Wednesday 29 April 2015

Yowp Sightings

Hi, Yowp here. You know my story. I appeared in three Yogi Bear cartoons. Then Joe Barbera told me, “We’re going in a different direction. Yogi, Ranger Smith, Boo Boo and Jellystone Park. No room for you.”

Ah, there was a time stardom seemed in my grasp. Hanna-Barbera included me in their marketing. Here are a couple of examples I’ve spotted.

Dynamic Toy, 109 Ainslie Street, Brooklyn 11, N.Y., made a number of these vegetable ink tattoo kits in 1961. There was one with the Flintstones and another with Disney characters. And there was this one with various characters from the Huck and Yogi shows.

Here they are. And look! Second row to the far left, there I am. All the other characters are identified except me. “Yowp, you don’t need an introduction,” said Joe. Smooth talker, that Barbera.

Now, here’s an odd mixture of characters—the TV version of Felix the Cat, the 1950s Famous Studios version of Popeye with people in the Popeye newspaper strip, and the cast of “The Yogi Bear Show.” And yours truly is there, too. Same design as in the Cockamamies. Who made these rubber stamps? I have no idea.

But my days were already numbered. The studio introduced the Flintstones in 1960 and Top Cat in 1961. Touché Turtle, Lippy and Hardy, and Wally Gator were around the corner. The studio now had plenty of starring characters to sell. And it did. Secondary characters like me became a memory. But we won’t quite fade away altogether, so long as you can see the fun old cartoons we were in.

And since we mentioned the Flintstones Cockamamies, here they are, including Baby Puss.

Saturday 25 April 2015

Yogi Bear — Bear Foot Soldiers

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley, Layout – Iwao Takamoto, Backgrounds – Neenah Maxwell, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Blue Lieutenant, Bear Soldier, Man Picknicker, Charlie, Ranger Schultz, Orange-Hair Ranger – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Blue General, Bear Sergeant, Woman Picnicker, Louie – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production E-73 (last Yogi Bear cartoon made)
First Aired: 1961-62.
Plot: Yogi Bear unwittingly becomes part of a war game in Jellystone Park.

The U.S. military is kind of clueless. Warren Foster buried that message—but not too deep—inside a number of Hanna-Barbera cartoons that aired in the 1961-62 season. Three of them have “missile” in the title (“Meece Missiles,” “Missile-Bound Bear” and “Missile Bound Yogi”). Then there’s this one.

Here we find military commanders and soldiers who are so wrapped up in their war, they can’t tell the difference between bears and guys in bear costumes, or park rangers and “enemy” soldiers dressed as rangers. In fact, there were no soldiers dressed as rangers in the cartoon. It was a snap judgement by the general in this cartoon based on his own version of military logic, the same kind of logic that breeds the attitude of “shoot first and ask questions later.”

The plot starts out with the simple premise (the same one in “Missile Bound Yogi”) that the Army is, for whatever reason, holding war games in a national park. The lieutenant in charge of the “Bear Patrol” mistakes the lounging Yogi and Boo Boo for lazy soldiers and orders them to get with the other “bears.” The two civilian bears are immediately compliant to military demands and remain so throughout the cartoon; this isn’t the late ‘60s, after all.

Yogi: Uh, things must be pretty bad, Boo Boo, when they start draftin’ animals.
Boo Boo: I thought the next war was gonna be a push-button war.
Yogi: They must have run out of buttons, so they start pushin’ bears.

Yogi helpfully urges the hungry patrol to help themselves to picnic baskets. The armed outright thievery is heartily endorsed by the lieutenant. “Livin’ off the country is necessary sometimes,” he declares. Meanwhile, the bear patrol members fire their weapons at Ranger Smith, knowing full well he’s the park ranger, to “scare him off.”

All this does is result in a military escalation, with Smith and his armed rangers shooting at his country’s own soldiers. “But we scored first,” says the lieutenant, as if that were somehow important. The lieutenant orders Yogi and Boo Boo to get into a tank and chase the rangers. “An order’s an order,” says the unquestioning Yogi.

Suddenly, the military goes home.

Lieutenant (on phone): What’s that general? Call off the war game immediately? Uh, why sir? A new missile has made the Army obsolete? Yes, sir!”

And the lieutenant hangs up the phone as Hoyt Curtin’s soundtrack plays one bar in a minor key of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”

But no one tells Yogi. Cut to him in an out-of-control tank, firing at the rangers, who take refuge in their cabin. Smith’s heroic speech:

Smith: We’ll make our last stand here, men. And let us conduct ourselves so Ranger Station Number 4 will go down in history with Custer’s Last Stand, and the Alamo...

