Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Spoofing Westerns and Private Eyes

Mike Maltese seems to have had an affinity for Western characters. At Warner Bros., he invented Yosemite Sam. Then about 15 years later, he came up with Quick Draw McGraw for Hanna-Barbera.

Quick Draw is my favourite series. Maltese managed to make fun of pretty much every Western cliché. For good measure, he added in Snuffles, the dog who was loyal only to whoever would feed him a biscuit. For even better measure, he added Quick Draw’s Zorro-like alter ego, El Kabong, who was feared or respected by other characters despite his obvious incompetence. And, just to add to things, several cartoons pitted Quick Draw against the sheep-stealing orange Snagglepuss, who may have been funnier as a villain than as the pink thespian of his own series. Plus, Maltese borrowed bits of dialogue and ideas from his old Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck cartoons (For example, orange Snagglepuss, in Lamb Chopped, cries “Yoicks and away!” a la Daffy Duck in Robin Hood Daffy, released about a year earlier).

The Quick Draw McGraw Show debuted on the week of September 28, 1959. It was nominated for an Emmy but lost to H-B’s other syndicated effort for Kellogg’s, the Huckleberry Hound Show.

This National Enterprise Association column appeared in newspapers starting around October 24, 1959. I am pretty much 100% certain I posted it in this blog years ago but I can’t find it. Perhaps I deleted it by accident. Regardless, here it is. Why the writer decided to omit the Augie Doggie/Doggie Daddy element on the show, I don’t know. However, he picked up on some of Maltese’s funnier ideas, and gives you a good idea why I’ve always liked the show.

Westerns, Private Eyes Get Kidded—By Animal Kingdom

NEA Staff Correspondent
HOLLYWOOD (NEA) — Quick Draw McGraw knew exactly how and where to handle the problem. The damsel in distress who had written, "Am in danger, need help at once," signed her initials, "T. H. L. Q."
With born horse sense, Quick Draw — who is a HORSE and TV's newest fast gun — knew the initials meant "Typical Helpless Lumber Queen."
All the boys were there for the private eye convention and among them were: H. Two Oh, famous underwater private eye; Sky Hi, space private eye; Forchoon Cookie, well-known Chinese private eye, and Snooper, a cat, and his partner, Blabber, a mouse.
Today I give you Quick Draw McGraw and his partner, Bobba [sic] Looey, a Mexican burro, and Snooper and Blabber, private eyes, as proof that at least someone has a sense of humor about TV western heroes and private eyes.
The "Someones" are Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who for 20 years were responsible for the hilarious cat and mouse MGM cartoon team, "Tom and Jerry."
When the studio fired them two years ago, they moved over to TV to become the only company turning out new and original cartoons made especially for television.
"RUFF and READY," [sic] "Huckleberry Hound" and "Yogi Bear" were their first animated cartoon TV stars and this season they've caught up with the western and private eye cycle.
Horselaughing with them, via 150 TV stations today, is Quick Draw McGraw, a talkin', shootin' horse and the only western star able to look a "bad man in the eye while swishing his tail and standing on four legs.
Helping Quick Draw tame the west is his slightly dumb sidekick, Bobba Looey, the burro. As Bat Masterson is proficient with a cane, Quick Draw is handy with a guitar, even becoming a singing horse at times.
But spoofing desperate human western heroes, on the adult level, gives Producers Hanna and Barbera their biggest laughs for an audience reported to be 60 per cent adult.
SNOOPER, "the world's greatest private eye," is a cat and his assistant. Blabber, a mouse, and they LOST their first case (proving that Hanna and Barbara can thumb their noses at Madison Ave.)
Like most all the TV's private eyes, Snooper and Blabber wear trench coats, collars up, and they even have a girl Friday. She's never seen but her voice comes over the telephone in their car.
"She's not too bright," Blabber explains, "but she's kind to her parakeet."
While other private eyes on TV are concerned only with murder, Snooper and Blabber wrestle with other problems, such as "The Case of the Missing Bank Building."
WHEN THEY WERE FIRED by MGM, Hanna and Barbera offered to produce cartoons for the studio's TV production company. MGM said it couldn't be done so Hanna and Barbera became the first do-it-yourself-kids in the TV animation business.
Today one sponsor spends 12 million dollars annually on Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw and a staff of 150 artists and technicians are working on around-the-clock shifts for the multi-million-dollar Hanna and Barbera Productions.
With the assembly-line planning and the use of 80 per cent fewer drawings — "without sacrificing quality" — they have produced in two years more cartoon shows for TV than they did in 20 years at MGM.


  1. QUICK DRAW McGRAW was responsible for a couple of other character debuts. I've always felt that Maltese also created (at least the prototype for) Ricochet Rabbit, H-B's OTHER western sheriff, in 1960's "Scooter Rabbit," as well as Hardy Har Har in the same year's Snooper and Blabber cartoon "Laughing Guess." It may not have a DVD set available, but I still rank the QUICK DRAW McGRAW SHOW as H-B's second most important series after THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW in terms of humor which withstands the test of time, and the real and considerable reach of the characters created for it. (As for the absence of Augie and his Daddy from the article, perhaps the version you have is one of several edits offered to papers by the syndicate, with a more complete version available elsewhere? Nothing else makes sense.)

    1. I've checked five different newspapers with the story, Mike, and none mention the Augie segments, and end somewhat abruptly with the MGM reference. (I could understand it if this were written at the start of 1959 as Augie/Doggie Daddy were still in development).
      You're right. It's pretty safe to assume Maltese invented Hardy.

  2. DOGGIE DADDY: "Shunned by da fourt' estate? Dat's humidifyin'! Why, I'd cancel my prescription in a second, if I didn't have such an oigent need fer coverage! [CAMERA PULLS BACK TO REVEAL HE'S PUTTING NEWSPAPER SHEETS ON THE FLOOR] Coverage of da livin' room, dat is! [CHUCKLES, THEN CALLS OFFSCREEN] Ain't dat right, not-quite-housebroken-son o' mine?"

    AUGIE DOGGIE: "[COVERING FACE WITH ARM AND STANDING OVER A FRESHLY SOILED PAPER] Oh, the shame of it! I'm a contributor to yellow journalism!"

    1. That IS one of your best, TCJ. And you've had some really good ones over the years.

  3. He calls Baba Looey the dumb one? QD was the idiot, Baba was the brains.