Saturday, 2 March 2013

Quick Draw McGraw — Yippee Coyote

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Dick Lundy; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – ?; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson. (no credits)
Voices: Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Wagon Master,Yippee Coyote – Daws Butler; Narrator, Banjo Player, Cow – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Geordie Hormel, Lou De Francesco, unknown.
First Aired: week of January 16, 1961 (rerun week of May 29, 1961).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-033, Production J-101.
Plot: Wagon Master Quick Draw battles cow-rustling Yippee Coyote.

It’s great to see all the elements of a cartoon working together, especially in limited animation where the style of movement can’t be depended on to pick up the slack. That’s what “Yippee Coyote” gives the viewer—convoluted logic, a smart-aleck bad guy who fools the good guy with disguises, a fast line of patter and action, and a silly Jerry Lewis voice from Daws Butler that makes almost any dialogue sound funny with incorrect inflection and emphasis. Even the stock music works well, as Jack Shaindlin’s “Crazy Goof” surfaces in several scenes. The only thing really weak is the ending because it doesn’t resolve anything nor does it top any of the previous dialogue routines.

The incidental character designs and props are by layout artist Tony Rivera. His cow is pretty funny. Very basic design. He gets hauled away, with Don Messick giving out a plantive “Mooo!”

And here are some of Rivera’s settlers. Very stripped down stylistically, much like in “Talky Hawky” that season..

There are no credits on this cartoon but the animator’s unmistakeably Dick Lundy. There’s a little rolling snout thing he does with Quick Draw McGraw in a couple of cartoons, and he does it here when Quick Draw laughs. There are three drawings on threes. I’ve slowed down the animation so you can take a look.

Quick Draw laugh from 'Yippee Coyote'

This is another cartoon with those rose-coloured, shadowed bluffs in the background (see the cow frame above). Art Lozzi may be responsible; the rolling reddish hills elsewhere in the cartoon are the same as in “Talky Hawky.” The clouds, though, in the opening shot, aren’t the lumpy ones that Lozzi drew in other cartoons around the same time. It looks like these ones have been chopped off at the bottom with a ruler.

The opening scene is of a wagon train crossing the prairie. We hear the clip-clop of Geordie Hormel’s “Western Song” (it’s called that even though there are no lyrics). And we hear Don Messick’s straight-forward narration: “Travelling to California in the early days of the West was a long and dangerous journey. Nevertheless, with banjos on their knees, the brave settlers struggled onward, their safe passage entrusted to one man—the Wagon Master.”

Banjos on their knees? That might seem incongruous, except the wagon master gets bashed with one (it makes the El Kabong guitar sound, not that of a banjo) because a banjo player wants to play the cello instead. Already, Mike Maltese is giving us a ridiculous situation. And then the Wagon Master quits after “the dreaded Indian attack” (as both the narrator and then the Wagon Master call it). “You’re not turnin’ chicken, are ya?” asks the would-be cello player. “Yeah,” answers the Wagon Master, and there’s a cut to a shot of him with arrows in his butt. “I just got my tail feathers.”

I can’t help but wonder if Maltese is taking a shot at Hanna-Barbera’s limited animation. The narrator now comes on and states: “And, so, without a wagon master to lead them, the setters didn’t dare move.” Of course they didn’t move. Animating them would cost the studio money (their heads move and that’s it). Quick Draw and Baba Looey join us in the next scene and Quick Draw agrees to accept the job as wagon master after reading a sign (again, no animation involved).

Quick Draw: Folly me, folks.
Baba: But Queeckstraw, how do you know we heading west?
Quick Draw: That’s simple, Baba boy. When we hit the Atlantic Ocean, it’s in the opposite direction.

Now the heckling bad guy shows up. Lundy gives Yippee Coyote a determined walk, ten drawings on twos, scrunched fists, with a stiff leg on four of the drawings. Combine Maltese’s dialogue and Daws’ sing-songy Jerry Lewis voice and you get:

Yippee: Oh joy oh good news. A wagon train, passing under my sly nose, together with a moo cow. I will get the moo cow I should have milk. Then I shall have rosy cheeks and strong bones and be healthy.

There’s more Lewis-like dialogue after Yippee drops the cow he’s pulling up a cliff on Quick Draw and our hero responds with gunfire. “Oh, you got a bang-bang. Don’t hoit me with a bang-bang, Mister.” Then, after a couple of more shots comes a phoney death scene (well, Maltese did write for Bugs Bunny). “Oh, you got me! Already I got pains and lumps and everything!” Quick Draw is annoyed. “I did not touch you,” he rightly states. “I shot in the air.”

Yippee is unfazed by the news. The dialogue and accompanying actions stream onward. “You, sir, shall hear from my solicitors. I’m telling you to your face. (Opens Quick Draw’s mouth) And to your teeth . (Looks down Quick Draw’s throat). And to your tonsils.” An echo gag follows before we quickly cut to the next routine. Quick Draw is fooled by Yippee’s old-timer disguise, a sombrero and a pince nez. Out of nowhere, Yippee pulls out a huge ear horn, shoves it over Quick Draw then shoots into it to “clean” it so he can hear better.

Unfortunately, Maltese has used up his best gags and the cartoon’s got 90 seconds left. So it practically slows to a stop as we get almost nothing but dialogue the rest of the way. First, Yippee runs. Lundy gives him a basic run cycle of eight drawings, two frames to a drawing. But then during a couple of the cycles he substitutes two of those drawings, and the second one has Yippee gliding in mid-air for ten frames. As you know, Hanna-Barbera characters run past the same stuff in the background as the same background drawing is used again and again. Lundy’s timing is such that Yippee’s feet end up in the same place the next time the background drawing starts over again. Quick Draw, still wearing the tuba-sized ear horn, runs into a blue rock. Quick Draw has busted his clavicle. The rest of the cartoon involves Baba laughing at Quick Draw’s misfortune, Quick Draw stalking off in anger but then Yippee benevolently tripping Baba to bust the burro’s clavicle so Quick Draw can laugh at him, thus reuniting the two cohorts. And that’s how the cartoon ends. Baba, for good measure, does a little laughing roll on the ground and chirps out the mock-Spanish words “bustola clavicola.” Baba, as usual, gets in the tag line: “I like that Quickstraw. He always sees the joke. If it’s on the other foot.” Baba’s drawn with large pupils that Lundy (and Laverne Harding) liked using.

What happened to Yippee Coyote? He joined Scooter Rabbit and Max Chickenhawk in H-B obscurity, never to return. Only six more Quick Draw cartoons were made after the second season and Maltese preferred to concentrate on El Kabong taking on characters more suited to a masked avenger.

The opening music choice works is fine but it strikes me as odd that the sound-cutter didn’t use the stock version of “Oh, Susannah” that was in other Quick Draw cartoons, considering the scene’s main gag involves a banjo on a knee. I’ll bet that’s the way Carl Stalling would have done it. The cutter also uses a cue when the wagon train rolls along that starts with a C and an E in half notes, then a G in a full note in the next bar. I don’t know where it came from but it’s from the same place and composer as triumphant trumpet cue in “Legion Bound Hound” and “Missile Bound Cat.” The unidentified cutter also likes changing cues in mid-sentence.

0:00 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:15 - ZR-39A WESTERN SONG (Hormel) – Wagon train, “Whoa!” line.
0:45 - SF-11 LIGHT MOVEMENT (De Francesco?) – “We’ll camp here,” Wagon Master clobbed with banjo, Indian attack, “Indians?!”
1:22 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) - “What’ll we do, Wagon Master?”, shot of settlers.
1:37 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Quick Draw and Baba walk, “…time we get thar.”
1:58 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Quick Draw laughs, sign scene.
2:21 - C-E-G western dance cue (?) - Quick Draw leads wagon train.
2:50 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Coyote walking, captures cow.
3:16 - related to Excitement Under Dialogue (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw and Baba walking, cow hoisted, cow lands on Quick Draw.
3:31 - PG-181F MECHANICAL BRIDGE (Green) – Coyote on bluff, runs off camera.
3:41 - drum kit sound effect – Quick Draw with gun in Coyote’s face.
3:48 - GR-333 BUSTLING BRIDGE (Green) – “Don’t hoit me,” dying scene, Coyote puts nose in Quick Draw’s face.
4:10 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Coyote/Quick Draw scene, disguise scene.
4:58 - LFU-117-2 MAD RUSH No 2 (Shaindlin) – Coyote runs, skids toward Baba.
5:11 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Clavicle laugh scene, Quick Draw walks away.
6:04 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Baba runs after Quick Draw, Baba tripped, “That smarts.”
6:18 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – “I thin’ I broke…”, Quick Draw laughs, Baba talks to camera.
6:42 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. "Banjo on their knees" is a reference to a lyric from "Oh! Susanna".

