Saturday 27 June 2015

Huck and Augie Story Panels

One of the on-line auction sites was selling a couple of complete storyboards from two Hanna-Barbera cartoons produced in 1959, Huckleberry Hound’s “Huck’s Hack” and Augie Doggie’s “Cat Happy Pappy” (layouts for both by Dick Bickenbach). It’s a shame that not all 12 pages of each set of story panels was posted, but that’s understandable. However, four pages of nine panels were put on line and you can see them below.

“Huck’s Hack” has a neat opening that wasn’t used in the cartoon. Instead, the first three story panels were replaced with cycle animation of a long shot of Huck’s cab moving along a street. The crook in the cartoon (animated by Don Patterson) is also taller and thinner and wears a mask. I can’t say for sure, but I wonder if these drawings are by Alex Lovy (who arrived at the studio in March 1959 from Lantz.

The sketches in “Cat Happy Pappy” are by the great Dan Gordon. Looking at the first panel, I’m reminded of a layout drawing I saw of Tex Avery’s “Little Rural Riding Hood” where Tex crossed out a picture on a wall in the background. He wants his setting to be as uncluttered as possible for the characters read better. You’ll notice a picture on the wall behind Doggie Daddy. That didn’t make it into the finished cartoon (however, in the second panel, a light socket isn’t there but appeared on the wall in the cartoon). The drawing of the cat on the chart is what you see in the cartoon. Someone (Joe Barbera maybe?) apparently debated whether the little kitten should make its quick exit from the house at body level or head level. Notice how Mike Maltese has some of Daddy’s dialogue in Durante dialect, referring to “pernty teeth.” The dialogue is pretty close to the completed cartoon.

It’s great how these sketches have survived after 60 years. It’s interested to see how a cartoon looked before it was produced.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Fun and Games With Huck

In 1960 or so, your fun with Huckleberry Hound didn’t have to end once his show went off the air for the week. You could play with him when the TV was off, you could eat with him, you could even learn things from him. It was all thanks to the marketing people at Hanna-Barbera and Screen Gems, who aggressively found partners eager to make a buck off the newest TV cartoon sensation.

Once again, we have trudged up to the dusty cyber-attic and opened up the aged trunk of memories to see what kids could do with Huck some 55 years ago.

The box says “age four to ten.” The box is a liar. Anyone of any age could play Hanna-Barbera board games; when Bill Hanna talked about “wholesome family entertainment,” he could have been talking about games as well as his cartoons. Milton Bradley made some great ones, but here are a couple from Transogram. Sorry you can’t enlarge the board itself too much to see the game better, but you get the idea. You can see the little Parents Magazine ribbon logo in the upper left-hand corner of the box that used to be so common way back when (much like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval) and it has the characters in a logo in the lower right-hand corner. The drawings of Mr. Jinks on the board are great. The game is from 1961.

Would they even make a Break-a-Plate game today? Wouldn’t parents be all uptight that their kid would throw one of those small plastic baseballs and break something? You know, the parents that played with these same games as a kid (kind of like how some adults think it’s bad for kids to watch the same cartoons they watched as a kid)? Well, evidently parents in 1961 didn’t worry about it, judging by this Transogram game. You’ll notice it a blue Transogram Quality Inspection Slip. No, Tommy, don’t try this game with mom’s chinaware.

The folks at Knickerbocker (No. Hollywood, Calif.) came up with this spinning target game in 1959. It’s 13 inches long and made from genuine tin. Says an ad for the toy in a 1961 edition of the Tucson Daily Citizen: “Try to hit plastic cartoon characters with suction-cup darts--watch them spin!”

This is about as close as Walter Tetley ever got to appearing in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Tetley, you likely know, was the voice of Sherman in the Mr. Peabody cartoons and like Dick Beals (who did appear in Hanna-Barbera cartoons) he was afflicted with a medical condition that caused his voice to remain somewhat adolescent. He was also the voice of Reddy Kilowatt in some industrial cartoons made by Walter Lantz in the late 1940s (he was Andy Panda for the studio at the same time). Here, you can see Reddy sitting on a large boulder in the front page of this 18-page educational booklet for kids. The booklet is copyright 1961. The name of the local electric company that supplied this to, presumably, schools, was printed on the rock. Unfortunately, only one page of this has surfaced on-line, at least that I can find.

Huck is saying “Bow Wowie”??

