Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Flintstones Weekend Comics, May 1970

There’s a lot of Pebbles but nary a sight of Betty and Barney in the Flintstone newspaper comic run for this month 49 years ago. She’s at the centre of one comic and kind of provides the commentary for another.


I’ve never been all that crazy about Pebbles think-talking in the comics, though it’s perfectly understandable why she was written that way. In the May 3rd comic, she has trouble parsing sentences.


Fred’s fireplace is still burning a week later. There’s even a picture on the mantle two weeks in a row. What continuity! The look of self-congratulatory pride on Fred at the end of the May 10th comic is lovely.


Yes, the tree surgeon is Joe Stoner. Yes, when this comic was written “stoner” had the same meaning you think of today. Maybe that’s why he fell out of the tree. The artist only has solid colour for the background of the small panels but can get elaborate in the longer ones. It seems to me that baby talk by Pebbles is fairly rare in the comics. The May 17th comic is the only one with the title hanging down (from a tree?) on a sign.


The storyman didn’t bother coming up with a gag in the optional top row of the May 24th cartoon; it really is a throwaway. Nice to see Dino, even if he isn’t really doing anything. Note the separate beds.


Forget that Cactus Cooler stuff. They had coffee in the Stone Age. It probably came from Juan Valdeztone. I like the silhouette characters in the May 31st comic. Note the heart-shaped word balloon.

You can enlarge the comics by clicking on them.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Piano Hands

Yogi Bear is a concert pianist in one of those little cartoons between the cartoons on the Yogi Bear Show.

Ed Love has Yogi at the piano a good period of time, so he’s got to do something to make sure the scene isn’t static. Yogi moves his hands to suit the dialogue and we get some nice expressions. I like the jagged Yogi when Boo Boo walks in playing the trumpet off key.



We profiled Love in this post. And if you haven’t heard him talk about his career, Harvey Deneroff did a quick interview with him years ago which can be found on Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research site.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Arnold Stang on Top Cat

Arnold Stang was busier outside the studio than in it in 1961.

Variety of July 19th of that year reported he was hitting the promo circuit for the animated feature film Alakazam the Great. Then it blurbed on September 29th that he’d be doing the same thing for Top Cat.

Stang was assisted on his tour by Arnie Carr’s press kit. The same phrases and quotes are found in various local newspaper interviews with Stang, such as the tale about “The Raven.”

The column below was published by the Akron Beacon Journal on December 17, 1961. Already, T.C. was in trouble in the Neilsens. The story talks of 28 episodes but a total of 30 appeared in prime time. His selection actually was a complex thing, but he doesn’t get into it in this particular interview. One of the syndication services revealed (this comes from the North Adams Transcript of October 21, 1961):

Arnold Stang was the last actor to have an audition for the voice of "Top Cat," the cartoon feline. Dozens of actors were tested and complete shows were made with other actors Michael O'Shea, Mickey Shaughnessy and Daws Butler. They had about settled on Butler when Stang was given a chance. After one reading, he was signed.
Fred Danzig of UPI reported on May 17, 1961 that Stang had replaced O’Shea. Evidently O’Shea didn’t have the role long. Variety reported on May 9th that O’Shea had the job (there was no mention of Butler but mentioned other actors previously cast).

Top Cat, to me, is one of those the-parts-are-greater-than-the-whole shows. The voice casting was very good and I love the cues Hoyt Curtin wrote for it, but the stories and characters don’t really connect with me. They did with others and T.C. still has a loyal band of fans. Stang does, too. Count me as part of that one.


