Thursday 30 January 2014

Lefty Callahan

Jack Nicholson had to buy his first car from someone. And that someone was Lefty Callahan.

The two worked at the MGM cartoon studio together. Nicholson was an office boy who was told by his boss Bill Hanna he should maybe sign up for acting classes. Callahan was an assistant animator in the Hanna-Barbera unit. At a staff meeting in late 1956 to address rumours of the studio’s demise, they were told by chief Fred Quimby that, no, the operation was “like the Rock of Gibraltar.” Two weeks later, Lefty got his layoff notice because MGM was closing the studio.

We’ve received word from former Hanna-Barbera animator Don Parmele that Lefty Callahan passed away on January 21st at age 84.

Oliver Edward Callahan was born on June 30, 1929 in Fresno, California to La Vaughn and Marjorie (Richardson) Callahan. The family moved to Seattle when Lefty was young but were in Glendale in 1940 where his parents owned a restaurant. At MGM, he assisted Irv Spence and, on the side, sold his ‘49 Chevy to Nicholson for five easy pieces $400.

When MGM closed, Lefty went to Animation, Inc. (Broadcasting magazine, Jan. 21, 1957) animating commercials, apparently including some for Johnson’s Wax. He then spent time at John Sutherland Productions; his name appears on “A Missile Named Mac” (1962). But he ended up working for his old boss again by 1964. He first shows up in H-B credits on “Jonny Quest.” Lefty brought life to characters on “The Secret Squirrel Show” (“Atom Ant” had an entirely different set of animators) and toiled on many of the studio’s shows through the ‘60s and into the early ‘90s , first as an animator and then a director. Lefty did a bit of work on the side as well, including a couple of Peanuts cartoons for Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez.

I profess my complete ignorance on most matters surrounding Scooby Doo, but I understand an incidental character was named for him in one of the Scooby series. He worked on most of them.

Lefty served his country as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.

He’s survived by older sister Jackie and other family members. Our condolences to his kin, friends and co-workers.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Hux Pix Yux

Praise for “The Huckleberry Hound Show” came from many places right after it debuted in 1958 and one of them was the show-biz bible, Variety. It published two reviews of Huck’s debut show, one from Los Angeles (in Daily Variety) and another from New York (in Weekly Variety). The trade paper didn’t use its favourite self-invented words “boffo” and “socko” to describe the show, but the reviews were pretty favourable.

The first review, from the West Coast, was published October 9th; the series’ Los Angeles debut was on September 30th. You’ll notice a few names are misspelled.

Filmed by H. B. Enterprises for the Kellogg Co.
Producers-directors, William Hanna, Joseph Barbera; animation, Kenneth Muse, Lewis Marshall, Carlo Vinci; backgrounds, Monte Alegre, Art Lozzi; layout, Dick Beckenbach; story sketches, Dan Gordon; voice characterizations, Daws Butler, Don Messick; titles, Laurence Gobel; additional dialogue, Charles Shows; music, Hanna, Barbera, Hoyt Curtain.
KNXT, Tues., 6:30 p.m. Running time: 30 mins.
Buoyed by an effective musical score and an abundance of snappy dialog, "Huckleberry Hound" emerges as a bright new cartoon series that should please not only the kiddies, but an occasional adult who is exposed to tv when the youngsters are busy monopolizing the set.
Although the situations depicted fall into the classic cat-and-mouse mold, they are peppered with sympathetically-conceived animated heroes who should win a quick new following from the Donald Duck set. If there is anything tired about this series, it is that recourse to the time-worn story line that finds the little rodents outwitting the feline and the tiny duck giving the big bear a hard time. But series is smartly conceived in that no live emcee is needed; the bridges between the trio of short cartoons are gapped capably by Huck Hound and his friends. The only interruptions are the Kellogg commercials, and even these are easy to take.
Most of the credit must go to producers-directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, whose versatility enabled them to script most of the sharp, up-to-date dialog and score most of the original music, which is fresh and rewarding for a cartoon teleseries. Voice characterizations provided by vocally versatile Daws Butler and Don Messick are convincing and well-differentiated. Animation and backgrounds are also plusses. Already screening in 170 videomarkets, "Huckleberry Hound" should meet with sufficient enthusiasm from viewers. It is better-than-average cartoon fare for the little screen.

