Wednesday 29 August 2018

Flintstones Weekend Comics, August 1970

Well, it’s official. The world is flat. At least it was in the Flintstones era in the Sunday comics.

Regular readers will know we have been reprinting “50-years-ago-this-month” weekend newspaper comics for Yogi Bear and the Flintstones, generously supplied from the personal collection of Richard Holliss in England and supplemented by whatever we could find in newspapers on-line. Richard’s missing a few years and all our on-line sources for 1968 dried up, so we had to curtail things. However, we can skip to 1970 and bring you the comics from that year.

Before we do it, we do have a few from 1968 from Richard to pass along for months we skipped.

May 19, 1968. A time of protest in the United States. Naturally, it’s reflected in the comics. The quotes are quasi-Biblical. You’ll see some plain backgrounds in some of the panels. Nice to see Betty make an appearance. (1968 was the year that her voice, Bea Benaderet, died of cancer).

June 16, 1968. The dream sequence is a nice idea (in TV cartoons, it’s used too often as a cop-out as in “Surprise! It’s all a dream!”). The car looks a little like a drag racer to me because of the larger back wheels. Mr. Slate isn’t Fred’s boss here, and I don’t think he ever was in the comics.

August 11, 1968. A bee in someone’s mouth that doesn’t sting? Evidently the bee never talked to Bill Hanna about making “Tee For Two” at MGM (Tom got stung by a mouthful of them).

Now for August 1970. No Dino (let alone Baby Puss), no Rubbles. We get Fred’s dad in two of the five comics this month. And a live mastodon that Fred has mounted on the wall, in addition to the flat Earth.

August 2, 1970.

August 9, 1970.

August 16, 1970.

August 23, 1970.

August 30, 1970. I still can’t think of an explanation for this one. Pebbles definitely needs a new writer.

The black-and-white comic is from one of our on-line sources which decided to go back to scanning its comics page after skipping a couple of years. The rest are from the Holliss archive. You can click on them to make them bigger.

Saturday 25 August 2018

Billiard Bear

Yogi Bear shows off his pool prowess by trying to pull off a trick shot, banking a shot off the back cushion of the table and into a hole (which he points to). Instead, it flies into his open mouth.

Some of the frames from when the ball ends up in his stomach, with appropriate sound effects. It ends with a bounce instead of a splash, so Yogi evidently is playing on empty stomach. Note the fingers on the left hand.

“At first, some tricks are hard to swallow,” he tells the viewing audience, not really bothered by what’s happened.

Now that the mini-cartoon is over, it’s on to the main cartoon.

I won’t venture a guess at the animator on this one, though I have some suspicions.

Monday 20 August 2018

Fred Flintstone, Age 111

Alan Reed landed a TV role in fall 1960. It went nowhere. He was picked to play an agent in the sitcom Peter Loves Mary which, by the way, included a maid played by Bea Benaderet. Fortunately for Reed, he got another role on a different show that season. You know what it is.

As hard as it is to believe, Reed was not the first or second choice to provide the voice for Fred Flintstone. Reed was perfect for the role. He gave it humour and gave it warmth. Reed’s Fred was a three dimensional character, quite a feat for a cartoon character.

For the fans who don’t know, Daws Butler used his grumpy Jackie Gleason-style voice in a short reel put together when the series was still known as The Flagstones in development in early 1960, but Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera felt he was being overused by the studio. Bill Thompson came out of cartoon retirement (he was working for Union Oil at the time), recorded five soundtracks as Fred, but had troubles with the low end of his voice, so he was let go (returning to the studio later as Touché Turtle). Reed was next and the part was his until his death at age 69.

Like pretty much all cartoon voice actors (including the main cast of The Flintstones), Reed came from radio. He was a star back in 1930 on a CBS show called Henry and George. Above you see him from Big Sister when he was using his original name. He adopted Alan Reed (the first two names of his youngest son) to get more dramatic roles and in 1939 decided just to stick with the one name.

Reed would be 111 if he were with us in person today. Here is a newspaper interview with him from when The Flintstones was still in production. This is from the Chicago Tribune syndicate, February 12, 1961. As a side note, the “Finnegan” role spoken of was originated by Charlie Cantor, who used it on Fred Allen’s radio show. If you’ve heard Sid Raymond as Baby Huey, that’s the voice. The “Falstaff” voice was the voice Reed used in the Flintstones episode where he becomes the snooty “Frederick.” And “Daddy” on the Snooks show sounded very Flintstone-ish.

