Saturday 30 April 2016

Boo Boo and the V.I.V.

Boo Boo never got the spotlight in the Yogi Bear cartoons on TV (though Carlo Vinci gave him some fine angular poses in The Buzzin’ Bear/i>) but he did in one of the Whitman books called Boo Boo and the V.I.V., printed in 1965 by Western Printing.

The illustrator was George DeSantis, who also drew a Golden Book published that year called The Flintstones Meet the Gruesomes and another for Whitman the previous year entitled Pebbles Flintstone Runaway. His name appears in other children’s books of the mid-‘60s but I don’t know anything about him.

His designs of Boo Boo and Yogi are attractive. His Ranger Smith is more stylised than what was in the newspaper cartoons of the time and his other animals are not in the Hanna-Barbera style at all. I really like the foxes.

You can click on the double pages to make them bigger.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

TV Guide Guides You To Huck

Huckleberry Hound was the Ike Eisenhower of cartoons. “I Like Ike” went the saying. And it seems everyone liked Huck, too (and come to think of it, he did run for president, didn’t he?).

The Huckleberry Hound Show garnered all kinds of favourable reviews shortly after it debuted in fall 1958. We’ve posted a number of them here. There’s one we missed, though, published in the June 25, 1960 edition of TV Guide. Someone who didn’t miss it is everyone’s favourite cartoon historian, Jerry Beck, who has passed it on.

This wasn’t the first time the magazine had written about Hanna-Barbera. It had published a profile of the Quick Draw McGraw Show in its January 23, 1960 edition (with colour frame grabs or set-ups, no less).

Why was Huck so appealing? The unbylined writer pretty much nails it, as did the other reviewers we’ve read. The show was well-designed, the characters sounded funny and were in funny situations. The writing by Warren Foster and Mike Maltese didn’t talk down to kids and was amusing enough for adults (and pretty clever at times) to draw their attention.

Here’s the article. My thanks to Jerry for passing this on so you could read it.

Cartoons are funnier than people. This is something Walt Disney tacitly acknowledges every time he pats his bank book. For further evidence, talk to viewers of Huckleberry Hound, an animated series now being shown on some 180 stations around the country.
The appeal of this weekly half-hour is impossible to pinpoint. For example, the program was nominated for an Emmy by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the category covering children’s shows. Yet the adults who watch the show are its most avid boosters. Give a Hound fan (and the writer obviously is one) an opening and he’ll overwhelm you with futile attempts to re-create in words and gestures what he’s seen on TV.
Like the time Yogi Bear and his little pal Boo Boo crashed the father-son picnic at Jellystone Park. You see, Yogi and Boo Boo are bears and they live in the park and they make life miserable for the park rangers. And are they funny. Honest.
They call the show Huckleberry Hound because that’s the name of the emcee, who happens to be a dog who talks like Andy Griffith. (Yogi, he talks like Art Carney’s Ed Norton). Huck has his own adventures on the show too. Like the time he tried to hold a barbecue in his back yard and another pooch kept stealing the steak. A howl.
Yogi and Huck share the 30 minutes with Pixie and Dixie, who are two mice. These mice—and the sensible plural, meeces, is used on the show to refer to them—make life a veritable dog-pound for a cat named Jinks (he talks like Marlon Brando).
There was the time Jinks got this robot cat to help him catch P. and D., and . . . well, you just gotta see the show.
If the plots sound juvenile, it’s because they are—in the wonderful tradition of the fantasy world of the cartoon. Anything can happen and it does. Defiance of gravity, harmless falls from great heights, complete disregard for time—all the ingredients are there, plus a fine sense of what human nature is all about. Children like the show because of the action and the animals. Violence is present, but in a context so unreal that children recognize it in these situations for the painless foolishness it is. Adults like the show for its subtleties, its commentary on human foibles, its ineffable humor.
The cartoons are drawn in a fine clean hand by a team of talented wits named Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who created Ruff and Reddy in 1957, and Huckleberry Hound in 1958. They are represented this year by the animated Quick Draw McGraw, a satirical look at some of television’s best-loved formats. The voices, incidentally, are done for the most part by Daws Butler (he’s Yogi, Huck and Jinks) and Don Messick, who does Boo Boo.
Next season Hanna and Barbera will be bringing us The Flintstones, animated humans in the half-hour format in evening time. Situation-comedy people, look to your ratings.