This shorter review from Weekly Variety was published October 15th. Leo Burnett was the Kellogg ad agency. The end of the story is cut off on the version I have.

KELLOGG, WPIX, N. Y. (film). Producers-Directors: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera; Story Sketches: Dan Gordon; 30 Mins.; Thurs.; 6:30 p. m. (Leo Burnett).
Moppet set should get some fun out of this half-hour animated series turned out by the talented duo William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Distributed by Screen Gems and bought by Kellogg for a national spot spread, it represents one of the few made-for-tv animated shorts.
Judging from the opener, Huck Hound and his animal friends, should carve a niche in the viewing habits of the small fry. Team of Hanna and Barbera did the "Tom and Jerry" theatrical cartoon series. Yap, there's a cat and mouse episode in "Huck Hound." But for the tele-version, the producers have used the semi-animation method made famous by UPA. It was effective in spots, but in other sequences the abbreviated animation detracted.
Characterizations were funny for the most part and the musical score enlivened the proceedings. One sequence about the bear and the small duck was marred by a difficult to understand voice for the duck. Story line in all the sequences was amusing and the whole thing was done so that It also has some appeal for adult [viewers].

As it turns out, there was more than the “occasional” adult tuning in, as you’ve read in posts on the blog. Several universities held Huck Hound Days. A bar and grill in Seattle was named for him. Employees at an aircraft plant made him the company mascot, to give you a few examples.

Both reviews praise the music in the cartoons, apparently unaware that Hanna-Barbera was using stock music libraries for everything except the openings, closings and bumpers. Evidently, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera agreed with the New York reviewer about the characters popping from pose to pose. That was, more or less, eliminated as the season wore on.

The reference to the duck character is interesting. For one thing, poor Red Coffee/Coffey doesn’t appear to have been listed in the voice credits, if what was published was complete. For another, the reviewer is right. Coffey is hard to understand at times. When the duck changed into Yakky Doodle, Jimmy Weldon’s delivery was much clearer than Coffey’s. The other thing is the duck appeared in “Slumber Party Smarty.” It’s generally conceded the first Yogi cartoon to appear on TV was “Yogi Bear’s Big Break.” But the reviews show that wasn’t the case at all.

Variety doesn’t appear to have reviewed a lot of new TV shows, but it not only editorialised about the Huck show, it also reviewed the debuts of “The Quick Draw McGraw Show,” “The Yogi Bear Show” and “The Flintstones.” Like many critics, the people at Variety loved Quick Draw and Yogi but weren’t all that crazy about Fred Flintstone. We’ll try to pass on what they had to say in future posts.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Walt Clinton's Calvin

That funny cartoonist and H-B lover Mark Christiansen has pointed out a just-concluded auction on eBay for several comic strips drawn by Hanna-Barbera layout artist Walt Clinton.

No one seems to know anything about them. “Calvin,” as far as anyone knows, never appeared in any newspaper. Clinton could have been drawing some demos for one of the syndicates. The character designs are pretty familiar looking, aren’t they.

I suspect he lettered these himself. The italicized wail of the cat in the first panel looks really similar to the lettering on model sheets done in the later ‘40s when Clinton was working in Tex Avery’s unit at MGM. And is a coincidence that the family is named “Dibble”?

All of the strips have Clinton’s address of “2756 Angus St. L.A. 34” on them. I suspect they’re from the late ‘50s or early ‘60s.

The funny thing about reading these, I can hear cartoon voice actors in my head: Hal Smith for Bagby, Herb Vigran for Herb and Marian Richman for the wife. Calvin bears a resemblance to George Jetson but I can hear Don Messick instead of George O’Hanlon.

Animation historian John Province points out Clinton was an assistant to Harry Tuthill on the comic The Bungle Family.

Walter Frank Clinton was born October 1, 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri to William C. and Mamie Clinton; his father was a buyer in a shoe factory. He went to Soldan High School (photo to right), then the Night School of Commerce at St. Louis University and graduated from Washington University in 1928. He got a job as a sign writer with the Merchants Sign Service, and later with Sears Roebuck. He was still living in St. Louis as late as 1935.

