Thursday, 13 February 2014

Flintstones Weekend Comics, February 1964

Gene Hazelton’s Flintstones writers must have been briefly preoccupied with garbage. Two consecutive weekend comics deal with it 50 years ago this month.

Trying to locate newspapers on-line that printed full versions of the comics has become challenging (just about all the papers I’ve been using in previous months dropped the Bedrock gang in 1964), but I’ve managed to find them. I may not be so lucky from here on.

The first and last panels of the Sunday comics are probably the most interesting every week. The artists always manage to fit a lot in but there’s not too much going on. I like the layout of the opening panel on February 2nd. The action’s going on in the centre, you have two well-drawn shoppers kibitzing on the left and a quizzical Dino on the right. The street is circular. The artist could have drawn it like you might have seen in the cartoon series—two characters in medium shot with maybe a textured stone wall behind them. But the comics, at least at this period, always give you more.

The middle row has different angles and perspectives on Fred’s car. And I like the triceratops rushing out of the rain. A funny little expression.

Another nice use of space in the opening panel of the February 9th comic. The action is in right-hand two third. The artist chose not to waste space below the masthead in the other third and gives us a little Dino gag instead. Note the black background behind Wilma in the little panel in the bottom row.

Nice story payoff on February 16th. Sounds like an H-B employee went outside his home to find a crunched-up garbage can and used it as the basis for a story.

Nice use of perspective in the opening panel on February 23rd. We get a silhouette panel next to it. And is Fred kind of praying in the last panel?

You’ll notice something is missing this month. I don’t mean Baby Puss; I’ve given up hope we’ll ever see the poor cat again in the weekend comics. I mean Pebbles. It’s nice to have the comics focusing on the adults. And Betty gets a bit of a spotlight in the final comic.

Click on each comic to enlarge it.


  1. No sign of Pebbles, but a rare comic-strip appearance of Bamm-Bamm in one panel.

    Wilma's use of a contraction ("Betty an' Barney") in the first panel of the second comic seems inappropriate--the women's grammar in the TV series was usually correct. The occasional exception was an expression such as "ain't it the truth," which was always clearly an attempt to match Fred's less erudite speech patterns. It just seems wrong for Wilma to say "Betty an' Barney." In some of the later strips, all of the characters become prone to contracting the word "the" to "th'" which is really weird because nobody pronounces the word "the" without some form of vowel sound at the end. In the last panel, when Fred says "' since it's our table..." etc. it's a little more appropriate because it matches his casualness about the unfairly rigged ping pong table, plus it's more in character for Fred's speech to be more informal.

    In comic strip number one, Fred says, "I ain't payin' no sixty-five bucks for new ones." Again, this is in character for him. It makes a better contrast between Fred and Wilma when her speech is free of such grammatical lapses.

    The two shoppers in the upper panel of strip number one look like some of the contestants in the Miss Galaxy beauty contest in the Jetsons.

    I also love the way the comic strip title is worked into the foreground of the first panel in strip number three, almost as though there is a sign across the street from their house with their name on it.

    The last two strips seem to have an amusing tie-in, almost a continuity--it's as though the trash collectors will do anything to force Bedrock citizens to purchase new trash cans from Ben's Hardware. Guess that's the advantage to having Ben's son (maybe he has several sons) as trash collector.

    I'm wondering why so many newspapers were dropping the strip by 1964. It still seems pretty well-crafted, with lots of good, detailed artwork and clever gags that people could relate to. It hasn't yet started its "decline" into sloppier artwork and more mundane writing that would characterize it for much of the 70's--even though it always remained a fun comic strip in every era. But I could understand dropping it around 1972 or so--dropping it in 1964 seems premature.

    Thanks once again for taking the trouble to locate these for us appreciative fans.

  2. All these materials were drawn by Dick "Bick" Bickenbach.