Saturday 31 December 2011

Quick Draw McGraw — Kabong Kabong’s Kabong

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – George Nicholas; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voices: Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Man from Bank, Bank Manager, Engineer, Newspaper Reader 2, Sheriff, Townspeople, Phoney El Kabong – Daws Butler; Narrator, Horse Face Harry, Newspaper Reader 1, Deputy, Townspeople, Phoney El Kabong – Don Messick.
Music: Phil Green; Jack Shaindlin, J. Louis Merkur, unknown.
First aired: week of March 14, 1960 (repeated, week of Sept. 12, 1960)
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-025, Production J-72.
Plot: El Kabong tries to clear his name when bandit Horse Face Harry assumes his identity.

Was there ever a bad El Kabong cartoon? This is the fourth and last one produced for the 1959-60 season and it has exactly what you’d expect: catchphrases, shameless puns, lots of kabongs and crashes, stylised layouts, and a fight scene that stops for a pleasant conversation. And the bad guy loses, but so does the good guy (with Baba making an observation to the audience to finish the cartoon).

It also has the return of Horse Face Harry, although he’s played by Don Messick this time instead of Doug Young. I like the fact that Quick Draw’s supposed secret idea is known by Horse Face, who steals it.

George Nicholas handles the animation. You can tell by the little horseshoe shape at the side of the mouth when the characters say certain vowels. His animation is, unfortunately, not as fun as some of his stuff earlier in the season. But, like Dick Lundy, he’ll turn Quick Draw’s head at an angle during dialogue so he’s not just doing head bobs like Lew Marshall. Walt Clinton has some stylised incidental characters. And Bob Gentle’s mountains in the background are a solid colour for a change but with a bit of spongework at the bottom.

The earliest El Kabongs began with poetic narration and that’s what happens in this cartoon. There’s a pan over Spanish-style buildings and purple mountains in the background, resting at a statue of El Kabong (with guitar).

This is a tale of a quiet Western village
That once was the scene of plunder and pillage
‘Til those responsible, the doers of wrong
Were caught by the phantom El Kabong.

The music and scene suddenly changes, and we’re informed by a tiny-pupilled little man (a Nicholas trademark) the bank has been robbed. The narrator laments “If only El Kabong were here,” and the little guy tells us that’s who is robbing the bank. A mini-crime spree follows, with kabongings of a bank manager and a train engineer (with the voice of Cap’n Crunch) in between newspaper headline gags.

Man (reading): “El Kabong Turns Bandit. Robs Bank on Beautiful Spring Day.” I can’t believe it! The weatherman said it was going to rain.
Man (reading): “El Kabong Robs Train and Fleas.” What in the world would he want with fleas?

We fade to the sheriff and his deputies, deciding how to capture El Kabong, and the solution is for one of them to dress up as a damsel in distress to lure him into an ambush, yelling “Won’t someone help a damsel in distress?” There’s a rifle-laden posse hidden in an adobe storefront, an old ranch house and a wooden cart (and shots of each).

The scene cuts to Quick Draw, happily strumming his guitar while a barely-tolerating Baba Looey listens to him croon: “Ohhhh, I’m not a cactus, honey. I just forgot to shave.” We don’t get the rest of the lyrics because Baba interrupts the song because he hears something. “Sounds like a female critter yellin’ her head off,” Quick Draw observes, meaning it’s a job for El Kabong, so he ducks behind a boulder to change outfits. As in the Warners cartoon Super Rabbit (1944), he emerges with the wrong one. One corrected, there’s a repetition-dialogue gag, with the disguised deputy referring to himself as a “poor female critter in distress.” El Kabong now jumps from a building, swinging on a rope to the rescue, but is stopped in mid-air by the posse’s bullets. All Quick Draw can say is his catchphrase: “Oooh. That smarts.”

Despite this, the posse doesn’t capture Quick Draw or even talk to him. In the next scene, Quick Draw is standing and talking to Baba Looey, saying he’d “give a plug-ged nickel” to find out why he was being shot at. Just then, an off-camera “Olé!” and Quick Draw gets kabonged. Alex Lovy, or whoever, heightened the violence by adding two frames of black in the middle of the kabong. Quick Draw recognises who is responsible. “That handsome critter is Horse Face Harry, the outlaw, who looks just like handsome me.” Harry demands the plugged nickel. Quick Draw doesn’t even “have a real nickel” so he gets kabonged again. We get three black frames and two white frames in the middle of the kabong this time.

