Thursday, 20 March 2014

Kidding Gently

The Hanna-Barbera studio was chugging along when this column dated November 15, 1959 was published.

It was designed to give a little plug to the studio’s newest syndicated series, “The Quick Draw McGraw Show,” and got in a little description about its operations at the time.

There’s no mention of series in development or future plans; the studio would announce “The Flagstones” in about six weeks.

And the tail end of the article gives you an idea how popular Huck, Yogi and Mr. Jinks were with the non-kids in the audience.

The Corner Bar Yields Some Devoted Fans of TV Cartoons

United Press International
The hero of a new TV Western series is a gun-slinging horse. His sidekick is a burro with a voice like Desi Arnaz’. “Quick Draw McGraw” is the latest cartoon creation of the fertile minds of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Quick Draw and the Mexican burro, Bobba Looey, this season joined the successful TV cartoon family begun in 1957 by the Hanna-Barbera outfit. Their characters have names like Ruff and Reddy, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Pixie and Dixie, Snooper and Blabber (they’re a cat and mouse private eye team) and Augie and Doggie (a father-son canine pair).
The success of the cartoons, now syndicated to 189 TV stations, was not easy to come by. Hanna and Barbera, who turned cut some 200 “Tom and Jerry” movie cartoons, were told that costs would be too high to permit making weekly cartoon series for TV. “We thought it could be done,” Barbera said. “We knew it could not be done on a movie cartoon budget, though. So we planned short cuts. “The biggest financial saving came by our reducing the number of drawings. We have taken away about 80 per cent of the drawings made for movie cartoons of comparable length.
"We use only the essential movements — only what we need to show the action. We use closeups—on the obvious theory that a head will have fewer lines than an entire body. And we let the audience use its imagination.”
The viewer imagination is stimulated into figuring cut what’s happening from time to time in any H-B cartoon. This saves drawings and money and also gives the viewer a little mental exercise — something not often associated with TV fare.
Hanna cited a fight as an example.
“We’ll use the off stage sounds of a struggle,” he said, “and then we’ll show the effects of it. It’s perfectly clear what has happened.”
The cartoons are made for Screen Gems, the Columbia Studios TV subsidiary. The staff totals about 150 persons—animators, inkers, cameramen, writers and office personnel.
“The open door policy prevails at our shop,” Hanna said.
“Joe and I have our desks across from each other—as we have for 20 years of making cartoons. If someone wants to come in and discuss something, he comes in. We’ve minimized the memo. We’ve also outlawed the timeclock.”
Barbera said using parody and imposing human-like situations on animal groups are two of the main devices used in their TV cartoons.
Viewers can see without too much trouble who or what is being kidded gently in H-B cartoons—and this season it’s TV westerns and private eyes.
“This makes it possible for our stuff to be enjoyed by adults as well as children,” Barbera said. “And we know adults are in our audience, because a friend told us there’s a bar in Seattle (Wash.) with a sign over the TV set. It’s brought out during our shows.”
The sign reads:
“No loud talking. No tinkling of glasses.
“We are watching Huckleberry Hound.”


  1. Very enlightening stuff, Mr. Yowp! Thanks for sharing. :)