Saturday, 28 April 2012

Augie Doggie — In the Picnic of Time

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Bob Givens, Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Sketches – Dan Gordon, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie, Ant – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin, Bill Loose/John Seely, unknown.
First Aired: week of November 2, 1959 (rerun week of May 2, 1960)
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-007, Production J-19.
Plot: Doggie Daddy tries to fend off his picnic from ants.

Dear Old Dad is such a disbelieving soul, isn’t he? One constant thing in the Augie Doggie cartoons is dad writes off anything Augie says as a manifestation of childhood imagination, only it turns out to be true. So it is in this cartoon. Augie, gifted with the ability to talk to animals, learns that ants have declared war on Doggie Daddy. Dad laughs it off but lives to regret it.

To digress for a moment, Hollywood studios liked ants, and I don’t mean the frolicking insect kind of the ‘30s. There were a bunch of ant-and-picnic or battle-with-ants shorts in theatrical animation age. There was ‘Uncle Donald’s Ants’ (1952) at Disney. Ants popped up in two Tom and Jerry cartoons, ‘Pup on a Picnic’ (1953) and ‘Barbecue Brawl’ (1956). Elmer Fudd took on a hill of them in the non-picnicking 1953 cartoon ‘Ant Pasted.’ Elsewhere at Warners, ants take on each other in ‘The Fighting 69½’ (1941) and engage in food gags in ‘The Gay Anties (1947). All were directed by Friz Freleng, who later put ‘The Ant and the Aardvark’ series on TV. As best as I can tell, this is the first-ever TV cartoon that revolved around ants.

Having now set myself up for e-mails from completists wondering why I haven’t mentioned ‘Atom Ant,’ Bob Clampett’s ‘Robot Ants or the ones that invaded ‘Carman Get It,’ let us now move on to this cartoon, what I believe was the fourth Augie put into production at Hanna-Barbera (the first four seem to have been given consecutive production numbers). Monte comes up with a really lovely opening scene. I love his use of colour-within-colour in the trees, plants and stream. And Bob Givens hasn’t cluttered the layout with clouds. The camera pans left to right to reveal Augie and Daddy enjoying a relaxing picnic. You can click on the reconstruction to enlarge it. I wish these cartoons were restored and on home video.

Lew Marshall’s the animator here, so we get his nose-bobbing dialogue using three positions. He starts with a drawing, then he raises the angle of a character’s snout up a bit. That’s the first open mouth position. Then he raises the angle a little higher for the second open mouth position. He alternates between the two, then drops the angle of the snout down to where it started. But he also has nose-wagging dialogue in this cartoon. Again, he starts with an Augie head drawing. Then he moves the head angle to the right for the first open mouth position. The second open mouth position is at another angle to the right. He alternates between the two drawings, on twos or ones depending on the dialogue, and when the talking’s over, the snout moves to the far left where it started. Here are the two dialogue positions as Augie talks to an ant.

Daddy writes off the conversation as some kid-type foolishness but then spots the ant walking away with a piece of his chocolate cake. A fly-swatter becomes an ant-swatter. Notice, by the way, Monte has little flower petals right on top of the grass. Augie gets really hammy now, and I don’t know why Daws Butler would have read the lines that way. Augie’s confessing he’s responsible and the ant didn’t steal the cake. If he wants Daddy to believe him, why would he overact? Shouldn’t he sound sincere and contrite?

Well, the fly-swatter didn’t kill the ant. It just made him angry. Angry enough to declare war on Doggie Daddy and justify petty thievery of food by his buddies in the ant colony. Daddy doesn’t believe it and has a nap. Meanwhile, the ants dress like the Spanish-American War is still on. How do they ant-agonise dear old dad? (Mike Maltese’s pun, not mine)

They throw him in the water. Daddy has apparently been watching a lot of Yogi Bear, as he keeps describing what he’s on as a “pic-a-nic.”

They drag him, Scooter Looter-style, along some sturdy tree branches, as he hangs onto links of hot dogs they’ve pilfered. “Dis is ridiculous. One dog hangin’ on to a string of dogs.” By the way, note Monte’s clouds. They’re sponged within an outline. He drew them the same way in ‘Hide and Go Peek’.