So Quick Draw hatches a plan. He hands Baba Looey a bag of gold that came from somewhere and when Horse Face Harry shows up and kabongs him, Quick Draw will kabong the bad guy right back. Baba doesn’t thin’ he likes the plan, which gives our hero a chance to give us his “I’ll do the thinnin’ around here, Baba Looey, and don’t you forget it.” The plan doesn’t work anyway. The two El Kabongs swoop down on Baba and end up colliding in mid air.

The two now get into a battle with their guitars (which magically appeared from somewhere; they didn’t have them when swinging on their ropes). The clash gets interrupted when Quick Draw complements Horse Face on the quality of his kabonger and the two start chatting about Pop Brady’s guitar shop in San Antone. I like how Nicholas saves some drawing in the shot by having the guitars in reverse; no need to draw strings. Baba interrupts the pleasantries to remind Quick Draw he’s got a job to do. That, of course, reminds Horse Face, who kabongs Quick Draw and makes off with the gold.

Baba Looey thin’s he’ll “take the shortscuts and give Quickstraw some assistance.” That he does. He disgustedly shoves a boulder on a rope at Horse Face swinging on a rope. A collision is inevitable. Of course, so is the rope snapping and the boulder plummeting onto Quick Draw. The bash knocks him silly. Well, sillier than usual.

So that takes care of Horse Face Harry. Only one problem. El Kabong forgets to collect the $25,000 reward for his capture. So he swings from his rope through the glass window of the sheriff’s office. The sheriff, who originally though Quick Draw was El Kabong, now isn’t impressed. “Well, you can join the other phoney El Kabongs outside.” Quick Draw looks out the door and there are about eight of them, including one with the wimpy voice Don Messick used in another El Kabong cartoons. You’d think someone could figure out which one was the real El Kabong by comparing them all to the statue in the town square but, no matter. Quick Draw tries to assert his rightful identity as El Kabong (tossing in a “Hold on thar!” in the process) and gets clobbered by the fakes. The tag line by Baba as Quick Draw runs away, ouching and ooching: “That Quickstraw. He’s got a soft heart. And a head to match.” It appears we’re out of catchphrases, so it’s a good reason to end the cartoon.

Jack Shaindlin’s ‘Crazy Goof’ makes two appearances on the soundtrack. I’m presuming the harmonica versions of ‘Red River Valley’ and ‘La Cucaracha’ are from the Hi-Q ‘X’ series but I haven’t located them.

0:00 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:15 - Red River Valley (Trad.) – Narrator, shot of statue.
0:27 - GR-387 GATHERING THE PRODUCE (Green) – Man runs from bank, manager kabonged.
0:46 - GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO (Green) – ‘Spring Day’ newspaper.
0:56 - MAD RUSH No 3 (Shaindlin) – Train engineer kabonged.
1:05 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – ‘Fleas’ newspaper, sheriff’s office scene, deputy caterwauls.
1:47 - guitar strumming (?) – Quick Draw strums guitar.
1:53 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Baba hears something, baby outfit, Quick Draw shot.
2:43 - GR-76 POPCORN SHORT BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – Quick Draw in mid-air, drops.
2:49 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw kabonged by Horse Face, vows revenge.
3:41 - SF-11 LIGHT MOVEMENT/MOUNTAINEERS' HOEDOWN (Merkur) – Baba with gold, Horse Face on cliff.
4:13 - related to Sportscope (Shaindlin) – Horse Face jumps, collides with Quick Draw, Quick Draw kabonged.
4:32 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – “Mighty fine kabonger,” Quick Draw and Horse Face chat, kabong!
4:55 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Horse Face grabs gold, collides with boulder, boulder drops on Quick Draw, goofy song.
5:32 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Baba reads Cactus Sentinel, Quick Draw crashes through window, looks out through door.
6:15 - La Cucaracha (?) – Phoney El Kabongs clobber Quick Draw.
6:33 - Fast circus music (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw runs.
6:43 - Quick Draw Sub-End Title credits (Curtin).

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Extra Special Quick Draw

Some layout sketches and drawings from the Quick Draw McGraw cartoon ‘Extra Special Extra’ (1961) have surfaced on-line. I suspect they’re by Bick Bickenbach, though there are no credits on any of the copies of the cartoon I have. But the little newspaper editor and unibrowed bad guy resemble incidental characters in earlier cartoons Bickenbach worked on.

Let’s compare the layouts to what was in the actual cartoon. Again, I don’t know who the background artist is due to a lack of credits and I’m not confident enough to guess (other than it’s not Art Lozzi).

Several Quick Draw, especially El Kabong adventures, started with a left-to-right pan over a western town. You can see how Bick (or whoever) changed the diner and eliminated the outhouse.

This is from the second scene. The cartoon features a running gag with the editor misspelling “Daily” on his front window.

This layout doesn’t quite represent a scene in the cartoon. The editor’s head is up like that only in a closer shot that doesn’t show the whole printing apparatus.

And here’s Bat Belfry greeting Quick Draw, who knocked on his door.

Now, an extra special extra. Here are what I suspect are models of the Quick Draw McGraw show characters for promotional art, signed by Ed Benedict. Seems to me I’ve seen at least one of these in an old newspaper ad.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Grumpy Christmas to You

Any guesses what Hanna-Barbera artist came up with this?

There’s only person you’d expect would be bah-humbugging at Christmas time. That’s right, none other than Ed Benedict.

I’ve been mulling over for some time about doing a post on curmudgeonly Ed and his influence at Hanna-Barbera (and, ultimately, television animation). But then I realised how superfluous it would be. Ed’s death in 2006 brought a flurry of laudatory articles on the internet and I really don’t think I could add anything new or profound. But his Santa drawing is giving me a chance to go back and revisit some things.

A number of years ago, Animation Blast devoted space, both in print and on the web, to Ed’s work. It’s not on a current web site, but the Wayback Machine at is your friend. Click HERE and browse. Especially check out Ed’s industrial artwork from the ‘50s. Ed loved the stylisation of UPA that found its way into many of the commercial studios (Ed himself worked for Paul Fennell starting in the late ‘40s).

Scott Brothers, who links to this blog, had a great post three years ago featuring Ed being interviewed by John Kricfalusi. Ed talks about his designs at Hanna-Barbera being watered down so they weren’t so stylised. And how Mike Maltese put Ed’s photo of Douglas Fairbanks in his garage. Read it HERE.

The popular press reported on Ed’s death, something unheard of for a person who wasn’t a cartoon producer or director. Credit animation historians with raising awareness that seeped into the popular culture, thereby making a wire service more likely to do an obit. The other fascinating thing is the Associated Press didn’t report on the death until five weeks after it happened, yet news had already spread on the internet. The length of time is a little unusual but, even today, the wire may be a couple of days late on the death of someone in cartooning that’s the talk of the virtual world (Jerry Robinson’s recent passing is a good example)

Noted Cartoon Animator Is Dead At 94
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 11—(AP)—Ed Benedict, a legendary animator who put life, love and laughter in TV cartoon characters such as Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble and Yogi Bear, has died. He was 94.
Benedict died Aug. 28 in his sleep in Auburn in Northern California, his longtime friend and fellow animator David K. Sheldon said Tuesday.
“He was quite an interesting fellow, that’s for sure,” Sheldon said.
“He was the main character designer for all the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw.”
Benedict, who worked at MGM, Universal and other studios on short, theatrical cartoons, joined Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera soon after the pair launched their groundbreaking Hanna-Barbera TV animation studio in the late 1950s. Among his many designs for them were the characters for their first series, 1957’s “The Ruff & Reddy Show.”
For “The Flintstones,” the story of a “modern Stone Age family,” Benedict not only designed the hapless cavemen Fred and Barney, but also their long-suffering wives, Wilma and Betty, and the show’s clever array of Stone Age houses and gadgets, including the characters’ foot-powered cars.
“The Flintstones,” one of the first cartoon series created for adults as well as children, debuted in 1960 and was an immediate hit. Forty-six years later, Fred and Barney remain squarely in the public consciousness as pitchmen for various products, including Flintstones’ vitamins.
Without the time and budget that were lavished on theatrical cartoons, TV animated comedies had to leave out beautiful backgrounds and lifelike movement in favour of witty dialogue and stories with vivid characters.
“It would not be an exaggeration to say that a large part of H-B’s success in TV animation is owed to Benedict’s incredibly appealing and fun character designs,” cartoon historian Jerry Beck wrote in a tribute posted on the website
Before joining Hanna-Barbera, Benedict worked for cartoon legend Tex Avery at Universal and MGM studios. At MGM, he was the lead layout artist and designer on “Deputy Droopy” and other popular theatrical shorts.
He also worked with “Woody Woodpecker” creator Walter Lantz on several shorts, including “The Dizzy Dwarf” and “Unpopular Mechanic.”

