Wednesday 30 November 2016

Goofy For the Sake of Being Goofy

I watch an awful lot of old cartoons. It isn’t a case of pining for a childhood that is drifting further and further into the past. I don’t have nostalgia for it and really don’t think about it very much. I watch old cartoons because I still enjoy them. Forget the past. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are funny today. So are Rocky and Bullwinkle. And so are Quick Draw McGraw and Huckleberry Hound. If they weren’t funny, I’d find something else to do with my time.

Mike Redmond of Indianapolis Star mused about childhood, cartoons and the present in his column of May 9, 1998. He notes his mother’s opinion of cartoons. Mine was much the same, though I think she approved of Tom Terrific. She was annoyed at my delight in Daws Butler’s verbal wordplay. My father had to explain to her I said the word “sheeps” because it came from a cartoon and I wasn’t being serious (Daws used it in both the Quick Draw and Huck series, if I recall).

Here’s what Mr. Redmond had to say. See if you agree with him.

I took some time off, thinking I could get some things done around the house. Also, I had been a sustained bad mood, and staying away from the office for a few days was the least I could do for my co-workers.
So I made plans. Good ones, too. I was going to take care of a little business, do a few chores, work in the garden. That first morning of vacation, I turned on the TV to see if the world had blown up overnight (it hadn't), and accidentally punched into the remote control a number that only a day before had been the Static Channel. This time, though, instead of snow and noise, the television was giving me picture and sound, and the picture and sound were of Quick Draw McGraw.
Oh, happy day! The cable system upgrade had finally reached my neighborhood, and with it came the Cartoon Network.
So much for getting some things done around the house. I sat down to watch, and the next thing I knew it was four days later and I had to go back to work.
Now, I probably wouldn't have been so whacked out had I not stumbled into a Quick Draw cartoon. Of all the old Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters, Quick Draw is my favorite. And this wasn't just any Quick Draw cartoon, either, in this one, he was fighting crime as his masked alter ego, El Kabong. To a Quick Draw fan, El Kabong is one of the great characters in the history of Kid TV.
El Kabonging the mind
Since history is serious, grown-up, educational-type stuff, I was more or less obligated to watch, in order to better understand El Kabong's impact on 20th Century American Culture. That's what I decided to tell Mom, anyway, if she called.
The truth is, it was the first time I could remember watching Quick Draw without Mom standing in front of the TV making a speech about how cartoons were going to turn my brain into mush. She did that a lot during my kidhood. As in daily.
Now that I am in my alleged adulthood, I can see how Mom might have been right. What might I have done with my life had I not spent so much of it in front of the TV, zoned out and mouth-breathing, watching cartoons?
Oh, well. Can I help it if I grew up in the Golden Age of Kid TV, when the cartoons were good?
Fun therapy
I don't watch today's cartoons much. They just don't compare to the old reliables. Oh, there are a couple of good ones – Pinky and the Brian comes to mind – but for the most part they all look about the same to me: On every show, evil aliens from the Planet Gorgonzola to take over the Earth, and the good guys stop them.
Ridiculous. (Unlike, say, a show about a horse who walks on his hind legs, wears a 10-gallon hat and a six-shooter, talks like Red Skelton and occasionally dresses up as a masked avenger who hits people over the head with a guitar.)
What I like about the old cartoons is that they are goofy for the sake of being goofy. They're intended to be funny, and that's it. I don't know about you guys, but these days I need all the funny I can get.
So while it may have been silly to waste four days watching stuff that can turn your brain to mush, I can also say I came back to work considerably less grouchy than when I left. Cartoons are probably the reason why. I think that ought to count for something.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I am going home. I feel another bad mood coming on and it's almost time for Huckleberry Hound.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Rough Drawings and Other Stuff

You want to see drawings of Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss and Top Cat, right? Well, I’ll cut the yowping and get right to it.

