Wednesday 29 February 2012

A Lost Loopy De Loop Cartoon?

You’d think that because of the sheer volume of cartoons that Hanna-Barbera started pumping out, any story idea for a cartoon in an established series would end up on the screen. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Here’s a photocopy of a Loopy De Loop storyboard. The photocopy was in the possession of the late Earl Kress. I admit I’m not a fan of Loopy and haven’t seen all of his cartoons, but I can’t see that this story of Tony Benedict’s was ever made.

Columbia released Loopy to theatres beginning in November 1959. Seven cartoons were issued in the 1959-60 season, eight in the 1960-61. The production number on this cartoon was K-18, so that should have landed it in the 1961-62 season, but I can’t find it anywhere. It baffles me that it wouldn’t be made; Tony’s story is fairly typical for a Hanna-Barbera short made about this time—so typical, I can hear Doug Young as the cop—and seems no worse than any of Loopy’s other cartoons.

I fired off a note to Tony about the storyboard but he didn’t really have any information to pass on about it.

So, you Loopy fans can click on each panel to make it bigger and enjoy this “lost” Loopy De Loop cartoon. It’s a shame the notations on the first panels didn’t photocopy very well.

My thanks to Rick G. for e-mailing this. We all miss Earl greatly.

Saturday 25 February 2012

Huckleberry Hound — Bird House Blues

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision - Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Huck, Ziggy – Daws Butler; Iggy – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-021, Production E-47.
First Aired: week of February 16, 1959.
Plot: Huck tries to evict two crows from a bird house.

Writer Charlie Shows comes up with a great bit of logic near the beginning of this cartoon, when two crows take over Huckleberry Hound’s newly-constructed bird house.

Huck (shouting in front bird house): Listen here, you! I built this here house for the birds.
Iggy: For birds? Ain’t we birds, Ziggy?
Ziggy: What else?
Iggy: You sure we is birds?
Ziggy: Sure I’m sure. You can ask mom.

You can’t really argue with that, can you? The crows are absolutely correct. But Huck won’t accept that because, well, we wouldn’t have the conflict needed for a seven-minute cartoon, would we?

Bill and Joe pinned some early hopes on the two crows. The studio hadn’t built up a big stable of stars so it marketed what it thought were its top incidental characters. Iggy and Ziggy were among them; perhaps Hanna and Barbera hoped to develop them into kind of a Heckle and Jeckle. But the H-B cartoons were a lot tamer than the wise-guy Terry-Toon magpies, whose cartoons benefited from fast-paced action, something the easy-going Huck show didn’t have. It’s telling that when Warren Foster was brought in to write the second season cartoons, he kept a couple of Huck’s adversaries from the first year (Leroy the lion and Wee Willie the gorilla) but discarded the rest, including Iggy and Ziggy. They just never lived up to their potential.

This cartoon’s structure is a familiar one. Huck’s involved in a string of gags as he tries to remove the crows from his birdhouse. It’s highlighted by Carlo Vinci’s thick ink-lines, wide mouths, scowls, thick teeth, stretch-dive exits from scenes and jerky movements. I wish he had kept this style but it was not to be. You won’t see anything as distinctive in, say, Breezley and Sneezley.

The cartoon opens with a long shot on action, which seems unusual for an H-B cartoon. Huck’s putting the last coat of paint on his new, high-aloft, bird house. But there’s something different when the scene cuts to a closer shot. The house has developed rain gutters and the two crows are lazing about on the roof, biding their time until Huck has finished the bird house, supremely confident they’re able to get the best of him. They zip into the house as soon as Huck puts up the “Vacancy” sign. Then they have the exchange we mentioned above. Huck tries to argue with their logic. Charlie Shows stretches for a pun.

Huck: I mean the “cheep, cheep” type of birds.
Ziggy: Uh, Brother, we is the cheapest.