At this point the tank that threatens to mow down the ranger station stops in front of the door. Yogi praises Boo Boo for, in essence, saving the rangers’ lives. Don Messick was a wonderful tone in his voice, emphasizing the fact Boo Boo didn’t do anything. “It ran out of gas, Yogi,” he deadpans. The military didn’t provide the necessary fuel to “do the job” and Foster leaves the audience to draw its own conclusion.

“Missile-Bound Bear” ends with the Army trying to cover up its failed mission through intimidation (yet another military “order” of civilians), followed by a bribe by Ranger Smith to Yogi (who realises what it is but gladly complies since it means lots of picnic baskets). This cartoon ends with the rangers conspiring to cover up their own mistake (shooting at bear-costumed soldiers that some tourists told them were real bears) and bribing Yogi and Boo Boo into silence with picnic baskets.

There’s nothing much about the artwork in this cartoon that stands out. It’s one of the first that Iwao Takamoto worked on at Hanna-Barbera. Everything looks shot like it’s on a stage. Incidental characters have the studio’s “look.” The lieutenant could be a jar-headed distant relative of George Jetson.

Iwao’s designs for the military vehicles are solid (note that the dust whipped up by the moving tank is animated).

There’s a cute bit of animation by journeyman Bob Bentley. When Ranger Smith cries that the bears are “armed to the teeth,” he shows his teeth.

I also like how the lieutenant is standing at attention while talking with the general—even when he’s on the phone.

And what would a Hanna-Barbera cartoon be without a running cycle? Here are the three rangers, running past the same tree forever. The cycle is four drawings on ones. It takes 24 frames for the background to start over again. It’s a little slower than in the actual cartoon.

Incidentally, you’ll notice the middle ranger is out of step with the others, for aesthetic reasons I imagine.

“Ours is not to reason why,” paraphrases Yogi from Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade, “ours is but to do or diet.” Thus ends the cartoon. It’s hard to go on after a pun like that so we conclude our final review of the seven-minute Yogi cartoons.

Late note: Howard Fein noticed one Yogi short wasn’t reviewed (no, I don’t mean the half-hour special). We’ll try to get to it.

Wednesday 22 April 2015


The picture to the right tells more about the future of animation than you may realise.

It is of the Terrytoons staff and was taken between late February and mid June 1936. Late February is when George Gordon was installed as head of the animation department. Mid June is when a number of animators arrived from the defunct Van Beuren studio, thus they are not in the photo. A bunch of them would get together and create television animation history. They included Carlo Vinci, Dan Gordon and Joe Barbera.

The three of them would get credits on theatrical and television cartoons. But there’s someone in crowd who worked along side them and never, ever got a screen credit (that I have been able to discover), yet he played an important role in animation. He’s in the middle of the middle row, with the moustache. He’s Harvey Eisenberg.

Harvey died 50 years ago today.

He began life in animation as an inker. The Gordons, Barbera, Jack Zander and others left Terrytoons in 1937 to help start the new MGM cartoon studio. Harvey joined them (Vinci arrived much later). Before long, he was the layout artist on Barbera’s Tom and Jerry cartoons, including “Mouse Trouble,” the first of seven Oscar winners for the Hanna-Barbera unit. Below is a snippet of his misspelled entry from the 1940 Census. His home was at 1123 Wooster Street in Los Angeles and MGM paid him $1,920 annually.

He left animation in 1946 and concentrated on cartoon characters in books and comic books. Well, let’s say he left animation temporarily. After his old compadres Hanna and Barbera opened their own studio in 1957, they called in Harvey to lend a hand when needed. He was responsible for the storyboard for “Yogi’s Birthday Party” (1961), where Yogi Bear was, for the first time, featured in the entire half hour of his own. He drew the presentation boards used to sell “Top Cat” (also 1961). And he was directly involved in the creation of one of top shows in TV animation history. Here’s how Iwao Takamoto described it in his book. John Mitchell was the sales chief at Screen Gems (Columbia Pictures’ TV subsidiary) and called some shots at Hanna-Barbera; Bill Hanna recollected Mitchell was the man who pushed for the studio to go into prime time.

