Did you know there was an Indian reservation on or near Jellystone Park? There wasn’t in the TV cartoons but, time and time again, native stereotypes from a reserve make appearances in the Yogi Bear Sunday comics. It happened twice out of the five comics from 50 years ago this month. Two other comics feature bees and the fifth has a worm that’s smarter than the smarter than the average bear.
Yogi was still syndicated on TV but I’ve found more and more newspapers dropped his comic strip (for example, when these strips were published, people in parts of Southern California could watch Yogi on Tuesdays on KTLA 3, KCOP 13 on Thursdays and Fridays on KOGO 10). However, by sheer accident, I’ve discovered the Ogdensburg Journal in New York had a two-page Sunday comic section starting at the end of January 1965. One page was the full Yogi Bear and Flintstones colour comics. Better still, it appears the copies of the newspapers on-line are not some photocopies of old scratchy microfilms; they look like the papers were put through a scanner. So hurray for the New York State Historic Newspapers Site.
Boo Boo is sure getting a kick out of the plumber gag that ends the October 3rd comic. Note the embarrassment lines around Yogi’s head in the final panel. Ranger Smith makes a cameo appearance. It seems odd that the hammy Yogi would suddenly bolt from having his picture taken, but the writer had to get to the plot. You think a comic would be able to get away with “redskin” today?
A worm jumping in a hole to escape isn’t terribly creative, but that’s what we get in the October 10th comic. I like how the worm thinks an exclamation mark to himself. Yogi has conjoint eyes when he wakes up. Boo Boo makes a cameo appearance. Yogi reads in italics in the opening panel; was this common in comics? I’ve always liked how the words emitted by characters and things form designs; Yogi’s “Zzzzz” and the clock’s “Rrrrring” are good examples.
The less said about the rebus groaner than ends the October 17th comic, the better. Dig the goofy horse in the top row with the masked eyes and a transistor radio accompanied by a fox tail. The double Yogi in the third row is effective. Final panel note: yes, kids did steal road signs years ago (today, they steal 420 mileposts). The final panel also shows the princess has an almost Boo Boo doll and is a fan of some singer with a Beatles haircut.
Bees play only an incidental role in the October 23rd comic and really have nothing to do with the plot. Many papers chopped off the top row of the three-row versions of comics so it has to be written to be dispensable. Ranger Smith should have known the punch line in the final panel might happen; he already points out that Yogi is clumsy. Considering the way the apple tree bends at a 90 degree angle, it’s more like a rubber tree.
The artist in the October 31st comic draws Yogi in a variety of positions. I like how bees are swirling around the hive-head in the final panel. Do beehives really get that big? Boo Boo has an uncharacteristic sneaky smirk. This comic has another thin silhouette panel in the top row; four of the five comics this month feature one.
As usual, you would be smart to go to Mark Kausler’s site to see the comics above in full colour along with his expert insights.
We’re on a month-to-month basis with these comic reprints (and with the blog, for that matter) but we can guarantee another edition of Yogi Bear comics in four weeks. The highlight is a special appearance by Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey.