Saturday, 8 September 2012

Quick Draw McGraw — Six-Gun Spook

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Gerard Baldwin; Layout – Bob Givens; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Quick Draw, Baba Looey – Daws Butler; Narrator, Little Varmint, School Marm – Don Messick.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, unknown.
First aired: week of Dec. 28, 1959 (rerun, week of June 27, 1960).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-014, Production J-32.
Plot: Quick Draw chases after Little Varmint from infancy to adulthood.

The Quick Draw McGraw Show hadn’t even been on a full season before writer Mike Maltese started making fun of the conventions of the cartoons. In “Six-Gun Spook,” there’s this exchange between the bad guy and our heroes.

Varmint: “Hold on, there. Hold on, there.” That’s all he ever says.
Baba: Hey, Quickstraw.
Quick Draw: Yeah?
Baba: How comes you always say “Hold on thar?”
Quick Draw: Uh, I reckon I don’t know, Baba. What do you reckon I should say?
Baba: I can’t thin’ of anythin’ else.
Quick Draw: Neither can I. So, I thin’ I’ll keep on sayin’ (chases after Varmint) Hold on thar! Hold on thar!

I’m not certain when Maltese started writing this but it’s possible the series hadn’t begun airing yet (he was hired in November 1958). Regardless, he was already making fun of one of Quick Draw’s catchphrases. Maltese comes up with enough funny (but eye-rolling) bits and lines to make the cartoon enjoyable.

Maltese and two of ex-pats from the McKimson unit at Warners worked on this one. Richard H. Thomas drew the backgrounds, including the opening night-time desert at the top of this post. And this one of at least two Quick Draw cartoons laid out by Bob Givens (credits are not available for all of them). He mainly worked on Augie Doggie but also laid out a few other shorts on the Quick Draw show. Evidently Bob loved stylised characters. He designed the quartet of bad guys Quick Draw arrests at the end of the cartoon—The Sassafras Kid, Wildcat Willie, Shorty Snorter and Ten Finger Charlie.

This is one of the seven cartoons that Gerard Baldwin animated before leaving Hanna-Barbera mid-season for the Jay Ward studio. He did two Quick Draws. You can tell it’s Baldwin because he liked having the mouth way up in the face during dialogue.

There’s a bit of bait-and-switch going on with the title of the cartoon. The action opens with a pan across the long background, eerie music by Phil Green and quiet narration by Don Messick.

Narrator: Many are the wild and woolly stories that are told about the romantic Old West. But the strangest and the most fascinating of all is the Legend of the Lost Mine. Each night from the dark depths of this abandoned mine, a ghostly voice can be heard. Listen.
Quick Draw (voice only): Hold on there! Hold on there! Hold on there!
Narrator: According to the legend, that’s the ghost of Quick Draw McGraw.

Suddenly, there’s a fast pan to Baba Looey. The music changes to Green’s clomping, medium-tempo “The Diddlecomb Hunt.” Baba corrects the narrator. Quick Draw isn’t a ghost. And that’s the last reference to the spirit world in the cartoon; there is no spook, with a six-gun or otherwise. Now Baba explains the story in flashbacks to the narrator. First, we see Quick Draw and Baba as toddlers (Baba in a diaper). Little Varmint is a jerk kid who steals Baba’s “wowwypop.” Baby Quick Draw lets out with a “Hold on thar” to stand up for Baba and gets his milk bottle smashed into his face by Varmint.

The next scene is in a little red schoolhouse a few years later. The teacher asks the class (consisting only of Quick Draw, Baba and Little Varmint) how much two plus two is. The joke’s a groaner but fun because Quick Draw is just so stupid.

Quick Draw (waving his hand): I know, teacher! I know!
Teacher: All right, Quick Draw. What’s the answer?
Quick Draw: Uh, what’s the question.
Teacher: How much is two and two?
Quick Draw: Let me see now, uh. Two and two is twenty-two! And don’t you forget it!

Quick Draw gets a pea in the back of the head and a bullet in the face from Little Varmint.

The characters are in adulthood in the next scene. Cut to a pan of Wanted posters. I love the poster of the masked guy that reads “Not Wanted”. Baldwin draws Quick Draw more like a giraffe.