Someone may be able to recall if Ed’s name was on the Roll of Death at the Emmys the following year.

Let’s close with some of Ed’s art from an on-line sales site. I imagine this is from his personal collection; John K. had some of the same drawings accompanying his post about Ed’s death. I don’t know if the cat is an early concept of Jinks, but the aliens were supposed to be from The Huckleberry Hound Show.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Augie Doggie — Fuss N’ Feathers

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds - ?; Story – Mike Maltese; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie, Chicken, Archie, Joe – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy, Bill – Doug Young.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin; Harry Bluestone-Emil Cadkin.
First Aired: February 29, 1960 (rerun August 29, 1960).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-024, Production J-77.
Plot: Doggie Daddy copes with Augie’s hungry pet Ostrich.

Evidently, there’s much that goes on when the camera is turned off on our favourite cartoon characters. Toward the end of this cartoon, Augie points out that Archie the ostrich laid an egg. “It’s time you learned the facts of life, Augie,” says wise old Dad. “He didn’t leave no egg. She did.” Well, if we’re following the facts of life, since Augie and Daddy had Archie since the time it was hatched, how did Archie get pregnant? The ostrich has been seemingly been in their house the whole time, being a nuisance. We can only presume that in between scenes, when the camera was off, Archie stole away to tryst with another ostrich that happened to live in the neighbourhood.

Or we could just ignore the facts of life. One can go nuts applying real-life logic to cartoon plot holes.

The cartoon’s pleasant enough because the characters are pleasant enough, but poor Mike Maltese is working on fumes here. This was the second-last, and 77th, cartoon he wrote for the Quick Draw show that season. He did at least one Huck cartoon as well and perhaps some Loopy De Loops. And the Flagstones were about to go into production. So Mike’s dialogue doesn’t have a lot of oomph here.

The first part of the cartoon is taken up with watered-down Pepé LePew. Maltese could write inspired fractured Français for Chuck Jones at Warners but the best he can come up with here is “Eggs dee Chicken Over Easy.” And Augie reading his menu isn’t even consistent; sometimes “the” comes out as “zee” instead of “dee.” “Dat’s my boy whose talkin’ Lithuanian,” Daddy remarks to the viewers.

Then Maltese gives us a couple of premises well-worn at Hanna-Barbera even by 1960. 1) Something escapes or accidentally falls from a van (elephant, kangaroo, Mexican fighting rooster) and 2) Augie wants to adopt it (horse, kitten, annoying duck). In this case, it’s an ostrich egg that bounces out of a zoo delivery van. Hanna-Barbera ate up ideas quickly and both Maltese and Warren Foster had to start repeating them.

So Mike does his best with sight gags. The best one may be at the beginning. The egg rolls into the Daddy family hen house (yes, a dog lives in the suburbs and keeps chickens), and into the nest of Cleo-Elizabeth; the chicken’s name is a delightful bit of incongruity. The chicken is excited to see “her” huge egg, proving that size matters and rushes to tell Augie. “You should be proud of yourself, Cleo-Elizabeth,” beams Augie. The chicken strikes a sexy pose to demonstrate how attractive (and, therefore, fertile) she is.

Augie runs past the same house in the background six times (the Daddy back yard must be a Back 40), cracks open the egg and an ostrich pops out. So now Augie names him Archie (maybe Maltese thought it was a funny name) and wants to keep him. “He won’t eat much,” Augie assures Dad. Except the ostrich eats his pipe.

We cut to six weeks later (during which time the aforementioned tryst must have happened). Archie has swallowed Daddy’s favourite bowling ball. Dear old dad goes through a list of stuff the ostrich has eaten and everything is ordinary sounding; if Maltese were on his game, he would have thrown in something offbeat. Augie does some more begging to give Archie another one more chance. So Daddy does it. We’re about halfway through the cartoon now.