What you’ve got to admire about Huck is despite the fact he’s angry, he’s able to step away from the situation and comment on it to the audience. He turns to the camera, smiles and says “You just gotta ad-mire them fellas’ spunk.”

We’re about a third of the way through the cartoon already. Now the gags:

● Huck gives the crows ten seconds to get out. He starts counting. The crows pull apart the ladder Huck is on. He quickens his count to ten before he plummets with a crash. “I can count right fast if I have to,” he tells us. Nice reaction line by Shows; he’s got some good ones in this cartoon.

● Huck tries to pole-vault up to the crows (and spells “out” ‘o-w-t’ in the process). Ziggy squirt oil on the pole the birdhouse is sitting on. Uh, oh. Here comes a Shows rhyme. “Surprise, wise guys!” says Huck. He’s surprised as he slides down the pole. “That’s a right, slick, oily trick, fellas” rhymes Huck. Why does the dialogue sound like the title of a Ruff and Reddy cartoon? (This is a rhetorical question, folks).

● Huck tries to chop down the pole. He “plumb forgot it was iron.” Huck vibrates back to his house, singing ‘Clementine.’ Shows Rhyme Time. Iggy: “Yeah, Ziggy. He’s got a neat beat.”

● A balloon lifts Huck to the birdhouse. He blows cigar smoke inside to get the crows out. Iggy: “Who’s burnin’ trash?” Ziggy: “Not me. I like trash.” As you might guess, the cigar smoke has no effect but makes Huck sick. Ziggy takes care of that by removing the cigar from Huck’s mouth and popping the balloon with it. Huck lands with a crash against the base of the pole. “You know sumpin? I feel better already.”

● Huck lassos the birdhouse and pulls it toward him (But, but, the pole’s made of iron. How does it bend?) Iggy pulls out a knife. Shows Rhyme Time. “Unhand our home, you cur, sir.” The bird house now swings back and forth, bashing Huck deeper and deeper into the ground, interrupting every few words of Huck’s threat to the crows.

● Huck straps wings to his arms and zooms in the air toward the birdhouse. Ziggy: “Is it a bird? Is it a plane?” Iggy: “It’s a buzz bombing buzzard.” With lines that, you can see why the crows didn’t make it in show biz. They get on the roof of the birdhouse, pull it off and Huck lands inside. They slam the roof back on. Shows goes for the tired and obvious.

Iggy: This house is for the birds.
Ziggy: Yeah. But now it’s gone to the dogs.

Ah, but Huck wins. The crows are now out of the birdhouse. Huck finishes the cartoon by victoriously singing ‘Clementine’ with the disgusted birds picking it up at the end. For some reason, Huck is muffled in the shot when he’s singing inside the birdhouse, as if the intention was the dialogue was to be played while the crows were outside.

This was the final animated cartoon for the crows, but Ziggy’s voice lived on at Hanna-Barbera the following TV season as Super Snooper.

Lots of music by Bill Loose and John Seely here. For reasons that don’t make a lot of sense, Huck sings ‘Clementine’ over top of the stock music.

0:00 - THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SONG (Hanna, Barbera, Curtin, Shows) – Main titles.
0:26 - Clementine (trad.) – Huck works on bird house.
0:47 - LAF-4-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – Iggy and Ziggy on roof, zip into bird house, sweep dust into Huck’s face, Huck knocks.
1:28 - TC 300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Crows in house, pull apart ladder.
2:37 - TC 303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – “I can count right fast”, oil can gag, Huck walks with hatchet.
3:26 - Clementine overtop of Hi-Q.
3:40 - TC 201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – “I hates to do this,” Huck tries to chop iron pole, blows cigar smoke into bird house, Huck moans.
4:11 - Clementine overtop.
4:55 - TC 202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – “What was that,” Ziggy breaks balloon, rope scene, Huck on roof.
6:10 - ZR 48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – “In the air,” Huck flies into bird house.
6:42 - TC 301 ZANY WALTZ (Loose-Seely) – Huck in bird house, Crows talk to each other.
6:55 - Clementine (trad.) – Huck and crows sing Clementine.
7:10 - THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SONG (Hanna, Barbera, Curtin, Shows) – End titles. Yowp Note: All the Season One Huckleberry Hound cartoons have now been reviewed on this blog.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Have Your Milk With Yogi

As a reasonably astute child (or, more likely, as a big fan), I didn’t need a newspaper to tell me when to tune in to watch Huckleberry Hound or Quick Draw McGraw. But with other kids, TV stations didn't take any chances.

