Saturday, 25 September 2010

Quick Draw McGraw — El Kabong Strikes Again

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Joe Montell; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Miner 2, Sweating Señor, Bull – Daws Butler; Narrator, Don Chillada Lookalike, Miner 1, Terrible Tabasco – Don Messick; Señorita – Jean Vander Pyl.
First aired: December 21, 1959.
Plot: Quick Draw, as El Kabong, tries to vanquish the Terrible Tabasco to save a señorita.

There’s something satisfying about cartoon characters that know they’re in a cartoon and who let the audience know it, too. Tex Avery brilliantly used the device in dialogue (stopping play in Batty Baseball) and sight gags (the unexpected ‘Technicolor Ends Here’ gag in Lucky Ducky). And, more than any other H-B character, Quick Draw McGraw reminds the audience that they’re an audience. Generally, he and Baba Looey spend part of each cartoon talking to the people on the other side of the TV set, but he’s a little more direct in this one.

One of my favourite Mike Maltese lines comes in this cartoon when Quick Draw, hearing a damsel in distress, exclaims “El Kabong strikes again!” then, in an aside to us all, confidentially adds “Notice how neatly that works into the title of the picture?” Maltese is really the star of this cartoon, as he tosses in enough silly dialogue and corn to make this sequel another fun Quick Draw outing.

The first El Kabong cartoon featured a rhyming story-teller, and Maltese does the same thing here.

In the town of El Pueblo, so the story is told
The people were bilked by a villain bold.
Then a champion arrived to right the wrong.
He was known far and wide as El Kabong.

El Kabong graciously turns to the camera and says “Howdy” to us. Then he lands with a thud on the table of someone who suspiciously looks and sounds like Don Chillada from the previous cartoon. Except he’s not the real villain of this piece. He exists to set up a cartoon-reference gag.

Bad Guy: It’s El Kabong!
Quick Draw: You were expecting maybe Huckleberry Hound?

At this point, the bad guy gets smashed with a guitar in typical Kabong fashion. What’s interesting here is he has blue irises. I can’t think of too many H-B characters at that time with anything more than pupils and whites.

The narrator continues, as we see shots of stereotypes. And one’s smoking!

For a while, the people prospered as they worked in the mine.
In Pueblo, the sun never failed to shine.
Then fickle fate inflicted a fiendish fiasco,
In the form of the tyrant, The Terrible Tabasco!

The poetry gets interrupted for a couple of gags featuring townspeople. One’s a silly one where two miners are each returning the $10 they owe each other. A thick row of teeth equals Carlo Vinci animating. And Walt Clinton and Joe Montell come up with a great sunny, late afternoon background drawing. I love the shades of light reds and browns, and the angular cacti in the foreground.

Tabasco is holding a señorita captive. His demand is 10,000 pestardos by tomorrow or she will have to marry him.

Señorita: Oh, you brute! You monster! You thing! In that order.


Señorita: Oh, you villain! Haven’t you done enough harm to this town?
Tabasco: No, there must be something else I can steal.

The señorita screams for El Kabong. We now fade to Quick Draw playing his guitar as an unimpressed Baba Looey listens, just like in the first cartoon.

Ohhhhh, I haven’t slept for 20 days.
I should look an awful sight.
But it doesn’t bother me at a bit,
‘Cause I always sleep at night.

Quick Draw hears the señorita and after the confidential observation to the audience about the title of the cartoon, he ducks behind a rock to change into his “dashing El Kabong outfit.” And just like in the first cartoon, and in Super Rabbit (1944) that Maltese may have co-written for Chuck Jones, he changes into the wrong costume. However, that is soon rectified and El Kabong grabs a rope from somewhere and swings to the bandito’s hideout. His landing isn’t exactly three-point.

Tabasco gets a quick kabonging and rushes from the scene in his horse-drawn coach (with ‘TT’ on the side) to avoid more guitar violence. The inventive El Kabong finds a way around that (left). Kabong lands on the roof of the carriage and engages in a sword-fight unlike anything seen in a Doug Fairbanks Zorro picture. Tabasco seems to sprout multiple sword-bearing arms, prompting El Kabong to remark “I must be duelling with an octopus.” One sword pops up through a trap door in the roof and stabs El Kabong in the butt. This gives him a chance to say “Oooh. That smarts!” (Catchphrase 1).

The cartoon shifts a bit. The señorita (with lavender-coloured eyelids) laments she needs 10,000 pestardos. El Kabong replies “All I have is a buck-35 and half a green stamp.” But Baba Looey points to a convenient sign. Now comes a hoary old gag.

Señorita: You are going to fight a bull for me, El Kabong?
El Kabong: I am?
Señorita: I knew you would!

This gives him a chance to say “Hold on thar!” (Catchphrase 2). All Maltese has to do is fit in the “thinnin’” catchphrase and we’ve got a trifecta.

So Baba Looey shoves the less-than-fearless El Kabong into the bull ring and after a bit of chasing (and a pencil sharpener gag), Baba hands the guitar to our hero, who sings the off-key ditty we heard at the start of the cartoon. The bull reacts as you might expect.

