Wednesday, 10 July 2013

From Storyboard to Garbage Can

Not every gag a writer comes with ends up in a finished cartoon. Some gags are weak so they never get on the storyboard. Others may not quite fit the flow of the story. And, at Hanna-Barbera in the ‘50s, there was always the chance they could be cut for time, as each cartoon had to be the exact same length so it could fit into any half-hour Huck or Quick Draw show.

Some time ago, Frank Forte on his blog Cartoon Concept Design posted some of the panels from the fine Huckleberry Hound cartoon “A Bully Dog” (1959). The drawings are sketchy but lots of fun; they look like Warren Foster’s work though you shouldn’t take my word for it. It’s interesting comparing them with the finished cartoon because not only was some of Huck’s dialogue changed, some of the gags never made it onto the screen.

The story is simple. Huck keeps getting thwarted by a crafty snickering watchdog as he tries to deliver a telegram to the house where a Mr. Muggins lives. Frank posted seven sets of panels—a shame the rest aren’t around—and they contain gags you won’t find in the cartoon.

In the first two sets of panels, Huck hides in a garbage can to sneak toward the house’s front door. The hole-digging dog stops him and the two end up in a fountain. That’s not in the cartoon. The next gag on the second set, where Huck’s on a phone wire, made it into the short, but the dialogue in panels six and seven has been changed. The overhead angle of the dog next to the makeshift trampoline in the third set of panels is pretty much how it looks in the cartoon.

The bedspring gag is next in the cartoon, but the whole sequence of the dog running into the cellar and grabbing a mallet was changed. Instead, the dog simply stands at the top of the brick wall and bashes Huck with a tennis racket. Huck then sproings down the street, through a manhole, bounces underground in the sewer (his head buckles the pavement when he hits it from underneath), then emerges from the other end and delivers a variation of the gag line on the story board.

The dark glasses gag—and there are two sets of panels missing so we don’t know what Foster had in mind—is missing from the cartoon. Instead, Foster brings back the idea of Huck sneaking along inside a garbage can, except the gag ends with Huck being crushed by an anvil dropped by the dog.

In the last set of panels, the dialogue’s been changed slightly. In the cartoon, the woman doesn’t order Huck to sing to the dog, it’s a request. And Huck’s final line is deleted altogether.

Why were the gags cut or changed? Did Foster do it or was story director Alex Lovy or maybe Bill Hanna responsible? We’ll never know at this late date. But it’s nice to see they’ve been preserved and that someone at the studio liked them enough to copy them so, eventually, fans could see them, too.

Frank’s got a nice little collection of early Flintstones model sheets and a great selection of sheets by Alex Toth for the fantasy/adventure cartoons the studio made in the mid-‘60s. You can see them by clicking HERE.


  1. Wow! Love seeing the old story boards, whether they made the final cut or not. I'm glad someone thought enough of these gems to hang on to them. Thanks Yowp!

  2. I'd have loved for the fountain gag to have remained - maybe an Executive or three thought that Huck trying to "drown" the dog off his rear (or at least that's what implied in the storyboards) may have seemed like a no-no. The original closing line, too, seemed much better before it was cut out.