Thursday, 1 September 2011

Yogi Bear, Sunday, September 1961

Hanna-Barbera had a great stable of funny animals, so why not take advantage of it in comics? That seems to have become the attitude around the studio by September 1961, as “friends” of Yogi we all know and love from other cartoons started appearing in his Sunday newspaper comics.

(The less said about the fact this concept morphed into inexcusable TV shows like Yo Yogi!, the better).

Courtesy of black-and-white scans of the archives of the Ogden Standard-Examiner (Salt Lake City’s channel 2 broadcast Yogi on Wednesday evenings), here are the Yogi Sunday panels for 50 years ago this month. Mark Kausler has taken the time to scan each of the comics in colour and has them HERE.

There were golf games on a couple of episodes of The Flintstones, but I don’t recall one with Yogi Bear. This one is from September 3rd. Still, jokes around the idea “play it where it lies” were not uncommon; they were easy on network radio when you only needed sound effects. Maybe this inspired the mini-golf at those Jellystone tourist spots. Boo Boo underwater is a great drawing. Why couldn’t he have been this active in the cartoon shows?

There’s a touch of Flintstones in the September 10th where Fred is turned into temporary rock star Hi Fye, mobbed by teenagers. In this Yogi comic, he does it purely by accident. Gotta love the Boo Boo dance. I hope the kid in the last panel means Avalon. Sinatra would be about 15 years out of date.

Yogi had a birthday party in a one-story, half-hour edition of his show on the week of October 2, 1961. Naturally, the promotional people promoted the crap out of it, with Yogi Bear parties (some in studio at the local station that ran Yogi). You can see in San Antonio, they had a TV give-away tie-in. An obvious place for a bit of a free newspaper space was in the Yogi comic, so Yogi’s birthday was the centrepiece of the September 17th cartoon, though the coming TV show isn’t mentioned and it was up to kids to make the oblique connection.

I love the last drawing, and not just because of the warped concept of a birthday cake-shaped stomach. It’s got just about everyone’s favourite H-B “Kelloggs” characters in one well-crafted place. What’s interesting is who it doesn’t include. Pixie, Dixie, Baba Looey, Snooper and Blabber are missing, but Harvey Eisenberg found room for them in a large panel in the missing top row. But we don’t get Yakky Doodle, even though he was featured in his own cartoons on Yogi’s show. My guess is he was being held between two pieces of bread by Fibber Fox, who was about to get pounded by Chopper, with the words “I’ve grown accustomed to your fist.” There are some subtle head tilts in different directions in the last panel.

Augie and his dad are back on September 24th. The yelling drawing is terrific. And a kid with a gun? How can you tell this is 1961? What’s odd, even for ‘61, is Augie keeps calling his father “Doggie Daddy,” not “Dear old dad” or “overdue library book-reading dad” or something like that. I don’t think he ever called him “Doggie Daddy” on the TV cartoons.

Harvey loved putting at least one silhouette drawing in each comic it seems.

As usually, the top row is missing (I wonder how many newspapers actually ran it). And you can click on the comics to enlarge them.


  1. Did we ever learn who WROTE these?

    I love the line of Yogi’s: “I’ll sing a little song of my own decomposition!” I can really hear Daws reading that!

    And, I guess Yogi had the same “mysterious source of musical accompaniment” that Fred had as Hi Fye! Where DID that music emanate from, anyway!

    And, I’ll keep saying it as long as I can type: With all the great comic strip collections being published today, Segar’s Popeye, Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse, and so many others, why can’t someone collect Yogi and The Flintstones?!

  2. Er—Joe, Yowp...

    While the creative team on these particular strips is certainly talented, I genuinely don't think Harvey Eisenberg was wholly responsible for any of them. Reflect back on Mark Evanier's posting from 2009, where he discussed non-Hazelton art on the strip: "Just about everyone good who worked at Hanna-Barbera at the time worked from time to time on them, including Pete Alvarado, Willie Ito, Bob Singer and Harvey Eisenberg... Also, for much of their runs, both strips were lettered and inked by Lee Hooper."

    I'd make an educated guess that the strips you're showing here are all lettered and inked by Hooper, and the Sept 3, 10, and 17 strips suggest Alvarado pencil work to me—especially the younger humans, whom Eisenberg might have been more likely to draw like Jeannie from Tom and Jerry.

    I'm willing to buy Sept 24 as having been penciled at least partly by Eisenberg; there's a grace and motion here that Alvarado lacked. (That said, certain characters—like the forest critters in the unseen first panel—still don't show any Eisenberg influence to me.)

    Re: Yakky—I feel for Fibber. Duck on rye really is good.

  3. Dave, Mark will correct me (and I hope he would), but my impression is he was speaking over the course of the strip, which went quite a number of years. In 1961, Singer wasn't at H-B and Willie Ito would have been in the process of leaving Clampett's studio. I don't know when Alvarado or any of the others arrived. I gather Bick worked on these as well at one point.
    I'm sure willing to have someone drop a note who can definitively state who drew these. The impression I'm left with is, at least when the strips started out in 1961, Gene Hazelton and Harvey Eisenberg were the ones involved with Gene coming up with stories (and, I suppose, layouts) and handing them off to Harvey. But I'm sure some people reading here are more enlightened on the subject than I am, and I'd love to hear from them.
    I've never really sat down to compare them with the comic books that Harvey is known to have drawn.
    It seems the first Flintstones Sunday comic was October 8; at least, that's the first one I've found in my newspaper searches.

  4. Not much to add, other than the Sept. 10 strip is in no way Eisenberg's.

  5. Yowp, excuse me if I'm telling you anything you already know, but—there were quite a lot of funny animal artists during this period who worked for one animation studio as their day job, and simultaneously moonlighted drawing other studios' characters for comic books.
    One example is Gil Turner, who animated for Lantz while drawing both Disney and MGM comics for Western Publishing.
    While I haven't researched the topic, Singer and/or Ito could at least theoretically have worked on some H-B comics before becoming fulltime H-B staffers.

    In a day or two, I'll scan a few sample comic book pages by Eisenberg—both Tom and Jerrys that he inked and lettered, and then H-Bs that he at least penciled. You'll see that his versions of the H-B characters have much more of a "late MGM" vibe to them.
    By contrast, Alvarado had a mid-1960s H-B flavor even before mid-1960s H-B. I don't know enough about H-B to say whether he helped make it that way there, or whether it was just (his) luck.

  6. It looks to me as if the Sept. 10 strip might be Pete Alvarado, and the rest were Eisenberg’s!

    He STILL rules, though!

  7. I completely agree with David on Eisenberg and Alvarado. They were probably the two best H-B comic book artists (though Alvarado wasn’t nearly as good with the characters of other studios) BECAUSE they best reflected the (different) H-B looks – MGM and very early H-B Enterprises for Eisenberg, and the “Yogi Bear Show” era for Alvarado!

  8. Just found your page. I was one of the little kids who drew a card for Yogi, and as a "winner" earned the privilege of eating ice cream and bday cake down at KTLA with a bunch of other young artists. Sheriff John officiated and the program would show cartoons, and cut in between the cartoons, panning the gala down at the studio. I think I had ice cream on my face during the shoot.