Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Flintstones Weekend Comics, February 1970

If it’s one thing they had in Bedrock, it’s leaky houses. Fred Flintstone deals with (or doesn’t deal with) a leak in two of the four comics that appeared in Sunday newspapers this month 49 years ago. Barney and Betty don’t appear this month; all the comics revolve around Fred, mostly at home.

The gag in the February 1st comic is cute. You’ll notice, unlike the Yogi cartoons, there are plain backgrounds at times in the Flintstone comics. Some small panels only have an off-white colour. This one also has a silhouette panel.

The September 8th comic and the next two include bedroom scenes. Notice how the row of houses exists solely for the gag. We all know Fred’s house has a garage and a little more front law. Note the TV antennas. It really IS the Stone Age. Dino makes his only appearance this month.

Drip Number One shows up on September 15th. So does Pops.

Drip Number Two on September 22nd turns out to be post-nasal drip. Maybe that mastodon caught Fred’s flu from earlier in the month. Other than Pebbles in a window, this is the only time we see her this month.

Click on any of the comics to enlarge them.

My thanks to Richard Holliss for supplying the colour versions.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

The Prowler

The Prowler was the third Flintstones cartoon put into production. Can you guess who the animator was on it?

Fred’s mouth in the frame above is kind of like Carlo Vinci’s work, but not as angular. (Note the thick ink lines on Fred).

This frame should give it away. Only one animator gave Fred a huge open mouth and floppy tongue. That was the great George Nicholas, one of my favourite Hanna-Barbera animators. He did really funny work on the Quick Draw McGraw vs. Snagglepuss cartoons when he came over from Disney, and infused Mr. Jinks with some nice personality poses in Lend-Lease Meece.

More big mouths.

Only Nicholas would do scare animation like this.

Nicholas liked wavy mouths and beady eyes. My favourite wavy mouth/beady eye take is in Dino Goes Hollyrock when Dino learns they’re going to slice off part of his tail to make him more telegenic.

Here’s something I’ve never noticed Nicholas do with Fred before. He closes one eye of a character and holds the drawing. You can see him draw the orange version of Snagglepuss that way in the Quick Draw McGraw cartoon The Lyin’ Lion.

Something else Nicholas did in a couple of Flintstones episodes was dialogue with the eyes closed and an open almost-grin, tilting the head back slightly. You can see the same kind of mouth curvatures in The Hot Piano, another first season Flintstones.

Nicholas doesn’t animate the whole episode. There’s some Ken Muse footage as well. It’s very prosaic next to Nicholas’. Perhaps the studio had to add scenes to lengthen the cartoon. My wild guess is Walt Clinton handled most, if not all, the layouts in this episode.

Nicholas had come to Hanna-Barbera after production of Sleeping Beauty ended at Disney. You can read a short bio from Nicholas’ obituary in this post.

Another great cartoon with Nicholas animation is the....oh, the phone. Pardon me.....Hello, Yowp Request Line, if you want to swoon, we’ve got the tune....What?.....You want to hear that Far East music of Hoyt Curtin’s from The Prowler?.....You got it....And, by the way, what’s your favourite At-Work Cartoon Blog with the Phrase That Pays?.....Oh.....Yeah, I guess that one’s all right. Thanks for calling.

Okay, by request, here are some cues. I think the first three were used in the cartoon. I don’t know about the others. “Jiu Jitsu” and “Chinese Jitsu” are the actual names of the tracks; the other ones weren’t labelled.

I’ve given up embedding media players; you’ll have to click on a title and hope your own player calls it up.


Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Running Ranger

Here’s Carlo Vinci at work in the 1960 Yogi Bear cartoon Gleesome Threesome. Ranger Smith spots Yogi jumping off a diving board and heading straight toward him. Low crotch, high step as the ranger turns.

Carlo doesn’t draw every run cycle in every cartoon the same way. In this scene, he comes up with a high-leg run cycle of four drawings. See how Carlo draws the mouth differently in each drawing and bends a wrist in one of them just to get some variation.

Running in place can look static, even if the cycle lasts for a few seconds. What Bill Hanna or story director Alex Lovy did here was move the cels with the ranger slightly to the right starting at the third frame so it looked like Smith was backing up and not in one place.

Yogi lands on Mr. Ranger in three drawings. Again, this isn’t a case of sliding a cel of Yogi to save animation. If you look at Yogi’s tie in the second drawing, you can see that Carlo made a completely new drawing.

A little later, Carlo gives Yogi one of his head tilts, down, then turns in two drawings, then turns back again. Again, the drawings are not shot the same. Some are a single frame, some of two frames, some on three. It looks less mechanical that way.