These are from one of the internet auction sites (click to view). Most of the rough drawings have been attributed to Dan Gordon. I don’t know about that (especially since one is initialled by Dick Bickenbach), but let’s take a look at them.

To the right appears to be Quick Draw advertising one of the Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks. More Quick Draw, with Baba Looey. I love the Mr. Jinks drawing. I wonder if it was a game show parody, similar to the “What’s My Line?” send-up that Kellogg’s did with Snagglepuss in the early ‘60s.

The drawing below looks more like it was for one of the cartoons than a commercial. I’m trying to think of a cartoon where he walked holding two guns.

Here’s Snagglepuss, the pitch-cat for Cocoa Krispies.

The first Top Cat looks like Dan Gordon’s. Is there animation around of the Kellogg’s tag from the Top Cat opening? I would bet that’s where the drawing comes from with the cereal company name on it.

A few Flintstones items. The first is from “The Blessed Event.” I gather those are colour indications marked in ink. “Stop 13” must be a camera instruction. If anyone can tell me, post a comment.

Now, two from the “Operation Barney” episode. Fred is “Dr. Sliprock.” I don’t know if Alex Lovy is responsible for the story panels or if Tony Benedict did them.

Huck and Yogi plugging their favourite sponsor. Did other kids sing along with the jingle when they watched the Huck or Yogi shows?

I love this promo drawing, though I’m puzzled about why it’s coloured in. There’s a rough version elsewhere on the blog where the cereal is just indicated. Yogi’s muzzle is rounded here; I’d love to know who drew this.

Finally, from the Jerry Eisenberg collection. It’s an establishing background but I couldn’t tell you what cartoon it came from; I don’t know what series used “S” production numbers. It’s not from “Ben Huck.”

As usual, you can click on the artwork to make it larger.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Flintstones Weekend Comics, November 1966

The concept behind The Flintstones was to create a modern Stone Age family; in other words, to adapt the world of today to Prehistoric Times. The series got pretty clever at times doing it. And so does whoever wrote the Flintstones’ newspaper comic of November 13, 1966.

It’s kind of an obverse of Tex Avery’s animated cartoon “Car of Tomorrow.” The writer takes car concepts of the 1960s and imagines what they would be like in the Stone Age. I really like it. And when I was able to post the Flintstone daily strips, I pointed out the continual “What will they think of next?” punch line. It’s brought back here, with a chance for readers to send in their own ideas.

The rest of the comics published 50 years ago this month deal with gossipy women, know-it-all husbands and Pebbles once again trying to tag along with older kids in the neighbourhood. Click on any comic to enlarge it.

Richard Holliss supplied the only colour one available this month.

November 6, 1966.

November 13, 1966.

November 20, 1966

November 27, 1966.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Follow-ups to Earlier Posts

We talked about the very nice Hanna-Barbera exhibition on now at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Writer Tony Benedict (right), who was hired at the studio in 1960, was present for the opening of the exhibit. The opening remarks were recorded on video and if you want to see what Tony had to say, watch the video below. Tony appears at about the 23:57 mark.

Tony was hired to work on The Flintstones to help punch up the scripts submitted by TV sitcom writers hired by Joe Barbera with cartoonish visual gags. He went on to write for Huckleberry Hound (in the original series for Kellogg’s) and many other cartoons.

Daws Butler’s birthday has passed but there’s no reason we can’t hear from him. Here’s a neat phone interview with Daws conducted in 1985 by Ken Behrens of WJBC radio. It’s a half hour long but still way too short.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Snagglepuss in Diaper Desperado

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley, Layout – Jack Huber, Backgrounds – Neenah Maxwell, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss – Daws Butler; Mailman, Big Hombre, Little Hombre, Telegram Delivery Boy – Don Messick. Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-45.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Snagglepuss babysits the son of a Western bad guy.

The orange, bad-guy Snagglepuss hung out in the Old West, so why can’t the pink, theatrical one? The first Snagglepuss pushed around Quick Draw McGraw. The later one got battered thanks to a bandit’s little son.