  2. Whatever folks may think of Yippie Coyote, it didn't stop him from appearing again in an episode of "Yogi's Treasure Hunt" some years down the line. So not completely forgotten =P

    Mind you, here's an interesting thing about Yippie; that rope noose round his neck. It seems to add a bit more character (and mystery) to him as a torn ear or a peg-leg would to any other random face. Nice touch on Tony's part.

    And another useless fact: horses (and burros I assume) don't actually have a clavicle. It's a mystery whether Mike was aware of it or decided it might be something else silly to throw in. Or maybe he just thought 'clavicle' sounded funny.

  3. Oh, good Mr. Yowp, I couldn’t disagree more on the ending of “Yippee Coyote”!

    The great thing about it is that, after almost two years of cartoons where Baba laughed and made remarks behind Quick Draw’s back, Quick Draw finally caught him – unequivocally – and decides to dissolve their partnership right then and there!

    …At least until the reconciliatory action by that great diplomat Yippee Coyote serves to remedy matters.

    This was a wonderful variation on one aspect of the series’ formula, which is “played-with” to great effect!

    It’s the kind of thing that can only happen once characters and their patterns are well established. And that’s usually the point at which I like a series best. Unfortunately, that was usually just about the time most animated TV series would conclude… once we reached a point where writers COULD play with an established formula.

    After “Chopping Spree”, this might actually be my favorite Quick Draw ending, precisely because it turns convention on its ear!

  4. Just a quibble, but it's disappointing how the title card is just a foreshadowing of the opening scene. The 1958-62 title cards were always a highlight for me, as they summed up the basic theme of the upcoming cartoon in a humorous, often graphically creative way. One would expect to see Yippee Coyote in a crazy disguise, or tweaking Quick Draw's nose, or Quick Draw chasing him in anger. Looks like whoever designed the title card was off that week.

  5. One more time, Dick Lundy, the grimaces king, strikes again, animating this Quick Draw McGraw episode.

  6. Then Jerry Lewis/Daws Butler's voice shows up in one of the guards name Yippie, Yappie, and Yahooey, in the latter's case.


  7. The stripped down aspect of Tony Rivera's character designs is why serious fans of these fun vibrant (low budget and deadlines notwithstanding) cartoons pass Tony Rivera as the worst of the designer pool (eg. Bick, Sommer, Clinton, Benedict et al) i will agree with the serious die heard fans of the cartoons that they are pretty much the ugliest of the entire H-B oeuvre before 1964 or so, in fact Tony Rivera's style pretty much robbed these cartoons of the whatever remaining linkage of whatever was left from the Tex Avery MGM era and even the very last part of the CinemaScope era because his drawing style became the norm for the Wally Gator, Touche Turtle, Lippy and Hardy Har Har bunch for the 1961-1962 release season.

    In fact the last distinct REALLY good TV show from these exact same guys was The Jetsons (which, incidentally, came at the exact same period as the Wally Gator stuff) , but then again, it was also the first to have Iwao Takamoto be the main designer (he created Astro), alongside Gene Hazelton's splashes on the show (without checking, he was the one who designed Geroge Jetson and other incidental characters drawn consistently in the exact same design style of that character.), but right then, Iwao's stuff was a lot times way better than Rivera's stuff, and any further bad directions the studio later turned astray into is all the fault of Bill and Joe themselves (they sold the studio to Taft Broadcasting in Cincinnati and stupid parent groups and fascinatingly evil execs like Fred Silverman started to take it's toll on the studio immediately, not to mention hideously grubby pencil lines in place of the beautiful pen and ink work echoing the fantastic Winsor McCay, the TRUE REAL founder of the animation style), sorry, but it had to be said, and they suffered for it.

    And besides even when you have tight deadlines and extremely notorously BAD budgeting from the local stations, it doesn't mean you have to lose in the process...

    Personally i'd wish Bill and Joe would nuke their bad conservatism habits and take so much wasted potential and turn it into roses, and have a system that would not lead to the bastardized system of today.

    Hopefully you won't remind the long reply, but i think the Jetsons
    should have been more detailed and vibrantly colored in 1962 and i think even the animation style and execution should be contemporary with the earlier Colonel Bleep, and obviously the animation at H-B in the late 1950s should have improved A LOT more than it should have been, and as for what we've got beginning in 1964 the animation got WORSE and WORSE, until it finally became bad to the bone to the point where you can tell SOME of it was actually done overseas, gack!.

    The writing ALSO should have gotten better and less to NO forumla whatsoever, but that's enough of a rant for one day, if H-B was my studio i'd run it exactly the way i WANTED IT, cheers!.