Who knew that Dell made something other than comic books? Well, perhaps you did. It was news to me until I ran across this ad. The address fills us in that this is before the era of the Zip Code, so it’s from the early ‘60s. Dell made Disney squeeze toys, too, but who’d want them when you can have Huckleberry Hound riding a whale?

When I was a kid, this is what “school lunch programme” meant. Mom would make something and you’d trundle off to class with it in a paper bag or, if your parents knew you liked Huck and Quick Draw, one of these. Aladdin of Nashville, Tennessee made these in 1961. Notice Snuffles in one of the little TV screens on the top?

You can’t see the whole thermos here, but to left of Pixie and Dixie, that’s a bit of Blabber’s ear. Next to him is Snooper, then Baba Looey and Augie Doggie holding the rope behind Quick Draw. There’s a neat little cartoon strip (like it’s on perforated film) around the sides and bottom. You can read the safety message inside and the name of the owner of the lunch box, David Vos of New Orleans. Strangely enough, a gentleman named David Vos won a Daytime Emmy for a documentary he made in 2010 about New Orleans recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

If you prefer Huck to be with you other than at lunch, how about tea time?

I don’t know if I like the concept of riding Huckleberry Hound, but some company made this in 1960 (we’ve posted a picture of a similar riding toy of Yogi Bear). It’s 19.25" height x 21.5" length x 7.25" width with handles attached to the ears.

Well, our sojourn in the cyber-attic must come to an end and back into the dusty trunk go our memories of play-times past for another day. Mom, is Yogi Bear on yet?

Saturday 20 June 2015

Snagglepuss in Royal Ruckus

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Don Patterson, Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Narrator, Guard, Snagglepuss – Daws Butler; Count Down, King – Don Messick; Queen – Bea Benaderet.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-10 (sixth Snagglepuss cartoon).
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.

Snagglepuss started out life as a world-weary and somewhat show-bizzy antagonist who was clearly smarter than Quick Draw McGraw and the others he took on. It was obvious he was a rounded character that the studio could do more with. But when they gave him his own series, he became a protagonist, so he had to undergo a personality (and colour) modification. He changed from orange to pink and became more enthusiastically theatrical, leaning on the Shakespearean side.

That kind of characterisation was perfect in the hands of Mike Maltese. One of the funniest Bugs Bunny cartoons ever made was Maltese’s Rabbit Hood, where Bugs adopts a Shakespearean vocabularistic style as he easily outsmarts the Sheriff of Nottingham. Besides the natural silliness of streams of Mock Macbeth coming from a pink mountain lion, Maltese added a punny twist. While Warren Foster would settle for more obvious plays on words like “I caught him bare-handed. Yogi Bear-handed, that is,” Maltese would take a pun a bit further. “Forsooth. And five-sooth, even,” Snagglepuss would remark.

In fact, such a remark came in Royal Ruckus, one of 32 cartoons in the Snagglepuss series. Its storyline is similar to Maltese’s Quick Draw McGraw cartoons. Snagglepuss dashes off stage to become a swordsman (he doesn’t change into the wrong costume by mistake; perhaps Maltese didn’t have time for that one in the story) and is so inept, the Queen has to rescue herself. At the beginning, there’s a rhyming narrator and the bad guy talks to the audience, like you’d find in an El Kabong cartoon.

Fun With Dialogue:
● Snagglepuss recites a little poem. “ ‘Cause it’s the day to be happy and gay,” he declares. Today’s audience will read something into it.
● The King shoots Snagglepuss in the butt with an arrow. “Got him on the first shot. Just inches from the heart,” exudes His Majesty.

● “You unmitigated churl!” Snagglepuss yells in response at the King.
● Snagglepuss demands proof he’s the King. “Make me a Duke. Or a Count. The Prince of Wales. Or Porpoises, even.”
● The kidnapped Queen cries for help from a carriage after the King promises her liberator will be “royally rewarded.” “Won’t somebody save me and royally rewarded thereon?” asks the Queen.
● Snagglepuss makes a quick change into a musketeer outfit. “Exit, touché-in’ all the way, stage left!” (Hmm. Remind you of a certain turtle?)
● My favourite line from Snagglepuss, reminiscent of one in a Bugs Bunny cartoon: “Drop that Queen, Jack!”
● Yes, Snagglepuss fits in a “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” and “...and all that jazz.”

Sight gag:
● Snagglepuss engages in eager sword play with Count Down. Cut to shots of the Count sitting in a chair then another shot of him drinking tea, ignoring the whole situation.

The animator is Don Patterson. It’s really not one of his better cartoons, but you can’t miss his bit lip and triangular closed eye lids.

