Sunday, 15 November 2009

Yogi’s Bongo Walk

As remarkable as it seems, there was a time that characters in a TV cartoon didn’t all move the exact same way. But I’m guessing it was a time that didn’t last very long.

There’s a funny cartoon called Hoodwinked Bear where George Nicholas did a little leap-walk with Boo Boo as he fills in for Red Riding Hood. I thought the bear was just imitating Red’s walk for the sake of comedy. But it turns out Nicholas used that as a standard walk; Yogi walks that way Lullabye-Bye Bear.

But only a couple of years earlier, Carlo Vinci developed a walk that only Yogi Bear could pull off, shifting Yogi’s bottom weight around in a 16-drawing cycle that has been dubbed “the bongo walk.” The moniker is based on the fact that, in most cartoons, the animation was accompanied by different pitches of a drum being banged by hand. Later, someone must have realised the banging distracted from the dialogue so it was not used which, unfortunately, lessened the effect of the animation.

I don’t know the last time Vinci used this, but below are all 16 drawings of the walk. This is from Be My Guest Pest. The animation was done on twos.

And, since you really want to know this, it took 124 frames for the background to repeat. Yes, I counted them all.


  1. He's kind of bouncing his rump up and down a little, hence the bongos?

  2. I don't know whether the walk came first and the bongos later or whether Carlo decided to base a walk around a sound. But, yeah, the bongos accent Yogi's butt movement.
    Someone here will reveal whether the sound was used in walk cycles in the first season of The Flintstones.

  3. i've always loved this yogi walk cycle! thanks for posting it.

  4. I still like this small dance pictures. It makes the movement much eneregectic. I recognise first in Daffy Daffy from the Huckleberry Hound Show' 1th season.

  5. Not to pick a nit, but the cartoon's actual title is "Be My Guest Pest."

  6. You're right, Rob. It's been fixed. That's what I get for adding a sentence at the last minute early in the morning.

  7. Carlo Vinci lasted longer doing unique animation than most animators during the 60s.

    I've been watching the latest Yogi packaging on Boomerang and they run a Punkin Puss and Mushmouse cartoon in each. Almost every one is animated by Vinci and they are way more fluid and funny than the Magilla and Ricochet Rabbit cartoons they originally were made to go with.

    The one disappointingly animated early 60s HB cartoon is the Jetsons. Even Carlo Vinci's animation seems really toned down in that show and I wish I knew why.

    I used a Vinci/Yogi buttwalk in Boo Boo Runs Wild. To me that walk is part of his character - even though it wasn't used much. It is so iconic that you think all the Yogi Bear cartoons used a variation of it.

  8. Vinci's stuff is primo. There is more homogenization of the style later on (say in 70's Tom and Jerry) that you can't really grasp on to any signatures of animators. Flintstones could occasionally give you some good stuff early on from Vinci, who animated many episodes singlehandedly from what I've heard.

  9. It's hard to say about The Jetsons, which I still really like. But there wasn't a lot of outrageousness in any of the Hanna-Barbera animation by that time. Maybe they thought tame animation put more of a focus on the spacy gadgets.

    At least The Jetsons had fun inventions. Something like Magilla Gorilla had old slapstick-type gags (Look out! He's roller-skating out of control over cement!) with pretty stiff, stock-looking animation. The character could have been a good one but was wasted by being watered down. And things went downhill fast from there if you look at the shorts being produced.

    The biggest "What if" that goes through my mind with the early HB cartoons is: what if Tex Avery were the supervising producer instead of Hanna and Barbera? Limited animation still relies on poses and Avery would have at least tried to get some of his guys to be a little more extreme where the action called for it. The talent was there who could do it.