Saturday, 29 January 2011

Quick Draw McGraw — Who is El Kabong?

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Hicks Lokey; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Grumble Weed, Badwater Bill, Newsboy, Man 1, Man 3 – Daws Butler; Narrator, Norton South, Cactus Charlie, Cheyenne Shorty, Man 2, Man 4 – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Geordie Hormel.
Production: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-034, Production J-113.
First Aired: week of January 23, 1961 (repeat week of June 12, 1961).
Plot: El Kabong crushes a crime wave begun by Norton South.

This cartoon pretty well epitomises why people love El Kabong:

Multiple, off-key guitar bashings.
Mike Maltese’s silly dialogue

There isn’t much else to speak of in this one, but that’s enough, even though the cartoon really consists of two extended bits—the kabongging in the first half and the answer to the short’s title in the second. Well, yes, the “kabong” poses are funny and I like the design of the little bandit but there’s really nothing that stands out in the animation end of things.

This is another Quick Draw cartoon where the characters talk to the narrator, with Norton South revealing to the narrator he’s travelling west after his gang in the east was broken up. So we’ve got a directional pun to open the cartoon.

After South’s train arrives in the west, he rounds up “some of the worst bandits in the west” in his secret hideout, and dispatches them to rob various things. The funny part here is the contrast—Cheyenne Shorty is supposed to be a vicious desperado, but he’s puny with one of Don Messick’s meek little voices. Here’s the gang after their first haul to give you a look how the character designs are all different.

Norton South decides to send out his band on a repeat mission (“Oh, goodie!” cries Shorty). There’s a shot of a couple of townsmen sitting on wooden chairs on a porch. Let Maltese take it from here:

Narrator: Soon, the headlines were shouting the bad news.
(shot of newsboy in street)
Newsboy: Extry, extry! Crime wave hits the west! Sheriff up a tree! Weatherman predicts rain! Sheriff gets umbrella, goes back up tree!
(shot of townsmen)
Narrator: And the citizens were in a quandary.
Man 1: My question is, uh, how do we get out of this quandary?
Man 2: And my question is, what’s a “quandary”?

However, the townspeople cheerfully exclaim that El Kabong will save them. And that’s his cue to swing into action on a rope hanging from nowhere. This bit of animation appears several times in the cartoon, predating the repetitious Spider-Man swinging on the Grantray-Lawrence cartoons of 1967. I’m not sure if I’m crazy about the green sky colour and there’s something awkward about El Kabong’s head I just can’t place. He also appears to be at an awkward angle with the rope.

Anyway, El Kabong quells the baddies one-by-one. You won’t have noticed this, but Grumble Weed (a name used in ‘Scary Prairie’) and Cactus Charlie have somehow exchanged voices and assignments from earlier in the cartoon. However, you will have noticed Maltese shows his wonderful sense of the absurd here. Charlie points his gun points at a locomotive and says “Stick ‘em up, train,” as if the engine were a real person; Grumble Weed does the same with the stagecoach. And Cheyenne Charlie shows how polite he is by saying “Stick ‘em up, please. Smoke if you wish.”

Ah, but El Kabong’s on a roll. We get the immortal observation of Baba Looey to the audience.

Baba: The kabongs are as thick as flies around here.
El Kabong: Kabong!!!
(a guitar smashes on top of Baba Looey)
Baba: Hey, watch it, Quickstraw.
El Kabong: Garsh. I’m sorry, Baba Looey. I was overcome by a kabongging frenzy.

The gang returns to Norton South’s hideout. They all still have the smashed guitars on their heads (Grumble Weed and Cactus Charlie have regained their original voices) and explain their failure to Norton South (“I don’t feel so good, sir,” whines Shorty). “Who is this El Kabong?” demands South. Just then, there’s the sound of a door shutting and Baba Looey strolls in with an envelope. South reads the message. Quick Draw has goofed again.

South (reading): Dear Eastern-type gangster. If you’re not out of town by sundown, I’m comin’ after you. And dooonn’t you for-get-it. Signed, El Kabong. P.S. Only my faithful companion Baba Looey, the bearer of this message, knows who I really are.

With that comes a hat-take. Consecutive frames:

The sombrero lands over Baba’s eyes in a nice little touch.

Maltese pulls out an obvious old gag by demanding Baba Looey to “talk” and the burro responds with a stream of gibberish meant to approximate Spanish (or one of Desi Arnaz’s outbursts on I Love Lucy). South then threatens him to answer before he counts to two. He stops, brightens and talks to the audience: “I would count to three but I never finished high school.”