Carlo’s drawings were a little cruder and a little more fun two seasons earlier when the Yogi cartoons were brand new. But he is still a big reason why I enjoy the early Hanna-Barbera series.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

The Life of Daws

It sure is nice—right powerful nice, as Huckleberry Hound might say—to see that Daws Butler got a little bit of recognition in the days when Hanna-Barbera and Kellogg’s teamed up to put some enjoyable half-hour cartoons shows on the air in the late 1950s.

Daws worked steadily when he arrived in Hollywood, but he wasn’t a star. He wasn’t even in the same echelon as Mel Blanc who, besides being the voice of Bugs Bunny, was known for his work as supporting actor in some of the top comedy/variety radio shows produced in California, including Jack Benny’s (Blanc was not in the opening credits, but in the 1950s Benny mentioned his name almost in each each show).

This story comes from the Louisville Courier-Journal of February 15, 1959. Huckleberry Hound had been on the air for about five months and Quick Draw McGraw was still in development. It gives a nice little summary of Daws’ career to that point.

The story claims he “became an animator of TV cartoons.” I don’t know if that’s true, but his panel cartoons did appear regularly in a radio magazine in the late 1940s.

There’s no byline to this story so I couldn’t tell you its origin.

Many Voices Keep Butler In Business
Special to The Courier-Journal
HOLLYWOOD, Feb. 14.—The text voice you hear may very well be the voice of Daws Butler—one of his “thousand voices,” that is.
Butler is heard on a myriad of cartoon commercials on television, and provides several voices, on the popular TV cartoon shows “Huckleberry Hound” and “Ruff and Ready.” [sic]
He has been imitating voices since 1935, and has been fooling the sharpest ears in America.
Entered Contest
Uncomfortably shy when in high school in Oak Park, Ill., Butler forced himself into an amateur contest as a kind of self-imposed therapy. He did imitations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Rudy Vallee, both of whom were imitated by more people than any other subjects at that time.
“It worked,” Butler says. “I found it easier to appear before people in a ‘life-of-the-party’ bit if I was appearing as someone other than myself.”
Butler teamed up with two other kids who did imitations, and they formed an act that played around Chicago. The trio wound up with a date at the famous old Blackhawk Restaurant, and Butler found himself in show business.
Forgot Ambition
“I forgot my ambition to be a cartoonist and commercial artist,” he recalls. “I decided I already was a professional entertainer, so I stayed with it.”
During the heyday of radio. Butler studied voices and played the parts of many men in dramatic productions. He likes to recall a solo performance when he played every voice in a radio play which had a dozen characters.
World War II took Butler out of show business for four years. When he returned, he joined with Stan Freberg in 1948 and the two of them did the first television puppet show, a local series on the West Coast.
“We worked the puppets,” says Daws, “did all the voices, and ad libbed like crazy because we had no scripts, and no time to memorize them if we had had them.
Remember Recording?
“We drove directors and cameramen crazy, because when they looked at the scripts and listened to the show, they couldn't find their places in the play.”
The show was successful and made a name for Freberg. The two then collaborated on Freberg's first successful recording, which sold over 1,000,000 copies. Remember “St. George and the Dragnet”?
After this, Butler got back to his first love, cartooning, and became an animator of TV cartoons. He writes and does the voices for over 200 commercial cartoons seen on TV today.
On the N.B.C. show “Ruff and Ready,” Butler is not only the voice of Reddy, but also speaks for Harry Safari, Killer Diller and Pinkie the Elephant. On the companion show, “Huckleberry Hound,” he plays Huck, Yogi Bear, Mr. Jinks and Dixie. Both programs are made by Hanna and Barbera Productions especially for television.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, February 1970

Chuckling Mrs. Ranger Smith? Chuckling Boo Boo? We find them in the Yogi Bear Sunday comics from this month in 1970 (1969 is not available for reprinting).

Mrs. Smith has a new hairstyle in the February 2nd comic. Apparently she’s growing bullrushes in her living room. Mr. Ranger is called “Bill” (as in “Hanna”) this time around. This toned comic was supplied by Richard Holliss from his collection.

Ranger Smith is a friend of little birdies in panel 2 in the February 9th comic. The smarter-than-the-average dentist has figured out an inventive way to pull a tooth.

The February 16th column not only includes Yogi rhymes but backgrounds that must have taken some time to draw and ink.

I still don’t understand why a park has a general, but the general has a dog in the February 22nd comic. For the second time this month, Yogi is making money (though in this comic, I suspect he ends up losing).

