We haven’t talked a lot lately about my favourite Hanna-Barbera cartoon character, Quick Draw McGraw, lately for a couple of reasons. One is all of his cartoons have been reviewed. The other is the series has never been, nor ever will be, released on home video. It means the copies of the cartoons I have are TV dubs with a low resolution and marred with bugs slapped on by cable channels. Removing the bugs is, frankly, too time consuming and not always very satisfactory.
But I want to do a short post involving El Kabong, Quick Draw’s possibly more inept alter ego inspired by writer Mike Maltese’s love of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. as Zorro. Maltese borrowed a few things from his old Warners days to round out El Kabong’s costume. Quick Draw changes into the wrong costume a few times; the same thing happened in Super Rabbit (1943, written by Tedd Pierce). And much like Robin Hood Daffy (1958, written by Maltese), El Kabong swings from a rope (attached to who knows what) only to bash into something instead of landing on his target.
Those cartoons were made back in the days of full animation. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, of course, engaged in what they liked to sell as “planned animation”, a silly term because no animation, by the late 1950s, was unplanned. There were at Hanna-Barbera times—and they increased as the years rolled on—where characters stood rigid as drawings of mouth positions moved across a face, or an arm lifted up and down in two or three positions. But there were other times when a character had to be drawn in full from frame-to-frame; in other words, full animation.
Here’s an example from El Kabong (1959). The animator is Lew Marshall, who was apparently Ray Patterson’s assistant at MGM in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. The villainous Don Chilada engages El Kabong in a sword duel (after assuring the good guy gets a stubby sword). Chilada stabs El Kabong in the butt. The reaction is done in full animation.
There are ten drawings. The first drawing is held for four frames for establishment. Marshall (from story director Alex Lovy or possibly Joe Barbera himself) staggers the timing on the remaining frames. The drawings are held for 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2 and 3 frames respectively, judging by the copy of the cartoon I have. That’s a little under two seconds. Here are the drawings.
This is close to the speed the action plays out on the screen.
The drawings work fine for the way the gag is presented, but I don’t know why Quick Draw doesn’t stop and have a funny take that’s held for a few frames before taking off into the air. Tex Avery was a master of wild takes. Chuck Jones was a master of subtle ones. Bill Hanna could milk a take at MGM, too (ah, those Irv Spence scenes!). Nothing like that is tried here. Even in the previous season, Huckleberry Hound or Mr. Jinks would react to something and you could see the reaction before the character zoomed off screen or there was a cut to the next scene. To me, it’s a bit of a wasted opportunity to make the cartoon even funnier, though there was never anything wrong with El Kabong to begin with.
We reviewed this cartoon way-back-when. You can read the post here. But let’s post a kabongggg! just for fun.