Baba caves in and points out the window where Quick Draw is playing with, and singing about, a yo-yo. Both South and Baba break into laughter together over the idea that Quick Draw is a masked hero. But when South starts menacing with his gun again (“Hurry, Quickstraw! He can only count to two”), El Kabong olés to the rescue. Only he doesn’t quite make it through the window, giving him a chance to say “Ooh. That smarts.”

Though there hasn’t been a lot of dramatic action, we’ve now reached the climax of the cartoon with an obligatory sword-fight. The bad guy stops it for a moment.

South: By the way, Kabong, I got your letter. I must say your grammar is atrocious.
El Kabong: It are?

The bad guy buries a gun in El Kabong’s snout and is about to shoot when we hear the cry of “Holé!” off-scene. The shot cuts to Baba in an El Kabong outfit, flying through the air with a guitar. He makes it through the window just fine and kabongs his target (with a “Kabong! I theen.”).

South: That does it. My best hat is ruined. Good-bye, wild west!”

And with that, Norton South whooshes stage right and out of the cartoon. Quick Draw isn’t grateful for being rescued.

El Kabong: Baba Looey, by what right do you dare to wear an El Kabong outfit?
Baba: I just thin’ you maybe wished to open a small, branch office, Quickstraw.

The burro laughs at the camera as the iris closes.

There are a couple of neat little things in the cartoon. When Norton South is in his railway car at the beginning, the camera shakes up and down a bit to simulate the train’s movement. And Cactus Charlie actually twirls his gun before telling the train to “stick ‘em up,” a luxurious bit of animation.

The sound cutter was busy with stock music in this one. Some snippets are about five seconds long. I don’t know whether the harmonica rendition of ‘La Cucaracha’ is from the Hi-Q library or something Hoyt Curtin whipped up.

0:00 – Quick Draw Sub-Main Title Theme (Curtin).
0:18 – GR-348 EARLY MORNING (Green) – Newspaper headlines.
0:23 – EXCITEMENT UNDER DIALOGUE (Shaindlin) – Train, South in railway car.
0:49 – GR-98 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO Bridge No. 2 (Green) – Shot of hideout.
0:58 – GR-87 SKELETON IN THE CUPBOARD (Green) – South gives gang their orders, bandits return, South decides on another job.
1:39 – ZR-39A WESTERN SONG (Hormel) – Newsboy hawks papers, townsmen excited about El Kabong.
2:16 – LA CUCARACHA (?) – El Kabong swings, kabongs Charlie.
2:38 – fast chase music (Shaindlin) – El Kabong bashes other bandits and Baba Looey.
3:10 – GR-76 POPCORN SHORT BRIDGE No. 2 (Green) – Baba Looey annoyed.
3:18 – GR-457 DR. QUACK SHORT BRIDGE No. 1 (Green) – Bandits in hideout.
3:32 – GR-98 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO Bridge No. 2 (Green) – “Who is this El Kabong?” “Pardon me, sir.”
3:36 – GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Baba brings message.
4:06 – GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO (Green) – Sombrero take, Baba talks, South peers out window.
4:44 – CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw plays with yo-yo. Baba and South laugh, Quick Draw rushes from window.
5:34 – SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Baba says “hurry,” El Kabong smashes into building.
5:44 – GR-81 FRED KARNO’S ARMY BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – “Oooh. That smarts.”
5:49 – tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Sword fight.
6:04 – jaunty bassoon and strings (Shaindlin) – South complains about letter; puts gun in El Kabong’s face.
6:30 – rising scale vaudeville music (Shaindlin) – Baba Looey on rope, kabongs South, South rushes away.
6:45 – GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – El Kabong and Baba final dialogue.
7:01 – Quick Draw McGraw Sub-End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. It seems that the layout on this Quick Draw McGraw episode was made by Paul Sommer.

  2. BCDB says this episode was aniamted by Hicks Lokey. They're probably right, but it's not as apparent as his other efforts. The final shot of Baba Looey discussing 'branch offices' has his trademark head bobbing, not unlike Ed Love, which features two alternate raised head positions.

  3. I haven't a clue where they get their information, Zartok. The listing for this cartoon is incomplete, so it's obviously guesswork. It could very well be correct, but I don't know.

  4. When El Kabong is sailing thru the air, what is his rope attatched to?

  5. Friends,

    Have you noticed that, among the thugs who make part of the Norton South's gang, there's a tiny-sized Hispanic guy among them?

  6. What makes you say he's Hispanic? He's got one of Don Messick's little wimpy, henpecked voices. There's nothing latin about it.

  7. Zartok, I've found a version with credits. You and Rodney are quite correct with your IDs.