Saturday, 7 November 2015

Yakky Doodle in Oh Duckter

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Allen Wilzbach, Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Written by Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig, Jr., Fibber Fox – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-18.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.

You’ve seen it in cartoons before. The plot quickly veers or builds and it’s funny because it doesn’t make sense, but there’s still a thread of logic to it. There’s a great example of that in the Yakky Doodle cartoon Oh Duckter.

Chopper is chasing Fibber Fox on foot through a hospital ward. They exit from the scene and re-emerge 12 frames (half a second) later chasing each other in wheel chairs. A few seconds later, there’s a siren sound. “Uh, oh,” says Chopper. “A cop.”

It all seems logical. It makes sense for someone zipping along in a wheeled vehicle to get pulled over for speeding. But in this setting it makes absolutely no sense. And that’s what makes it funny. Add to it Maltese’s dialogue after Fibber Fox, disguised as a traffic cop (with a police motorcycle helmet), “pulls over” Chopper.

Chopper: Aw, what’s wrong, officer?
Fibber: Doing 90 in a hospital zone, that’s what.
Chopper: Gosh, I didn’t mean any harm. I was chasin’ a fox.
Fibber: Well, we can just add that to your criminal record. Fox hunting is out of season. Let’s see your driver’s license.
Chopper: Well, uh, I haven’t got one.
Fibber: Shame, shame. Aren’t you the one. You’re going to have the book thrown at you.
Chopper: I am?
Fibber: Oh, yes.
(book hits Chopper in the face).
Of course, there are such things as hospital zones and fox hunting, but not in the context that Maltese uses them. That’s where the comedy comes in. No time is wasted between lines. The sequence’s pace is quick, making it funnier.

And instead of the thrown book being figurative, as it’s usually used, it’s literal in this case. The old switch is a guaranteed laugh if it’s done fast enough and you don’t have time to think about it.

(A side note: as this is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, I should point out Chopper and Fibber run past the same door in the background seven times, Chopper rolls past the same table and flower pot 14 times, then Fibber zooms past the same door eight times. Why the door is replaced by a table in Chopper’s scene, since they’re supposedly chasing each other, must be for esthetic reasons and not those of logic).

Fibber Fox gets some of his humour from dialogue extensions. He’ll take a line a character has just spoken and use it for his next line. An example in this cartoon: after Yakky hands Chopper a bone and says “Bone appetite,” the observing Fibber adds “It’ll be duck appetite as soon as I get that mutt out of the way.” And later, when Chopper growls out his stock-in-trade suggestion to Yakky to close his itsy-bitsy eyes so he won’t see the pounding the fox will get, Fibber tells the audience, “I think I’d better leave before Chopper closes mine.

Other bits of dialogue:

Fibber (diagnosing Chopper, disguised as a nurse): Well, it’s a clear case of Relapso Escondido.
(Yowp note: Escondido is a town in California).

Chopper: Hello, nurse. Remember me?
Fibber: Well, let me see. Did we meet in Paris? Or Yaphank? Or was it in the Casbah?
(Yowp note: Only New Yorker Maltese would include the name of a little town on Long Island in his dialogue, especially one that likely has extremely little in common with Paris or the Casbah).

Fibber (after getting bopped by Chopper’s arm cast): As Quick Draw McGraw would say, “Ooooh. That smarts.”
The plot revolves around Chopper being in hospital after coming out on the losing end of a fight with a cat. Yakky is bringing him a bone as a present. Fibber’s foiled in his attempt to capture Yakky for lunch, despite a couple of disguises to fool the protective Chopper. Finally, Fibber’s done in by running into an elevator which, conveniently for the plot, turns out not to be there and dropping an unspecified number of floors.

The final scene features Chopper and Yakky visiting the injured Fibber in the same hospital. Yakky’s brought a present—a bone. Chopper puts up a fist to emphasize that Fibber had better enjoy it—or else.

Fibber: Ah, yes. I see what you mean. (Gnaws on bone). A bone is just what I’ve always wanted. (turns to audience) But not very much. (resumes gnawing, stops and turns to audience). Yechhh.

With Fibber chomping on the bone, the cartoon fades out.

Allen Wilzbach is the animator. Some of his violence drawings...

Here’s how Wilzbach handles Fibber zipping out of a scene. Consecutive frames.

Fernando Montealegre painted the backgrounds from Dick Bickenbach’s layouts. Here’s Yakky strolling in Monte’s lone outdoor settings.

