Military tests in a protected national park? I doubt it would happen in real life, but we saw it twice in the Yogi Bear TV series in the early ‘60s and we see it again in the Yogi newspaper comics. Something we don’t see in the Sunday comics 50 years ago this month is Boo Boo. Yogi could carry a cartoon on his own—and did in the first season of the Huckleberry Hound Show when Joe Barbera, Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon worked on stories—so the little bear-type buddy’s absence really isn’t noticed.
A kind reader named Richard Holliss has sent me his large collection of coloured Yogi Bear and Flintstones Sunday comics. It’s not a complete run but covers parts of about 4 ½ years. The full broadsheet versions of the comics take up three rows. The tabloid versions of Richard’s comics are four rows, but in order to fit them on the page, one small panel in the top row (usually the second panel) had to be deleted. I’ll have to describe the missing panel in each comic. My great thanks to Richard for volunteering to help.
If you can follow all that, let’s carry on.
Yes, there’s a leprechaun family living in a tree in Jellystone. And in the August 7th comic, the plot is one of those “be careful what you wish for” routines like the cartoon where Yogi got the golden touch from a genie and turned everything into pic-a-nic baskets. Neither Yogi nor the fish seem impressed with the pond of pink goop in the final panel. It’s not exactly magically delicious. Gene Hazelton’s layouts always have intelligent use of space. He needed something to take up the space over the pond so he invented a tree with a branch and birds sitting on it. The leprechaun spell-casting within an “O” is pretty creative, too. The missing panel has Yogi with a wide, crooked, close-mouthed smile and saying “Hmmm!”
Yogi is, indeed, smarter-than-the-average bear in the August 14th comic. He comes up with an instant messaging system, at least. I like the attention to detail on the pipeline. The missing (third) panel has Ranger Smith half-way through the doorstep of the ranger station, running out, his left hand holding down the brim of his hat (he must be going fast), saying “I wonder what the trouble is.” Yogi is in the background with two curved lines next to his head like he’s shaking it a bit in surprise (Peanuts comics did this frequently).
How about this comic from August 21st? Yogi’s not only expressive, but care is given to how he’s holding his rifle as he goes through his test. I’d never think of drawing it above the head and held upside down like in the ravine jump panel, but it seems accurate to me. The design of the drill sergeant has that mid-‘60s Hanna-Barbera look. Iwao Takamoto’s influence, perhaps? I like the sign on the tree in the opening panel and the little birdies sitting on top. The missing panel has a silhouette of Yogi, with two fir trees in the distance, saying “Hmmm...What’s that up ahead?”
Well, you smug Mr. Ranger, Yogi tried to warn you. You wouldn’t listen. In the August 28th comic, Ranger Smith’s son is once again named Kevin. Isn’t that a lovely framing in the top panel of the centre action? The same with Smith hogging the kid’s pool in the second row. The missing panel has a head shot of the Ranger in quarter view, drumming his fingers against his face, saying “Hmmm...I wonder?!?” There are drops of sweat drawn is the air around his face.
Next month, Boo Boo returns, Cindy shows up and Yogi uses his ingenuity. We have full-colour versions of all four September 1966 comics to post.