Saturday, 24 June 2017

Fishing For Bear

A friend posted a note the other day about the late Emmy-winning cartoon writer Earl Kress, and how Earl is missed every day. As much as a tired pun that it is, I second the emotion.

Earl’s been gone for six years. Whenever I watch one of the DVDs of the early Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, or listen to those Rhino CDs of Hanna-Barbera theme songs and background music, I think of Earl’s untiring efforts to find the cartoons and tunes he loved that he wanted others who loved them to see and hear.

It wasn’t an easy task. It wasn’t like Earl could walk into a vault and view pristine 16 millimetre films of complete, half-hour Huckleberry Hound shows. He soon learned a lot of the bumpers—the little cartoons between the cartoons—couldn’t be found. No one seemed to know where they were (the Quick Draw bumpers were particularly difficult to try to locate). Although I never asked him, I assumed Earl then went to collector friends of his to see if they had anything. That’s why, at least it’s my guess, if you watch some of the bumpers on the Huck DVD some of them will have come from murky video tapes of black-and-white dubs.

Here are frames from one example. It’s a stay-tuned-for-the-next-cartoon teaser. It’s not really laugh-out-loud funny, but is gently humorous. Huck is fishing. I think the frames are self-explanatory.

Note Yogi’s fingers. Ah, those classic, old-time animators.

You think Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera liked Jackie Gleason, or what? Look at Yogi in Gleason’s “And Away we go!” position.

There are two places in this bumper where Huck quickly turns his head to the sides when talking, then jerks it back to face the camera. He never did this in the full cartoons on his show, just in these brief ones. Same with Yogi’s head being in profile as you see above. Mike Kazaleh, unless I misinterpreted what he told me, says that Phil Duncan was responsible for these. Mike knows Duncan’s work about as well as anyone. Unless he was hired briefly by Hanna-Barbera in 1958, Duncan would have had to animated this on a freelance basis. He never received credit on a cartoon that season.

These little cast get-together cartoons were always a fun part of the Huck, Quick Draw and Yogi shows, and really helped enhance the characters, as far as I’m concerned. I’m so pleased collectors hung onto copies of them and Earl was able to track them down for fans to enjoy. I’m personally humbled that someone of Earl’s calibre and reputation in the industry took the time to chat with a complete stranger like me about the cartoons he loved.


  1. Amen -- Earl was the keeper of the flame for the best of early Hanna-Barbera. He is missed by so many friends and fans.

  2. Earl Kress was one of a kind.

  3. YOWP I'm sorry to go off topic on you again, but I think this requires your expertise. According to Maurice Gosfield's wikipedia page - A Top Cat spinoff was in the works when passed away. Is this true?

  4. Earl Kress was one of a kind. I can't believe it has been six years. Without the labors of love from people like Earl and other collectors/historians, we won't have next week scenes teasers, show sponsor ID's, cast get-togethers, etc. All those elements are an important fabric of the shows, not just the shows themselves.

  5. I never had the opportunity to meet Earl Kress, but his commentaries are fun as he even hilariously points out the mistakes in animation or inconsistencies within a given animated series. I wish he'd been allowed to do more TOM AND JERRY commentaries. He will indeed be sorely missed.