[John] Mitchell was the catalyst for getting the show on the air, but the idea was born out of a rap session between Bill, Joe, Harvey, and probably a couple other people, all sitting together and kicking around thoughts and ideas. The directed had come down to put a family show on in the nighttime, and Joe was thinking of a format similar to “The Honeymooners,” involving two different couples. After tossing it around for a while, it was Harvey who finally arrived at the thought that maybe a stone-age family might work. He made a sketch of a caveman and showed it to Joe, but Joe, according to the story, was lukewarm about the idea. When Mitchell got a quick look at the sketch, though, he said: “This is it! This is what we’re going to do!”
Harvey Eisenberg had more to do with the Hanna-Barbera characters than this. After leaving MGM, he plunged head-first into comic book art. When H-B decided to syndicate its new “Flintstones” and “Yogi Bear” series in newspaper comics, Gene Hazelton was placed in charge, but Harvey was brought in to do the Yogi Bear weekend cartoons. You’ve enjoyed them on this blog. But you can read to the right that someone in the New York Times book review section in 1951 wasn’t endeared with his work, at least when it came to something else. There has to be a dissenter in every crowd, I suppose.

It’s tempting to say that if medical science in the 1960s was like it is today, Harvey Eisenberg would have lived a long life. But the fact is a series of heart attacks felled him and he died in hospital at the age of 53.

Incidentally, if you looked carefully at the Census returns, you would have spotted the name “Jerome.” Jerry Eisenberg went into the animation business in the mid-1950s and carved out a nice career, a good portion of which was spent at Hanna-Barbera. Jerry is such a fun and friendly guy to talk to. I’ll bet his dad was, too.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Yogi Time

When did Yogi Bear eclipse Huckleberry Hound as Hanna-Barbera’s number one star? 1960, I suspect. Huck may have been running for president that year (with Yogi as a campaign manager), but that was also the year it was announced Yogi was getting his own show on 150 stations, comics in 80 newspapers (as of February 5, 1961) and a feature-length film built around him and his newly-created girl-friend, Cindy.

Huck was relaxed and casual. Yogi was loud and brash. Noise attracts attention. But Yogi was a fairly well-rounded character as well. By the time he got his own show, his cartoons had a fairly set format, so writer Warren Foster allowed himself to explore Yogi’s personality around within those confines.

Here’s a story from the St. Petersburg Times of August 12, 1961. How many cartoon shows today would get this much newspaper space just by changing channels? Whether the paper used an Arnie Carr publicity handout as the basis of the story, I don’t know, but it sums up Yogi’s appeal. Sorry, Danny Thomas fans, we’re only re-printing the portion dealing with cartoons. Feel free to do a spit-take to make up for it.

Yogi Bear, Danny Thomas Featured In New Lineup On Local Stations
“Howdy and hot doggie!” These very familiar greetings are from three favorite cartoon characters, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw. They’re moving to WTVT, Channel 13, Tampa-St. Petersburg.
Monday has been proclaimed Yogi Bear Day, Yogi, first and foremost citizen of Jellystone Park, will introduce all the locally originated shows on WTVT as well as do all the station breaks. Yogi’s friends, Jellystone Park Ranger Smith, Boo Bear [sic], Cindy Bear, Yakky Duck [sic], Augie Doggie, Snooper, Blabber and Hokey Wolf will also help celebrate “his” day.
In the three short years Yogi has been in the public eye, he has become one of the world’s best known bears. He is always good-humored and somewhat patronizing toward the authorities’ wish that he give up his independent attitude and become a good, timid bear. Yogi’s comment to this is simply, “Never!” He refuses to sacrifice any of his dignity and refuses to conform, although he recognizes that a certain amount of tolerance is necessary.
Yogi’s dearest friend is his little bear buddy, Boo Boo, although he decries Boo Boo’s tendency to abide by all the rules. If Yogi has a conscience, it’s Boo Boo, and at times Yogi has been known to succumb to that small voice of the righteous.
All in all, Yogi is a unique creature of the wildwood—as loveable as they come. Perhaps his greatest pride is in his own canny intelligence. “Smarter than the av-er-age bear!” You’ll be able to see the “Yogi Bear” cartoons every Monday from 5:30 to 6 p.m.
Quick Draw McGraw will be featured every Tuesday from 5:30 to 6 p.m. And “Huckleberry Hound” has chosen Wednesday from 5:30 to 6 p.m. to perform. All three cartoons will be featured as the last half of “The Mary Ellen Show.” She’ll now be seen every weekday at 5 p.m., with cartoons, “Rescue 8” and “Highway Patrol” rounding out the last half hour portion of her show.

