Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On the News Wire With Huckleberry Hound

It shouldn’t be too surprising that references are made to Hanna-Barbera’s early characters in newspaper stories, given that boomers and post-boomers who watched the cartoons are grown up and writing.

In some cases, the references are clichés. Stories about futuristic inventions may sport a mention of the Jetsons, who first appeared 52 years in the past. Slow, drawling athletes and politician Mike Huckabee get the same of a certain blue hound attached to them. Almost any time a bear is spotted in a neighbourhood foraging for food, you-know-who gets tied into the story’s opening sentence. Stone Age archaeological discoveries, well, I needn’t go further.

(Twitter is a whole different thing. I’ve discovered people name their dogs and nick-name their boy-friends “Yogi Bear.” And some rapper or hip-hopper made a Quick Draw McGraw reference in regards to sex and that got reposted over and over for weeks and weeks).

Anyway, I did some checking on some news sites for Huckleberry Hound and found a few interesting references.

First up is a piece in the Sahuarita Sun in Arizona. The paper interviewed a couple of women who collect records on vinyl. One is 57-year-old Arline Fass. She revealed:

Her early 45s include cartoon character recordings like Quick Draw McGraw and Huckleberry Hound. A record she cut from the back of a cereal box features The Jackson Five.
“I remember being so excited and I wanted to eat the cereal quickly so I could cut the box to get the record,” Fass recalls. “It really plays.”
Apparently her father never cringed at the prospect of a flimsy, cardboard-backed record ruining his turntable’s expensive needle.

Whether vinyl or digital is superior to the other depends on the listener, I suppose. The big problem with LPs (or 45s) for me has been scratches. I don’t like my Capitol Hi-Q albums (and I have some) with loud noises every revolution or crackling noises at the beginning from being cued up.

Well, let us leave records and move on to poetry. The Arizona Daily Sun recently interviewed the state’s Poet Laureate, Alberto Ríos. Surprisingly, there was a reference to Huck in his interview with Seth Miller:

Sun: I saw you at the Tucson Festival of Books in 2014 and you told a story about Huckleberry Hound that I loved, because you talked about how you came to own a certain color. Can you share that story here?
Ríos: So, in 1960, I had saved enough box tops and sent away enough to become a member of the Huckleberry Hound Club. I was 8 years old at the time. One day, I got a big envelope in the mail with my name on it. I got it. It was for me. This was mine. A signet ring came out of the envelope, and it was from the Huckleberry Hound Club. And then I found these 8x10 glossies of the gang and there, among them, was Huckleberry Hound. And he was blue! I grew up with a black-and-white television. So, I did not know that he was blue. Maybe if I grew up in the South and I knew what a huckleberry was, I might have figured it out. But I didn’t know. Suddenly, I saw the world differently, and in an extreme way. It shocked me. And I owned it. I owned the color blue.
We had a black-and-white set through the 1960s. Somehow his colour didn’t surprise me when I saw it on TV for the first time. Either I didn’t care about it, or I had seen it somewhere at age five or so in Hanna-Barbera merchandise my dad bought.

To your right, this aging, but presumably still functioning, red Huckleberry Hound teeter-totter (a number of Huck dolls in the ‘50s and early ‘60s were red coloured) is found in the state of Victoria in Australia. In fact, it was the centre-piece and namesake of an art exhibit there in August. Bronwyn Batson of The Australian profiled a photo exhibit by Glenn Sloggett who, as the story puts it, “has been stalking suburbia in search of the neglected, the unloved and the decaying places on the fringes of Australian society.”

What about Huck? Batson’s piece continues:
His work is also in the collection of the Wangaratta Art Gallery in Victoria, and when I visit the gallery I’m shown Huckleberry Hound (2001) by director Dianne Mangan.
Huckleberry Hound is a photograph of ageing playground equipment, sporting a bow tie and wide grin, in Apex Park, Wangaratta. Mangan says that while the photograph has specific meaning for the artist, it also holds meaning for the residents of Wangaratta.
“The play equipment is located in a section of parkland that regularly floods and the locals measure how severe the flood is by the height of the watermark on Huck’s torso,” she says.
Australia is far from the only country outside the United States and Canada where Huck is known. The early Hanna-Barbera series were dubbed into a number of languages, including Spanish. And it would appear The Huckleberry Hound Show aired in Cuba. Irina Pino in the Havana Times wrote a column several months ago about cartoons. Some people get the impression that an American government embargo left Cuba frozen in 1959. Such is not the case and Ms. Pino has obviously seen a wide-range of cartoons, writing critically about Cuban ones. Her summary of the Huck show:
Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks was a very popular segment of the Huckleberry Hound Show which was divided into three parts. It followed the humorous adventures of these characters who were always getting into trouble. The dog kept changing jobs: his perseverance and optimism made him continue in his efforts, despite the fact he was something of an anti-hero.
Poor Yogi Bear doesn’t warrant a mention. One wonders if Cubans would look upon Yogi as a symbol of Castro subverting the authority of Batista (Ranger Smith).

Finally, we have a music video for a group called Hooton Tennis Club. The DIY Mag website says:

According to the video director Alden Volney, they wanted to “try and recreate the look of a cartoon of the late 60s, more particularly, something that Hanna Barbera could have produced at the time opening with your most basic and naive cartoon premise and taking it to weird places”. For research, he watched “dozens of episodes of Huckleberry Hound and Lippy the Lion”.
Well, Hanna-Barbera was known for its limited animation, but it was never as stiff and school project-ish as Mr. Volney’s effort. The ringmaster character (or whatever he is) resembles an Iwao Takamoto figure from Scooby Doo more than it does anything from Huck or Lippy. The repeating background is a nice homage to the studio but is far too simple compared to the work of Fernando Montealegre or Art Lozzi. Still, I appreciate the fact the director watched some Huck cartoons, and the title is taken from the name of one of Huck’s nemeses. I couldn’t get through the video but perhaps you want to.

5 comments:

  1. Well, that video was... interesting. I agree that it's way more simple than anything H-B ever made, but then what more can you expect from some amateur band? As for the characters, the cat bears a faint resemblance to Fancy-Fancy, and the man looks a bit like Charlie Chan as depicted in "The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan." The music isn't to my taste, but I'm glad H-B is still inspiring people.

    It's awesome that "The Huckleberry Hound Show" aired in Cuba. In a similar vein, I recall reading somewhere that Yasser Arafat was a big "Tom and Jerry" fan; he liked the fact that the mouse usually won. No doubt, he saw Jerry as a symbol for Palestine and Tom as a symbol for Israel. It's nice to know that political differences can only divide us so much. I've always believed good cartoons bring people together; it's reassuring to find examples of this.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing, Yowp.

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    1. Hello to my video is more like a parody of (Don Gato - Top Cat) and (Official Matute - Officer Charlie Dibble)

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  2. I'm familiar with records having " ... crackling noises at the beginning from being cued up." Otherwise know to us old DJs as "cue burns." Records pressed on brittle, inferior plastic instead of good vinyl got cue-burned after three or four plays.

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  3. Boy, do I ever remember those cue burns, especially on Arista, RSO, and Columbia records. Takes my back to my Disc Jockey days. Had a friend that actually had had a cereal cut-out of Huckleberry Hound. His dad out right refused to let us play it on his " Record Player ". Smart move. We had to use the small portable turn table in my friend's room. Had a bad warble sound to it..

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  4. If the director was going for a late '60s H-B look, he should have turned to The Cattanooga Cats for inspiration. Their "psychedelic-lite" music videos would have been a better stylistic fit than this half-baked pseudo-retro hodgepodge.

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