Baba thinks Quick Draw should forget about Little Varmint, which results in a “I’ll do the thinnin’ around here” catchphrase. Quick Draw thinks of a plan. “I could hear the wheels turning in Quicksdraw’s head,” narrates Baba. And there’s an accompanying sight gag.

Quick Draw: I got it. I got it!
Baba: What you got, Quicksdraw?
Quick Draw: A headache.

Baba ends up coming up with a loppypop bait plot which backfires and results in the “Hold on thar” scene mentioned above.

Next comes a variation on an old routine. Varmint is very obviously disguised as an Indian (and he still has the lollypop). He still fools Quick Draw, who asks the native where Varmint has gone. Into a teepee which, naturally, is over a hole at the edge of a cliff. Down goes Quick Draw, yelling “Hold on there!” (he switches between “there” and “thar” through the cartoon). Ah, but Maltese pulls something a little different.

Varmint: What a relief. If he’d a said that once more, I’d have shot myself.
Quick Draw zooms back up.
Quick Draw: I’ll save you the trouble.
Quick Draw shoot Little Varmint in the head.

Varmint runs into the mine, Quick Draw follows and we hear the echo-y “Hold on thar!” Cut to the present where Baba is finishing his story about how Quick Draw has been lost in the mine for years chasing Little Varmint. Suddenly, Baba looks shocked. Cut to Quick Draw outside the mine (and hasn’t aged at all) with a quartet of bad guys he found inside. There’s a reward for all of them. “I’ll be so rich, I won’t even need money.” But he forgot all about Little Varmint, so back in he goes. Baba resigns himself to waiting a few more years as the camera pans over and toward the mine entrance and Quick Draw inside yells “Hold on thar!” several times until the camera fades out.

The sound cutter uses “The Diddlecomb Hunt” whenever the scene cuts back to Baba relating the story. And there’s real good chunk of a cue that features “London Bridge” and “A Hunting We Will Go.” My guess is it’s a Sam Fox library cue but I really don’t know. It’s heard in several H-B cartoons, always during child or fairy-tale type scenes.

0:00 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub Main Title theme (Curtin)
0:14 - EM-131I EERIE (Green) – Pan across plains to mine entrance, “Hold on thar!”
0:44 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Baba talks to narrator
0:55 - GR-74 POPCORN (Green) – Baby scene.
1:43 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Baba talks to narrator
1:50 - “London Bridge” cue (?) – School room scene.
2:51 - GR-80 FRED KARNO’S ARMY (Green) – Pan over Wanted posters, gears turn, Little Varmint steals lollypop, Quick Draw runs.
4:30 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Baba talks to narrator, Indian disguise, Quick Draw at ten entrance.
5:04 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Quick Draw runs into tent, drops off cliff, shoots Little Varmint.
5:24 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Little Varmint runs into mine, Quick Draw runs in, Baba warns him.
5:44 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT – Quick Draw yells “Hold on thar,” Baba talks to narrator, list of bad guys arrested.
6:24 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Quick Draw laughs, runs back into mine, “Hold on thar!”
6:58 - Quick Draw Sub End Title theme (Curtin)

Yowp note: This blog has now reviewed all the first season Quick Draw McGraw cartoons.


  1. I always was convinved that the "Loindon Bridge" cue (heard in Huckl;ebrry Hound cartoon "Little Red Riding Huck" and Yogi and Boo Boo cartoon "Oinks and Boinks")_ is a Jack Shaindlin cue. The use of getting lost in a mine was in "Tom Sawyer", something H-B would rpoduce as a TV series in 1968..Steve C.

  2. Wouldn’t it have been a wonderful gag if “Ten Finger Charlie” was actually drawn with FIVE fingers on each hand, instead of the usual four?

  3. I just loved it..:-) all are too too cute:-)

  4. I apologize for not commenting on your blog and I thought that you were going to stop posting. Been very busy with college related plans so that was the main reason. I'm very glad you're still posting and writing about the early H-B cartoons.

  5. Robto, no need to apologise. Thanks for stopping in.

    The end is coming fairly soon. I wanted to get to the Jetsons anniversary and through the first season of Quick Draw and the second season of Huck. Not quite there yet.

  6. Only two things sort of let this short down for me: the misleading title and the overuse of "Hol' Darn There". Only so much one can use a catchphrase in a six / seven-minute short alone.

    Although the back-story to how Quick Draw became a sheriff was nicely put by Mike.