He and his first wife Teresa Reuter are in the 1938 Los Angeles Directory where his occupation is “artist.” He’s living with Disney illustrator Gustaf Tenggren. The 1940 Census lists Clinton as “animator, motion picture studio,” who made $2,800 in 1939; his draft card reveals he was working for Walt Disney. His first animation credit at Metro was on Wild and Woolfy (1945; the credit was removed in a re-issue). He designed characters for a time in the Avery unit and remained with MGM until the cartoon studio closed in March 1953. By November, he was hired at Five Star Productions, which made animated commercials, as an assistant to the director. Clinton arrived at Hanna-Barbera when it got underway in 1957 and retired in 1969 at age 63. He and Dick Bickenbach were among the layout artists on the “Cattanooga Cats” show; that apparently was his final work for the studio. He re-married in July 1972 (his wife’s name was Wilma). Clinton died in Sun City, Arizona on January 15, 1992 at 85.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Augie Doggie — The Musket-Tears

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Aromatique – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy, Red coated Knight, Pathos, Horse – Doug Young; Narrator, Green coated Knight, Porthole – Don Messick.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin, Hecky Krasnow.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-033, Production J-104.
First Aired: week of January 23, 1961.
Plot: Doggie Daddy lies to Augie about once being a member of the famous Musketeers.

While watching this cartoon, the first question you may ask yourself is what are Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy doing in 17th Century France, especially with Augie wearing his mid-20th Century T-shirt.

The answer is—it’s irrelevant. After all, if Huckleberry Hound can exist in different centuries, why can’t a suburban single father and his son?

Mike Maltese’s story starts much like a number of his Quick Draw cartoons. A narrator sets up the time and place and some incidental characters engage in a pun or a gag. Then, the main story begins. Doggie Daddy isn’t as clueless as Quick Draw in this, but he’s about as equally inept. One can picture Quick Draw in the big show-off scene where he ends up crashing at the bottom of a cliff while demonstrating a patently false story about one of his heroic adventures as a Musketeer.

Maltese’s version of Musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis are Pathos, Porthole and Aromatique.

The situation’s pleasant enough. Doggie Daddy brags to Augie that he was the Fourth Musketeer. Naturally, he confides in us, “da truth is I wouldn’t know the Three Musketeers from the Three Blind Mice.” Augie, set off by Daddy “like a young bird trying out his wings...on his big adventure” according to the Narrator, meets the Musketeers. They, of course, have never heard of Doggie Daddy. “Fibber father of the year” assures annoyed Augie that he really was a Musketeer, and after getting his butt handed to him when he tries to bluff the Musketeers, works out a deal where they’ll pretend he was part of their group so Augie won’t “grow up with a complexion—whatever that is.” The cartoon ends with the fake Musketeer thoroughly botching his phoney re-enactment of saving the King (like failing to grab a chandelier in mid-jump) and being led home exhausted by Augie atop his son’s horse.

Maltese echoes his dialogue, as he tends to do in many of his early H-B cartoons. The first scene involves a rusty sword. The next scene has the Narrator informing us “a momentous event was taking place.” Cut to Doggie and Augie. “Augie, my son, my son,” says Daddy. “This is a momentous event.” Daddy hands him his sword. “Treat it well. And don’t let it get rusty.” “Dear Old Time-Payment Dad” adds the reason is because he’s got three more payments to make on it.

Maltese had horse-riding Augie sing a little song. Not as great as “The Flower of Gower Gulch” that he gave to Daffy Duck a few years earlier:

Oh, I’m brave and bold and I know no fear
‘Cause I’m soon to be a Musketeer.

The horse is attacked by some kind of bug. I have no idea what it’s supposed to be. It’s not a bee. It’s not a mosquito.

Tony Rivera is the layout artist. He are a couple of his panels.

And here’s a drawing by Lew Marshall. Notice the parallel lines indicating the H-B 5 O’clock Shadow™.

Marshall stretches the horse and leaves multiples when it zips out of the scene.

Dick Thomas’ small village background drawing partly looks like this.

