Saturday, 4 August 2018

Hokey Wolf — Tricks and Treats

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Don Patterson; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Written by Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Hokey Wolf, Farmer Smith, Humphrey – Daws Butler; Ding-a-Ling, Humane Society Woman – Doug Young.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Production No E-145.
First aired: week of March 13, 1961.
Plot: Hokey cons a farmer into giving him free grub by feigning a leg injury.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.

The most interesting animation in the first Hokey Wolf cartoon is when our hero places his finger in the rifle of Farmer Smith, daring him to shoot. He does. Here are the individual drawings. The third drawing is shot on twos, the rest on ones. (P.S.: nice going on the DVNR on the DVD, Warner Home Video).

Hokey Wolf really doesn’t interest me and I’ve been working through my head about why that is. In this particular cartoon, Warren Foster has written a solid story, Daws Butler’s voices are tops as always and Monty has some interesting colour choices in his backgrounds, but I just can’t get into it. Maybe it’s because Hanna-Barbera wasn’t just borrowing from sitcoms—The Honeymooners or, in this case, Phil Silvers—it was now borrowing from itself. Tall schemer, short conscience? Sorry, I’d rather watch Yogi Bear and Boo Boo do the same thing (the praise Ding-a-Ling heaps on Hokey must be inspired by the 1954 Warners cartoon “Dr. Jerkyl’s Hide” written by Foster). And how many more times did H-B use that formula?

Don Patterson, a veteran of “Fantasia,” “Dumbo” and some crazy takes in “A Fine Feathered Frenzy” at the cost-conscious Walter Lantz studio, is pretty much reduced to walk cycles and characters standing around talking. He gives it a good try every once in a while. Here’s Hokey faking having his leg in a trap and howling in “pain.” The only thing that moves here is the head.

A good effect is a flash camera effect, where the screen turns white when a “photo” is taken. You can see the same thing in the Yogi Bear cartoon, Space Bear, which was also animated by Patterson.

Whether it came from Foster’s storyboard or Paul Sommer’s layouts, I don’t know, but there’s silhouette animation of Farmer Smith.

Sommer would have designed the incidental characters. I like Humphrey, the photographer.

I mentioned above that the backgrounds were painted by Fernando Montealegre, if the credits are correct (I’m not fully convinced they are). As you can see by the interior above, he abandoned the great, stylised flat designs which I really like in those 1958 Huck and Yogi cartoons. Here is his farmhouse. Note the pink clouds and the shades of green in the trees.

Foster gives Hokey some nice dialogue here: “Neat. Well-kept. You’ll notice around that wheat field a little border of dichondra. It makes it dressy. Gives every evidence of being stocked with good, whoooolesome food.”

Hokey, a la Phil Silvers’, keeps up a steady stream of disorienting patter. “Well, it’s lucky for you,” he says to the rifle-toting farmer,” I am a no-good, thieving, low-down, good-for-nothing wolf, or I’d sue you for slander. Ding-boy, snap this picture (click). Good boy. Now a close-up of the cruel trap. (click) And another one like this (Hokey pulls rifle up to his face). For protection, you know. It’s my best side (click). Now get one of the defendant. Smile. That’s it (click).” When the farmer asks what it’s all about, Hokey explains he needs evidence for court. “Cruelty?” says the farmer. Hokey moves his trapped leg. “This isn’t exactly a charm bracelet on my leg, you know.”

The farmer doesn’t have time to think that he never laid a trap. “You didn’t know (it was Be Kind to Animals Week)! But the whole world will know. I can see the headlines now: “Jury Convicts Farmer...” uh, come, come, the name. This must be spontaneous.” It’s the kind of finger-snapping line Silvers’ Bilko (or, later, Top Cat) might blurt out. Anyway, the farmer is conned into taking him into the home to feed him back to health, similar to the plot of the 1958 Yogi Bear cartoon Tally Ho Ho Ho (“Here it is, wolf,” says the farmer. “Some nice, hot barley water. Just the thing for your shocked condition.”). Like Yogi, Hokey isn’t satisfied and raids the fridge. And like the Yogi cartoon, the farmer discovers the fakery, in this case when he catches Hokey dancing.

