Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Folly That Car!

Extreme continuity was never important in the world of television until maybe the 1980s when fans could tape their favourite programmes at home and obsess over every little detail. Before then, who cared? I didn’t. I still don’t when it comes to the small stuff. In some cases, I find it interesting. Especially in the area of design.

In the early days at Hanna-Barbera in the late ‘50s, story artists came up with panels of drawings of outlining the plot of a cartoon. It would be turned into a finished storyboard by someone like Dan Gordon or Alex Lovy that a layout artist like, say Walt Clinton, could work from and make drawings for the animators. The layout artist was responsible for incidental character designs and props. So it was that things like the Flintstones’ house could vary from cartoon to cartoon, depending on the whim of the layout artist.

The ‘50s may have been a peak when it came to designs of cars. They got pretty tame in the ‘60s, but the previous decade, all kinds of interior and exterior gimmicks were tried by automakers to beat the large number of competitors. Tex Avery satirised the whole thing in Car of Tomorrow (1951). Hanna-Barbera didn’t satirise the auto industry but, instead, reflected it, with layout artists designing cars for cartoons that looked like cars of the late ‘50s but didn’t actually copy any specific makes or models.

Snooper and Blabber was probably more car dependent than any other early Hanna-Barbera series; detectives need transportation to do their job. Snooper and Blabber never had the same car from cartoon to cartoon, but it wasn’t because they had a huge fleet. The layout men simply designed what they felt like. Let’s see how different the cars were.

(Unfortunately, copies of almost all Snooper and Blabber cartoons available on line were taken off TV some years ago and uploaded at a low bit-rate. The quality of the screen grabs isn’t all that good).

1959-60 SEASON

PUSS N’ BOOTY (layout by Walt Clinton)


SWITCH WITCH (Dick Bickenbach)
Bick wasn’t much on doors on quite a number of cars he designed.


REAL GONE GHOSTS (Dick Bickenbach)
The car seems to have lost its doors at the end of the cartoon.


FLEA AND ME (Dick Bickenbach)



DISAPPEARING INC. (Walt Clinton)
The bad guy’s sports car is the second drawing.


BABY RATTLED (Bickenbach)
This is the bad guy’s car. Snooper and Blabber are on foot.


NOT SO DUMMY (Bickenbach)


FEE-FI-FO-FUMBLE (Bickenbach)


MASQUERADER RAIDER (Clinton)


MOTOR KNOWS BEST (Ed Benedict)
This was an auto race cartoon.


MONKEY WRENCHED (Bob Givens)


ADVENTURE IS MY HOBBY (Clinton)


SNAP HAPPY SAPS (Clinton)


THE LION IS BUSY (Clinton)


THE CASE OF THE PURLOINED PARROT (Bickenbach)


POODLE TOODLE-OO (Bickenbach)
Random car driving past


DOGGONE DOG, GONE (Clinton)


WILD MAN, WILD! (Benedict)

1960-61 SEASON



ALA-KAZOOP! (unknown layout artist)


HOP TO IT (Clinton)


BIG CAT CAPER (Paul Sommer)


PRINCE OF A FELLA (Sommer)


FLEA FOR ALL (Don Sheppard)


SURPRISED PARTY (Sommer)

1961-62 Season


ZOOM ZOOM BLABBER (Sheppard)


CHILLY CHILLER (Jerry Eisenberg)

Note that there were 26 cartoons in the first season, 13 in the second and six in the last.

5 comments:

  1. Coming next Wednesday - Chase Lounge: All the Chairs Pixie & Dixie Have Run Past.

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  2. 1/14/16
    RobGems.ca Wrote:
    Imagine what would be if Chevrolet, Ford, Or Chrysler Motor companies did the advertising for the H-B cartoons instead of Kellogg's cereal. Would the cars drawn in these cartoons resemble a Chevrolet Impala, a Ford Galaxie 500, or a Chrysler Imperial? If so, they would have probably been aimed more at adults than children in advertising spots. That car that the top hatted villain is driving in "Flea For All, however almost looks like a Volkswagen Beetle convertible. And don't forget, Screen Gems, Snooper & Blabber's one-time distributor had car manufactures (like Chevrolet and Ford) do commercial endorsements for their other projects like "Bewitched" and "Hazel". "The Monkees "was endorsed by another car advertisement for their Monkeemobile by the Pontiac Motor Company

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  3. It always baffles me that these kinds of "inconsistencies" (if we want to call them that) existed in HB cartoons given that they were so cost conscious. You'd think that they'd re-use the same car cels over for each subsequent cartoon. I don't get why they needed to design and draw a new one for each short (except in cases where another studio or unit took the animation duties).

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    Replies
    1. PS: The same thing goes for recurring backgrounds.

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  4. Very entertaining research, although "top_cat's" comment is funny. In the short-lived 'Snooper and Blabber - Detectives' comic book in the early 60s, the car usually had a checkered fabric top. Not exactly a convertible top, because it didn't meet the car's body at any point. The artist may have been jokingly giving the car a hat like Snoop's.

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