Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Psst! Wanna Buy a Lawman Horse?

The Quick Draw McGraw Show debuted on September 28, 1959 on the “Kellogg’s network.” Kellogg’s agency, Leo Burnett, placed the half-hour cartoon show on stations across the U.S. willing to air it. But after the Kellogg’s deal expired in 1966, Screen Gems syndicated the show (with animation re-drawn to delete any Kellogg’s references). The distributor took out two-page ads in the trades. Broadcasting magazine ran this on March 28, 1966. Judging by the copyright date, these drawings were used in earliest campaigns.

The Quick Draw show got good reviews when it came out; critics liked the gentle satire on TV westerns, detective shows and klutzy father sitcoms. The Los Angeles Times put Quick Draw on its TV magazine cover a month after he debuted, though the typographer somehow managed to put the wrong year on it.

Hanna-Barbera has been lashed over the years for its limited style of animation but I haven’t heard too many people criticise the studio’s bouncy theme songs (other than you can’t understand some of the lyrics the Randy Horn Singers are chirping out). Quick Draw had a great theme; it was lots of fun when characters in the cartoons broke into it to refer to Our Hero. Quick Draw’s lyrics have echoes of the Bugs Bunny theatrical shorts. It’s not improbable that Yosemite Sam would describe himself as the “high fallutin-est, fastest shootin’-est,” since he used similar rhymes in Bugs’ cartoons.

Here’s a drawing from the opening animation. I don’t know who did the opening animation; I think someone mentioned Ken Muse’s name once (Muse definitely did the Top Cat opening and closing).

Hanna-Barbera and Screen Gems never wasted time marketing their characters. Games, puzzles, Hallowe’en costumes and, of course, comic and colouring books. Here’s a back page of an early Quick Draw colouring book. I post it because it’s neat to see Harvey Eisenberg mentioned. John Carey worked in animation as well, moving from the Iwerks studio to Warners Bros., where he remained for the rest of the 1930s and through the ‘40s.

This may be the oddest piece of Quick Draw merchandise. It was produced by Linemar in 1960. Why would Quick Draw be in a plane?

If I recall correctly, El Kabong was featured in 10 of the 45 Quick Draw cartoons (I’ve posted a storyboard for another which never got made). I found this on the internet. I suspect it’s a piece of recent fan art, judging by the layout. Mike Maltese admitted he loved Douglas Fairbanks’ silent films and was determined to write a swashbuckler into the Quick Draw series.

One of the great things about the Hanna-Barbera half-hour shows was the little cartoons between the cartoons when the characters on the show interacted. But we’ll never see them for the Quick Draw show because we’ll never see the Quick Draw show on DVD. So, we present a storyboard for one of them. I wish I knew the artist because these drawings are very well done.

Look! Hanna-Barbera slippers! I don’t think I’ve seen boot-shaped slippers for kids since the ‘60s. Yogi in a T-shirt?!

Why is Quick Draw such a good character? For one thing, he gets funny lines. “Shucks,” he tells the TV audience after shooting himself yet again at the start of Scary Prairie, “I had the bullet in backwards.”

But the main reason Quick Draw is such a good character is he’s a perfect combination of heroism and incompetence.


  1. On the coloring book produced by Whitman, part of the same outfit that produced the Dell and Gold Key comic books, it’s nice to see the artists credited, as they were never credited in the comic books.

    Harvey Eisenberg needs no introduction around here. Perhaps the best artist ever to render classic Hanna-Barbera characters.

    John Carey, aside from his animation credits, drew lots of favorite characters in the Dell and Gold Key comics from the ‘50s thru the ‘80s. Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Donald Duck, and even Winnie the Pooh!

    Norm McGary was an illustrator for Little Golden Books, also under the same publishing umbrella as Dell and Gold Key comics.

    And Steve Steere is known for inking Tony Strobl’s pencils over Strobl’s long run on the Donald Duck comic book! Might have inked Strobl on The Jetsons as well, for all we know.

    Glad to see their names turn up here!

  2. I notice that the slippers feature the red Huckleberry Hound. There were many Huck items where he was colored red instead of blue. Does anybody know the reason why?

  3. 8/13/15 Wrote:
    Screen Gems Didn't waste any time to get their then-new (50 years come this September 13th!) "S From Hell/Spiral" logo out on their promotional paper in the first picture with the connect-the dots drawings of Quick--Draw, Augie, and Snooper the cat. It's been said on the web site that Jackie Cooper (then a fill-in VP for SG after former executive William Dozier left for greener pastures with his Greenway Productions and "Batman" in December 1964) that commissioned that familiar logo that (supposedly) scared a generation of kids enough for Rodney Arscher to do a 2010 film about it. Over in Detroit, first Channel 7, WXYZ (an ABC affiliate) showed these repackaged repeats in syndicated times, and then around 1968, Channel 50,WDBK, a UHF outlet owned at one time by Fox, then UPN, then CW, and still in existence after 50 years of service, started showing the Hanna Barbera/Screen Gems distributed repeats. This lasted until the early 1980's, when USA TV started showing them under the "Huckleberry Hound" umbrella and a separate "Quick Draw" re-package with the SG logo removed and replaced by the 1979 H-B swirling star logo. The "Quick Draw" re-package showed up again in 1990 on Pat Robertson's Family/CBN station with no opening and closing bumpers at all. It all gets confusing after 50 years of repeats. I still see the other H-B related merchandise in various flea markets and thrift stores (in various conditions, usually without the original package box when they were originally manufactured in 1960; if rarely found with a package or better yet, still unopened, expect price values to skyrocket.) These are really neat promo paraphernalia, Yowp. Keep up the lucky finds. The original storyboards from H-B's desks alone must be worth a small fortune.