Saturday, 2 January 2016

Cop and Saucer Storyboard

“Cop and Saucer” is among my least favourite Huckleberry Hound cartoons. Instead of being naïve, Huck is just plain stupid. Yes, he’s slow and a little gullible but I have trouble believing he is so dumb he would mistake a metallic thing on a wheel for a human being. But it seems a dope-ish Huck what was writer Warren Foster had in mind at the outset, judging by the storyboard for the cartoon.

That gracious champion of old animation, Mark Kausler, has sent me a copy of the board with this notation:

It's the Huck Hound cartoon "Cop and Saucer" Prod. E83. A month or two ago, you posted some excerpted Huck Hound boards and this artist's style was in a few of the pages. It's a very unusual, almost amateurish style with professional camera directions. This artist drew Huck Hound to look very goofy and kind of "soft", not the hard edged crisp line style that we're used to. The variations in style regarding the look of the metal space man seem to suggest there might be more than one story artist working on this board.
Mark doesn’t believe the drawings are Foster’s, which leaves Alex Lovy and Dan Gordon as suspects, though I’m sure Mark would recognise their styles. But you can tell looking at the pages that some are quickly sketched out with no dialogue while the first page is pretty carefully rendered.

Some of the boards Mark has sent us follow the finished cartoon pretty closely. But this first page sure doesn’t. The opening gag with sirens, crying and the cat stealing milk never made it into the cartoon. And it strikes me that whoever made the drawings weren’t familiar with Hanna-Barbera’s cost-saving techniques. You see buildings (and apparently animation to go with it) in perspective and animation of a cat and his shadow. All of it seems to me to be way too complicated for what the studio was putting on TV. The finished opening narration cuts to the quick. We hear the first line, then Foster substitutes what’s on the rest of the page for two lines and then cuts to introducing Huck as per the second page. To the right you see part of Joe Montell’s background for the opening scene.

Can someone explain to me what’s funny about hat size numbers? The 6 7/8 gag was done to death in cartoons. Fortunately, in the actual cartoon it’s substituted for a variation on the Frank Fontaine sweepstakes winner gag with a number that keeps going on and on.

The radio announcer dialogue (centre panel) is kept but Tony Rivera’s layout is quite different. And the finished cartoon has different dialogue following and Huck screaming up to the saucer in his cruiser. I like the line “Everything looks identified here...” but it got chucked.

You can see how Rivera redesigned the metallic alien. No feet. No mouth speaker. And he doesn’t talk in “reverse track.” Instead, Don Messick invents a kind of electronic noise and “speaks” through the antennae on the alien’s head. The whole dialogue concept of drunk driving was not used; Huck instead wonders who’s illegally parked, asks the alien about the saucer then demands to see his driver’s license. I think the original dialogue’s better. And atypical for Huck, he turns to talk to the audience about the situation.

Other than Huck talks about a license instead of a key, the routine on this page stays intact (including the line of dialogue in the last panel). However, the director cuts to a close shot of Huck during the laser gunfire. And Huck doesn’t go inside the alien and toss out the toy gun. But he does get grabbed by the alien (with a claw instead of a hand), bashed around to pad for time and then tossed against a tree, where he says his judo hold line. And Foster’s weak rock/drinking fountain gag gets cut.

The dialogue isn’t the same but the basis of the bashing and chained to the police car gags are kept. Huck ends the observation to the audience with “I gots ta remember to leave off mah break the next time.”

The duelling/bus gag, the shoot at the camera gag (so old, it’s in 1903’s The Great Train Robbery) and disintegrating mallet head don’t make it into the cartoon. Instead, Huck writes a ticket and the alien’s gun burns a hole in it. Huck hides in the garbage can, not behind it. The tree and brick wall gags die on the storyboard as well. (The “X” next to some panels indicate a fade out-fade in).

The birdhouse gag is modified. You can see how it ended up in the cartoon. I kind of like how the storyboard has Huck imitating a bird to try to fool the alien. The boat gag’s handled differently, with Huck saying “Nothin’ like the peace and quiet of a lake when you gots to do some thinkin’.” The storyline doesn’t follow the various scenes which make up the gag but the end result is the same, though the layout is different. Compare the second panel in the 14th page to what’s in the cartoon. The alien doesn’t run after Huck up the side of the dried lake in the cartoon, the scene cuts to Huck running and deciding to call the sergeant and then dissolves into the next scene where Huck is in his cruiser.

The finished dialogue: “That did it. That did it! That’s police property you just discom-booberated. Now, yer goin’ to have ta take us both to the station in your car.” (Cut to next scene of alien carrying Huck) “I hates ta have to crack down like this, but you asked for it.” You can see the difference in how Rivera handles Huck being taken into the spaceship from what’s in the story panel.

Rivera’s layout sticks to the first story panel on the final page. The cartoon doesn’t cut away to the WBLZ announcer (with a turntable in his studio and a sharp-nosed, bullet-headed operator in the booth), we just hear the dialogue off camera as Huck looks out of the porthole. The camera direction isn’t mentioned on the story board, but the drawing of the Earth and various space objects turns as the camera trucks back. And Huck laugh/cries to end the cartoon.

It’s hard to say if the storyboard version of the cartoon is better than the final product. But it’ll remain a mystery about why so many gags and scenes were changed and who changed them. You can read a review of the cartoon in this post.


  1. I don't know how you find this stuff but for a fan like me it is a true treasure to see the storyboard of "Cop and Saucer." Thanks, Yowp, for sharing from your archives.

  2. Those little dots in the alien's eyehole always reminded me of the ones in the My Favorite Martian opening. Was that H-B too?

  3. I have no idea, Joe. It's been decades since I've seen the show.

  4. Wow, Glad you found this story board. Interesting seeing the panels that didn't make it into the final cut. Just reading it, I can hear Don Messick's strange, fluttering, buzzing alien sound. The eyes do somewhat favor the " My Favorite Martian " intro.