Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Many Faces of Jellystone Park

Jellystone Park must be huge. Why? Because there aren’t just one or two different entrances to the park; there are all kinds of them.

Hanna-Barbera’s writers loved to open cartoons with a shot of a background cell to establish the setting then pan or cut to another background cell. No doubt Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera liked this, too, because the camera-work substituted for costlier animation.

When Warren Foster et al finally decided to take Yogi away from the generic woods and other places he had been living and make him a permanent resident of Jellystone Park, a favourite way to set up a cartoon was to have some opening narration and feature a cell of the park entrance. Rarely was the same cell used in more than one cartoon, providing us with interesting variations.

My non-professional observation is the writer or a sketch artist drew a storyboard and then the layout artist worked from that. Below you see a sketch by Warren Foster from the opening of Booby Trapped Bear, a third season Yogi cartoon.

Tony Rivera was the layout artist on that cartoon. Here’s how he rendered Foster’s basic story drawing:

Remember this is a background. Dick Thomas was the background artist in this cartoon, so I’m presuming he stuck to Rivera’s layouts and drew the cell, then added the colours and decided on textures.

The very first shot of the entrance to Jellystone was in Yogi’s TV debut, Yogi Bear’s Big Break. Bick Bickenbach was the layout artist and Fernando Montealegre did the backgrounds.

Here are some others from Yogi’s first season (on the first season of the Huckleberry Hound Show). Not all the cartoons have credits, so I’m relying on the not-always-accurate Big Cartoon Database:

Big Brave Bear, Bick Bickenbach and Fernando Montealegre.

Brainy Bear, Bick Bickenbach and Fernando Montealegre.

Hide and Go Peek, Bick Bickenbach and Fernando Montealegre.

Here are a bunch from Yogi’s second season on the Huck show. Warren Foster had taken over from Charlie Shows as the writer:

Bear Faced Bear, Walt Clinton and Bob Gentle.

Papa Yogi, Walt Clinton and Joe Montell.

Stranger Ranger, Tony Rivera and Fernando Montealegre.

Rah Rah Bear, Tony Rivera and Bob Gentle.

Nowhere Bear, Ed Benedict and Bob Gentle.

Snow White Bear, Bick Bickenbach and Bob Gentle.

And here’s one from the third season of the Huck show, before Yogi was replaced by Hokey Wolf in 1961:

Gleesome Threesome, Tony Rivera and Dick Thomas.

Oh, you’re wondering about the drawing of the Jellystone entrance at the start of this post. Here it is with its starring cartoon bear.

Yes, there was a Jellystone Park in the MGM cartoon Barney Bear’s Hungry Cousin (1953), directed not by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, but by Dick Lundy (who eventually ended up at Hanna-Barbera a few years after it opened). The cartoon was written by Heck Allen and Jack Cosgriff. Lundy’s layout artist was a former Disneyite named Hal Doughty. The background was constructed by Johnny Johnsen, whose 3-D-style sets opened many a Tex Avery cartoon at Warners and Metro (as well as the Bob Clampett-credited 1941 short Wabbit Twouble, set in Jellostone Park).

Whether the Barney short was the source of Hanna-Barbera’s Jellystone, or whether it was coincidentally and independently invented by Lundy’s former directing colleagues from MGM is, perhaps, something we will never know.


  1. In some cases they truly are background cels because the foreground on the entrance is on the top-level of cels so that characters can pass through (actually under) them. This sometimes explains the color differences in the two pillars of the entrance.

  2. You know, from cartoon to cartoon, the look of " Jellystone Park " changed about as much a Ranger Smith's looks. I guess in a strange way they go hand in hand.

  3. Dave, out of all the ones I've posted, only the one from Yogi Bear's Big Break and Papa Yogihad cars go through the entrance. The one in the elephant cartoon just had the guys standing and talking. The rest were for static shots.

    Errol, I like the way the ranger's office is different in every cartoon.

  4. Since "Barney's Hungry Cousin" centers around a Bear obsessed with stealing food from Barney's picnic basket, it's pretty safe to say Bill & Joe didn't just get the Jellystone name from this cartoon, which along with the Avery/Lah cartoons featuring Daws Butler as the loquacious wolf battling Droopy (or loquacious dog battling Chilly in Tex's "I'm Cold" over at Lantz) provided the foundation for the H-B empire far more than Bill and Joe's attempts to modify their own Tom & Jerry series with the Pixie & Dixie shorts (the stuff created by Avery, Lundy, Heck Allen, Jack Cosgriff, Jackie Gleason and Art Carney really are the foundations Bill and Joe built their cartoon studio on).