Dick Thomas is the background artist. Nice establishing shot to open the cartoon. Thomas’ swirling-line trees and scratchy grass are here, too.

The layout artist is Paul Sommer. He designed the secondary characters.

The voice actors are Daws Butler, Don Messick and Bea Benaderet. It’s probably her first non-Flintstones role for Hanna-Barbera.

Hoyt Curtin’s background music is really awkward in places. The use of a variation of the Flintstones’ “Rise and Shine” and what later became the series’ theme is really distracting. The Snagglepuss dying scene features a Flintstones’ cue called “Walking,” far too light and breezy for the action on the screen. And when the coach with the kidnapped Queen (in silhouette) goes into the castle, the soundtrack plays the heavyish “Working in the Gravel Pit” from The Flintstones. It’s times like this I miss the old Capitol Hi-Q library and Geordie Hormel’s English period music.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Flintstones Comics, June 1965

Pebbles and turtles. Pebbles and pelicans. Pebbles and postman. Yes, if you love Pebbles Flintstone, you got to see her two or three times a week in the comic pages of your daily paper 50 years ago this month. Oh, there was also Pebbles and Dino and Pebbles on her own. Fortunately, other characters from the TV show were the focus of other strips so there was a bit of variety.

The sets of daily strips you see posted are for May 31st through June 5th (to the right), June 7th through 12th, June 14th through 19th, June 21st through 26th and June 28th through July 3rd. A few random thoughts...

● Another new-invention/what-will-they-think-of-next ending (June 7)
● Suburban clichés, including jealous wives (June 3), bad women drivers (June 16), women won’t shut up (June 22, July 1), wives want a fur coat (June 28), barbecuing (June 25), wives love shopping (June 14), marriage is the old ball-and-chain (June 19).
● Why isn’t Dino barking like on the TV show? (June 29).
● Another invention featuring birds doing all the work, this time the prehistoric typewriter (July 3). Does the repairman in the first panel look like Jack Gilford to you?
● Bamm Bamm makes an appearance (June 25).
● Mr. Slate still isn’t Fred’s boss in the comics (June 30).
● Best gag? Hard to say. I like the prehistoric snake yo-yos (June 11). And you can’t beat pre-historic creatures with tusks and spots (last panel, June 2).
● No Water Buffalo gags, but a golf gag appears. (June 24).

Now, the weekend comics:

June 6, 1965

June 13, 1965

June 20, 1965

June 27, 1965

The Chicago Tribune cancelled two of the four Flintstones Sunday comics for ads so we’re relying on the Ogdensburg Journal, which are scanned and found on the New York State Historic Newspapers site. They’re all pretty self-explanatory. The postman returns on June 20th; check out the magazines that are on sale (McClod’s?). The last panel on the June 27th comic is fun. The earth’s tilted and the tree is bent under the weight of the sleepy pterodactyl. And that’s a great clutter panel (second row) in the June 13th comic.

Click on any of the comics to make them full sized.

Saturday 13 June 2015

A Teenager, a Blue Hound and an Emmy

It was dog-beat-dog at the Emmy Awards on June 20, 1960. Perennial favourite Lassie was up for the statue for Outstanding Children’s Program. But he didn’t win. Neither did Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Wizard, all three of them Peabody Award winners. Instead, the award went to The Huckleberry Hound Show. Somewhat surprisingly, The Quick Draw McGraw Show was also nominated, despite being on the air for less than a full season.

To the right you see a congratulatory full-page ad taken out in Variety by Screen Gems, which distributed the syndicated Hanna-Barbera cartoons and had sewed up a pile of lucrative marketing rights to the shows’ characters.

Over the years, we’ve posted our own reviews of each cartoon that appeared on The Huckleberry Hound Show. We’ve posted newspaper critiques and trade paper comments. Today, we’re going to post the opinion of a young fan.

This story appeared on the young people’s page of the Newark Union Gazette of February 16, 1961. Huck was still in first-run then; the episode this teenager apparently is talking about the episode that aired on the week of January 30th that year, as that was the first time Space Cat (in Missile Bound Cat) appeared on TV. Yogi had just begun his own show but was still appearing with Huck until enough Hokey Wolf segments were ready to replace him a couple of months later.

