Thursday, 26 July 2018

The Psychology of Snooper and Blabber

“Yowp, you’ve got to do more than just upload an animation cycle in this post about Snooper and Blabber,” I said to myself. But there isn’t an awful lot to say that hasn’t been said before on this blog. I’ve exhausted my sources of newspaper articles published about the Quick Draw McGraw Show in the first few years of its existence; Charles Witbeck devoted a whole column to Toot Sweet, the French flea friend in several Snooper cartoons. Model sheets have been posted; I can’t recall if the one to the right has been put up before.

I did stumble across two articles which are amusing when taken together. There has been no end of self-appointed experts looking way down upon the masses and telling parents what their children should watch. The articles are amusing because they give completely opposing views. Incidentally, these are the types satirised by the great Warren Foster in that Jetsons episode where all television of the future has been forced to become “educational”—and is completely boring.

The National Association for Better Radio and Television proclaimed in its 1965 booklet (available for $1 from its headquarters in Los Angeles):

QUICK DRAW McGRAW—CBS, Saturdays. Recommended for children. Three cartoons (Augie Doggie, the detective team of Snooper and Blabber and Quick Draw McGraw) in a show with consistent satiric wit and gentle humor. Action and story interest. Too many commercials.
On the other hand, there is an 11-page pontification in the November 1963 edition of Canada’s Chatelaine magazine by psychologist Douglas William Jones, partly quoting the head of something called Social Research Incorporated. It talks about “inner needs,” “deeper instincts” and other psycho-babble. Snooper and Blabber, in his estimation, are “harmful.” Oh, not just them. All cartoons are harmful, with the exception of the ones appear on that programme hosted by the benevolent, benign Walt Disney.

Almost all children’s shows were bad, too, though he liked the CBC’s Razzle Dazzle. Of hoary old Howdy Doody, he wrote:

It was found that the show appealed to the repressed hostilities of children, hostilities they cannot express openly. It did this by making fun of adults or depicting them in unattractive ways. The “bad” characters were all adults. They were represented as being extremely powerful or downright foolish.
Then he informs us:
In my own analysis of cartoons, a good example of thinly disguised, symbolic parent-child relationships could be found in the Quick Draw McGraw series. The bigger stronger figure is shown as a bumbling complacent nitwit. He dreams big dreams, and starts out on heroic missions. In the end the smaller younger characters do all the work and solve all the problems. It is worth noting that they sometimes appear to let the adult figure take the credit. In other cartoons, the childlike figures get away with outrageous behavior. Pixie and Dixie, with their traditional enemy Mr. Jinx [sic]; Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd—the list can be extended indefinitely.
All this is news to me. I never thought of Snooper as some kind of father substitute. He was a private eye that did and said funny things and sometimes even won a case. I probably have more “hostilities” for people who invent imaginary hostilities than I do for people or drawings in television comedy shows. I laughed at cartoons and then went on to other things as the day wore on. I suspect you did, too.

What else can I tell you about Snooper and Blabber? Well...

● All 45 Snooper and Blabber cartoons over three seasons were written by Mike Maltese. He once said could bang out a storyboard for one in less than a week.
● Blab was played in the first four cartoons by KFWB drive announcer Elliot Field.
● Daws Butler said the voice of Snooper was based on comic actor Tom D’Andrea, not Ed Gardner as Archie on the radio show “Duffy’s Tavern,” though Maltese borrowed from Archie’s vocabulary to craft dialogue.
● Jean Vander Pyl’s first role at Hanna-Barbera was in a Snooper and Blabber cartoon (Big Diaper Caper) where she played Mrs. J. Evil Scientist, using her Tallulah Bankhead voice.
● Moaning hyena Hardy Har-Har was a character in one Snooper and Blabber cartoon (Laughing Guess). Maltese banked the idea and revamped it several years later for another series. Something to do with a lion that was lippy.
● The orange version of Snagglepuss was Snooper and Blabber’s nemesis in two cartoons.
● “Tralfaz” makes an appearance, as our heroes spend one cartoon (De-Duck-Tives) coping with a rare, but annoying, Tralfazian duck (voiced by Red Coffey).

Perhaps my favourite routine in a Snooper and Blabber cartoon comes in A Prince of a Fella where Snow White speaks in a Katharine Hepburn voice and goes on about calla lilies. It seemed so silly to me as a kid. I had no idea at the time it was from dialogue in a Hepburn movie.

Here is the promised endless cycle, slowed down a bit from the cartoon it appeared in. It’s from the opening of Observant Servants. Ed Love provided the animation. The cityscape is by Bob Gentle. Both were MGM veterans. It takes 16 drawings to get from one end of the background painting to the other.


  1. When will you go back to make posts on the episodes I love them

    1. Elizabeth, all the cartoons from the Huck, Pixie and Dixie, Yogi, Quick Draw, Snooper and Blabber, Augie Doggie and Snagglepuss series are reviewed. I even ended up doing the Jetsons. There aren't any more reviews to do.
      I keep saying the blog is going to come to an end but somehow I keep putting up more posts. I don't intend on continuing much longer.

  2. I laugh hysterically at adult analysis of classic cartoons. Most of 'em do so with no realization that some of the humor in those cartoons, some of which might go completely over a child's head, is taken from adult sitcoms or jabs at classic advertisements of the day; these were aspects of classic cartoons, either theatrical or TV, that appealed to me most! Just look at half the humor in Jay Ward cartoons. You almost had to have a lot of knowledge of television during those days to get some of the bits. Regarding Jay Ward cartoons, I'm still trying to think of the exact reference in an early FRACTURED FAIRY TALE, the first featuring the Ward take on "PUSS IN BOOTS", taking place in a British locale called Poppin' Full of the end of the episode, the problem of the episode is solved and certain entrepreneurs went on to "invent ice cream". To my dimming memory, this references a certain company's ice cream flavor called by the same name, Poppin' Full of Squares, possibly a chocolate and vanilla checkerboard design in the ice cream; in fact, I remember our house going through a box or two of the stuff! I can't recall which Dairy Company created this marvel, though. Okay, so I got off topic, but it is always interesting to me to read of analysis of kid behavior through the cartoons they watched. Oh, if they only knew how much animation I digested per week. I'd probably be considered a psychological disaster!!

    1. Hi, Kevin. I remember the ads for Poppin Full of Squares. I thought Pillsbury made them but it was so long ago, I don't remember.
      There is still a mindset that if children witness "violence," even Roy Rogers shooting a gun, they will become violent, so they must not witness it. Cartoons became emasculated and preachy in the 1970s because of "experts" and prudes, and a case could be made that the world is worse now than it was then. Conversely, I suspect there were lots of kids that watched "violence" in cartoons that didn't grow up to be insatiable brutes.