“Rescue 8,” incidentally, was distributed by Screen Gems. “Highway Patrol,” I would guess, inspired the title of the Huckleberry Hound cartoon “Freeway Patrol,” except Broderick Crawford was never as inept in the former as Huck was in the latter.

Since we’re posting about Yogi....

Isn’t this a great rendering of Yogi? It may remind you of those old ViewMaster slides of the H-B bear. Sure looks better than the Rodney Dangerfield-sounding, “3-D” Yogi in that feature film a few years back. I’d love to see some stop-motion animation with Yogi using this design.

Another full-page ad. I didn’t make a note of the year.

A drawing of Yogi from a publicity photo announcing his coming series in January 1961. (I thought I had posted this before but can’t find it). If I recall, this is based on one of those cartoons-between-the-cartoons where Yogi’s shadow punches him.

Hmmm. We’ve never really talked much about those short cartoons, have we? They’re really lots of fun and it’s a shame that when the half-hour shows ended, they disappeared from TV screens. I’ve never been big on those “H-B universe” shows where characters from umpteen Hanna-Barbera shows co-star in the same series. But I like how they were handled on the half hour shows. Each had their own cartoons, and then appeared together in what, basically, was a promo for another part of their show. Nice and orderly. (You needn’t ask me what I think of Tom and Jerry being in a cartoon feature with Jonny Quest. You can guess the answer).

The mini-cartoons on the first season of the Huck show are terrific. Cornelius the Kellogg’s rooster drops from the sky (roosters can’t fly, can they?), knocks on a door, Huck comes out and meets each set of characters from the other cartoons on his show in some short gags. The animation is fuller on some and Mike Kazaleh tells me they were done by Phil Duncan, evidently on a freelance basis.

Here’s one gag from one of the little cartoons that ran during Yogi’s own show. It’s an old gag and pretty self-explanatory. Look at the expressions on Boo Boo. There’s weight to him. You can see he feels the pressure of turning on the water.

I want to say Ed Love drew this because Yogi’s head changes position constantly but I don’t recall him drawing Yogi with such a huge open mouth. (Note: Mark Kausler knows who it it. It’s another animation veteran. See his ID in the comment section).

The “HB” on the helmet is a nice touch. I think kids enjoyed spotting those inside jokes.

Here’s an example of the power of Yogi and Huck as salesmen. It’s from Sponsor magazine of August 14, 1961. Their half-hour shows were self-contained with Kellogg’s spots embedded in them, but stations could sell adjacencies. This one did. And the ad is selling potential clients on the idea of selling adjacencies. You can click on it to read the text better.

Finally, these are these two items I spotted on eBay that are said to have come from Bill Hanna’s personal collection and are purported to be pre-1970s. It’s Yogi and his sugary-sweet-looking kids. Gene Hazelton’s work? If anyone knows something about these, please leave a comment.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Flintstones Comics, April 1965

The preponderance of Pebbles and Postman continued in the Flintstones daily comics 50 years ago this month (this post actually starts with the comic of March 29, 1965). The writer(s) started using variations on the routine. They’re in the March 30, April 8, April 15 and April 23 comics.

We get a nicely drawn collection of mastodons and there’s a two-horned rhinosaurus-saurus as the gag in the March 29 comic.

Other observations about the dailies.

● Not only is Baby Puss forgotten this month, Dino doesn’t appear either.
● Betty makes only one appearance (April 30).
● Another “what will they think of next” final panel (April 12).
● TV antennas are still worth a gag (April 1).
● Love the snake ruler (April 2) and the huge Awakk bird (April 5).
● Fred and Barney would appear to work together at the quarry (April 3).
● The painter tied up Wilma?! (April 16).
● Fred has an eye for the ladies (April 10).
● It took me a while to figure out but that’s a golf club Fred wrapped around the lamp (April 22).

The weeks start on March 29th, April 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th.

Now, the Sunday comics (April 4, 11, 18 and 25). I really love the first one; nicely rendered animals, flora and volcanoes. Whoever wrote it has a sense of irony, too. The animals became extinct anyway; there’s nothing “the city” could do about it. I like the idea of Fred talking about a fire extinguisher in the April 11th comic while he’s smoking a pipe. How about that last row in the April 18th comic? The remnants of the bird/Flintmobile collision are pretty imaginative. And Dino musters a “Gleef!” in the April 25th comic. These are re-uploads to replace earlier, incomplete comics in the original post.

You should be able to click on each set to enlarge it.