Only four characters take part in this one: a doctor is played by Daws Butler; Fibber, Chopper and Yakky are voiced by their usual actors. The sound cutter picks Flintstones music for some of the accompanying score.


  1. Fibber's disguise routines with Chopper kind of have their antecedent in the fox Maltese came up with for Bob McKimson in "Fox Terror", though there it was Foghorn getting suckered and Barnyard Dog suffering the damages.

    Because Hanna-Barbera shorts are so much more dependent on dialogue, Fibber's a far more fast talking/fast wordplay type of character than the McKimson shyster fox was, and in the same way Mike would handle the quip-heavy Snaglepuss. It makes this one of those cases where the less the focus of Yakky's cartoon is on Yakky, the better the cartoon is (and the contrast in bad guys between the fast-talking Fibber and the slow-talking Alfy also helped expand both the plot options and pacing of the stories, for a series that needed an alternative source of comedy than just a cute duck with a funny voice).

  2. Maltese dusted off the dialogue extensions and the rattling off disparate locales bit for the "It's the Wolf" segments on The Cattanooga Cats. Appropriate since ITW was essentially just "Yakky redux" (or should that be re-ducks?).

    Nice change of pace to see Chopper being on the receiving end of some of the dished out violent retribution for a change. Wish that had occurred more often.

  3. Couldn't help but guffaw over the same in its online presence ... and I couldn't help but chuckle at the "Relapso Escondido" allusion.

    Come to think of it, how did the locals in Escondido react to the gag?

  4. Interesting how they used lineless blue coloured bandages. Maybe to contrast with the solid white Chopper.

  5. The wheelchair chase may have been borrowed from a Sylvester and Tweety cartoon Maltese had written a couple of years earlier.

    YOWP, I am a big fan of your blog, could make a suggestion for a future article. Could you please analyze the appearance and characterization of African-American characters in H-B cartoons. It would be very interesting, mainly because Hanna-Barbera was the first studio to have an African American character as part of the main cast - Valerie from ''Josie and the Pussycats''.

    1. That show goes outside the context of the blog (though interesting, Michael Maltese DOES come in context-Josie/Scooby/Catta ngoo Cats's "mystery" pioneering was (and THISA may ioepn quite the can of worms) Jonny QUest, even wioth the comic cat/mouse private eyeballs Snooper and Blabber in 1959, NOT those Archie bubblegum gorup shows

    2. I know, I know, but Hanna-Barbera's contribution to the fight against racism deserves to be properly covered from a historical point of view. Besides, there aren't any blogs that won't to cover 1970s animation. (Can you blame them? Though some 70s cartoon are exceptionally good!).

    3. I agree, Georgi. African-Americans in H-B shows is a very fascinating topic. To be fair, it should be pointed out that at one point Hanna-Barbera apparently wanted to cast Valerie from "Josie and the Pussycats" as white, but the talent scout who had by then hired Patrice Holloway to play Valerie refused to go along and threatened to abandon the project, so H-B gave in. That claim is according to Wikipedia, and it's not cited, so I have no idea if it's true or not. I just thought it was worth pointing out.

      Be that as it may, Valerie was certainly one of H-B's "contributions to the fight against racism." Other contributions included Hong Kong Phooey (played by Scatman Crothers),
      Ed from "Sealab 2020," Mrs. Thomas from "Sealab 2020," and the mayor from "Dynomutt, Dog Wonder."

      And I also agree with you that while most 70's cartoons aren't particularly good, some are quite good. Two of the latter category (in my opinion) that immediately come to my mind are "Hong Kong Phooey" and "Sealab 2020."

    4. Actually, Hanna-Barbera's first character of colour would have to be Rhinos linebacker Freight Train from the 1970 summer-replacement series Where's Huddles? for CBS; Josie and the Pussycats would join the Saturday-morning lineup that fall.

      Never mind that Where's Huddles? was essentially a reworking of old Flintstones stories.

  6. This is probably the funniest Yakky episode thanks entirely to Fibber, a marvelous character who could probably interact hilariously with other H-B characters of the era. The fake motorcycle chase gag has been done in cartoons before, but never in a hospital corridor- which accentuates Chopper's gullibility beautifully. Fibber sums up his relationship with the other two characters quite accurately: "If only that duck were as stupid as that dog!"

    As is often the case, the title card is very deceptive. Yakky isn't the patient- Chopper is!

  7. I love this blog; I visit everyday; please never stop