The Flintstone Flyer is known for two things—it was the first Flintstones cartoon to appear on TV (the 56th anniversary was yesterday), and it features Fred Flintstone’s tippy-toe bowling animation.
The whole cartoon was animated by Carlo Vinci from what looks like layouts by Walt Clinton. Carlo, as you may know, was brought out to MGM by Joe Barbera in 1956 and was one of the first employees of Hanna-Barbera Enterprises when it was set up in 1957. Clinton was a layout man and animator for Tex Avery at MGM until the Avery unit closed in March 1953, then worked as an animation director for Kling Studios at the very address where Hanna-Barbera set up shop in 1957.
Carlo’s first go-around with Fred Flintstone doesn’t look as polished as the Flintstones cartoons became. But he certainly is expressive. Carlo had some standard mouth shapes and angles he used on characters during his time at Hanna-Barbera that you can see below, though he shied away from churning out the same old extremes.
Here are some poses from the scene where Fred realises that Barney’s pedal-copter really can fly. Carlo used diving exits like this all the time, going back to his days at Terrytoons.
Here’s artwork from the scene where Alan Reed ad-libbed Fred yelling “Yabba dabba doo!”
Fred flapping his fingers like a bird.
Some frames from another exit.
And another. Carlo gives us three different versions of Fred rushing out of frame in the first half of the cartoon. (Ignore the DVNR on the last frame).
You can find Carlo’s big teeth in Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw cartoons. I don’t think he used them very often after this Flintstones cartoon.
I could post all kinds of frames from the cartoon but we’ll end with some drawings of Fred faking a head injury to get out of going to the opera with Wilma.
Not only was Carlo one of the star animators at Hanna-Barbera at the time, he could turn out footage quickly. He was ideal for a half-hour series. He animated a number of other Flintstones cartoons that first season, all on his own—The Split Personality, At the Races and The Golf Champion among them.
Carlo Vinci died in 1993 but he’s getting recognition all these many years later. Not only on animation blogs and websites, but there was recently an exhibition of some of his work in Tucson. You can read about it here.