Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, May 1964

A perhaps-familiar little friend rejoined the land of Yogi Bear 50 years ago this month in the pages of newspapers subscribing to the McNaught Syndicate’s version of cartoondom’s favourite pilfering bruin. And there’s a not-so-subtle plug for the Yogi Bear movie.

I think I’ve asked this before, but does anyone know the origin of the nuts-equals-Napoleon gag? Was it based on something that happened in real life? Winsor McCay used it in one of his intricate Sunday Rarebit newspaper cartoons before World War One. Here it is in the May 3, 1964 Yogi comic. Nice balance on the bear in the opening panel. Remarkable, isn’t it, that the tourists would know Yogi by name? Well, then again, he’d been on TV since 1958.

Whaaa? Vandalising Ranger Smith’s home? Yogi’s kind of getting destructive, isn’t he? The May 10th comic is a far cry from purloining a sandwich from a basket like on TV. You can’t see them all that well but Yogi’s got a nice ranger of expressions. My suggestion would be to check out Mark Kausler’s site for full-colour versions of the bottom two rows of this month’s comics.

Look! It’s Li’l Tom Tom! No, we don’t mean the rapper (and there must be a rapper somewhere named Li’l Tom Tom). We mean the little native American boy who appeared in the early Yogi cartoon “The Brave Little Brave” (1958). Hanna-Barbera had high hopes for him; Li’l Tom Tom dolls were even manufactured. But the mute little boy didn’t really have any personality and was soon eclipsed by other H-B characters. His swan song was in a Hokey Wolf cartoon. But here he is brought out of cartoon retirement. I don’t know who wrote the story of the May 17th comic, but I like the idea the natives aren’t speaking in “Hollywood Indian.” “Bernard” and “Hildagarde” is a real stretch for a rhyme. If this had been a 1930s cartoon, Bernie would have been a Jewish Indian. Some nice Harvey Eisenberg silhouettes here. Note the wind-up record player.

The best part of the May 24th comic may be Boo Boo’s dry sense of humour in the opening panel. It surfaced maybe a couple of times on the TV cartoons. Yet another chubby-cheeked Boy Scout. The final panel is well laid out.

Unfortunately this tabloid copy is the best version I can find. The tabloids always took out one of the small panels, and one is missing in this comic. It shows Boo Boo standing in front of a rock, looking up and saying “...There’s just one thing...” before the next panel asking about the Fan Club.

What’s that? You can hear Daws Butler’s Phil Silvers voice out of the big agent? Silvers’ Sergeant Bilko would appreciate the audacity of Hanna-Barbera giving free advertising to its feature-length movie in its own comic. This May 31st comic came just after the official preview of the movie. The folks at Weekly Variety wrote, in part, on May 27, 1964:
Columbia Pictures will explore a new location Saturday ( 30) for a press junket for one of its upcoming releases—one chosen to make the film's leading man feel at home. Taking off from here Decoration Day, a planeload of press, radio and tv reps will head for Yellowstone National Park...
The mayor of Salt Lake City will accompany the fourth estaters to the habitat of the fictional bear who is central figure of the animated feature. Agenda calls for flight to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in a chartered Martin 202, transferring to buses for Yellowstone with a lunch at Old Faithful preceding screening of the - Hanna-Barbera animated feature, plus stage show with performers enacting characters from the film. World premiere of "Hey There" is scheduled for here on June 3.

The same issue of Weekly Variety reviewed the feature, calling it a “Marketable hot weather cartoon feature for the moppet mart. Will have to buck its own freevee competition.” (On another page, the paper announced “The Jetsons” would be on CBS’ Saturday morning schedule).

Back to the comic: it’s hard to make out, but the word “Zoom!” is on the bottom of the last panel as Yogi brings out his bags and goes Hollywood.

Okay, now a little bonus. In honour of the appearance of Li’l Tom Tom, here is one of the two music cues used in “The Brave Little Brave.” I haven’t been able to locate the first one, which is maddening, but this is the one played when the panicky rabbit is talking to Yogi, and during the daring rescue of the little boy before he goes over the falls. It’s from Capitol Hi-Q reel M-13. It’s a little chewed up but listenable.


What? You want more music? Okay, here’s the rest of the reel. All are by Spencer Moore. None of these cues were used in cartoons.






As usual, you can click on any of the comics to make it larger.


  1. The comic strip had already referenced Yogi being in Hollywood to make a feature film. This time the strip introduces the concept as if it's a brand new idea. The previous one and this one both seem to tie in with the same "Hey There" film. The last time it was referred to as "Whistle Your Way Back Home," which as you informed us was an early title for Yogi's feature.

    The reviewer quoted above brings home a point that I would think would be a serious marketing issue: movie patrons were expected to buy tickets for a film that featured characters who could be seen on television for free most days of the week.

    I was a very small child at the time, too young for my parents even to consider taking me to a movie--I didn' t even know what one was, although I have a distinct memory of advertising for Yogi Bear in this special "something" that you couldn't see on television. Since I didn't know anything about movies, I literally had no idea what they were talking about, only that Yogi was in something that I wasn't going to be seeing any time soon.

    My recollections of the promotions for the film are too dim for me to remember much about how it was actually marketed, but I seriously wonder how the producers and marketers of the film overcame, or attempted to overcome, that basic problem of getting people to go to theatres to see something they could already see for free on TV.

    Again, thanks for posting these!

  2. Scarecrow, within two years of the release of "Hey There..." , there was an onslaught of TV-to- silver screen adaptions including two McHale's Navy features,and eight (EIGHT!) films culled from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episodes (only the first few ran in the U.S.). There was also Munster Go Home!, Batman, and of course, The Man Called Flintstone-all released during the summer of 1966, so I believe any marketing concerns were squelched immediately.

    1. I would also add that the TV-to- movies scenario was nothing new in the sixties- the previous decade brought us a feature of Our Miss Brooks, and two films cobbled from Disney's Davy Crockett "Disneyland" episodes.

  3. Thanks Yowp, You can never go wrong with some Hi-Q " Needle Drops ". Chewed up or not. Thanks for the rarely heard cues. I have heard a L-739 in a 50's sitcom as they sat around the television set watching a western.

  4. So, how about an article on the flick itself, Yowp [though it might be an anti-Cindy bear hate..]

    Just kidding..anyway, Yowp, thanks for finding the identity of one of those Indian cues..:) Enjoyed it.SC

  5. So sweet of you to share the music.
    A lovely album.

  6. Seeing the Yogi Bear Sunday page from May 17, 1964 (the one which Yogi visits his native American friends), we cannot forget that Harvey Eisenberg also was involved with the Disney comics, drawing stories of characters as Chip & Dale, the Three Little Pigs (including the Big Bad Wolf and his son, Little Bad Wolf), and, specially, Hiawatha the little indian boy (and his family).
    It looks like a coincidence, isn't it?

  7. Not in HB, but thee cues may have been used in other cartoons, as well Art Clokey stop motion fare.