Unlike a lot of cartoons, the boy in this one isn’t one of those “mean widdle kids” who’s talkative and sadistic. He can’t speak English, but it’s clear he’s capable of handling a gun.

The cartoon’s pretty basic. A wanted Western bad guy who has decided to rob a bank orders Snagglepuss to take care of his son while he’s gone. As you might guess, everything backfires. Snagglepuss gets crushed by a falling rock after shoving the kid out of the way (one of the lines on the rock disappears during the cycle animation).

Next, Snagglepuss tries to train the boy to be a Western TV star. A lesson in roping results in the youngster capturing a real bull that butts the mountain lion into a butte.

Snagglepuss teaches the boy how to use a gun. But the lad is already well-versed. Snagglepuss runs off a cliff to escape the bullets. Finally, a goofy telegram boy delivers a message—the bad guy was captured during the bank robbery and Snagglepuss has to take care of his son until he gets out. The cartoon uses a routine from the Yogi Bear cartoon “Daffy Daddy” (1959) for its ending. The boy rides Snagglepuss like a horse, jabbing him with spurs on his feet. This prompts Snagglepuss to pun: “I ooch and ouch on the spur of the moment.”

Writer Mike Maltese lards up on the catchphrases in this cartoon. Here’s a healthy sampling:
“Heavens to bank balance!”
“Heavens to snapshot!”
“Heavens to safety pin!”
“Heavens to hamburger! It’s a real bull.”
“Heavens to Annie Oakley?”
“Heavens to chariots!”
“Heavens to papa! I’m apparently a parent.”

And, my favourite, after the rock falls on Snagglepuss:
“Heavens to vegetables! I’ve been squashed.”

And there’s more:
“Exit, back to the jungle, stage left.”
“Exit, for child welfare, stage right.”
“Exit, stampedin’ all the way, stage left.”
“Exit, cowardly matador fashion.”
“Exit, chickenin’ out, stage left.”

Bob Bentley’s exit animation is reused in the cartoon (in one case, the same drawings are inked but the cels are painted on the other side). Bentley has Snagglepuss’ feet running in one direction and his head pointed in another before everything faces the same way and the character zips off screen.

More catchphrases. I like the first play on words:
“Perish forfend! I was merely admirin’ your picture. As a fatter of mact, I’d like to order a dozen prints. Glossies, even!”
“Your youngin’? What youngin’, may I enquire? Ask, even.”
“Say, who do you think you’re talkin’ to? Pushin’ around, even.”
“Train ‘im to be a western TV star. Like Rock Crusher. Or Chuck Wagon, even.”

Maltese treats us to a poem from our hero, to wit:

Keep a word of cheer.
Lend a helpin’ hand.
I will dry your tear.
I will understand.

And my favourite line of the cartoon: “Fast on the draw, slow on the sympathy. It is your job to send me to Leavenworth. Or is it Twelveworth?”

Maltese tosses in a cross-reference, as one of Snagglepuss’ injuries moves him to quote Quick Draw McGraw, remarking “Oooh. That smarts.”

As story director, I gather Alex Lovy was responsible for timing. Lovy isn’t really all that expressive with his timing. Here’s a good example. Below are two drawings (an in-between is missing) of an eye-take. Bentley’s animation is okay, but Lovy times everything evenly. Each drawing is exposed two times, meaning the take isn’t much of a take. The timing’s not exaggerated so we don’t see the second drawing longer for better impact.

Neenah Maxwell, the daughter of former MGM production manager Max Maxwell, is the background painter. I got a little lazy and didn’t count how many backgrounds were painted for this cartoon, but one with mountains in the distance got a good workout. And here is the opening background with a mailbox and a blue cave on overlays.