Click on any of these comics to make them larger.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Better Than Gobel

TV critics in Florida didn’t waste any time lavishing good opinions upon the brand-new Huckleberry Hound Show. It first appeared on TV on September 29, 1958, though in a number of cities, October 2nd was the show’s start date, including Miami and Tampa.

Two columnists in Florida noticed Huck right away. The first story is from the Miami News of October 8th.

Huckleberry Sharp Hound
Television Writer of the Miami News
As improbable as it sounds, "Huckleberry Hound" is one of the most entertaining new series of the fall television season. This cartoon program, listed as strictly for children, is vastly more entertaining and immeasureably funnier than Jackie Gleason and George Gobel.
It is much more than just another children's program. It is loaded with mild satire, witty dialogue and sharp animation. Children love it, as well they might, and adults will find it a pleasant relief from the massive drivel of new programs that generally are worse than the shows they replaced.
"Huckleberry Hound" is all the things to all men and all children; I can't think of a program capable of appealing to wider, more diversified audience.
If you think I'm kidding tune in Channel 7 tomorrow night at 7 o'clock and take a look at Jinx [sic], a beatnik cat, and Huckleberry himself, patterned after Andy Griffith.
If this one loses, you get my next program choice free.
The Tampa Times also dropped some print plaudits in its October 18th edition. The story is unbylined. It also mentions the other Kellogg’s-sponsored programmes that ran in the same time slot in the other days of the week.
Huckleberry Hound Delightful Cartoon
Designed to delight the youngsters, the 6 to 6:30 P.M. spot, Mondays through Fridays on channel 8, will undoubtedly find lots of grownups looking in. The varied program brings everything from a beguiling little cartoon of a hound ... to the great gift of the imagination Superman.
Most of the shows are time-tested favorites of the young-in-heart TV watcher, but the cartoon doggie, Huckleberry Hound, is new and the most enchanting cartoon character to come along since Mickey Mouse.
Huckleberry Hound, complete with a 10-gallon hat and a side arm worn about his fat little middle, is the delightful creation of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who produced and directed the Tom and Jerry cartoons.
Satire in the sketches may go over the heads of the tots in front of the TV . . . but the grownups will love it. And the youngsters will find enough enjoyment in the characters which include Yogi Bear, his patient little friend, Boo Boo Bear; a cantankerous cat, Mr. Jinx and two mice, Dixie and Pixie.
Huck and his friends are appearing every Thursday in the 6 to 6:30 series.
Monday's segment of the show [Kellogg’s time slot] takes viewers to Sherwood Forest, where Robin Hood defends the honor of ladies fair and strives to keep England free. On Tuesdays Woody Woodpecker is the star performer. Superman and Wild Bill Hickok share in Wednesday slot, and come Fridays . . . It's Roy Rogers.
The cartoon the Times is referring to is “Sheriff Huckleberry.” It’s much in the vein of the southern wolf cartoons Tex Avery made at MGM as Huck talks to himself a lot and occasionally turns to talk to the audience, too, which makes him appealing.

Outlaw Dinky Dalton turns the barrel of Huck’s gun on our hero, who shoots his ten-gallon hat in half.

“You know somethin’? I gotta give Dinky his due,” he tells us. “He’s a smart outlaw.”

Next, Huck strolls to a phone booth to call Dinky.

“You know what? This feller’s got a right nice voice on the telephone,” Huck remarks to the viewers.

Dinky sticks his fist and gun through the phone.

“It’s Dinky alrighty,” Huck assesses to us.

When Dinky shoots Huck through the hat (and head), he says to us “Just call me drafty.”

In the best gag of the cartoon, Huck shows up in armored, only to be bashed into a wind-up toy car.

“You know what?” Huck says to us. “That Dinky’s got a right good sense of humour.” Cut to the car rolling off a cliff.

Now comes the climax, a shoot-out between Huckleberry and Dinky. Huck’s been getting the worst of it, but not now. Dinky tells him there’s a bullet with his name on it. Huck cleverly hangs a “Huckleberry Hound” sign on Dinky, and that’s where the bullet goes. It’s a switch on an old cartoon gag, but it still works.

The final scene has Huck walking left to right (walking into the sunset would mean expensive perspective animation) whistling “My Darling Clementine.” The cartoon’s narrator bids farewell to Huck. Huck stops, turns to presumably where the narrator is and waves “Adios, a-my-goes!” before resuming his walk to end the cartoon.

The difference between Huck and the Avery wolf character is that Huck may have been kicked around, but in many of his cartoons, he came out on top in the end. Avery’s wolf, to me, seems more detached, and never really trumped over an eat-everything-goat, or Droopy-and-his-kids, or the blackboard jumble (albeit directed by Mike Lah). Can George Gobel say the same thing?