The Real Fred Flintstone
By Larry Walters

IN A FEW short months the Flintstones have become the “first family” of television. After all they’re cavemen right out of the stone age. And the head of the house is Fred Flintstone, a sort of early Fibber McGee with some overtones of a latter day Jackie Gleason.
He’s sort of a lovable jerk as he goes about his problems via animated cartoons [at 7:30 p.m. Friday on channel 7] and for several weeks we couldn’t figure out who was doing his gooney voice.
Finally, we pegged it. The possessor of this voice is none other than Alan Reed, who used to play the classic lovable jerk Finnegan in the old Duffy’s Tavern series, and Clancy the Cop, another jerk from the same show.
But perhaps his best remembered role of the radio heyday was that of Falstaff Openshaw, the poet of Fred Allen’s Alley. He did that more than 10 years. He also was the voice of David Rubinoff, Eddie Cantor’s violinist. There were many laughs in Rubinoff’s mangling of the Queen’s English [it was the King’s English then] but Dave got the credit instead of Reed. Alan also played the original Daddy to Fanny Brice’s Baby Snooks.
After the Allen years Reed went to Hollywood where he worked in the TV versions of Duffy’s Tavern and Life with Luigi. Meanwhile, he had joined Fox studios under a long term contract. He made around 50 feature pictures, among them “Viva Zapata,” “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” and “Desperate Hours.”
A few years ago he decided to get into some business that would protect him in his old age. He heads Alan Reed Enterprises, a firm that distributes specialty and executive gifts. Going great, too, says Reed.
Reed recalls his days with Fred Allen as his best. This wry wit was a constant joy to be with and to work with, he recalls. Allen, who was one of the easiest touches on Broadway, gave away a lot of money. When NBC moved him from an east side studio to one on the west [Allen lived on Manhattan’s west side] Reed once asked how he liked the new place.
“It’s all right,” said Allen, “and it’s three less ‘touches’ walking here than it was to the other place.”
But Reed is having a fine time today. He’s got his money making business going well, and he enjoys “living” with his TV wife in Bedrock and riding around in his own convertible which has Stone wheels. He has a fine piano, naturally a Stoneway. He’s a joiner; one of his favorite associations is the Y.C.M.A., the Young Cave Men’s association. Occasionally he goes out on the town. His favorite night spot: the Rockadero Hilton.
But the nicest thing about his new TV career, is the hours.
“It used to take us three or four days to make a show,” he recalled. “But now we do a Flintstone show in three hours. And we do them in the evening, so it doesn’t even interfere with my business career.”
What a life!

Sunday 19 August 2018

Walk With Jinks

There was a time when Hanna-Barbera cartoons didn’t have walk cycles consisting of six drawings of a character in profile. There was a time in the early days when animators could bat out something interesting. Animators like Carlo Vinci.

Here’s a neat cycle from Cousin Tex. Carlo comes up with a cycle of eight drawings, animated on twos. I wish I could isolate the drawings from the background art, but I’m not that technically adept. You can see how Jinks almost waddles. Carlo has Jinks’ feet turning outward, knees bent and butt bouncing.

Here’s the cycle, slowed down a bit from what you’d see in the cartoon. You’ll have to try to ignore the jerking background and concentrate on Jinks’ lower half.

I don’t believe this cycle was duplicated in any other cartoon.

Thursday 16 August 2018

Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, July/August 1970

For a number of years, we posted 50th anniversary Yogi Bear and Flintstones weekend comics, and several readers have wondered why we stopped. It’s pretty simple. We ran out of comics. Several newspapers where I was able to find them stopped running them, or poorly photocopied them so they weren’t readable. Richard Holliss in England, who generously sent me scans of his large collection, was missing a few years. And, as I have been saying, I am going to end further posts on this blog but somehow continue to find limited time to put up things. (I have a post from Denise Kress I wish to complete).

Since there seems to be some interest in these comics, I’ve scrapped the “50 years ago” idea and am just posting a bunch from Richard’s fine archive, as well as one from an on-line source that resumed scanning them after skipping a couple of years.. These are all from 1970. The drawing style has noticeably changed in two years, but there are still lots of good layouts and fun expressions.

All but one are tabloid editions, meaning one thin panel in the top row of the comic has been deleted so the comic can fit four rows.

July 19, 1970. Apparently, people have houses inside a national park. You can’t really blame Yogi in the final panel, can you?

July 26, 1970. You’ve got to love the bears who act like bears, then there’s Yogi who acts human.

August 2, 1970. A silhouette of Boo Boo and one of Ranger Smith make the artwork a little more interesting, as well as the different panel sizes. The talking animals in the top row are a little different. Yes, kids, people did hang mobiles like that way back then. Don’t ask me why they’re called “mobiles.” As a high-schooler, I never really understood the origin of the name.

