Saturday, 12 March 2011

Quick Draw McGraw — Treasure of El Kabong

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Walt Clinton; Story – Mike Maltese; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (no credits).
Voice Cast: Narrator, Walker de Plank, First Mate – Hal Smith; Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Goblet Owner, Mayor – Daws Butler; Mayor’s Daughter – Jean Vander Pyl.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin.
Production No: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-019, Production J-55.
First Aired: week of Feb. 1, 1960 (rerun, week of July 4, 1960).
Plot: El Kabong sets out to rescue the kidnapped mayor’s daughter from pirate Walker de Plank.

Somehow, amidst all the silly dialogue, bad puns and shameless groaners in this cartoon, Mike Maltese fits in a plot to hold it all together. Though no one really watches an El Kabong adventure for the plot. They watch for the ridiculousness of someone getting conked with an out-of-tune guitar by an idiot. And Maltese doesn’t disappoint there, too.

There are some who churn out corn because they think it’s actually funny. Then there’s small-time vaudeville-loving Maltese, whose attitude seems to be “We’re pulling this old one on you and I defy you not to laugh at it.” Here’s an example:

Mayor: Please save her, El Kabong. Walker de Plank is holding her for ransom.
El Kabong: What’s the matter? Can’t Ransom get his own girl?

And that isn’t even the most outrageous one.

Filling a cartoon with this kind of stuff can be dangerous because the audience may simply get tired of it. But we’re helped by the fact the corn is played completely straight, and by Daws Butler’s wonderfully stupid delivery for Quick Draw/El Kabong.

Great thumbnails .jpgs of the storyboard for this cartoon once existed on the internet. I can’t dig up all of them, just the first seven. Sorry for the size; that’s all I have. Someone reading this will know if Dan Gordon or Alex Lovy drew these. Gordon had a “story sketch” credit on the first season of Quick Draw, but Lovy was listed as “story director,” which Mark Evanier once explained to me meant he “did most of the timing and a lot of the boarding.” I confess ignorance in how many steps there were between Mike Maltese and whoever did layout.

Maltese used a poetic opening for ‘El Kabong’ and ‘El Kabong Strikes Again’ and he does in this cartoon, the third of the series. Unlike the other two cartoons, Don Messick doesn’t handle the narration (or appear at all). Hal Smith does the job:

Narrator: Harken, friends, young and old,
To the tale of daring buccaneer bold.
Walker de Plank, that was his name.
Pirating gold, that was his game.

Walker now emulates Daffy Duck in ‘Daffy Dilly’ (1948), ‘Beanstalk Bunny’ (1955) and, especially, Bugs Bunny laying around in the opening of ‘Bunny Hugged’ (1951) by turning to the camera and casually saying “It’s a living.” Need we say who wrote those three cartoons?

The poetry continues as we’re told de Plank pillages for gold, then stops as a townsman gives up his gold goblet with regret because “it was great to keep old razor blades in.” Now, we cut to the town’s mayor tied to a stake, as his daughter (with thin arms and teeny hands) laments:

Daughter: Is there no champion of higher rank
Who fears not this villain, Walker de Plank?
Narrator: But, hark! In the distance...
(cut to Quick Draw caterwauling off-key)
...a sweet-rendered song.
Our troubles are over. It’s El Kabong!

Quick Draw belts out another one of his nonsense songs.

QD: Ohhhh, I’m a cowboy from ol’ Wyomin’
That’s why they call me Tex.

The song’s interrupted by the daughter’s screams. Quick Draw zips off camera in a swirl of lines, returns as El Kabong, then zips into scene as Walker de Plank takes the daughter hostage. You’ll notice the mutant trees. They’re transparent.

“What’s an El Kabong?” asks the villain. He finds out from a guitar on the head. All it does is make him rush into a rowboat with the beautiful daughter where his crew paddles them to his pirate ship. It’s at this point we get the corny dialogue we mentioned at the outset. Maltese follows it up with an even more obvious, old gag:

Mayor: You must save her.
El Kabong: And save her I will!
(Kabong rushes off camera then returns)
El Kabong: I’d ask you to come along but I see you’re tied up at the present.

El Kabong jumps off a conveniently-placed diving board at the end of a pier and flies into a cannon on board ship (“I geeve you zee one gun salute,” says de Plank) which promptly shoots him back onto the pier.

Baba: You thin’ you’d better quits, El Kabong?
El Kabong: El Kabong never quits. He rights wrongs. Punishes oppressors. Gives to the poor. Robs from the rich. Borrows from the middle class.
Baba: I thin’ that’s Robin Hood.
El Kabong: Quiet! I’ll do the thin’in’!

So Quick Draws uses “trickery, connivery and low-down skulduggery.” He and Baba disguise themselves as “two transient, freelance pirates.” (“Come aboard, transient, freelance pirates,” invites the bad guy.

Now we get a whole string of groaners as Quick Draw tries to convince de Plank to let him and Baba join his crew.