Tabasco attempt to escape with a chest containing the 10,000 pestardos, but a well-placed kabong takes care of that. Tabasco drops the loot and runs off.

Señorita: Thank you, El Kabong. And may I see the handsome face behind the mask of my hero El Kabong?
El Kabong: Well, it is kind of handsome in a wretched sort of way.

And Quick Draw is right. The señorita looks, screams and runs away, returning briefly to grab the chest of cash.

Quick Draw: What’s wrong with her, Baba?
Baba: I thin’ maybe El Kabong strikes out again.

This was the second of four El Kabong cartoons that aired in the 1959-60 season. What’s interesting is this cartoon re-ran on March 13, 1961 and was followed in consecutive weeks by El Kabong, Jr. and El Kabong Meets El Kazing. Evidently, the folks at Hanna-Barbera eventually decided El Kabong was more of a hit than Quick Draw himself (in the show’s 1961-62 third season, half the new cartoons featured El Kabong).

By the way—what is a pestardo?

Something really unusual is heard in the soundtrack to the cartoon. Hoyt Curtin’s underscores weren’t being used yet but the sound-cutter has inserted a goodly portion of Curtin’s Quick Draw theme song in this one. It’s used when Quick Draw is introduced, which makes it a great choice. I suspect it was designed to be used in the bumpers between cartoons.

The rest of the music is all library stuff, mostly by Jack Shaindlin. I’m guessing the harmonica version of ‘Oh Susanna’ at the outset comes from the Capitol Hi-Q ‘X’ series. The last snippet under part of Quick Draw’s last line and the rest of the cartoon is the same piece used to close the first El Kabong cartoon.

0:00 - Quick Draw sub main title theme (Curtin).
0:24 - Oh Susanna (trad.) – Pan over village, bad guy at table is kabongged.
0:56 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Phil Green) – Miners, Tabasco raises eyebrows.
1:18 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Señorita and Tabasco scene.
2:01 - Quick Draw ‘20 Days’ song (Maltese) – Quick Draw sings.
2:15 - (THAT’S) QUICK DRAW McGRAW (Curtin) – Señorita yells, Quick Draw in clown costume; changes to El Kabong costume.
2:52 - fast show biz music (Shaindlin) – Señorita yells, El Kabong bangs against post.
3:06 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – El Kabong and Tabasco scene.
3:34 - tick-tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Tabasco in carriage, sword fight on roof, El Kabong in cactus.
4:10 - sad trombone music (?) – Señorita tells tale of woe, Baba points to poster.
4:26 - GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO (Green) – El Kabong reads poster, conned into fighting bull.
4:56 - PG-171 PERIOD FANFARE (Green) – El Kabong shoved into ring, bull charges.
5:09 - fast show biz music (Shaindlin) – Bull chases El Kabong.
5:40 - related to 'Sportscope' (Shaindlin) – Pencil sharpener, El Kabong gets guitar, bull slides to stop.
6:07 - Quick Draw ‘20 Days’ song (Maltese) – Quick Draw sings.
6:21 - MAD RUSH No. 2 (Shaindlin) – Bulls runs away, Tabasco runs away.
6:41 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Señorita thanks El Kabong, runs away, “What’s wrong with her, Baba?”
7:02 - unknown (Shaindlin) – Baba closing line.
7:09 - Quick Draw McGraw sub-end title theme (Curtin).


  1. I like this cartoon a lot. Where did you get a copy?
    I wanted to make lots of frame grabs myself. The Clinton layouts and designs are great.

    I like the girl.

  2. Actually, it was Tedd Pierce who wrote SUPER RABBIT- not Maltese. But the 'character comes out in the wrong costume' gag proved very durable. Pierce also had Daffy come out of a closet as a witch instead of Stupor Duck in the 1956 McKimson cartoon of that title.

  3. It's no surprise why this episode stays a favorite from fans. There's many clever gags and moments who stays hilarious and truly unforgettable. The copy you have is wonderful and as the same transfer than i watching 15 years ago in one of my local channels who air with the Huckleberry, Quick Draw and 1988 Yogi Bear shorts.

  4. Of the 45 Quick Draw cartoons, ten featured his alter ego El Kabong. Yet, modern merchandising always seem to depict Quick Draw as Kabong- witness his two Cartoon Network 'Shorties'- as if everyone forgot he's a Western lawman by trade.

  5. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    Seeing the scene where Quick Draw goes turning into El Kabong, and he ends turning into a clown (Quick Draw Pagliacci McGraw!), it reminds me from the song The tears of a clown, which Smokey Robinson & The Miracles recorded for Motown in 1967 and it was a greatest hit in two occasions: 1967 and 1970. Alias, the Giacomo Puccini's I Pagliacci opera is quoted on this song.

  6. I love everything about this cartoon.

  7. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    The currency quoted on this Quick Draw episode - pestardos - is a prank made over pesos (the currency from the great part of the Latin American countries [among them, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and Cuba]) and pesetas (which was the Spain's currency until 2002, when it was replaced by the euro).