August 9, 1970. Isn’t that a great cow in the final panel?

August 16, 1970. Nice perspective in the opening panel. Note Yogi’s teeth in the last two panels. The four Ranger Smith heads over a white background is a great idea.

August 23, 1970. I guess Yogi plans on selling the golf balls. I don’t know why else he’d think living up a golf hole is great.

August 30, 1970. If Countess Van Snoot didn’t have a point on her nose, I’d say it was Fred Flintstone in bad drag. The writer fits in a Yogi rhyme. I really like the dog design but... a bear with a pet dog?!? Note the two-headed Smith; it’s about the best animation effect you can do without any animation.

You can click on any of these comics to make them larger. My thanks again to Richard Holliss for supplying them.

Saturday 11 August 2018

Jinks Sees a Ghost

Some of my favourite drawings of Mr. Jinks came from the pencil of Mike Lah, who spelled off the regular animator in a number of cartoons in the early episodes of The Huckleberry Hound Show. You want fear or pain takes? Lah’s the guy you want.

I like his work in “Jinks’ Mice Device,” but he comes up with some funny poses in “The Ghost With the Most.” Lah takes over from Ken Muse after the iris fades out at the 2:30 and animates about the next two minutes and 15 seconds of footage. Pixie and Dixie try to convince Jinks there’s a ghost in their house. Pixie rolls up a window shade. Jinks is terrified. Lah alternates three drawings in a shake take.

Here’s the extended arm run that Lah liked using. Note that Jinks’ tail vanishes.

Lah was able to save Hanna-Barbera some money in many of his scenes by holding a character in position and changing the mouth shapes on the face. But in this scene, he actually re-draws Jinksie completely when the cat looks at the camera. Granted, there aren’t a flurry of drawings, but there’s more than one of Jinks’ body. Here are two of them.

This is an example of the body being held on a cel and a number of mouth shapes used (and re-used) in dialogue.

Did kids notice the lack of full animation? Likely not. There’s enough movement on the screen to match the dialogue. (On the other hand, I always noticed when characters ran past the same thing).

As a contrast, you see a version of Jinks, likely the work of Dick Bickenbach, who put together the model sheets for the characters that were designed by Ed Benedict.

Bick’s work is always very attractive but Lah’s takes are an awful lot funnier (Bick was certainly a capable animator, as he showed in his work at Warner Bros. before leaving for MGM in the mid-‘40s).

At the risk of repeating myself, it seems the studio abandoned fun poses like this fairly quickly as the workload increased. You’d never seen Wally Gator or the Hillbilly Bears drawn this way.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Inks and Jinks

There’s never enough praise for the ink and paint department at the major animation studios. While the animators, their assistants and in-betweeners draw great action on paper, someone must have a lot of talent to take those drawings and accurately reproduce them on cels.

The inker’s work is a little more noticeable when there are animation effects. Hanna-Barbera always seemed to have characters zipping out of a scene with some dry brush strokes left behind; the theatrical studios used dry-brush as well. I imagine the effect was indicated on the story panels that went to the layout artist and thence indicated on a drawing to ink and paint.

Here’s some interesting dry brush in the Pixie and Dixie cartoon “The Ghost With the Most” (1958). Jinksie is turning his head and plopping the “unconscious” Dixie in a flower pot before rushing off camera. What’s a little different here is there are extra eyes and noses indicated as Jinks turns his head. The animator of this cartoon was Ken Muse and I can’t think of when his artwork had additional eyes like this. (Carlo Vinci had nose smears in a few of his earliest cartoons).

The head of the ink and paint department at Hanna-Barbera was Roberta Greutert (Bill Hanna misspells her name in his autobiography). She arrived at MGM in 1938 and was eventually the assistant head of the department under Art Goble. The two went to Hanna-Barbera after MGM closed in 1957; Goble was put in charge of titles. Greutert’s husband was Henry Greutert, Jr., a sculptor who worked in art direction for live action films at Metro (I have been unable to ascertain her maiden name). Back Stage magazine reported in its September 24, 1971 edition upon her retirement that she trained 4,000 painters over 33 years. She died in 2007 at the age of 93, going by the name Roberta Marshall (as in Lew Marshall).

From what I understand, ink and paint was housed in a separate building when H-B Enterprises set up shop in the old Chaplin studio on La Brea. There was no room for ink and paint in the little cinder block bunker at 3501 Cahuenga, where H-B moved in 1960; some inkers and painters worked from home. Finally, when the brand new building was built down the street at 3400 in 1963, all the departments (initially) were under one roof.

We’ll have more on this cartoon in a post on Saturday morning.