Huckleberry Hound
It*s too early to start homework, too late to go outside, and it's too near supper time to start munching. What is left? What can a normal teenager do that won't require thinking, playing, or eating? The answer is television!
With a bored sigh, you get up, traipse over to the television and kneel beside it. You turn on a certain knob here, touch a few knobs there and before you know it, this ingenious invention has presented you with an odd looking character named Huckleberry Hound.
Confronted with this, you settle back, wondering what this creature, armed with a southern drawl, will do next. Now this distinguished master of ceremonies starts introducing you to his companions, Mr. Jinks, Dixie and Dixie, and our beloved Yogi Bear, who has risen to such heights he has acquired his own T.V. show.
Each of these characters have one outstanding feature. Huck with his southern drawl. Mr. Jinks, a cat, with his deep, pseudo-hatred for mice (or meeces as he prefers to call them). Pixie and Dixie, a pair of mice that love to aggravate Mr. Jinks (or Jinksie) every chance they get. And Yogi Bear.
Pixie. Dixie, and Jinks all live together in one big house. At first glance Mr. Jinks seems to be the villain of this series, but he soon proves to be a kind cat, even with the heavy burden of two mice resting on his furry shoulders. Coping with these two is a full time job for Jinks! His adventures have included being hypnotized by a moving watch, and for a short time he was switched from a mice-hater to a mice-lover. No respectable cat would do that.
Several times "Space Cat," a creature deeply fond of mice, and devoted to them, has brought shame upon the face of Mr. Jinks. But Pixie and Dixie aren't without problems either. Do you remember the time Jinks loaned them to a cat that had just moved into the neighborhood, and didn't have his own mice? But in the end everything turns out all right and Pixie, Dixie, and Mr. Jinks live happily ever after—until the next cartoon.
The next member of the cast you see on the screen is probably good old Huck! There is no telling what misadventures Huck will encounter, but after Pixie and Dixie you find you're ready for anything. On this particular day, Huck is telling the story of the pony express rider. Huck shows you the perils a rider had to face and you wonder how the mail ever got through. On his ride Huck meets a mixed-up Indian, named Crazy Coyotee. Crazy Coyotee follows Hick everywhere repeating, "Me want letter in pouch, me take-em." Somehow Huck manages to get the letter through, only to find he has to take it to—Chief Crazy Coyotee!
It's commercial time now, which gives you a few moments to relax. On this show even the commercials you find are interesting. Kelloggs is the sponsor, and the cartoon characters advertise the product. Well, commercial is over, and it's time to get back to the show.
Now, triumphant Yogi Bear occupies the screen. He is accompanied by Booboo, his loyal companion. Both of these reside in Jellystone Park. Yogi's main occupation is eating. He gets his food from picnic baskets and cabins. Ordinary bears eat nuts and berries, but not Yogi.
So ends this program and all is quiet on the television screen. The aroma of food reaches you and you know it's time to eat supper, but at the dinner table do you discuss Huck Hound and his friends? No! You wouldn't want the rest of your family to think you watched that "children's" program. But when you notice your father and brother reaching for second helpings, you think of Yogi and a sly smile mysteriously crosses your lips!
Joyce Vanderpool, 8th Grade.

The Huckleberry Hound Show was nominated for an Emmy again the following year—Huck and Yogi appeared on the broadcast in a piece of animation I presume is lost—but lost to the type of show that special interest groups feel kids should watch, Young People’s Concerts: Aaron Copland’s Birthday Party (well, provided Copland’s sexuality wasn’t brought up). The following year, Huck was into permanent reruns in the U.S. and 41 foreign countries. Meanwhile, Yogi Bear had overtaken Huck as, erm, top dog in the Hanna-Barbera cartoon animal stable. Alas, the Emmy would avoid the blue hound for the rest of his career. But he still had the affection of young Joyce Vanderpool and millions of others around the world.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

And Hi Mankin Thanks You, Too

When The Huckleberry Hound Show won the Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program in 1960, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera took out a full-page ad in the June 23, 1960 thanking members of the Television Academy for the honour.

The ad also seems to include the names of all the people employed by the studio at the time. You can click on it to read it better.

The list is as interesting for the names it includes as for those it doesn’t. For one thing, it’s missing both layout man Bob Givens (picture to the right from his UPA days, courtesy of Tony Benedict) and background artist Joe Montell. Givens worked on the Quick Draw show that season and Montell on the Huck series, but both had left the studio by the time the ad was published. Conversely, it includes Hi Mankin, who laid out only one cartoon at Hanna-Barbera that season (the Augie Doggie short Horse Fathers). Evidently animator La Verne Harding either had not arrived at the studio or was working freelance. And confirming what we reported in a post about Bill Schipek, he was not at Hanna-Barbera right from the start in 1957. His name is not on the list.

