Saturday, 3 October 2009

Augie Doggie — Pop’s Nature Pup

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Don Williams; Layout – Walter Clinton; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Doggie Daddy – Doug Young; Augie, Josh the Owl, Duck, Skunk, Guest Cartoon Star – Daws Butler.
Released: Dec. 8 (Los Angeles), 12 (Chicago), 1959.
Plot: Doggie Daddy decides to take a hand in Augie’s nature education.

Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters hung out with each other, but not in each other’s cartoons very much. I’m not talking about the unfunny, only-for-the-money efforts of the 1970s where they were supporting characters as Yogi taught politically-correct, network-mandated lessons to disinterested kids. I’m talking about the early cartoons, where all the main characters seen during the half hour would gather in little skits between the cartoons.

You saw them together then, and later in some cereal commercials. Occasionally, there’d be a reference to one of them in another cartoon, like Snagglepuss remarking “As Quick Draw McGraw would say ‘Oooh! That smarts!’” (with the Quick Draw theme playing in the background). But I’ve only found one where a character appears in a guest cameo in another cartoon. And that’s at the end of Pop’s Nature Pup.

This cartoon is idiosyncratic in other ways. It has a different look. It was animated by Don Williams, who spent time at Walter Lantz until 1933 when he was hired by Leon Schlesinger. He ended up at MGM in the early ‘40s, returned to Lantz for a bit, then back to Warners in the Art Davis unit. He appeared at Hanna-Barbera in 1959 before finally settling in at DePatie-Freleng.

Whether it was this way on Mike Maltese’s storyboard, I don’t know, but Williams has drawn more close-up head shots here than you’ll find in any other Augie cartoon. And what heads! The eyes are small and sometimes squint instead of blink. The angles of the heads are different, too. Some of the snouts point at 90 degrees and Augie looks up at Daddy at about a 45 degree angle, which is higher than normal.

You can see the difference right at the start when Doggie Daddy hears Augie talking to the owl. Daddy’s ear goes up and crooks itself to emphasize that he’s listening. Unfortunately, the ear vanishes for a couple of frames. Williams does this several times in the cartoon and I don’t remember that pose used anywhere else.

There are several cartoons based around Augie’s ability to communicate with things that adults can’t—animals and aliens, for example—and we find Augie chatting with a big-eyed owl.

Daddy comes into the room and after a deliberately lame joke about an owl not giving a hoot, Daddy asks why Augie’s not doing his nature study homework. Augie gets to imitate Sylvester Jr. once again by rolling up his hand, putting it to his forehead and crying “Oh, the utter shame of it!” Augie explains he doesn’t have to study because the birds and bees tell him anything he wants to know.

In this, and a couple of other scenes, it looks like Williams did all of the animation of the two characters together first, then went back and did the single character animation. You can see how the head shot of Doggie Daddy cuts to the two of them (while he’s still speaking; the two frames below are consecutive), but his ear is back in the same spot it was in before the cut to the solo shot. This happens a couple of times in the cartoon.

Dear old dad decides Augie’s conversation with an owl means he’s “cracking up” and decides to take his son back to nature to help him with his homework. Williams does something different here. Instead of Doggie Daddy’s car rolling along past the same trees ten times, he has the car shaking in a two-drawing cycle, with the characters and contents in the car shaking with it. It’s slowed down a bit here.

A duck flies overhead but when Daddy remarks it’s flying south for the winter, Augie calls to it. The duck lands on the car and Augie explains he was telling the duck it was flying the wrong way. We don’t even see the duck leave. Williams saves animation by just having a close-up of Augie’s head turning.

Next is a bit that seems like out of a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon. And it is. It was adapted in Crockett-Doodle-Do (1960). Daddy shows Augie how to make a fire but fails. Augie decides to show Daddy how to do it and Daddy catches on fire. The limited animation really hurts here. All we get is a smoke cloud and a not-too-exaggerated singed head. I still don’t understand how Augie warns Daddy he’s too close, but Augie is closer to the fire (which we don’t see) and doesn’t get burned.

Daddy’s next lesson is to go look for water, but Augie takes care of that by doing an Indian rain dance and bringing a cloud (which he thanks) which showers into a pot.

A “bee’s nest” in a tree has honey, and Daddy decides to help himself. The bees don’t like it and (in the shape of an arrow) chase Daddy into a log. Augie doesn’t panic. He just buzzes to the bees to stop, and they give their opinion of his father in a sight gag. “My dad don’t know from bees,” is Augie’s pun (Augie should work on his grammar instead of nature studies).