  5. Layout eyecandy. Its always great when a layout artist is free to experiment. I don't think you can get away with variations as much in television animation these days. The cartoons look so bland and insincere without changing things up a bit every now and then.

  6. JL, the only thing is Yogi showed little interest in tourists' food in his first season and didn't even utter the word pic-a-nic until his 16th cartoon. So if Joe Barbera and Charlie Shows borrowed that character aspect from Lundy and Heck Allen, they did it awfully late, considered HB immediately borrowed from Avery in creating Huck Hound.

    I don't have Barbera's book, but Hanna gives no credit to any MGM cartoons as being an influence on the Huck show, et al, but considering the continued presense that annoying duck, it almost goes without saying.

  7. Rusty, I really like the backgrounds in a lot of the cartoons. There's quite a variation, but they're all effective. Some are quite stylised. Others, like the Jellystone pictures above, are pretty basic. But they don't distract from the foreground action and frame the action well.
    I think HB used colour very well, especially considering there was virtually no colour TV then and probably everyone was watching the cartoons on a black and white set.

  8. Cartoonists playing on the Yellowstone name dates at least as far back as Bob Clampett's 1941 WABBIT TWOUBLE, in which Elmer goes to Jellostone Park in search of "west and wewaxation at wast".

    A year or so before Yogi's birth, Woody Woodpecker met a mooching park bear in FODDER AND SON. Windy, who would star in a short-lived series of his own, had Daws' standard Jackie Gleason voice and mannerisms.

  9. A more blatant lack of background/layout continuity prevailed over six years, namely the Flintstone and Rubble houses. Never was there any consistency: the garage could be attached or separate. Sizes and dimensions of rooms and backyards varied from episode to episode. In OLD MAID WILMA, there's a huge bookcase covering one wall. The titular swimming pool of the pilot reappared only in Season 4's REEL TROUBLE and pivotally in one of the last DRIPPER. In THE MASQUERADE PARTY, the property resembles an estate, complete with huge entrance gates. Then there's the constant change of home address!

    There were also inconsistencies in the 24 original episodes of THE JETSONS. Sometimes people entered the apartment through a rising door; other times through the pneumatic tube.

    Of course during the 1960s, the producers, artists and networks never thought that these shows would be syndicated and home videoed into the collective consciousness of overanalytical animation buffs.

    FWIW, the Simpson, Hill and Griffin houses seem to be somewhat realistically consistent from episode to episode.

  10. Yowp --

    True about Season 1 of Yogi (which IMHO, was the best and certainly the most diverse of the three seasons). It's still possible they went to the MGM well in Season 2 when Foster arrived, simply as the framework for more standardized stories featuring Yogi vs. Ranger Smith (the picnic baskets providing the 'motivation' for the conflict). But since parks, picnic baskets and "Do no Feed the Bears" warning in cartoons go at least as far back as the spot gag cartoons of the 1930s, they could have simply come up with the association on their own.

    It's just that given Bill and Joe's history of borrowing from others, whether it be Avery, Gleason/Carney, Phil Silvers/Nat Hiken, Chic Young or (the granddaddy controversy of all) Friz Freleng and the piano gags, when you see so many of the plot points from a cartoon that came out of the studio that Hanna-Barbera worked at show up later in a Hanna-Barbera series, you've got to wonder a little bit if some cribbing didn't go on.

  11. I'm not sure why you are calling them "cels?" If there aren't any foreground layers (which would have been painted on a cel), then these aren't "cels." They are "backgrounds."

  12. Nothing by Art Lozzi? Thats very strange.

  13. Zartok, no Jellystone entrance appears in the 1st two Yogi seasons that he worked on. Unless the credits are wrong or the BCDB is wrong.
    Anon, according to sites like this some cartoon backgrounds are on celluloid. I'd think it'd be tough to use cardboard for backgrounds that continually roll during chase scenes (eg. when Pixie and Dixie run by the same chair seven times). But I'll be happy if someone can give a definitive statement.

  14. And how the Jellystone Park portals were on the classical Yogi Bear Show (Hanna-Barbera/Columbia Pictures, 1960-62)?