In the 1958-59 season, Hanna-Barbera had three full-time animators, plus Mike Lah doing double duty. The following year, with the Quick Draw show and Loopy De Loop on the production schedule, the animation staff consisted of:
● Emil Carle
● Jack Carr
● Bob Carr
● Brad Case
● Ed DeMattia
● Hicks Lokey
● Ed Love
● Dick Lundy
● Lew Marshall
● Ken Muse
● George Nicholas
● Don Patterson
● Carlo Vinci
● Allen Wilzbach

It was nice of the studio to include the main voice acting talent—Daws Butler, Don Messick, Hal Smith, Jean Vander Pyl and Doug Young. And it appears the entire ink and paint department got some recognition.

Jean Stau is listed in Variety in 1960 as the casting director for Ruff ‘n’ Reddy. As the show’s cast had consisted of the team of Butler and Messick since 1957, one wonders how much Jean actually did. Alan Dinehart’s name appears. He had been hired to work on the production end, including voice casting, on The Flintstones, which had begun production a few months before this ad came out.

An interesting name which I haven’t had time to research is that of Shirley Gillett. When you see the name “Gillett,” you think of Burt Gillett, director of The Three Little Pigs at Disney who seems to have vanished around 1940. Well, he did have a daughter named Shirley, born around 1936. Could it be the same person?

The most unexpected name on the list is Jack Miller. If it’s the same Jack Miller, he was the New York-born Jack H. Miller who worked on stories for Harman-Ising and Leon Schlesinger in the late ‘30s and apparently died in 1973. His name also appears on some 1960s TV Popeyes, which also employed others who ended up doing work at Hanna-Barbera (Noel Tucker, for example). It’s the first I’ve heard of him being employed on either Huck or Quick Draw. His name never appeared in the credits. Could have he been providing story sketches along with Dan Gordon?

Pat Helmuth was a checker, working at Disney and H-B from 1955 to 1982. I believe she freelanced after that. Pat died on May 14th in the Oakland area, so it’s fitting to dedicate this post to the inkers, painters, checkers and others who helped make those early Hanna-Barbera cartoons such fun to watch, but never seemed to get much credit.

Saturday 6 June 2015

The Space Car

Get ready for bank interest payments of 44 3/4ths per cent. It’s going to happen. Why? Because it was on The Jetsons. And just about every other futuristic invention on that show is now a reality.

This is the episode where George reads his news off a large screen, no different really than checking out innumerable news sites on the web.

This is also the episode where Jane and her friend wear masks of their own faces so they don’t look like they just rolled out of bed. Oh, speaking of bed...

Wait a minute! George and Jane are in the same bed. They can’t show that on TV in 1962! Oh, that’s right. It’s not 1962. It’s the future.

Let’s post some exteriors from the cartoon. Unfortunately, the versions on DVD had the original credits taken off so I can’t tell you who handled the backgrounds. Here’s the opening pan shot.

More buildings, bubble-top flying cars, some kind of asteroid/lunar body, and clouds that are royal blue.

What’s fascinating is part of the plot involves George Jetson buying a new car. And that’s the plot of a John Sutherland industrial cartoon released in 1956 called “Your Safety First.” Not only does it parallel some of the story-line in the Jetsons cartoon, it also stars the voice of George O’Hanlon. In it, a family of the future (that distant year 2000) watches a Cinemascope-size TV which tells the story of the automobile. In this cartoon, George and Jane do the same thing at a car dealership.

Barry Blitzer now strings together some car gags, reminiscent not only of Your Safety First but that fun adventure into automobiling of the future, Tex Avery’s Car of Tomorrow (released in 1951). The most Avery-esque gag in the Jetsons cartoon is the one about the special seat for the shrewish mother-in-law—which can be conveniently ejected when she gets too bossy. (The mother-in-law continues to badger her daughter in the car long after the seat has been detached and is floating toward Earth).

Favourite gag? That’s easy. George being hauled before a TV screen where traffic judge appears to hand out justice—but first breaks for a commercial. The judge himself endorses the product, “Come Clean, the spot remover with the applicator top.”

Blitzer caps the gag. The commercial ends. Says the judge: “Okay, Jetson, come clean. Uh, I mean guilty or not guilty.”

I thought I detected a bit of Carlo Vinci animation (when George is attacked by an automatic mop and pail) but your guess is better than mine on who else might have worked on this cartoon.