The sound cutter used familiar Hoyt Curtin music from the other short cartoons produced around this time, as well as a cue or two heard on The Flintstones. Nothing stands out, and Curtin’s Western themes are ignored for whatever reason.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Daws at 100

There’s no doubt about it. Daws Butler was the backbone of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon studio.

The Huckleberry Hound Show was an instant success in 1958, and from it the studio grew and prospered. Daws performed all the major characters, infusing them with likability and good cheer.

In a way, Daws was his characters. “Likability” and “good cheer” might be used to describe him. Everyone liked Daws Butler. He gave up his time to help others who wanted to follow his career path. He lived his life quietly. He was a nice man off the screen, and a funny man on the screen. He was one of the reasons—maybe the main one—I looked forward to “tuning up” the TV set to watch Huckleberry Hound and those other early Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I can’t think of what they would have been like without him.

Daws would turn 100 years old if he were with us today. Let’s mark the day with a couple of newspaper clippings. The first is from the Atlanta Journal Constitution of March 16, 1959. It may be the earliest recognition of Daws’ work. There’s no byline, so it may have been provided by the studio. The second is a combination of stories in the Los Angeles Times of October 10 and 24, 1976. The Times piece includes quotes by Stan Freberg. He and Daws worked together through the 1950s until Freberg moved into stardom on his own (and then advertising) and Daws got work at Hanna-Barbera. Freberg rightfully points out the voices Daws did for H-B—including Huck and Mr. Jinks—had made earlier appearances on records, on radio or on animated TV commercials. And while Daws may not have been hired at Warner Bros. after auditioning for Johnny Burton, a few years later he did begin to provide voices for cartoons for the studio.

No Temperament on This Show
There’s one studio in Hollywood which doesn’t have to worry about temperamental actors.
Producers at this studio simply wipe the frowns off an actor’s face with a bottle of ink eradicator.
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera are the producers in this company which turns out the howlingly funny “Huckleberry Hound” and “Ruff and Reddy” cartoons for TV. Their “Tom and Jerry” cartoon comedies have long been favorites with motion picture audiences.
As creators of the comedies they make sure their cartoon progeny are happy and zany characters who have only one aim—to entertain and make people happy.
Obviously their characters make people—old people and young people—happy. Because Huckleberry Hound, the central character in the TV cartoon series of that name, is one of the biggest stars on television. He’s the biggest, that is, if you can judge his popularity by the fan mail he gets.
LOVEABLE HUCK gets huge stacks of mail each week from throughout the United States, Canada, England and Mexico. Second only to him in the fan mail department is Yogi Bear, another of the stars in the 30-minute cartoon show.
The bulk of the mail does not come from the youngsters, either, Hanna points out. Many of the letters request photographs of the stars. They come from the small fry and from grown-ups alike, sure proof of the family popularity of the sagacious pooch.
While the happy faces of the cartoon animals are responsible in a large measure for the popularity of the shows, Hanna recognizes that the happy voices play a big part in the “happiness” of the shows.
Many of the voices on the shows belong to Daws Butler, a vocal impersonator who has fooled the sharpest ears in the country. Since the advent of TV, he has been the voice of some 200 commercial cartoon characters. Today he runs riot on both “Ruff” and “Huck.” He voices Harry Safari, Killer Diller and Pinkie the Elephant on the “Reddy” show and he is the voice of Huck, Yogi Bear, Mr. Jinks and Dixie on “Huck.”
THE STORY of how Daws began impersonating various voices is almost as intriguing as the stories contained in the cartoons.
Daws says it all began when, as a younger, he discovered that he was uncomfortably shy and retiring.
“I decided to combat this shyness with a self-inflicted therapy,” says Daws. “While in high school in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, I forced myself to appear before groups at amateur contests. My repertoire at the time consisted of a Ford starting on a cold day, President Roosevelt and Rudy Vallee. The theory worked and I found it easier to be extroverted.”
But although he forced himself to become an extrovert, he admits that he is happiest when doing a voice which gives him complete anonymity.
Many record fans might not know it but Daws collaborated with Stan Freberg on a phonograph record which sold more than one million copies. It was “St. George and the Dragnet.” [sic]
It was after the success of this popular recording that Daws moved into the field of animation, writing and voicing many of the cartoon commercial messages.