The sound cutter uses lots of little cues on this one. You should recognise all of them if you’ve seen enough Augie Doggie cartoons. There’s no music, stock or other kind, when Augie sings.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:25 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Narrator scene with swordsmen, pan to house.
0:55 - GR-253 TOYLAND PARADE (Green) – Daddy and Augie sword scene.
1:36 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Augie on horse, Dad bids farewell.
1:48 - PG-161H LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Augie gallops away, Daddy admission.
1:59 - PG-177C LIGHT COMEDY MOVEMENT (Green) – Narrator with Augie on horse.
2:07 - GR-248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) – Musketeers walk, shout.
2:28 - no music. Augie sings song.
2:32 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Bug arrives, stabs horse, “Gosh!”
2:45 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – “That’s the Three Musketeers,” Musketeers send Augie away.
3:37 - CB-85A STEALTHY MOUSE (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Augie and Daddy in living room.
4:33 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – Musketeers laugh, toss out Daddy, Musketeers agree to keep secret.
5:42 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Augie standing, runs off scene.
5:51 - GR-346 FIRST BUDS (Green) – Daddy pins Musketeers, Daddy zips off scene.
6:11 - ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – Daddy runs up stairs, lands on horse, crash.
6:42 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Musketeers invite Daddy to stay, end of cartoon.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

Wednesday 22 January 2014

It's Not the Sierra Madre

Hanna-Barbera had stopped making Quick Draw McGraw cartoons by 1962, but there was one new Quick Draw release that year—on record. That’s when The Treasure of Sarah’s Mattress was put out by Colpix, the music arm of Screen Gems (the TV arm of Columbia Pictures).

The best part about it is the real cast members were in front of the microphone to cut the LP. No cheap imitations. Daws Butler is Quick Draw. Don Messick is Chief Crazy Coyote. Doug Young is Augie Doggie. In fact, they play all the parts. And the record was written by Daws and Don M. You can click on the liner notes to read more.

Want to listen? Then just click on the arrow for each of the cuts.






Saturday 18 January 2014

Yogi Bear — Disguise and Gals

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Don Patterson; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Written by Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Horse McGonigle; Newscaster, Boo Boo, Ranger Smith – Don Messick. Mugger – Doug Young.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961.
Plot: A pair of bank robbers disguised as grannies hide their loot in a picnic basket that Yogi wants.

Do these look like typical Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters to you?

These guys in “Disguise and Gals” look like they could appear on “The Flintstones.” Or “Secret Squirrel.” Or “Precious Pupp.” Meh, as the kids say. It seems to me the artwork was a lot more interesting in the earlier Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Take, for example, the bank robbers in “Big Brave Bear” made only three years before.

I don’t know whether it was Ed Benedict’s influence waning but it seems there was a conscious decision to modify the designs at the studio. Even the backgrounds are a little more abstract and fun in “Big Brave Bear.” I really like the sponge-work and the tree outlines in that cartoon. There’s nothing really wrong with the backgrounds in this cartoon; I just enjoy the work on the first year of Yogi cartoons a lot more. Here’s part of a background by Bob Gentle. The rolling hills remind me more of Art Lozzi.

Here’s part of another background drawing which gets a lot of use in the cartoon. Various overlays are used on it, like a couple to create an entrance to Jellystone Park.

Don Patterson’s at work here. In “Space Bear,” he draws Ranger Smith with really wide pants. He does it again in this cartoon.

He draws closed eyes like the eye-lids are little triangles.

And this is another cartoon where he draws a little crook for a closed mouth.

Unfortunately, Patterson doesn’t have any outrageous takes in this cartoon. The story doesn’t really call for any. But he has Yogi wagging his head from side to side and up and down, so he’s at least trying to make it look better than the rigid-character-blinks-eye that you see in other animator’s work.

Patterson does cheat a bit in the scene where Yogi and the bandits crash through the roof of the Ranger Station. We don’t actually see them go through the roof, but it happens so fast, you don’t really notice. What Patterson did was have the trio disappear, and add some small boards in the next number of drawings that he moved around. Combined with the camera shake, it looks like the characters crashed through. These are consecutive drawings.

