Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Book of Huck

Have you seen some of your favourite cartoon characters that are victims of too much airbrushing? I have.

I prefer the painting that makes them as flat as you see on screen, but I do like some of the airbrushed work in the Whitman and Golden books that came out more than 50 years ago. There was just enough of it to give the characters a bit of dimension without being distracting.

One of the auction sites had this artwork from the cover of a Huckleberry Hound Giant Story Book published by Whitman in 1961, along with some of the drawings that must have been used therein. Very attractive.

And below are some designs from the “Hanna-Barbera Huckleberry Hound Treasury” by Golden Press, copyright January 9, 1961. The copyright notice says additional designs (what you see below) were by Thelma Witmer and John Carey. Carey had been an animator at Warner Bros. then moved into comic books. Witmer had been employed for a number of years at Disney. The page on the right in the first set of drawings had a title over the first row and little drawings of a bowl-hat-wearing Huck gesturing.

Fans of Ruff and Reddy and Loopy de Loop will be pleased to see them. Poor Loopy got comparatively little marketing as he appeared only in films and not on TV.

The Treasury contained the following stories, copyright 1959 and 1960:

Huckleberry Hound Builds a House / by Ann McGovern ; pictures by Harvey Eisenberg and Al White
Ruff and Reddy / by Ann McGovern ; pictures by Harvey Eisenberg and Al White
Huckleberry Hound and his Friends / by Pat Cherr ; pictures by Ben de Nunez and Bob Totten
Quick Draw McGraw / by Carl Memling ; pictures by Hawley Pratt and Al White
Yogi Bear / by S. Quentin Hyatt ; pictures by M. Kawaguchi and Bob Barritt
Loopy de Loop / by Kathryn Hitte ; pictures by George Santos
Huckleberry Hound and the Christmas Sleigh / by Pat Cherr ; pictures by C.W. Satterfield.

This post was going to end here with a hope that, some day, pictures from the Treasury would show up, other than the Christmas Sleigh story which you can find on the blog. But they have! So here are drawings by Harvey Eisenberg and Al White as Huck builds a house. You can click to enlarge them. As this book was aimed at kids, it doesn’t feature the humour you find on the Huck TV show.

There were a number of other Golden books of the Hanna-Barbera characters published around the same time. If we’re still here, we’ll bring you one next month.


  1. I'm a big fan of all the early '60s Little Golden Books (I used to read them to my little brothers, and we especially loved the QUICK DRAW McGRAW book, especially the line "Ouch!" cried Baba Looey, "You are standing on my foot!"), but I must admit that HUCKLEBERRY HOUND BUILDS A HOUSE was an Al White finish job which seems to be on the sloppier side. I can't imagine Eisenberg's pencils looking as off as page 20's picture of a seated Huck (the muzzle, especially), or as off-model as page 9's shot of Huck and Jinks. But the title page Huck is BEAUTIFUL. By the way, the GIANT STORY BOOK and TREASURY covers are among my favorites, and you're right--they were the perfect combination of flat and subtly shaded illustration, something ROGER RABBIT and everything in 2-D animation that followed (not to mention modern-day comic books) have been unable to duplicate. Between those Little Golden Books and the Dell (and the early Gold Key) Annuals with their painted covers, we got to see nearly every classic cartoon character at their most attractive.

  2. That's the first thing I noticed about these illustrations, the shadowing. Gives it a slightly a fuller look.