If I had to pick my favourite character designer at Hanna-Barbera, it’d be no contest. This blog is devoted to the studio’s earliest cartoons, all of which were brightened by the hand and imagination of designer Ed Benedict. He’s responsible for Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Ruff and Reddy, Quick Draw McGraw, the Flintstones and the Rubbles and a bunch of alley cats (Top and otherwise). Rarely did he get screen credit at the time except for whenever he drew layouts. Benedict’s designs were, as someone put it to me, “made workable” for the animators by Dick Bickenbach, who put them on model sheets.
My bias toward Benedict and Bick doesn’t mean I don’t recognise the enormous contributions to the studio by Iwao Takamoto. Iwao arrived at H-B in 1961 and pretty soon made his mark. He designed Astro on “The Jetsons.” He’s responsible for a bunch of characters in the studio’s first feature “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear,” including a dog shaped like a canister-style vacuum cleaner that was named Mugger and later found life as Muttley. He came up with Dick Dastardly and Penelope Pitstop. Then there was a Great Dane...Scooby something-or-other. We’ll leave the list right there, but it’s a lengthy one.
Iwao co-wrote a great book (with Mike Mallory), published in 2009, about his life and his career at Hanna-Barbera. Some time ago, his step-daughter, Leslie E. Stern, mentioned to me she was going to write a book about Iwao. It’s been available for some time but, somehow, I missed a chance to tell you about it.
I can’t give you a review because I haven’t read the book. However, Christine Pullara of channel 11 in Atlanta has, and she interviewed Leslie not that long ago. Watch their chat below by clicking on this link (I can’t embed it here without it automatically playing whenever you land on this post). And you can check out other reviews on Leslie’s site, including ones by Mallory, Jerry Beck and Leonard Maltin, all of whom are extremely well-versed in the Hanna-Barbera of the 1960s.
If you’re interested, and you should be, the book is available through Amazon.com.