There’s not much to say about Warren Foster’s story. He’s got some clever bits of dialogue. After seeing the “old ladies” drive by, Ranger Smith talks to himself about their carefree lifestyle and adds “They really know how to count their blessings.” Cut to the next scene where they’re counting, all right. The money they’ve stashed in the picnic basket. Then there’s the irony when Yogi is running away with the robbers’ picnic basket and one yells “Come back here, you crook!” And there’s the inevitable Yogi rhyme when he runs onto a ski slide to escape. “Without snow, I don’t wanna go.” But go he does after the disguised crooks run into him and down the snow-less slide they go. The characters start in silhouette at the top of the slide but as they reach the middle, the silhouette disappears and you can see the three of them. The slide scene isn’t done horizontally across the screen; it’s done at an angle with the characters coming towards the audience. It’s more interesting visually.

While all this is going on, Ranger Smith is looking at a “Wanted’ poster of the crooks in his office, saying “it’ll be a feather in the cap of whoever captures them.” That turns out to be Yogi when the three crash into the ranger station. A couple of Smith expressions. The contemplative one is a nice extra; Patterson’s trying to get a bit more personality out of Smith than letting him stand there.

Now the last scene, where Boo Boo remarks to Yogi: “It sure was a feather in your cap capturing those robbers. Cut to Yogi with a feather in his cap.” Yogi: “Maybe so, Boo Boo. But I don’t think it does a thing for me.” Whoa. That’s the ending?

Foster named one of the robbers in this “Mugger.” The studio ended up recycling the name in the feature film “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear” for one of innumerable snickering dogs. I’ve listened over and over to Mugger’s voice in this, and I’ve come to the tentative conclusion it’s Doug Young. Daws Butler did a character that sounded similar (especially in “Fractured Fairy Tales” at the Jay Ward studio) but it doesn’t have the same qualities. Young’s cadence as Ding-a-ling Wolf was similar to Mugger, hence my very-much-hedged identification. The same voice was used in later H-B cartoons.

Thursday 16 January 2014

Flintstones Weekend Comics, January 1964

Time to study Fred’s expressions in the final panels of “The Flintstones” Sunday newspaper comics 50 years ago this month. The final two comics have a wavy-mouthed Fred, and the first one has a teeth-and-wavy mouthed Fred. The other comic has great layouts of Fred and Dino being attacked.

Either the Flintstones have a new pet or someone has forgotten how to draw Baby Puss in the January 5th comic. Baby Puss doesn’t have stripes. Whoever the cat is in the opening panel, (s)he’s playing with a wind-up mouse. Good use of foreground and background in the various panels.

Don’t you love how there’s ice and snow on the ground in Bedrock but it never affects anyone’s feet? A derby and a turtle neck in cartoons is a sure sign of trouble, isn’t it? The pineapple design on the tough guy’s dinosaur in the January 12th is unique. Fred has a wavy mouth when he flips over in the last panel of the second row. The week before, Barney developed two heads when looking from side to side. Fred does it this week.

No, Fred, chivalry isn’t dead. It hasn’t been born yet. Setting aside the anachronism, there are nice expressions in the January 19th comic. Note the bottom left-hand panel with Barney’s half-closed eyes giving him a sceptical look.

We’ve had to hunt around to come up with all three rows of the January 26th comic. That’s why it’s plain the rows came from different on-line sources. Ma looks to be a distant relative of Wilma. Judging by the leg positions in the final panel, being overcharged for parking makes you need to go to the bathroom. There’s the shock halo around Fred and Wilma like the one around Fred and Barney three week later. Another silhouette drawing with an interesting angle on the car in the top row.

As usual, click on any of the comics to make it bigger.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Suing Jonny Quest

You wouldn’t think anyone would mistake TV’s first action-adventure cartoon with a show that had human mouths superimposed over inanimate drawings. But someone did.

“Jonny Quest” had problems from the beginning. Variety announced on December 25, 1963 that Screen Gems sales boss John Mitchell negotiated a 26-week deal with ABC for the show, which was described as “a candidate for the Friday night 7:30 period next season (following the departure of the current tenant, ‘77 Sunset Strip’). Series has been bought at $60,000 per copy off the story board as a firm commitment.”

But now ABC had to sell it. Variety reported on January 29, 1964: “With General Mills, which was offered first opportunity to sponsor the series, having turned it down, ABC is looking for other prospects.” ABC had sales problems in general; the April 29th Weekly Variety revealed the network had six shows with no advertising and one with a minute. That was “Jonny Quest.”

