to go home. Dear old dad apparently didn’t learn in “Watch Dog Augie” or “Pint Giant” that whenever he disguises himself, it never works. It doesn’t here.

● Daddy pretends to be a “spooky ghost.” Augie thinks he’s silly and bashes him twice with one of those satchels on a stick that runaway kids and hoboes have in cartoons. Maltese fits in a “fugitive” reference: “Go haunt a house, you fugitive from a clothesline,” the annoyed Augie says to the ghost.
● “Stick ‘em up, varmint,” says a mustachioed daddy, who claims to be Two-Gun Canafraz, a “really Western outlaw.” Varmint? Canafraz? Maltese is drinking the Warner Bros. cartoon sauce again (yes, “Super Rabbit” with Professor Canafraz was written by Tedd Pierce, but Maltese was at the studio then). Augie dispatches him with a slingshot. There’s an “Abilene” reference, like in one of Maltese’s Quick Draw McGraw cartoons, “Locomotive Loco.”
● “Robin Hood Daffy” anyone? Augie demands that the disguised Daddy prove he’s really Robin Hood. Daddy shoots the hat off a cop (not an Irish one) instead of nailing an airborne duck.

The cartoon ends with the aforementioned Peggy Poodle scene.

Only six Augie Doggie cartoons were made in 1961-62, the final season in first-run for “The Quick Draw McGraw Show.” The Capitol Hi-Q library has been dispatched to gather dust and Hoyt Curtin’s cues are used on them all. That means Flintstones music. “And That’s the Story” accompanies the opening scene where Daddy and Augie are talking and you should recognise “Chase” when Augie’s running away from potential romantic entanglement.

3 comments:

  1. This is almost like one of the early Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy shorts: "Pup Plays Pop." There's one bit where Augie puts on glasses and he has a smoke pipe in his mouth and says to his dad: "Hey Mister, have you got a light." I'm also wondering who the mystery animator is. "Treasure Jest" is another Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy short with a mystery animator. I like finding out who are the animators are to these cartoons.

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  2. Thanks for the nod, Yowp. I remember seeing this cartoon with the (apparently) correct credits on Cartoon Network in the mid-1990s. There was an MCMLXI copyright and no 'jump' between the title sequence and the title card, which usually signals the wrong set of credits stuck in before the wrong cartoon.

    John Boersma's animation is kind of 'Ken Muse Lite' the same way Emil Carle's is- but even liter. Before seeing him credited on specific cartoons, I used to assume Boersma's animation was Carle's. Characters tend to have pear-shaped mouths when speaking, and their eyes are large when opened. Since Boersma only did a handful of cartoons with Augie, Snoop & Blab, Huck and the Flintstones, it's hard to really get a handle on his style.

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  3. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    There's an Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy episode from the 2nd season (1960-61) of The Quick Draw McGraw Show (Hanna-Barbera/Columbia Pictures, 1959-62) which's missing.
    I'm refering to Ape to Z (which involves a playful gorilla, looking like Wee Willie).

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