Augie stretches logic for the sake of the plot by carving a clay statue of himself. Augie explains dad will be so happy seeing it, he won’t be mad at the ostrich. Uh, okay. Anyway, Daddy walks off camera to the sound of a gulp. Cut to a shot of the ostrich with the statue in his throat. Of course, Daddy thinks he’s swallowed the real thing. Does he mourn? No, he starts chasing the ostrich. “No son of mine is gonna be for the birds.” Ken Muse gives Daddy a weird running cycle with his arms hanging down, six drawings on ones.

Archie has stopped in the back yard with his head in the ground. “Where did he go? Ostriches have a peculiar way of hidin’,” Daddy says to himself. Then he buries his head under ground. What? That’d make sense if he spotted the ostrich and wanted to talk to him, but he didn’t know where the ostrich was. Apparently, there’s a huge cavern under the Doggie yard as neither of the heads are surrounded by dirt. We can see them clearly. Of course, if they were truly buried, it’d make any dialogue impossible. Then Augie shows up. He doesn’t notice the bodies sticking out of the ground but buries his head instead. Don’t worry, Mike. You’ve only got about two minutes of story to fill.

Now that Daddy learns his son is okay, Archie runs back into the house and swallows a box of bullets. That gives him the hiccoughs and he turns into a living rifle firing at, well, you can guess. Now both Augie and Daddy have a stiff-armed run cycle as they get away from the bullets. “If it’s one thing I can’t stand,” Daddy remarks, “is an ostrich who shoots his mouth off.”

The zoo delivery truck we saw earlier appears again. It has one person in the cab in the medium shot but two in the close up. The guys are named Joe and Bill for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain. Now Bill stretches logic for the sake of the plot. “Hey, look Joe,” he says, “there’s our lost ostrich egg. Only he ain’t an egg any more.” How he made that deduction is something we won’t try to figure out, but one of the two slam a butterfly net on him and drive away to the zoo, with the bird still firing bullets at Augie and his dad. Quips Dad: “He’ll be safer there. And so will we.”

The last scene has Daddy in his living room chair, reading the Daily Bugle, telling us how things are “back to sub-normal.” He’s more correct than he thought. Augie discovers another egg, the Archie look-a-like ostrich hatches and swallows Daddy’s pipe. The Muse striff-armed run cycle is back, except the drawings are reversed and the two run stage left. But Daddy’s never really bothered by anything. He chuckles and says “Here we go again folks,” as the ostrich makes his strange “gepp gepp” noise and looks at the camera as the iris closes.

Incidentally, the last cartoon put into production that season was ‘Poodle Toodle-Oo’, which was a lot funnier than this one. It was a Snooper and Blabber cartoon, so maybe Maltese just tired of coming up with gags for the Augie series.

Phil Green supplies the bulk of the music in the cartoon. I don’t have names for two of the Jack Shaindlin cues. Of the two versions of the cartoon in circulation, there are no end titles and only an opening title card.

0:00 - Augie Doggie bumper music.
0:05 - GR-155 PICNIC OR COUNTRY SCENE (Green) – Augie reads French breakfast items, egg falls out of van, rolls into nest, chicken excited, Augie breaks egg.
1:52 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Egg hatches, pipe swallowing scene.
2:32 - EM-107D LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Closet scene.
3:15 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Augie makes sculpture, Archie swallows it, runs away.
3:58 - MAD RUSH No. 2 (Shaindlin) – Archie runs out door, Daddy skids to a stop.
4:06 - G-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – Daddy looks around, heads in the ground, Archie swallows bullets.
5:08 - related to SPORTSCOPE (Shaindlin) – Archie shoots bullets.
5:18 - Fast Circus Music (Shaindlin) – “Run, Augie,” Augie and Daddy arrive.
5:36 - MAD RUSH No. 1 (Shaindlin) – Van on road, Archie caught, Daddy and Augie run.
6:06 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Cadkin and Bluestone) – Daddy reads paper, ostrich hatches, eats pipe.
6:35 - Fast Circus Music (Shaindlin) – Daddy and Augie chase after ostrich.
6:49 - iris out.