Meanwhile, production trundled along. On May 12th, Variety told that Hoyt Curtin had been signed to compose and conduct the show’s theme and incidental music. He used 22 pieces. Not all episodes were completed when “Mystery of the Lizard Men” debuted on September 17th. A week later, Variety listed the writers assigned to the show: Joanna Lee, Walter Black, Herb Finn, Alan Dinehart, Stuart Jerome, Alex Lovy, Frank Rhylick, Beryl Ferguson, W. D. Hamilton, Kin Platt, Tony Benedict, Charles Hoffman and Doug Wildey (Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, Wildey and Lovy got credit for the teleplay of the opener).

Today, fans know that Wildey was the show’s creator. In 1964, all we knew was he was the “Supervising Art Director” in the end credits (with a box around his name, like Milt Caniff). Wildey come from Cambria Studios which produced the least-animated cartoons in history. Double-exposed live-action mouths moved when characters didn’t. And Cambria wasn’t too happy with what it saw in “Jonny Quest.” It called in the corporate lawyers.

Variety published this story on January 26, 1965.

$1,050,000 Piracy Suit Filed Against ‘Jonny Quest’
Cambria Studios Inc. has brought legal action in Superior Court over the Hanna-Barbara tv series, “Jonny Quest,” in which damages totalling $1,050,000 were asked. Named as co-defendants with H-B were Screen Gems and ABC, on charges of plagiarism, misappropriation of trade secrets, inducing breach of contract and false advertising.
Complaint filed by attorney Irwin O. Spiegel alleged that the “Jonny Quest” series uses, copies and appropriates substantial parts and portions of Cambria's “Clutch Cargo” and its pilot film, “Captain Fathom,” including their principal cartoon characters. Defendants, according to complaint, misappropriated Cambria's new, original techniques and know- how in the use of illustration or comic strip art in production of animated films, and that Hanna-Barbera induced former Cambria employes to reveal this confidential information in breach of employment contracts.
Suit also asked for an injunction to prevent further dissemination of allegedly false and misleading statements that Hanna-Barbera are the originators of the use of comic strip art in the animated cartoon medium

Wildey wasn’t the only ex-Cambria employee to move over to Hanna-Barbera. Alex Toth and Warren Tufts joined him and the two worked on a number of series in the ‘60s.

There’s no word in Variety how the suit ended, but it didn’t affect Jonny Quest’s future in the slightest. The show didn’t have one, not in prime time anyway. Not enough people were watching. Jonny, Race and Bandit won their time slot in their series debut, but were last in the Arbitron ratings the following week behind “Rawhide” (CBS) and the memorable “International Showtime” (NBC). Things were even worse for “The Flintstones,” which was getting hammered by “The Munsters” (CBS) with more than three times the audience on the season opener. So a decision was made; Variety reported on December 14th that ABC was switching the the two half-hour cartoons on its schedule. Jonny was sacrificed for Fred and Barney. “The Flintstones” remained on the air next season. “Jonny Quest” was cancelled by mid-March. Incidentally, it was one of only seven night-time shows ABC broadcast in colour, though Variety questioned (February 24th, 1965) whether many stations aired it that way.

But, if I may be allowed an opinion, Jonny was a good show. Fred Silverman at CBS evidently thought so, too, as he bought the rerun rights and put it on the Saturday morning schedule on September 9, 1967. And there it flourished. It later begat “New Adventures” and “Real Adventures,” neither of which resulted in lawsuits by Cambria.

Incidentally, Hanna-Barbera was already in court at the time the Cambria suit was filed, as a trial was getting under way over damages to Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll for being let go as the voices of George and Jane Jetson. And the studio had met up once before with Cambria’s legal representative, Irwin O. Spiegel, in another lawsuit over a half-hour prime-time show. We’ll try to get to that in a future post.

A Yowp addendum: about two years after this post first appeared, historian Jim Korkis asked Margaret Kerry, wife of the founder of Cambria, about the Quest lawsuit. Her response, as reported on the Cartoon Research website:

No, we never sued. We never had the money. We wanted to sue. We were developing this action series with this young boy with red hair. Kay Wright was working with us at the time and he was working at Hanna-Barbera and he told them about the project and the next thing we knew they had hired some of our artists and took some of our concept art. You know that they were sometimes referred to as “Heist and Borrow” in the business.