Hokey, however, has hedged his bets. He calls the Humane Society to give it a scoop—Farmer Smith has befriended a crippled wolf and is nursing him back to health. And it works. The Humane Society people arrive just as the now-clued-in farmer is about to clobber Hokey. They take pictures of the fake-smiling farmer as he feeds the wolf. “That Hokey,” says Ding-a-Ling to the audience, “He’s the greatest wolf ever” as the cartoon ends. Ding, evidently, has never seen a Tex Avery cartoon.

Doug Young plays not only Ding-a-Ling, but lends his voice to the matronly Humane Society woman. I can’t think of another time he did a falsetto voice in a cartoon, but it’s as funny as Don Messick would have done.

Hoyt Curtin’s tracking library opens with his version of “Strolling Through the Park One Day.” The other cues will be familiar to you from Snagglepuss and Lippy the Lion cartoons.

Hokey (originally named “Wacko Wolf” until, perhaps, it was realised Larry Harmon had a cartoon character with that name) was supposed to replace Yogi Bear on the Huck show when Yogi got his own show at the end of January 1961. But the Hokey cartoons weren’t ready. Yogi reruns were featured on the Huck half-hour until the first Hokey short was ready in March; a rerun of Huck’s great Spud Dud accompanied it that week.

No, this is not going to be the first of a bunch of Hokey reviews. As I say, I’m not a big fan of the series and I frankly don’t have the time to blog, let alone attempt to mask TV cable network bugs on frame grabs for a series I’m not interested in. I will say it’s a shame that this series and the remainder of the Huckleberry Hound and Pixie and Dixie cartoons that don’t have music issues aren’t out on DVD.


  1. I've always liked H-B's con-artist characters. Pity you're not continuing the Hokeys, as I would have enjoyed a critique of Too Much to Bear, which is unusually "meta" for a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

  2. I can't remember when I last saw a Hokey Wolf cartoon, but reading your post, it seems that Hokey and Ding weren't much more than stand-ins for Yogi and Boo Boo. I don't mean just for Huck's show, but in the basic concept.

  3. Thanks This cartoon is on the 25 cartoon collection Hanna barbera DVD

  4. That is a Great seen animated by Don Patterson when hokey sticks his two fingers in the gun thanks for freeze framing that

  5. I'm a sucker for Fernando Montealegre's backgrounds

  6. The "call in a magazine photographer" joke was also used in the Top Cat episode 'The Long, Hot Winter', for a similar reason.

  7. I’d like to think that, rather than the onset of “creative atrophy” that would plague Hanna-Barbera largely after 1964 – and quite tragically after Scooby-Doo (still groundbreaking in its own way) was launched – the similarities between Hokey and Ding and Yogi and Boo-Boo were purposeful!

    Hokey and Ding were different from Our Beloved Bears, yet were similar enough to keep the old familiar feeling of THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW intact, despite the loss of one of the studio’s greatest creations!

    In support of this, just imagine how jarring it might have been if the sometimes-rumored “J. Evil Scientist Family” series had become the third component of THE HUCK HOUND SHOW! …It sure wouldn’t have the same vibe we knew and loved since 1958!

    There were a lot of good Hokey cartoons – like “Chock Full Chuck Wagon”, which pit the smooth-talking wolf against a “Doug-Young-voiced version of Yosemite Sam”! You should consider at least reviewing a few. …Anyone else with me on this?

    So, as I see it, Hokey was a good choice to “plug the hole” – and was a good character too boot. It’s not his fault he was further diminished by the coming of Top Cat later in that same year!

    It was timing, more than any character or concept deficiency, that worked against Hokey. For instance, he was the only component character of the “Big-Three H-B Funny Animal Shows” of the time (HUCKLEBERRY HOUND, QUICK DRAW McGRAW, and YOGI BEAR) to not be granted at least a one-shot comic book from Dell or Gold Key Comics – back when Augie Doggie, Yakky Doodle, and even Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist received individual titles.