Quick Draw: There’s nothin’ we don’t know about ships.
Baba: Thass right.
de Plank: Then I will test you. What are we standing on?
Quick Draw: On the floor, what else?
de Plank: What holds the sails?
Quick Draw: A kind of a telephone pole, that’s what.
de Plank: What’s a mizzenmast?
Quick Draw: A mast that’s mizzen until it’s found.
de Plank: What’s a poop deck?
Quick Draw: A poop deck is a, uh, it’s a, uh, uh
de Plank: You two can have a conference if you wish.
Baba (whispering): It’s a place for tired sailors who are pooped.
Quick Draw: Yeah! That’s what I was goin’ to say.

That’s good enough for the villain. The exchange is interrupted by the daughter, who joyfully recognises El Kabong. After a quick “costum-ee” change, we get the inevitable sword fight, which gives our hero a chance to say “Oooh! That smarts.” Like the two earlier El Kabong cartoons that made fun of the dialogue between Zorro and his opponent during sword play, this one features a chummy conversation between the two after they discover they were both taught fencing by Old Scabbard Le Stick. They stop and gab until the imprisoned daughter watching it gets ticked off.

Daughter: Oh, come on. Knock it off you guys. How about me? I’ve got to be saved, you know.
El Kabong: Ooops. I’d better get on with my kabongin.’ It was nice talkin’ to you.
de Plank: The pleasure was all mine.

With that, de Plank gets kabonged for the second time in the cartoon. This time he dives overboard, but not before dropping a lit match in the gunpowder hold. Baba Looey dives through the hatch and retrieves it. But Quick Draw’s annoyed. He is the hero, after all. So he drops the match back in the hold and berates Baba long enough to allow the ship to blow up.

The next scene is of El Kabong, Baba and the daughter on a wooden remnant from the ship, with the kabonger being used as a paddle.

El Kabong: So, um, it was a short match.

The daughter is saved and, though the grateful mayor (still tied to the stake) doesn’t explain how, the town treasury is, too. The shot cuts to Baba and a puny guitar.

Baba: Hey, Quickstraw. I theen’ your kabonger shrunk to a ukulele. What we do now?
Quick Draw: We do a sequel, what else? El Kabong Goes to Hawaii! (looks at daughter and father) I’d ask you to come along, but I see you’re still tied up.

The final shot is of Baba using a long stick as a paddle with El Kabong laying on the wooden plank, strumming the ukulele and badly crooning about “rootin’-tootin’, pineapple-shootin’” in Hawaii.

There was one more El Kabong cartoon in the 1959-60 season that repeated some of the plot elements in this cartoon, only with funnier character designs.

The cartoon features a couple of familiar public domain sea-going melodies, perhaps from the Hi-Q ‘X’ series. As usual, I don’t have names for a bunch of the Shaindlin tunes.

0:00 - Quick Draw sub-main title theme (Curtin).
0:15 - Sailor’s Hornpipe (arr. by ?) – De Plank on ship, rows ashore.
0:42 - GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO (Green) – De Plank robs goblet, daughter wishes for help, Quick Draw sings on hill.
1:11 - Wyoming Tex song (Maltese) – Quick Draw sings, daughter screams.
1:19 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – “Sounds like a female woman...” to “El Kabong kabongs again!”
1:32 - [blank] FIREMAN (Shaindlin) – de Plank holding daughter, kabong!, dialogue with mayor, El Kabong flies into cannon, shot onto pier.
2:34 - jaunty bassoon and strings (Shaindlin) – Baba thin’s, El Kabong pledges trickery, de Plank asks “Who is there?”
3:11 - A Life on the Ocean Wave (arr. by ?) – Quick Draw and Baba as pirates in rowboat.
3:18 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw takes pirate test, daughter recognises El Kabong, “Shucks, m’am.
4:02 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – “How did you recog-niss-size me?”, Quick Draw changes.
4:12 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – de Plank shouts “En garde!”, sword fight, daughter demands to be saved, kabong!
4:58 - SIX DAY BIKE RACE (Shaindlin) – “Sacré Blue-y!”, de Plank drops match in gunpowder hold, ship blows up.
5:57 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – El Kabong paddles back to shore, scene with mayor and daughter, scene on board going to Hawaii.
6:43 - Quick Draw sub-end title theme (Curtin).


  1. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    I saw the storyboards from this Quick Draw McGraw episode (the third appearance of El Kabong), years ago, on the Cartoon Network sites from the USA and Australia.

  2. The match in the gun-powder bit towards the end of this could have been borrowed from 'Bucanneer Bunny'(1948), but that gag doesn't play off a characters' ego.

  3. Maltese also threw in a topical reference to "WHAT'S MY LINE?" (which, coincidentally, was sponsored on alternate Sundays by Kellogg's from 1958 through '65). Often, if one or more members of the panel thought they might have nailed the occupation of the contestant facing them, they'd ask moderator John Daly, "May we have a small conference?". And John would say, "You may have 10 seconds for a conference", and they'd whisper their suspicions or ideas as to the contestant's occupation.