Our roving correspondent, Billie Towzer, has again roved the internet to find pictures of things relating to the earliest H-B cartoons, and among them are a couple of ads for two of the syndicated shows. I don’t know whether Hanna-Barbera paid for these, or whether the stations coughed up the money; there’s no mention of Kellogg’s, so I don't know if it was somehow involved. The Quick Draw ad must have been done by someone at the studio’s publicity department or we would be looking at a very bad tracing or some stock model sheet poses that have been posted here before.

Do they still make colouring books today? I keep thinking that the stuff I had or saw as a five-year-old is too low-tech for kids today. Nonetheless, here’s the cover of an Augie Doggie colouring book from 1963 by Watkins Strathmore.

To show you that almost everything is on the internet, HERE is a link to another Augie book by the same company from a year later. It even has all the pages that you can click on to enlarge.

Who wouldn’t want to have a Huck bowl and Yogi milk mug? Made from genuine plastic. And for only 50 cents! Clip this coupon and send away, kids. Oh, make sure you the box-top from you-know-what-company’s cereal. Yogi looks a little stunned, like the alien-as-Yogi in Space Bear.

You’ll notice the ad refers to Kellogg’s Variety Pack. Seems to me we never bought them that often, probably because there was at least one cereal in them no one ate. Post made the same sort of thing, if I recall. Here are a couple of little boxes from a Variety Pack. Poor Huck gets the obscure cereal. I don’t remember it at all.

Birthday party stuff seems to have been a big seller for Hanna-Barbera. Napkins, plates (which quite justifiably featured the ever-popular Yowp), tableclothes and, as you see below, wrapping paper. Jinksie looks confused that he’s hanging in mid-air. And to think kids ripped this apart to get their present.

My thanks to Billie for finding all this. We’ll have more in future posts.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Flintstones, Sunday, February 1962

Comics, at least at one time, were drawn with the idea that the top row of panels could be lopped off without affecting the plot if a newspaper had space limitations. That’s sure the case in a couple of the Flintstones Sunday comics in February 50 years ago. The first row’s kind of a mini-strip.

Mastodons make appearances in the first two Sunday pages. February 4, 1962 also has Fred saying “Abba Dabba Doo” in this one, dropping the “Y” in “Yabba” for some reason. It’s also one time when a toy mouse doesn’t cause an elephant to land on someone or pick up someone with their trunk and use him to bash the mouse.

February 11th has some nice animal drawings. I love the dropping mastodon.

Ah, the know-it-all, jerk Fred we all loved before Pebbles domesticated him shows up on February 18th. I guess someone at the studio figured “Joe” and “Bill” weren’t suitable names for the ancillary bird characters in this one, considering they crashed the plane. And is this the earliest mention of Pterodactyl Airlines?

Very attractive characters in the February 25th comic. Dino in love would be explored in the great third-season opener featuring Sassie. Short doctors have to grow those bristle moustaches in Hanna-Barbera cartoons, it seems.

Alas, no Baby Puss this month.

Click on any of the comics to enlarge them.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Pixie and Dixie — Goldfish Fever

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Mr. Jinks, Dixie, Bulldog, Man – Daws Butler; Pixie, Woman – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Spence Moore, Bill Loose.
Production: Huckleberry Hound Show K-037, Episode E-99.
First Aired: week of January 25, 1960 (rerun, week of July 18, 1960).
Plot: Pixie and Dixie try to stop Jinks from eating the goldfish in the neighbours’ pond.