Sunday 12 January 2014

O Maior Palhaço da Cidade

Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera must have known of the big coin that was brought in from international sales of their Tom and Jerry cartoons when they worked at MGM (and how the cut-off of overseas markets during the war hurt cartoon-makers, such as Disney). So it wasn’t long after they began syndicating “Huckleberry Hound” in North America in fall of 1958 that their company started peddling their animated wares elsewhere. And it worked. If you look on-line, you may find Huck, Yogi, Quick Draw and the rest in Spanish, Portuguese or Italian (if someone has a full run of “Snooper and Blabber” in Portuguese, let me know).

Here’s a story from Weekly Variety of March 15, 1961, about Huck’s foreign adventures:

‘Hounds’ Around The Vidpix Globe; Big Latino Fave
“Huckleberry Hound,” distributed by Screen Gems, has been sold in 25 countries and promises to be one of the most widely circulated shows in foreign distribution. SG’s current bestseller abroad is “Rin Tin Tin.”
Animated series, produced by Hanna-Barbera, has been dubbed in five different languages: French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese. “Hound” started playing in Latin America a year and a half ago. That was the first time, according to SG, that regional dialects were deliberately used in the Spanish dubbing of the tv series, done for the purpose of emphasizing the varied characterizations of the cartoon personalities.
In Latino market, series now is playing in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Other sales include England, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. In many of these countries, “Quick Draw McGraw,” which in the U. S. started in the fall of ‘59, a year after “Hound,” has also begun telecasting in native tongues.
“Flintstones,” latest out of H-B’s shop, already playing in English-speaking countries, is being readied for the international rounds.

By May 24th, Variety reported Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw were in 29 countries.

While the cartoons aired, the openings and closings made for the half-hour shows didn’t always. Reader Alfons Moliné has sent this along:

Here is a rare opening for the Brazilian version of The Huckleberry Hound Show (or "Don Pixote", as Huck is called in Portuguese), where it used to be sponsored by Trol, a toy brand. This was done by some local animation studio; check the crude animation and the odd character designs:

Saturday 11 January 2014

Snooper and Blabber — Surprised Party

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, J. Evil Scientist, Crocodile – Daws Butler; Junior, Monster – Don Messick, Mrs J. Evil Scientist – Jean Vander Pyl.
Music: Phil Green, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin, Jack Shaindlin, Clarence Wheeler?
Camera: Norm Stainback.
Filmed: September 21, 1960.
First Aired: 1960-61 season (rerun, week of Oct. 23, 1961).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-037, Production J-116.
Plot: Snooper and Blabber are hired to babysit by Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist.

The J. Evil Scientist clan both pre-dated and post-dated the Addams Family. “Pre-dated” because the cartoons featuring the Scientists debuted a few years before the Addams TV series. “Post-dated” because the Family had appeared in one-panel cartoons in the New Yorker magazine for more than 20 years at that point. But the Scientists must have seemed fresh to much of the TV audience when they first appeared; after all, how many viewers were regular readers of the New Yorker?

Despite their name, the Scientists really aren’t terribly evil. In fact, they barely appear in “Surprised Party.” The cartoon is kind of a reworking of their first appearance in “The Big Diaper Caper.” In their debut, they leave Snooper and Blabber to babysit their kid then return at the end of the cartoon. The same thing happens in “Surprised Party,” except writer Mike Maltese tosses in a birthday party angle.

In a number of H-B cartoons, Maltese puts together a bushel of unrelated gags before getting to the main plot. This is one of them. The first minute and a half is taken up with a classroom setting which has nothing to do with the J. Evil Scientists. I wonder if Maltese did this simply because he didn’t have enough material to fill the actual story and figured he could string some amusing stuff together to come up with seven minutes. Whatever the reason, it works seamlessly in this cartoon.

Snoop is giving Blab lessons in “strange, oddball capers,” pointing to different drawings to set up each bit of silly dialogue.

Snoop: This is the leaning tower of pizza.
Blab: What makes it lean, Snoop?
Snoop: It doesn’t lean, Blab.
Blab: Gosh, Snoop. It looks leany to me.
Snoop: Me clever deductions prove that the ground leans, not the tower.


