Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, October 1965

Did you know there was an Indian reservation on or near Jellystone Park? There wasn’t in the TV cartoons but, time and time again, native stereotypes from a reserve make appearances in the Yogi Bear Sunday comics. It happened twice out of the five comics from 50 years ago this month. Two other comics feature bees and the fifth has a worm that’s smarter than the smarter than the average bear.

Yogi was still syndicated on TV but I’ve found more and more newspapers dropped his comic strip (for example, when these strips were published, people in parts of Southern California could watch Yogi on Tuesdays on KTLA 3, KCOP 13 on Thursdays and Fridays on KOGO 10). However, by sheer accident, I’ve discovered the Ogdensburg Journal in New York had a two-page Sunday comic section starting at the end of January 1965. One page was the full Yogi Bear and Flintstones colour comics. Better still, it appears the copies of the newspapers on-line are not some photocopies of old scratchy microfilms; they look like the papers were put through a scanner. So hurray for the New York State Historic Newspapers Site.

Boo Boo is sure getting a kick out of the plumber gag that ends the October 3rd comic. Note the embarrassment lines around Yogi’s head in the final panel. Ranger Smith makes a cameo appearance. It seems odd that the hammy Yogi would suddenly bolt from having his picture taken, but the writer had to get to the plot. You think a comic would be able to get away with “redskin” today?

A worm jumping in a hole to escape isn’t terribly creative, but that’s what we get in the October 10th comic. I like how the worm thinks an exclamation mark to himself. Yogi has conjoint eyes when he wakes up. Boo Boo makes a cameo appearance. Yogi reads in italics in the opening panel; was this common in comics? I’ve always liked how the words emitted by characters and things form designs; Yogi’s “Zzzzz” and the clock’s “Rrrrring” are good examples.

The less said about the rebus groaner than ends the October 17th comic, the better. Dig the goofy horse in the top row with the masked eyes and a transistor radio accompanied by a fox tail. The double Yogi in the third row is effective. Final panel note: yes, kids did steal road signs years ago (today, they steal 420 mileposts). The final panel also shows the princess has an almost Boo Boo doll and is a fan of some singer with a Beatles haircut.

Bees play only an incidental role in the October 23rd comic and really have nothing to do with the plot. Many papers chopped off the top row of the three-row versions of comics so it has to be written to be dispensable. Ranger Smith should have known the punch line in the final panel might happen; he already points out that Yogi is clumsy. Considering the way the apple tree bends at a 90 degree angle, it’s more like a rubber tree.

The artist in the October 31st comic draws Yogi in a variety of positions. I like how bees are swirling around the hive-head in the final panel. Do beehives really get that big? Boo Boo has an uncharacteristic sneaky smirk. This comic has another thin silhouette panel in the top row; four of the five comics this month feature one.

As usual, you would be smart to go to Mark Kausler’s site to see the comics above in full colour along with his expert insights.

We’re on a month-to-month basis with these comic reprints (and with the blog, for that matter) but we can guarantee another edition of Yogi Bear comics in four weeks. The highlight is a special appearance by Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey.


  1. Wow! These are marvelously clear scans! I can read every word. And they look really good in black and white.

    I much prefer the three-tiered version as it gives so much more context to the gag--it's a delight to compare these to the color versions posted elsewhere last week, which are also always fun to see.

    An Indian Reservation near Jellystone...clearly the comic strips made a lot out of that, but then Jellystone also has its own airport, hospital, cinema, general store, greenhouse, apiary, archery range, and missile launching site, just to name a few of the many amenities to be found there. If you lived in or near Jellystone, you wouldn't have to go far to get just about anything you wanted or needed.

    The Native American princess in the October 17th comic strip reminds me of Judy Jetson. I can imagine Janet Waldo providing the voice as well.

    Fun stuff! Thanks for posting!

    1. SC, I've gone back to Feb. and reposted the comics for Yogi and the Flintstones. You can get a better look at them now.

    2. I can also hear Janet Waldo doing the voice (and Jack Shaindlin's immortal
      Toboggan Run, a bit of an anachronism by the time both Miss Waldo and later this comic arrived (her, Hoyt Curtin era, it, Ted Nichols era). I looked at this top panel just now to see that she was the teenage daughter...she reminds me a lot of Judy Jetson and it's actually considerably better than the Cindy Bear ones..:)SteveC

  2. WOW... These are BEAUTIFUL. The crispest, clearest Hanna-Barbera comics I've seen yet. Good on you for finding these. Looking forward to next month's guest appearances.

    I actually like the "bow and arrow" joke. Like the plumber joke in the October 3 comic, it challenges the reader's assumptions about Native Americans and is thus a bit subversive. Yes, a writer who used the term "redskin" today would likely be shamed all over the
    Internet and fired. But would that be justified? I mean, say what you will about Native stereotypes back in the day, but at least they kept Natives (and their plight) in the public consciousness. Today, it seems like Natives are being erased from popular culture -- and thereby forgotten. To me, it seems that all this determination to remove non-PC Indian imagery from pop culture (such as the whole brouhaha over the Washington Redskins name) is misdirected rage. It will inadvertently end up furthering a white supremacist goal, in that Indians and their tragic present state (once-legendary warrior peoples confined to reservations -- what a dehumanizing term; plauged by alcoholism, etc.); will be completely forgotten. It will be as if they have vanished from the page of time. Or, as a white supremacist would say, "the West" would finally be "won."

  3. All these materials were drawn by Iwao Takamoto.