Saturday, 20 January 2018

Judo Jinks

In the early days at Hanna-Barbera, one animator would be responsible for an entire cartoon, but there were exceptions. For whatever reason, Mike Lah would be brought in to handle a couple of minutes of footage.

One of them was Judo Jack, which was the Pixie and Dixie cartoon that Joe Barbera remembered screening for Kellogg’s to try to get it to sponsor its nascent Huckleberry Hound Show.

Lah liked weird little mouth shapes in dialogue. He moved the shapes across a character’s face, requiring no other animation. Here’s an example from one of my favourite drawings of Mr. Jinks, when Judo Jack turns him into a pretzel using “a pretzel hold.”

Lah must have driven Ed Benedict nuts. Benedict once complained the Hanna-Barbera artists never stuck to the model sheets. Lah sure didn’t. Here’s Jinks again, being pulled under a door by the tail by Judo Jack. These are funny drawings.

Lah had been animating on a freelance basis after MGM shut down its cartoon studio in early-ish 1957. He was supposed to be part of the original Hanna-Barbera partnership—his wife was the twin sister of Bill Hanna’s wife—but something happened to prevent it; possibly Lah didn’t have money to invest. His H-B career seems to have lasted into 1959. He bought into the ownership of Quartet in 1960 and eventually ran the company. Why he left H-B may be in hidden away in an unpublished interview, especially at a time when the studio was adding staff to make the Quick Draw McGraw Show, but it’s a shame he didn’t stay. A Lah Jetsons could have been pretty funny.


  1. I remember the opening to a Flintstones episode where Dino squeezed Fred under a door in the same way. I thought it was pretty funny at the time, but it obviously had a precedent.

  2. You can see in the last couple of shots some holdover expressions from Lah's MGM CinemaScope Droopys, where lots of teeth also showed up in the character reactions of Butch and the Huckleberry Hound-ish wolf.