Can't Place the Face, but the Voice Is Sure Familiar

Times Staff Writer
It is one of the injustices of cartoon history that most of its great voices are anonymous men and women.
Credits inevitably are given to the producer-director, frequently the animator, set designer, story developer, layout man, but seldom the man whose voice gives the character his distinctiveness.
Of all the well-known cartoon voices, there is Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, et al) and . . . who else? "That's about it," says Daws Butler. "Mel's the only one who has gotten screen credit consistently. I've never known why. It's just one of the practices of the industry.
"I ask my students who is Daws Butler and, of course, they don't know," Butler said. "Then I mention Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear."
And Quick-Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, Blabber Mouse, Peter Potamus, Lippy Lion, Super Snooper, Augie Doggie, Loppy-de-Loop, Funky Phantom, Baba Looey and Cap'n Crunch, to name a few.
Stan Freberg, Butler's friend of a quarter century, former collaborator and a cartoon voice himself, thinks the lack of credit is particularly shameful in Butler's case.
"You have to realize that Hanna-Barbera worked backward from characterizations that Daws created to come up with Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear," he said.
"He was those characters long before they ever hit the screen. Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear were walking, talking, visual adaptations of what he did for years."
It is impossible to spend any time with Butler, when he lapses back into his famous characterizations to prove a thespian point, and not see that he is, indeed, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear or any of the other hundreds of cartoon characters he has done.
It is equally impossible to detect in him any bitterness connected with the lack of recognition.
"I never really was bothered by it," he said in the Beverly Hills home he has owned since 1950. "You just accepted the fact about the only one who was going to get credit consistently was Mel Blanc.
"If I had an ego problem, it was early on in my career when I was known only as a voice. I felt I shouldn't have to go through life as Huckleberry Hound. But, then, I thought I shouldn't be ashamed of being known as Huckleberry Hound, either.
"I've felt I was always a full actor. I do the characters physically when I am supplying the voices. In the early stages of developing the characters, I worked with the animators, who incorporated my voice and facial expressions into the character.
"I'm proud of the fact that on any date there are three or four of my characters on television. Sometimes I watch them. I think they're still good."
Butler, at 59, is by no means retired. As Cap'n Crunch, he has the second longest characterization in television (17 years, compared to Thurl Ravenscroft's Tony the Tiger, 20 years). He also is Pop on the Snap, Crackle and Pop commercial and the voice, again uncredited, on other cartoons.
But he is branching out into teaching, a field that gives him enormous pleasure. He teaches an acting class Monday nights at the Beverly Hills Adult School and, starting Tuesday, Oct. 12, launches a course, "The Spoken Word: Using the Voice in Speech and Action," at Loyola Marymount University, Westchester. It will run through Dec. 14 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. He also conducts private workshops in a studio behind his home.
"It dawned on me a few years ago that I have been acting all my life, he said. "All life to me is an impersonation, anyway. So, I thought, why not make it easier on the younger people on the way up? Maybe, I can give them some shortcuts in the business. I know I could have used them when I was starting out." That would be in Oak Park, Ill, where Butler was a shy, retiring youth who wanted a career as an artist or writer but got sidetracked into show business.
"From the beginning, I was a sand-lot comic," he said. "I had a knack of making my friends laugh, but I was terribly shy around strangers and large groups.
"To overcome my inhibitions, I forced myself to audition in night clubs in Chicago on Saturdays. I did up to 65 impersonations of Fred Allen, George Arliss, Paul Muni, Charles Laughton, Ronald Coleman, even Charlie McCarthy, and it was a traumatic experience. But I knew I had to do it. It was therapy to me."
Butler earned a few bucks in this way, when he was in high school and after he was graduated. While going this painful route, he met two other guys in the same boat, Jack Lavin and Willard Owitz, and they formed an act called "The Short Waves." Butler is 5-2, the others about the same height.
The group worked Chicago hotels like the Edgewater Beach and Palmer House and supper clubs like the Black Hawk Restaurant until World War II broke up the act. Butler was in naval intelligence during the war, Lavin was killed in Borneo while there with a USO troupe and Owitz toured war areas as a member of an acting group.
Owitz decided after the war he didn't want to continue in show business and moved to Denver, where he is a bank executive.
"Willard never really had the desire to make show business a career," Butler said. "He and his wife occasionally appear in amateur theater productions. That satisfies him. We keep in touch."
Butler got out of the Navy in 1945 with a few dollars and a wife, Myrtis (a North Carolina woman whom he married in 1943), and piled her, their young son, David, and Butler's parents into a car and headed for an uncertain future in Southern California.
