Saturday, 1 April 2017

Yakky Doodle in Shrunken Headache

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Tony Benedict, Story Director – Art Davis, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Chopper – Vance Colvig, Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon, Fibber Fox, Mouse – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-55.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Fibber Fox mixes a formula to shrink Chopper.

This may be the most self-referential cartoon in Hanna-Barbera history.

After failing twice to capture Yakky Doodle for “the kind of between meal snack that I like,” Fibber Fox concocts a chemical potion that shrinks things. Says Fibber to Yakky: “What did I do to your pal Chopper? Well, this is a little something I picked up watching the Yogi Bear Show.”

It seems to me that Fibber’s referring to the cartoon the two of them are in as he speaks. I don’t recall any other cartoon on the Yogi Bear Show that involves shrinking anyone. You can’t get much more self-referential than that.

Mind you, if Fibber had actually seen it on the show, he should have known he would get it in the end. Because I’ve seen enough cartoons over the years that I knew how it was going to end. Fibber’s the bad guy, so he must fail. And as he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword, thus he must fail using the same method he tried to use to succeed. In other words, he accidentally drinks the formula and shrinks. And because it’s a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, the good guys laugh uproariously after a wise-crack to end it all.

Tony Benedict was assigned the story for this one, spelling off Mike Maltese on the Yakky series. We’ll quickly run through it:

● Yakky says “I feel like that fox is around.” Fibber repeats the line after snatching Yakky and making a dash for it. He runs into Chopper. “What duck?” he asks. “This duck, that’s who,” interrupts Yakky, behind his back (the scene cries for a visual gag but, you know, that costs money). “Well, I’m gonna do to you what you’re gonna do to him,” Chopper promises. Quick-thinking Fibber kisses Yakky. Chopper kisses Fibber... with his fist.

● Chopper gives Fibber some judo throws/crashes. Fibber decides to be more foxy.
● After a trip to the store, Fibber mixes vanishing cream, shrinking powder and reducing pills to come up with X352798 squared, a formula that shrinks Chopper when it’s poured on the dog. As no one vanishes in the cartoon, I’m not sure what purpose the vanishing cream serves. Anyway, Chopper and Yakky hightail it into a nearby mouse hole. The resident pulls one of those “disbelief” lines when he sees a dog in his home. “I’d better quit eatin’ that cheap cheese,” says the mouse. Or is he a meece? He has an awfully familiar looking design.

● Fibber throws a tear gas grenade into the mouse hole. Yakky and Chopper run out and hide under a pail (the mouse apparently has a gas mask as we don’t see him again in the cartoon). Fibber gets ready to clobber the reduced dog. “First, I’m going to give you my right. Then my left. Then follow with my right foot, then...” “The formula wore off,” interrupts Yakky. “The formula wore off,” repeated Fibber. Then he realises what he just said and that Chopper is now full-sized.
● Off runs Fibber. “Hey, come on back and fight like a man,” cries Chopper. Fibber provides an obvious response: “But I’m a chicken fox, remember.” Unfortunately Fibber is in such a hurry to escape into his cave he knocks over the table with the formula on it. Fibber becomes teeny. Best pun of the cartoon: “Well, well. Small world, ain’t it.” This results in a wisecrack and laughter to end the cartoon.

Carlo Vinci animated this cartoon, and you can see him use his three-drawing head tilt throughout it. Here are drawings showing the angle where he starts and finishes the head.

A couple of exit-from-scene drawings. Again, note the angles, and how Carlo turns the head to profile during the exit. You’ll see this in other Hanna-Barbera cartoons he worked on, such as the one where Huckleberry Hound takes on a barnyard fox.

And an anticipation drawing before a diving exit from the scene, something Carlo did with many characters. Butt way up, hind legs up and churning in mid-air.

Dick Thomas handled the backgrounds. Like a lot of his Hanna-Barbera work, there’s nothing fancy or stylised. His scratchy grass is evident.

As for the music, most of it fits. Some cues last only a few seconds so a lot of work was put into the score. The sound cutter put Hoyt Curtin’s “Row Row Row Your Boat” theme when Yakky is swimming in Chopper’s dish, and Curtin’s take on the “Lone Ranger” theme is on the track when Fibber runs from the re-grown Chopper. And the cutter puts some Curtin library music underneath Yakky singing “Yankee Doodle,” which really doesn’t work.


  1. A quick search of the archives yields only one other H-B cartoon of those reviewed thus far in which someone used a potion to shrink: Snooper and Blabber in "Gem Jams." That one came from the 1961-62 season, so it's possible Fibber was referring to it. Yes, it was from The Quick Draw McGraw Show, but I'm betting H-B writers didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the show on which each short appeared, and after a while they all started to run together in the writers' minds. It's also possible Tony Benedict just assumed the shrinking routine had been used at some point on The Yogi Bear Show because it was such a staple of cartoons by that point.

    On the other hand, it may be, as you guessed, a totally self-referential gag.

    I suppose we could ask Tony, but I doubt he'd remember.

  2. There's a Hokey Wolf cartoon, "Too Much to Bear", that's even more "meta" - mentions of Yogi, Boo Boo, and Snagglepuss, and an unusual self-referential ending.

    And, Dixie, that's enough tanning sessions for you.

    1. "Swedish Visitors" (Season 4) with the Flintstones and Yogi., Yowp, or anyone, i've seen some ofg you on funky-comics.

  3. Benedict seemed very fond of shrinking his characters. He also wrote THE JETSONS' "Little Man", in which Spacely's miniaturizing machine malfunctions after it shrinks George; and "Itty Bitty Freddy", in which Fred's diet formula unexpectedly reduces him "the wrong way".

  4. YOWP, what purpose does the vanishing cream serve? elementary, my dear YOWP? To make a reference to Hanna-Barbera's MGM Tom and Jerry short, ''Vanishing Duck''.

  5. I wonder why he's called Fibber anyway? Because he tell lies?

  6. Jimmy Weldon is one of the last surviving members of the Hanna-Barbara cartoon voice overs.