The tiny ant that started it all trips him (much like Bugs Bunny did with various large antagonists in the 1950s) and laughs. Daddy snatches him off the ground but he’s rescued by his comrades-in-arms with a well-aimed pie.

They climb a tree with a big watermelon. Sure, Daddy plunks one of the ants on the head with an apple but they get him by dropping the melon on his melon.

Daddy surrenders. Augie and the ant hold flags of truce. The ant tells him not to let it happen again. Daddy shrugs. “After all,” he tells us in his wind-up catchphrase, “How many daddies can say ‘Dat’s my boy who talks to ants.’

The Hi-Q ‘D’ series makes a couple of appearances in this cartoon. There are several reels with chase themes in them, some by Bill Loose and John Seely, others by Spencer Moore. Two by Loose and Seely (actually written by David Rose) show up here. I don’t think TC-15 (aka ‘Spirited Pursuit’) was used in any other cartoons; TC-14 (aka ‘Zealous Pursuit’) briefly showed up in the Quick Draw McGraw cartoon ‘Scary Prairie.’ The cutter uses only the second half of Cadkin and Bluestone’s CB-90 (I don’t know what the actual name is, just the re-release name). And there’s the deliberately hokey sad trombone cue that comes from a stock music source I haven’t been able to track down.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
0:25 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Augie eating, Daddy relaxing, sound off camera.
0:48 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – Augie talks to ant, Daddy swats ant, Augie skids into scene.
1:26 - sad trombone music (?) – Augie confesses.
1:43 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Ant jumps up and down, Augie suggests leaving.
1:56 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Dad against tree, Augie warns, Daddy sleeps
2:34 - GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Green) – Ant peers from behind toadstool
2:46 - bugle call – Ant blogs bugle
2:51 - TC-15 CHASE-MEDIUM (Loose-Seely) – Daddy wakes up, “What’s that racket,” Daddy tossed in lake, defiant, “Hi fellas.”
3:45 - TC-14 CHASE-MEDIUM (Loose-Seely) – “There goes our pic-a-nic,” Dad dragged, “Off to the wars.”
4:16 - light symphonic music with strings (?) – Dad hauled up tree, dragged along branches, thud.
4:45 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Cadkin-Bluestons) – Daddy drops, ant trips him, pie in face, watermelon up tree, Daddy skids to a stop.
5:58 - GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Green) – “I could almost admire...,” Daddy drops apple, watermelon lands, Daddy surrenders, “What’s he sayin’ dere, Augie?”
6:53 - ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – Augie translates ant, Daddy talks to audience.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. Thanx for posting those pan pics - I love 'em

  2. Here ya go, Yowp-

    Completist Diatribe #1:

    But...but...what about the Colonel Bogey March ants from "The Snorkasaurus Hunter"?


  3. RJ, it's really hard to paste together the pans because the colours don't match. Don't ask me why the blues (or whatever) are either lighter or darker from one side of the frame to the other.

    TCJ, don't ant-agonise me! (See? I can write as well as Maltese).

  4. Donald Duck also battled ants (and lost) in "Tea For Two Hundred".

  5. Couple o’ things on this one…

    1: The very idea of being tripped by an ant is funny in itself! If I recall the cartoon correctly (and, unlike with Bugs Bunny), you never even see the tripping action. Daddy just runs and flops – the ant and the act of tripping is unseen because the ant is so small. Am I correct on this?

    2: This one was part of a Quick Draw McGraw soundtrack record I had as a kid – with the actual voices of Daws, Don, Doug, and the rest. That’s why I remember it as well as I do – but am fuzzy on some of the visuals.

    3: Michael Maltese (who was apparently writing stories for the Woody Woodpecker Dell comic book at the same time) appears to have done a take on this in WOODY WOODPECKER # 56 (1959). No picnic, but Woody runs afoul of the residents of Knothead and Splinter’s ant farm. Similar gags ensue – there’s even an ant dribbling a strawberry like a basketball into a strainer hoop – and Woody “bricks-up his chimney” to keep the pests out, as I believe Daddy did in a cartoon about a skunk (?)

    For the Woody comics, Maltese did duplicate, almost gag-for-gag, the Augie cartoon where Daddy thinks Augie robbed a bank (see my comments in the post Yowp did for that cartoon) – and it looks as if he did a similar borrowing here – though more the concept of ant-battles, and not strictly the cartoon gag-for-gag.