"My mother had bronchitis and I figured the climate here would be good for her," Butler said. "As for me, I wanted to enroll in art school on the G.I. Bill. But all the good ones were filled.
"On my father's suggestion, I enrolled instead in a radio school, which no longer exists, at Fairfax Ave. and Wilshire Blvd. From then on, nothing but good things started to happen."
Barely into the school, Butler read for a radio part in the offices of McCann-Erickson, the advertising company, and got it. The man who gave it to him was Neil Reagan, brother of the former governor.
"He didn't realize it at the time, but getting that part meant everything to me," Butler said. "It was 'Dr. Christian,' a series based on the doctor who delivered the Dionne quintuplets.
"With that job, on national radio, incidentally, I got a credit, was able to join the union and go on to other jobs in radio.
"The ironic thing, in the context of how my career developed, is that all the parts I got were serious. I wanted to do comedy but the closest I got to it was generating a laugh in a serious show.
"It turned out to be a break for me, because it gave me versatility and depth as an actor, something lacking in so many people who want to do voices for cartoons today. They are a voice, and nothing else."
After about a year of doing radio, Butler decided to try to break into the cartoon business and went to probably the worst imaginable place, Warner Bros. "I admired Mel Blanc and set up an audition there with Johnny Burton, who was in charge of cartoons at Warners," Butler said. "He told me, after the audition, that I was great, but Blanc did all their voices. Burton, did, however, recommend him to Tex Avery, who was animation director for MGM. After another audition, Avery hired him to do voices for cartoons he was producing and also occasionally on a series that was being started by two young animators, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. The series? "Tom and Jerry."
Catching on at MGM and making the Hanna-Barbera connection is seen by Butler as one of the great breaks in his professional life."
At the time, I didn't know what a break it was," Butler said. "Had I got the job at Warners, it's doubtful if there would have been a Huckleberry Hound or Yogi Bear. Certainly, I would not have been involved in them."
But they came later in 1958, to be exact when MGM shut down its animation department, forcing Hanna and Barbera to form their own company. Out of that union came Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Quick-Draw McGraw, the latter two spinoffs from the first.
"Norman Lear had nothing on us," Butler laughed. "Yogi and McGraw were our Maude and the Jeffersons."
This was roughly between 1958 and 1964, described by Butler as his golden age and peak earning years.
But one of Butler's fondest efforts occured long before that, in 1948, when television was a mere infant.
Bill Clampett [sic], a television producer, came to Butler with an idea for a puppet series about a little boy and, among other characters, a sea serpent. Clampett's idea was to put the show on live.
"I was to be the voice of the little boy," Butler said. "We needed a voice for the sea serpent. It turned out to be Stan Freberg."
The concept developed, but all of the networks and all but one local station turned it down. Claus Landsberg, one of the most imaginative television owners, bought "A Time for Beanie," for KTLA.
For five years, two of them at KTTV, Beanie, Cecil, Capt. Huffen-puff and a bewildering number of other characters cavorted on the Los Angeles television screen five nights a week, 52 weeks a year.
Freberg, too, remembers the series vividly. "It was an incredible show," he said. "We had a circular set with different scenery and characters and Daws and I would move from one to the other, achieving live animation.
"The animation was so real, people always thought the show was filmed. The setup was marvelous for Daws. Being short, he could move around the set without any problem. I'm over six feet and got a permanent crick in the back. I was hunched over for five years."
The show was the beginning of a long and productive association between Butler and Freberg. They did commercials, comedy sketches for radio and produced one of the first comedy records to sell a million copies, "St. George and the Dragonet," based loosely on a hit series of the time, "Dragnet."
It was an odd, but complementary relationship, Butter, the retiring, warm comic, and Freberg, the wild, far out satirist.
"He is a funny, funny man," says Butler. "Collaboration is difficult, but we were always on the same wave length. What I didn't have, he gave me, what he didn't have, I gave him. He's just a brilliant guy."
Freberg is equally laudatory about Butler and even a bit guilty that he got more publicity out of the relationship than his partner.
“Here I was, pushy and overbearing,” Freberg said. “I was the extrovert, getting all the publicity I could. Daws has always been retiring, never willing to push himself.
“The fact that he doesn’t crave publicity in a business that feeds on it says a lot about him as a man. You cannot dislike Daws. You can get a feel for him in the characters he created. They are warm and compassionate.
“He is an incredibly talented man, whose humor is both subtle and profound. He has done some of the great work in this business. I think he could do a lot more if he would push himself. But that’s not his way.”