Saturday 23 April 2016

View-Master Views

Cartoons and comic books weren’t the only media where you’d find little adventures of the great early Hanna-Barbera characters. You’d find them on View-Master reels as well.

When I was a kid, it took a little bit of getting used to seeing Huck and Yogi in a 3D-like setting after watching them running around flat on TV, but the layouts of the reels are really enjoyable and the craftsmanship is something to marvel at. Eventually, View-Master went to drawings instead of what I guess were little sets but they’re still good.

Could Hanna-Barbera have pulled off, say, a seven-minute Huckleberry Hound cartoon in stop motion, with designs like you see in the View-Master frames? Probably. After all, Gumby was airing at the same time as the original Huck show. And since someone will mention it if I don’t, there was the very imaginative dream sequence in Flintstones on the Rocks where Carlo Vinci’s animation in The Flintstone Flyer was a partial inspiration behind a really fun piece of stop-motion work, arguably the best part of the whole show.

Some of these have been posted here before. They’re provided courtesy of Scott Awley, Dom Giansante and Eric Steadman. I believe Scott went to the trouble of cleaning up a couple of these frames. This is not an attempt to post all the H-B reels but, yes, a fully-restored set of the frames (maybe in a book) would be nice.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Flintstones Weekend Comics, April 1966

Gene Hazelton’s letterer was starting to experiment with calligraphy in the Flintstones’ Sunday comics about 50 years ago. We saw one example in one of the Sundays in March 1966 and we can see more examples the following month.

I wonder if Gene was renovating his home around this time. Three of the four comics have to do with house repairs and bills.

I like the sour notes in the silhouetted third panel of the April 3rd comic. The clamshell/bell on the dial phone in the April 10th comic is imaginative (I’m sure the TV series had the same thing) and Baby Puss makes an appearance in an interestingly laid-out opening panel on April 17th. Nice end gag, too. Note the dinosaur off into the distance. It looks like little dinosaurs decorate the lamp shade in the long opening panel on April 24th.

Pebbles shows up in two of the four comics, and only incidentally. Barney and Betty are absent altogether. The focus this month is on grouchy Fred.

The colour comics come from the collection of Richard Holliss in England. Apparently, some of the papers used two-tone instead of full colour. Try to ignore the skunk stripe down the middle of the page of the others. These are the only scans I can find.

April 3, 1966

April 10, 1966

April 17, 1966

April 24, 1966

Saturday 16 April 2016

Snagglepuss – One Two Many

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Don Towsley, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – John Freeman, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Snaggletooth – Daws Butler; Lila – Jean Vander Pyl; Mouse – ?
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-82 (final Snagglepuss cartoon made).
Copyright 1962 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Snagglepuss’ twin brother Snaggletooth pays a visit, confusing the scheming, husband-hunting Lila.

Mike Maltese mixes together some pretty good elements in this cartoon, including the shrewish, selfish Lila in her final appearance. We get Snagglepuss, the merry confirmed bachelor. We get his twin brother Snaggletooth, who is ready to marry Lila if it means he can get his paws on her wealth (and for no other reason). Toss in the old mistaken-identity element and we get kind of a bedroom farce without the sex. Snagglepuss wants Lila out of the house. Snaggletooth wants her in. At no time does she realise she’s dealing with twin brothers; she thinks she’s wooing “that not too terribly homely bachelor” Snagglepuss. It’s a nice little plot.