Stang Is 'Top Cat's' Meow
Work's Steady But Nobody Sees Him
By RICHARD LAKE
After knocking around the comedy world for all but 10 of his 37 years, bespectacled little Arnold Stang finally has landed a steady job in a major role.
But now that he's on television regularly, nobody ever sees him.
Stang provides the voice of ABC's Top Cat in the animated cartoon series of the same name. It's seen here Wednesdays at 8:30 on WEWS. His selection for the role of "Top Cat" was "a complex thing," he quips.
"They called and asked if I'd like to do a show. I said, 'Does it pay? and 'I'll take it'."
Most of his jobs didn't come that easily. Like many other comedians, Stang, at the ripe old age of 10, thought his true calling was serious drama.
The skinny, squeaky-voiced boy stood before producers of a big-time New York radio show and recited Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." The producers doubled up with laughter.
"The Raven" isn't supposed to be funny. But Stang's audition fractured them.
"I was heartbroken when they laughed," says Stang. "But the wounds healed quickly when I was given a part on the show."
Somehow it's hard to picture Stang as a show biz VIP.
He's five-three and weighs 120 pounds with his horn-rimmed glasses on.
You could mistake him for a pin boy who has been out of work since automation hit the bowling alleys.
He also has popping eyeballs, a receding chin and a funny voice and could get laughs almost regardless of what he says.
Over the years, Stang has done about everything from acting in soap operas on radio to selling chocolate bars on television.
In radio days, he played Seymour in "The Goldbergs" and Gerald [sic] on the Henry Morgan show. In addition, he made guest appearances with comedians Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor, Milton Berle and the late Fred Allen.
When show business jobs were meager, he delivered telegrams and later packages for a New York ski shop.
For a while he pushed chocolate on a TV commercial. ("Whatta hunk-a-chocolate.")
In one of his first TV roles, Stang became Francis, the wise-cracking stagehand on "The Milton Berle Show."
Now working for Hanna-Barbera Productions, Stang has made 28 "Top Cat" shows and is still putting them out.
"We spend more money on writers alone than many of the big specials on TV," say Stang. "Each show costs about $67,000."
It took a staff of about 200 four and a half months to do 14,000 drawings and the scripts Top Cat has used so far. Dubbing in voices takes another eight hours for each show.
Stang stopped briefly in Cleveland recently to plug the show which apparently needs some sort of a boost. "Top Cat" is opposite the Joey Bishop Show and Checkmate and has the lowest rating of the three.
"I don't believe much in those ratings or that they are necessarily representative of the show's popularity," Stang snaps.
Stang agrees that the success of the "Flintstones" in 1960 brought the onslaught of the animated cartoons this season. However, he says, "The "Flintstones," (no pun intended) is much more "primitive" than "Top Cat."
Does he think there are too many cartoons? "Definitely not!"
"If there are two poorly produced shows on TV then there are two too many, Stang adds. "This goes for any type of show."
Stang feels "Top Cat" is a well-produced family show.
"The dialogue appeals to the adults and the pictures appeal to the children. I think it's a very happy marriage."
Stang uses a new personality for Top Cat to differentiate the cat from his "Arnold Stang type character." "I'm trying to develop new Arnold Stang catch phrases for Top Cat."
"Top Cat is someone the viewers can easily identify with someone else they know. Maybe it's the guy down the street or their boss or even their mother-in-law," he says.
"It's been proven that the shows that last and are popular must have a strong identification with the audience."
After signing for the "Top Cat" role, Stang moved his family from New Rochelle, N. Y., to Hollywood. It was a bad move for the Stangs.
They lost their home in the Bel-Air fire this Fall. "The only one at home was the maid," says Stang.
"That's the thing about these fallout shelters," he quips, "the only people that'll be saved are the maids."
He hopes to rebuild in the Spring.
Stang and his wife JoAnne have a son David, 11, and a daughter, Deborah, 10.
"We spend a lot of time reading, and often in the evening after we've read the paper we'll all sit down and discuss it," says Arnold.
TV is out for the kids on school nights except, of course, for "Top Cat."
What do they think of pop's show?
"They like it," says Stang, "but they let me know when there's something on the show they didn't like."
A confirmed do-it-yourself fan, Stang wired his California home for hi-fi by crawling through the attic "because I didn't want to cut holes in the wall."
He learned his lesson at his New York home. After knocking a hole in the wall, he found a wooden beam that wasn't supposed to be there.
So he called in a carpenter to tackle this job, and then the hole was so big he hired a plasterer to fill it.
In the meantime, Stang bought a large picture to cover the gaping hole.
Besides his work with "Top Cat" Stang is making occasional appearances on other TV shows such as Wagon Train and Ed Sullivan's.
And he's working on an MGM film, "The Brothers Grimm." He plays Rumpelstiltskin.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Catty Castle

Huck and the rest of the main players on his show spend a day at the sea shore in a little series of vignettes before we’re requested to join them again next week. Yogi dives into the beach at low tide, Huck gets caught in a beach umbrella, while Pixie and Dixie fix Jinks, who has been destroying their sand castles.



Ghost drawings as Pixie and Dixie make a run for it.



Jinks falls for the meeces’ trickery.



Now the punch line. Jinks does a variation of his catchphrase. “You know, I despises them mizes,” he tells the viewers at home.



The Yogi animation with the circular mouth and head movements (not seen here) reminds me of Ed Love but I can’t be certain who did this (never ask me to pick out La Verne Harding animation).

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, May 1970

Some nicely drawn expressions and some well-composed final panels highlight the Yogi Bear comics that appeared in Sunday papers this month in 1970.


Gene Hazelton’s designs are getting more stylised, just as they did in the Sunday Flintstones comics. Other than Yogi and Ranger Smith, everyone has big eyes. The spelling leaves a bit to be desired in the May 3rd comic. “Sandwhich”? The hat on butt is a nice touch in the final panel as Mrs. Chester beats the pic-a-nic out of him.


May 10th: Look! It’s spelling bees! (I wonder if that was intentional). A squirrel is being fed by Art in the opening panel.