Daws’ birthday is being marked today by one of his former acting students, Joe Bevilacqua. One of a number of books he co-wrote, Daws Butler Characters Actor, is available today from Blackstone Audio, with Joe providing narration and doing his take on the characters you loved to hear Daws do. If there’s anyone on the internet who shows his love for Daws Butler and respect for Daws’ work, it’s Joe. I can’t find a link to the audio book, but Joe has a trove of Daws’ memorability on-line that you should really check out. You can find it by clicking here.

Writer-voice director-etc. Mark Evanier knew Daws Butler as well as anyone. He wrote my favourite story about him. We’ve linked to it before, but let’s do it again. Click here.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Hanna-Barbera Action Adventure

Until the networks started bowing to pressure groups that wanted to dictate what every kid should watch on TV, cartoons on Saturday morning meant action-adventure as well as comedy.

Hanna-Barbera was at the forefront of this type of cartoon with the prime time airing of Jonny Quest in 1964. Others followed on Saturday mornings. The only one I really watched was The Herculoids because of the odd collection of characters (my sister, not being impressed with the characters’ names, made fun of Dorno by calling him “Doorknob”). I couldn’t tell you a plot of any of the episodes, to be honest.

Doug Wildey is quoted in a documentary on Jonny Quest that the series was, in his estimation, a failure. Did he expect it to feature the kind of elaborate, posed comic book artwork that could never be duplicated on a TV budget?

Wildey was certainly good at it. So was Alex Toth, who joined the studio to work on Quest. Their impressive presentation art has been all over the internet, and now one of the on-line web auction sites has some of it for sale. Let me repost some of it here.

First off, Jonny Quest. These are credited to Wildey. The “File 0-37” was used for a brief period when the show was in development before it was decided to go back to just “Jonny Quest.”

More artwork. Quest fans may recognise the episodes that used the ideas contained in some of these drawings.

Now, some from The Herculoids by Toth. I presume these were done for the series and not later commissions.

A secret agent show called Danger Plus Two made it to the presentation stage. Here’s Doug Wildey again.

Two more proposed shows. Yankee Doodle Daring is signed by Alex Toth.

And from The Great Undersea Race proposal by Doug Wildey, as well as a second, unidentified piece of art.

You can see the full catalogue by clicking here. There’s some great work by Eyvind Earle at Disney and items that were owned by the late Stan Freberg.