A turnip-baited trap is rigged up by Daddy to catch “a ferocious wild animal.” Daddy snares a skunk but thinks it’s “black and white pussy cat with a big bushy tail” until the expected happens. We don’t see Daddy get sprayed; instead, we get a reaction shot of Augie with the spraying hinted at by a drum roll and a cymbal on the sound track. Augie talks in skunk to the critter.

Daddy exclaims he can’t get in the car smelling like a skunk. Augie knows someone who can drive them home. “But Augie, boy, bears aren’t smart enough to drive.” Ah, but this bear is. And it turns out to be our old pal Yogi Bear, making a unique cameo appearance, who lets out with his “smarter” catch-phrase. Daddy winds up the cartoon, happily admitting Augie is “smarter than the average son,” which is evident in future “scientific” cartoons where Augie’s doing stuff with test tubes.

Several Phil Green music pieces bring to mind Augie cartoons when you hear them, and we get a couple of personal favourites here. Let me see if I can try to explain this.

13 or so years ago, Rhino Records put out a CD of early Hanna-Barbera music, including nine Phil Green underscores from Capitol Hi-Q that were originally in the EMI Photoplay library. Two cues were said to be part of the ‘Big City Suite,’ which is an EMI name. Both are in this cartoon. However, I have cue sheets for two different Big City Suites and one of the two is not among them. So either it’s from a third Big City Suite or it’s from something else. However, I do have the Capitol name for that cue, so what you’ll see below is a ? followed by a Capitol name. GR 248 is the main underscore from Big City Suite No 2.

0:00 – AUGIE MAIN TITLE THEME (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:24 – EM-107D LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Augie talks to owl; Daddy decides to help.
2:00 – GR 154 PICNIC OR COUNTRY SCENE (Green) – Augie talks to duck; fire-starting gag; Daddy hands Augie pot.
3:58 – Indian dance music (Jack Shaindlin?) – Cloud rains in pot.
4:23 – CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Emil Cadkin-Harry Bluestone) – Daddy goes for honey in tree.
4:45 – fast circus chase music (Shaindlin?) – Bees chase Daddy into log.
5:15 – GR 65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Daddy in pond; Daddy sets trap.
6:09 – GR 248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) – Skunk in trap.
6:45 – Vaudeville up-scale music (Shaindlin) – Daddy driven home in cart.
7:09 – AUGIE END TITLE THEME (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).


  1. Don Williams is clearly parcticing for the Yogi Bear cartoon 'Queen Bee for a Day'. Glad you put some screengrab comments in!

  2. In Bob McKimson's "Rushing Roulette" (1965, considered by many to be the best of the DePatie-Freleng Roadrunners) Williams may well have animated the Acme Sproing Boots sequence -- in which Wile E.'s ears are active.

  3. Yowp...

    MAN, do I ever love your blog. I've been in animation for almost 15 years now (10 years as an animator, and now 5 as a board artist) and tend to get pretty wiped by the end of each project. Looking at your blog is ALWAYS inspiring... reminds me to not over complicate things and keep my staging as simple as possible.

    I know it's a lot of work for you to keep up a blog like this, but I just wanted to let you know that your efforts are appreciated!

  4. Also, I'll never forget in an 1963 Episode of " The Flinstones ", Yogi made a brief cameo. The Episode was " Swedish Visitors " I also enjoyed the cameos or cross plugs in the early days of Hanna-Barbera. Yowp, I totally agree. The " Yogi's Ark " type stuff from the late seventies and early eighties were total disasters. How many classic H-B characters can we stick in one TV movie and get preachy to the kids about something. I made it through about...oh..maybe ten minutes of one of those before I felt like looking for an air sick bag.

  5. There was one other in-cartoon cameo in the early H-B days. The Snagglepuss episode "Remember The Daze" finds our hero cavorting about a TV studio where THE YOGI BEAR SHOW happens to be filming. We get several seconds of footage, and lines of dialogue from Yogi and Boo-Boo (who don't actually interact with Snag).

  6. Boomerang ran " Elroy's Mob " earlier this week. One of Elroy's classmates had his wrist TV and was watching " The Millionth re-run of The Flintstones ". They showed a five second clip of Fred and Barney getting into some sort of mess. It wasn't taken from the actual show. They must have had Alan and Mel go into the studio, lay down their lines , " Wild ", and the editor took care of it later. Very Funny cross-plug.