Two of Jinks’ 13 cartoons in the 1959-60 season involved him going uncontrollably gooney over something he had to catch and eat—a canary (“Bird Brained Cat”) and goldfish (this cartoon).

You might wonder why he just doesn’t catch and eat Pixie and Dixie. But it doesn’t appear Mr. Jinks has any desire to eat mice. He just doesn’t like them and wants to bash them. Sometimes. In this cartoon, they’re friends, much like they are in “Bird Brained Cat” as they tried to stop Jinks from going after the fish next door because they know he’ll get clobbered by the dog he teased at the start of the cartoon. It turns out in the surprise ending he does not.

The ending’s pretty much the highlight. There’s plenty of rambling dialogue about “golden fish” that allows Daws Butler (as Jinks) to get excitable, but no words he can bend around like we’re used to hearing. Still, Daws gets several different emotions out of ol’ Jinksie. Dick Lundy is the animator. He plunks out some angular drawings and a couple of cross-eyed looks, but there’s nothing all that distinctive with his takes. There are a couple of re-used cycles, eg. one with Jinks running right to left with his arms straight out, and six seconds of nothing but Pixie and Dixie nodding their heads while Jinks talks off camera. I guess Joe Barbera told Alex Lovy to save some money on this one by getting Lundy to draw less.

There’s also a perspective problem in the first scene. Jinks is atop a stone wall, dangling his tail as bait for the dog on the other side to chomp on. It’s on a cycle. Dog leaps up, Jinks moves tail before dog chomps. Happens again. Then the third time, the dog chomps but Jinks doesn’t move the tail. Why isn’t it bitten off?

Lundy comes up with a stiff-legged walk cycle, eight drawings on twos, as Jinks goes to mice to gloat to them about how he made a chump out of the bulldog next door. Dixie warns that the bulldog will catch him eventually. Jinks ignores the warning and strolls toward the front door. Lundy uses an entirely different, and bland, walk cycle. Jinks’ plan to tease the dog is stopped when he sees the neighbour pouring a bucket of goldfish into a pond. Don Messick does the wife’s voice in falsetto and, though you can’t see it because part of the frame below is cut off on this particular video file version, her lips never move when Messick reads the line.

Sadly, Jinks first reaction to seeing the delicious goldfish is having his pupils shrink. That’s the take. And Jinks is talking, which would distract from any real take anyway. Jinks tells the meece he’s struck “golden fish” next door and is going to stake his claim. He climbs the wall of the living room in cycle animation. Daws is giving his best excited, rambling read but the sound cutter has elected to use the quiet Jack Shaindlin tune ‘Pixie Pranks,’ which doesn’t fit the scene at all. Writer Warren Foster now pads for time as Pixie and Dixie head to an encyclopaedia to discuss the meaning of goldfish fever. The meece try keeping Jinks away from the fish by holding his tail. He gets away, giggling crazily. “Gee, if this keeps up,” Dixie says, looking at cat hairs in his hands, “Jinksie’ll have a bald-headed tail.”

Foster extends the gold-claim analogy by having Jinks pan for fish in the pond. Best gag in the cartoon. As Dixie warned, the dog wakes up, punches the delirious cat (prattling on about being “Klondike rich”) in the face, then sending him over the stone wall back into his own yard. The meece look up and follow his flight path to the ground with an explosion sound.

The meece try to get Jinks mind off goldfish. Unfortunately, they pick the tale of King Midas. Before Dixie can get to the word “gold,” Jinks fills in the blank with “golden fish.” Jinks gets excited in his basket. Cue the running-with-arms-out animation. Cue the Jinks-panning animation. Cue the meece-following-flight-of-Jinks animation. Cue the stars-from-beat-up-Jinks animation. Jinks is right. It’s a “Banana-za” of savings on the budget by reusing animation.