Maltese managed to fit in fun dialogue routines in most of his cartoons for Hanna-Barbera and this one’s no exception. The best of it comes at the start of the action, when Lila pretends a hunter is after her so Snagglepuss will take her in and thus be ripe to be guilt-tripped into a marriage. Lila fires a rifle in the air and screams.

Snagglepuss: Sounds like someone’s scrapin’ a rusty nail across a blackboard.
Lila: Oh, won’t you save me from the hunter, kind sir? (skids to a stop and poses coyly) My name is Lila, I’m single, love dancing, lions and sports, and have a kind disposition.
Snagglepuss: Couldn’t you to go the YWCA, er somethin’?
Lila: I prefer it here.
Snagglepuss: But, but, but, but...
Lila (cutting him off): I insist!

Once inside...

Lila: My, what a dusty house. It needs a woman’s touch.
Snagglepuss: I do believe the hunter’s gone. You may go now. Leave, even.
Lila: Say, are you hinting that I leave?
Snagglepuss: Heavens to Murgatroyd, no. I’m not hintin’. I’m tellin’ ya outright. Go! Git, even!

At this point, Lila fakes a fainting spell. In a way, she really deserves to get screwed around by the equally-scheming Snaggletooth, who unexpectedly arrives on the scene, but Snagglepuss comes out the worst of it through much of the cartoon, stuff tossed at him and being bashed with a broom. He tries to get rid of her using a mouse which bears a striking resemblance to other Hanna-Barbera meeces, and a “writ of Evictus Delicatessen” (Maltese adds a small-time vaudeville groaner when Lila says “I thought you were going for egg foo yung” and Snagglepuss replies “Don’t believe I know the Oriental gentleman.”). Lila finally rushes out of the home, borrowing from the Snagglepuss vernacular: “So exit-uh, single-blissing it all the way-uh, stage-left-uh!”

Jean Vander Pyl does a tremendous job as Lila using a lowbrow, New York-ish accent (Maltese was born in a not exactly highbrow part of New York and had written for the New York-ish Bugs Bunny).

This cartoon was animated by Don Towsley, who is not content to let characters stand and blab. He employs gestures and clenched fists.

Towsley has some interesting curved body holds before a character zips out of the frame. He also has characters look straight into the camera when talking to the audience, not with the head at a bit of an angle.

Some dry brushwork by the Hanna-Barbera ink and paint department.

And here’s an endless run cycle. There are four drawings in the cycle, each held for two frames (eight frames). There are 16 frames from the start to the end of the background drawing, meaning the cycle repeats twice before the background repeats. This is a slowed down version.

Donald Frank G. Towsley was born May 11, 1912 in Wisconsin (likely in Kaukauna) to LaFayette Frank and Frances G. (Reich) Towsley. The family was in Atlanta by 1920 and Los Angeles by 1930 (Towsley’s parents had separated). Towsley had a job as a clerk in 1932 but began work at Walt Disney in the mid-‘30s, animating on Donald Duck cartoons and features. He seems to have left the studio around 1947. Bob Clampett hired him to supervise the animation on his one cartoon for Republic, It’s a Grand Old Nag. Towsley then went into commercial work. He was employed at Lee Blair’s Film Graphics, Inc. in New York, animating on the TB warning film Rodney (copyright March 23, 1951) and directing The Village and the School (1954). He showed up at Hanna-Barbera around 1961 but was gone by the end of the year. Towsley died in Los Angeles on November 25, 1986.

John Freeman is the story director and I don’t know if he’s responsible for this but there’s a really abrupt cut in the opening. There’s a shot of the outside of Snagglepuss’ cave and the camera trucks back on the drawing. Suddenly, there’s a cut to a close-up. It would have looked better if the camera stopped trucking and then cut to the next scene.

And, finally, one other piece of Maltesean dialogue: “Then I shall fuhly shorth. Or is it silly forth? Or nelly fifth?”