The bear in the opening panel on May 17th is almost coy enough to be a Chuck Jones character. Yogi comes to his senses at the end. Women? Bah! Stick with cartoons and food. It would have been cool if he’d been watching a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. This is Boo Boo’s first appearance for the month.


How many kids does Ranger Smith have? The one in the May 24th comic looks different than the one earlier this month. Lots of detail in the final panel and in the first one on the second row. How can you give a bear a traffic ticket? One-Warning Watson is played by Hal Smith (just kidding).


More squirrels in the May 31st comic, note how one is looking in the game warden’s bag in the second row. I love the splashing fish; they’re reminiscent of the trout Yogi battled in Stout Trout (1958) which, quite possibly, were Dan Gordon designs. Boo Boo makes a return appearance and there’s a silhouette panel.

In case you didn’t notice, Yogi doesn’t rhyme once this month.

Click on any comic to make it bigger.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Hey There

Yogi Bear provides a great example of the power of press kits.

Movie studios sent (at least they did at one time) news releases, publicity photos and other paraphernalia to help get free newspaper ink for their latest feature. 1964’s Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear was no exception. A peek through number of archives shows an unbylined “story” about the cartoon film soon to arrive on screens. Paragraphs are identical, showing some papers simply took the Columbia handout and put it in type, while others did a bit of a re-write, perhaps to fit space.

This version was found in the Messenger-Inquirer of Owensboro, Kentucky on July 19, 1964.

'Hey There, It's Yogi Bear'
Is Cartoon Character's 1st Movie

Yogi Bear, that brashly unconventional cartoon character who is the delight of vistors to Jellystone National Park—when, that is, he isn't stealing baskets—makes his motion picture debut on Thursday at the Malco Theatre in the Hanna-Barbera production, "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!" A Columbia Pictures release in color, the full-length cartoon feature also stars Yogi's Jellystone Park friends— Cindy, the demure little lady bear; Boo Boo and Ranger Smith.
Supplementing the comic romantic antics of television's favorite cartoon hero in his first full-length picture are six sparkling new songs written by Ray Gilbert and Doug Goodwin. They are the title song, "Ven-e, Ven-o Ven-a," "Like I Like You," "Wet Your Whistle," "St. Louie" and "Ash Can Parade." The music score is by Marty Paich.
Yogi's troubles begin with the advent of spring, when he decides to challenge Ranger Smith's "No Feeding the Bears" signs. Either the signs must go, or Yogi will go. Ranger Smith arranges to send him to the San Diego Zoo.
At the final hour, Yogi changes places with another bear and determines to remain incognito in Jellystone National Park. He will be "The Brown Phantom," raiding picnic areas forever, to the continuing consternation of Ranger Smith. Unfortunately, Cindy Bear doesn't know about Yogi's plans; she arranges to follow him out of the park. Lovesick, Yogi must now find Cindy; his sidekick Boo Boo helps. Ultimately, they do catch up to the lady bear, now with the Chizzling Brothers circus. Yogi's efforts to rescue her lead to his own capture.
"Hey There, It's Yogi Bear" reportedly gives Yogi the kind of role he likes. As he puts it, "It's a great part, with lots of heart. I play myself—brave, darling and smart!"
Joseph Barbera, Warren Foster and William Hanna penned screenplay for "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!" Hanna and Barbera directed and produced the cartoon comedy. Daws Butler is the voice of Yogi Bear and Don Messick co-stars as the voices of Boo Boo and Ranger Smith.
Naturally, there were all kinds of tie-ins. Perhaps the nicest one was a 45 that Kellogg’s sent fans. Want to hear it? You can thank our friend Mark Christiansen, a fine artist and a fan of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons.





In case you havent read it, Greg Ehrbar went into great detail about the Hey There soundtrack in this post on Cartoon Research some time ago.

Now you just knew that we’d have other old Yogi merchandise to show you. None of this is related to the movie, but comes from around the time Yogi got his own series.

Whitman made a punch-out book of the Huckleberry Hound show characters (Yowp included, I hasten to add). They did one for the Yogi Bear show, too. Hokey Wolf got included because, well, they had to put him somewhere. You can see the pre-“Hey There” design of Cindy was used.



During the ‘60s Transogram had a number of Yogi Bear toys and games it licensed from Hanna-Barbera. There was a ball toss, a ring toss, a Go Fly a Kite board game, and this Pencil-by-Number set.



There was a Yogi bubble pipe from Transogram in 1963.



Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear wasn’t a huge success when it came out in 1964 or in its re-release in 1986. But it seems to have attracted more than kids, according to this story in Variety, September 2, 1964:
Color Them Adult
Californians are different.
This became apparent to members of Columbia's home-office publicity people when they recently reviewed the entries submitted in a nation-wide cartoon coloring contest held in connection with "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear."
Approximately 5,000 entries were received and most, understandably, were from tots. However, among those sent in from California were more than a handful from people who, one might assume, should have other things on their minds. The winning entry was submitted by a gent of 77. Other contestants included a housewife, age 44; a man of 29, and another guy, age 19.
Latter included a statement on the back of his entry attesting to the fact that "I drew this picture myself."
This shows you that Hanna-Barbera cartoons (at least the early ones) are for everyone.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The Present Catches Up to the Future

The future used to be fun.

Today the future, it seems, is a negative, hopeless place of doom. In fiction, even superheroes aren’t very heroic. “Poor me,” they wail, in filmed or drawn frames of dark greys and blacks.

But in the days of the Jetsons, the world looked forward to the future. The TV series was really a culmination and digestion of a variety of sources over the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s which peered happily into a buoyant Universe of Tomorrow, where life would be relaxing and perfect, thanks to science and technology.

Of course, nothing quite worked according to plan. After all, The Jetsons was a comedy show, so some mechanical slapstick came in handy. And I like the idea that somewhere in the future, there’s a dog named Tralfaz that is too adept at pronouncing the letter ‘r.’

You’ve likely read in this blog and elsewhere about how some of the things foreshadowed on the cartoon series (or something similar) have become reality. Hanna-Barbera found that to be a problem when the series was in production. Here’s Joe Barbera talking about it in the October 7, 1962 edition of the Arizona Daily Star out of Tucson.

Barbera’s comment about the series being talked about as early as 1960 perhaps means a future family was one of the ideas that came up when the studio was batting around concept that eventually became The Flintstones.


Hanna, Barbera Meet Space Age Problems
New Series Depicts Future Family Life

By HAL MARSHALL
Star TV Editor
HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 6—It's tough keeping 100 years ahead of the space age!
Sound incongruous? Not to Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, producers of the new TV series, “The Jetsons,” which is carried Sunday by KGUN-TV (Channel 9).
The animated cartoon series battered the opposition in the ratings on its first outing. In addition, it is taxing the imagination of Hanna, Barbera & Co., creators of “Flintstones,” "Yogi Bear” et al.
“The Jetsons” depicts family life in the future—100 years or so hence. There's only one hitch, the present keeps catching up with the future. The idea men come up with a new design for space travel or an imaginative home appliance device for the 21st Century home. They get set to use it in the show and then discover there is something in the works—somewhere in the world—similar.
“Two years ago we started talking about this show,” Barbera explains, “and after six months of planning we found ourselves losing the space race in imagination. We had to scrap a lot of ideas. Speeds we planned on using were already being surpassed (in the 20th Century).”
Barbera went on to list other similarities such as designs at the Seattle World's Fair that approximate a few building designs in “The Jetsons.” A space capsule car showroom is similar to one General Motors has on the has on the drawing boards, Barbera learned recently.
All this has convinced Barbera that “everything we think of will be done.”
The Jetson family consists of a father, mother, teenage daughter and son, eight years old. In case you haven't seen the show, the 21st Century offers an unlimited opportunity for visual sight gags. On cookouts, the family goes to the moon. An afternoon field trip for a high school class might include a jaunt to Europe. The family can spend a week end at Las Venus at the Flamoongo Hotel where all the rooms have built-in dealers and slot machine robots that follow the guests.
The Jetsons have a seeing eye vacuum cleaner that seeks out dust and devours it. However, when Jane Jetson isn't looking the electronic cleaner is apt to sweep the dirt under the rug. The Foodarackacycle fixes meals instantly when fed a punch card designating the type of food desired. George Jetson has a mother-in-law-car with a separate capsule in the rear for his wife's mother. If she does too much back seat driving, he can eject her.
The show also spoofs present-day conditions. In “The Jetsons,” football is played by robots—an obvious take off on today's super athletes in the pro league. “Although we'll be loaded with gags, these are basically warm stories about a family,” Barbera added. But he's still amazed about how fast the present catches up with "The Jetsons” of the future.
"We have a story about the grandfather who retires at 110 and wants to keep busy. The other day, I picked up a newspaper and read where someone is predicting it won't be long before the retirement age is 100 years.”

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Ski Master Huck

“Watch ski master Huck try his luck,” Huckleberry Hound tells us at home watching a little-cartoon-before-the-cartoon. Note the pursed lips and the half-moon eyes.



Huck sees something. Now comes a head shake. What’s interesting is Huck is not animated in a two-drawing or three-drawing cycle like you’d find in a regular, seven-minute cartoon. As far as I can see, each of these are separate drawings, animated one per frame.



Huck’s elongated eye-stare reminds of an expression in a Mighty Mouse cartoon.



Huck crashes through a cabin without a scratch and relaxes as he gets set to enjoy a Huckleberry Hound cartoon.



The dialogue is unmistakably by Charlie Shows, the animation has some of the earmarks of Carlo Vinci.