Next scene: Jinks has a rope tied to his tail. It won’t let him reach the whatcha-ma-call-its. “You mean the goldfish?” Pixie asks. That sets Jinks off in heel-clicking joy. Cue the running-with-arms-out animation. But the rope does its job. It stops Jinks in mid-air on the other side of the fence. The dog drops the unconscious cat back on the other side.

Jinks wakes up in his basket. He imagines Pixie and Dixie to be goldfish. Nice little popping sound effect and bursting star drawing during the transformation scene. Jinks snaps out of it and rushes off when Pixie says “goldfish” (Lundy has the meeces somersaulting in the air when Jinks drops them, a bit of throwaway animation that would be superfluous in later years). Cue the running-with-arms-out animation.

Jinks peers into the fish pond. The dog confronts him. Note the anticipation drawing as Jinks dips up and into the dog’s face. Next shot is of the stone fence, we hear a clunk sound and the dog flies against it. Then a close-up of the dog. “I can’t understand what that cat wants with Siamese fightin’ goldfish,” he says to the viewer. “They’ll tear ‘im apart.” Jinks dives into the pond. Bubbles rise to the surface. There are yapping sounds. Jinks shoots upward in pain. Then the goldfish leap above the water, barking like dogs. Seems to me H-B used this concept again in future cartoons. Or was it in a Chuck Jones Tom and Jerry? It’s familiar anyway.

The final shot has Jinks unrolling the top of a sardine can, informing the meece that these fish never fight back. “We cowards must stick together,” Jinks tells us. I guess “sticking together” means “eating them.”

The cues below reflect what I can hear in the cartoon. The cue sheet skips several cues, including a Jack Shaindlin boxing-type cue I cannot identify, and lists LAF-4-1 FISHY STORY in the scenes around Jinks climbing the living room wall when the soundtrack clearly has LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS. It also says there is 34 seconds of C-19 LIGHT ACTIVITY, a Bill Loose cue that is not in the cartoon at all. The symphonic cue was used in Snooper and Blabber’s “Cloudy Rowdy,” the Augie Doggie short “Skunk You Very Much” and at least one other cartoon, but under "composer" on the cue sheet, it simply reads "Langworth Pub., BMI." Unfortunately, "Langworth" doesn't come up in the BMI database any more. It may be a Jack Shaindlin cue.

0:00 - PIXIE AND DIXIE (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera, Shows) – Main titles.
0:13 - LAF-6-16 medium circus march (Shaindlin) – Jinks bashes bulldog with garbage can lid.
0:28 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Pixie and Dixie at window, Jinks talks to meeces, looks over stone wall, fish poured into pond.
1:35 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Jinks at stone wall, talks to meece, climbs wall, meece read encyclopaedia.
2:30 - LAF-72-4 LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Pixie and Dixie can’t hold Jinks.
2:37 - L-1139 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Meece with clumps of fur.
2:43 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – Sleeping dog, Jinks pans for fish, crash.
3:05 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Meece talk to each other, “...wish by a fairy queen.”
3:37 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “The King, whose name...”
3:50 - LAF-113-3 light symphonic music with strings (Langworth) – Jinks runs, pans for fish, crash.
4:08 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Pixie and Dixie talk, rope on Jinks.
4:35 - LAF-74-4 rising scale circus music (Shaindlin) – Sound of Jinks running, rope stops Jinks.
4:57 - variation on Boxing Greats No 2 (Shaindlin) – Jinks crashes, dog drops him over wall.
5:13 - LAF-4-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – Meece drag Jinks on floor, Jinks wakes up.
5:26 - C-14 DOMESTIC LITE (Loose) – Meece turn into goldfish and back again, Jinks runs to pond, clobbers dog, dog talks to camera.
6:23 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – “They’ll tear ‘im apart,” Jinks flies from pond.
6:37 - LAF-6-16 medium circus march (Shaindlin) – Dog talks to camera, Jinks opens sardine can.
6:56 - PIXIE AND DIXIE (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera, Shows) – End titles.