Thursday, 8 August 2013

Flintstones Weekend Comics, August 1963

Gene Hazelton and his crew handling the Flintstones newspaper comics decided to go off in a different direction from the TV show. Such isn’t usual in Comic Land. The Bugs Bunny comic books, for instance, feature Petunia and Cicero Pig, and have Sylvester calling others “Guv’ner” all the time. Fans, I guess, accept the two different worlds, just as they accept the 493 versions of the Spider-Man story that are out there today.

So it is that Hazelton and whoever else handling stories for him felt it would be a great idea to have the infant Pebbles talk. Not out loud, but to herself. And they thought it’d be nifty to have her and Dino have kind of an ESP with each other. There are valid reasons for it if you’re a writer. It opens up more avenues for plots and punch-lines. As a reader, I’m not so sure if I’m crazy about Fred Flintstone being a straight-man to a baby. But I’m not crazy about the Pebbles character to begin with, so I suppose it personally doesn’t really make a difference.

Pebbles started chatting with herself in 1960s American English in the weekend newspaper comics 50 years ago this month. You can click on each comic to enlarge it. The quality, as usual, isn’t terrific, as these were scans of photocopied newspapers.

Did you know Fred invented water skiing? According to the August 4th comic, he did. Of course, he was too cheap to get a Johnston seahorse outboard motor for his boat. The last panel has a nicely composed layout. Fred still isn’t saying “Yabba Dabba Doo” in the comics yet.

August 11th features Pebbles “talking” to Dino (who doesn’t answer back).

Wilma’s acting more like the Wilma of the early Flintstones seasons in the August 18th. An unusual rear view in the first panel of the middle row. The small lettering in the final panel seems odd; I guess that’s how the letterer is showing Fred talking to himself.

Silhouette drawings highlight the August 25th comic. I especially like the two panels at the bottom where Fred rides off into the distance. There’s a TV antenna on a house in the first panel in the second row. Notice that Clarence actually has a tail light. That’s clever.

Alas, no Baby Puss again this month. The poor cat’s been forgotten, just like in the cartoons. I can’t remember if I posted this one before, but I really like some of the drawings that ran when papers publicised that they were adding the Flintstones to their comic section. I didn’t make a note which paper ran this but it doesn’t really matter. It’s a fun drawing.


  1. That seems to be a fairly standard practice for comics, developing the characters differently for a different medium. Mickey Mouse in Floyd Gottfredson's newspaper comics and later the comic books of Paul Murry and others is almost a different character than in the cartoon shorts, and Carl Barks and others dreamed up dozens of relatives for Donald Duck who never appeared in the theatrical shorts.

  2. We've already seen how the Flintstones comic strip went its own way, with the addition of Amber to the cast and occasionally giving Dino his own "lines" via thought-balloons, etc. Later on, Pops (Fred's father? Grandfather?) takes up residence with Fred, Wilma, Pebbles, Baby Puss, and Dino. Pops like Amber is an ongoing character with no precedent in either the animated or print adventures. The Dell and Gold Key comic books also had their own unique "Flintstones universe" with characters like Fred's beatnik nephew Rodney Rocktop and a Grampa character who looks nothing like Pops in the comic strip.

    One of the things I enjoy about this comic strip is the incidental characters who occasionally pop up. The blonde woman in the first panel of the beach comic strip bears a striking resemblance to Pebble Bleach, the actress girlfriend of Perry Gunnite. The boy talking to his father in panel four of the same strip has a slight similarity to Sandy, one of the Cave Kids. One wonders how the father knows Fred--from working in the quarry, from the Water Buffalo Lodge, or from the bowling team, among possible choices. The unnamed couple in the last strip about Clarence the dinosaur could possibly be Joe and Gladys Rockhead, although I don't recall that they had kids. The man definitely looks something like Joe Rockhead, though not enough to be a certainty. Interesting when the main characters get involved in someone else's life, someone we don't know, as Fred does here with his dinosaur-sitting experience for that other family. It gives one a sense that Bedrock is well populated with a wide variety of peripheral characters.

  3. I really liked the “Pebbles thinking” angle, which the comic books eventually picked up too. In CAVE KIDS, as well as THE FLINTSTONES. It gave her a distinctive personality (or, at least, a distinctive POV) well beyond anything she had in the classic series… later spin-offs don’t count.

    Eventually, she became a “crawling observer” on the matters of everyday life. And seeing things from her… um, “ground level” perspective was very charming!

    Oh, and as for differences between comic books and animation… Five Words: Beep Beep the Road Runner! …And talk about PERSPECTIVE? I knew the comics version before I knew the Chuck Jones version! I wondered where his sons were, and why he didn’t rhyme.