Snoop: Me toughest caper was figurin’ out why bats hang upside down by their teeny feet.
Blab: Did you solve it, Snoop?
Snoop: Only after a scalp-tinglin’ solution. I hung by my feet for 37 days, lookin’ for a clue.
Blab: And what did you get, Snoop?
Snoop: A tingly scalp.

After a bit more chit-chat, a call comes in. “Snooper Detective Agency. If your case is strange, we don’t work for small change,” says Snoop. It’s not a “strange odd-ball caper,” he assures Blab (there’s the tie-in between this scene and the rest of the cartoon). It’s a “1203—Guardin’ Birthday Gifts.” So they’re off to the old Scientists’ Victorian home. Here are some of Art Lozzi’s backgrounds. Sorry the screen grabs are so fuzzy, but they’ll do until the series is released on DVD (which means “never”). The mailbox is on a separate cel.

The rest of the story is a typical J. Evil Scientist affair. The Scientists enjoy ghoulishness—J. Evil likes Snooper and Blabber’s heads and offers to shrink them; the couple is going to see “Ben Horror” at the movies—and Junior has detective-eating pets (in this case, a crocodile that comes up through a trap door in the “play penitentiary”). Snooper somehow (we don’t see it on camera) escapes from the “707” (“a crocky-dile on the loose”) and our heroes make a run for it.

Snoop: Leave us get out of here!
Blab: You’re right, Snoop. I don’t care about the $60,000, either.
(The two skid to a stop)
Snoop: I forgot about that.
Blab: That’s a lot of forgettin’ to do.

Snooper and Blabber make a permanent getaway past the returning parents after Junior puts together a “Do-It-Yourself Monster Kit” and the snarling metal monster walks toward them. Lew Marshall gives Mrs. Scientist (her first name is never mentioned) a neat little 12-drawing walk cycle where she thrusts out her tall leg, curves it, then plants it on the ground. If the copy of the cartoon was a little better, I’d try to embed it here. Needless to say, Snooper and Blabber, just like in “The Big Diaper Caper” run away without stopping to get paid. Unlike that cartoon, where J. Evil ended things laughing at the fact they never pay the people they hire, the Peter Lorre-evoking Scientist chortles about the “pile-up” in the chariot race in “Ben Horror.”

The sound editor in this cartoon decided to use a fair number of cues. The Phil Green piece “EM-136I Eerie” (the name in the Capitol Hi-Q library) works really well here. The cue when Snooper is on the phone may be Clarence Wheeler’s “Woodwind Capers;” I haven’t been able to confirm it. The sound effects trample over the final cue but it’s discernible as one of Jack Shaindlin’s chase themes, “Six Day Bicycle Race.”

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
0:27 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Classroom scene.
1:52 - PG-161G LIGHT COMEDY MOVEMENT (Green) – Phone rings, “Snooper Detective Agency.”
1:59 - WOODWIND CAPERS (Wheeler)? – “If your case is strange…,” it’s a “1203.”
2:20 - GR-78 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS BRIDGE No. 1 (Green) – Snoop and Blab in car.
2:25 - EM-136I EERIE (Green) – Shot of house, Snoop and Blab on sidewalk.
2:43 - GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Snoop rings doorbell, door scene with J. Evil.
3:14 - GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO (Green) – Mrs. J. Evil conversation.
3:58 - CB-85A STEALTHY MOUSE (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Where’s Junior scene, Junior comes out of trap door.
4:15 - CAPERS (Jack Shaindlin) – Crocodile snarls, gets bashed.
4:19 - GR-456 DR QUACK (Green) – “Here comes our guest of honour…” gunshot, “Look, Snoop!”
4:57 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Junior runs with cake, feeds cake to crocodile.
5:08 - GR-346 FIRST BUDS (Green) – “Ragged-muffin,” crocodile bites Snoop, pulls him through trap door.
5:28 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – “Help!” Snoop and Blab run, skid to stop.
6:00 - GR-90 THE CHEEKIE CHAPPIE (Green) – Snoop talks to Junior, Junior builds monster.
6:22 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Monster walks, Snoop and Blab zoom out of scene.
6:35 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Mr and Mrs Scientist scene.
7:10 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).