    Though comics-wise, Hokey and Ding DID appear as back-up guests in the regular Huckleberry Hound comic book and the three issue “catch-all” title Hanna-Barbera Bandwagon. Hokey also had one unusual and memorable team-up with Yogi Bear in Gold Key’s YOGI BEAR # 10 (1962) which capitalized on the similarities between the two.

    Hokey Wolf would probably not be pleased that he is largely unremembered today… though he’d probably find a way to turn that to his advantage in some sort of scam or con-game. At least he can take this post’s little bit of notoriety with him to the “Home for Weary Cartoon Wolves” – where he’ll probably end up “owning the place” inside of two hours!

    1. The dynamic of Huck interacting with J. Evil Scientist in those bridge cartoons might have been interesting, though maybe not a great fit. If ABC could get two seasons out of the fairly limited TV version of the Addams Family, H-B could have managed a season of Evil Scientist cartoons. But we'll never know.
      Warren Foster wrote some good stories for Hokey, but there's just something about the series I can't get enthusiastic about. I'm not a Top Cat fan, either, but I like the old Bilko show and whenever Daws Butler did his Silvers voice at Jay Ward.

    2. You treated us to a fine review of Hokey’s debut! Isn't Doug Young’s voice for Farmer Smith loosely based on Victor Moore?

      The ploy of “be kind to animals week” was in the Pixie and Dixie short, “Kind To Meeces Week”. Hokey calling the Humane Society is similar to Top Cat phoning the newspapers in securing Officer Dibble's apartment in "The Long Hot Winter".

      Hoyt Curtin underscore fits the scenes in the short. On occasion, as seen in the scene where Hokey plugs the barrel, we were treated to extreme takes.

      I, agree with you Yowp that J. Evil Scientist interacting with Huck would've been odd. Joe, as you mentioned in a comment Hokey was different, but not too different a replacement for Yogi. Out of the characters having their own series in 1962, next to Snagglepuss, I find that Hokey Wolf shorts are equally entertaining.

      While it’s true many Hokey shorts could fit for Yogi if he wasn’t tied to a formula. I find that the stories Warren Foster and later Tony Benedict wrote for Hokey are fun.
      Yes, Joe you count me on "Chuck Fulll Chuck Wagon".

      One of my favorites is, "Which Witch Is Witch" where Hokey battles a a "Ge-Ge Pearson-voiced version of Witch Hazel". Sandra Gould provides a voice in "Phony-O and Juliet". One of the rare times a female voice-actress besides Bea Benaderet, Jean Vander Pyl, and Janet Waldo was used.

      I like how Daws Phil Silvers characterization was utilized for a recurring character rather than a one-shot character. I couldn't think of the Phil Silver's voice fitting a better character than Hokey. Then again, the Silvers voice works for any scheming character in THE FLINTSTONES, THE JETSONS, and many other series. Many of Daws characterizations were for one-shot characters before securing a permanent character. The cute voice Doug Young provides for Ding-A-Ling suits the character design.

      I had seen glimpses of Hokey in LIMP-A-LAFFICS, and YOGI’S ALL-STAR COMEDY CHRISTMAS. It wasn’t until I read “Bronco Buster” in “Hanna Barbera Spotlight” #1 where I first learned who Hokey and Ding-a-Ling were. In the same issue, it was reading “The Fantastic World of Hanna-Barbera” page was where I discovered that Hokey was a replacement for Yogi. Then I thought it was odd how the series was aired not in order, usually, YTV would air three shorts of a Snooper and Blabber and Snagglepuss. I couldn’t draw (That’s a joke, son!”) similarities between Yogi and Boo-Boo and Hokey and Ding-A-Ling as I had limited exposure to either series. It wasn’t until 2003 when YOGI’S BIRTHDAY SPECIAL aired where I saw Hokey and Ding-A-Ling after a long time.

    3. I enjoy the Hokey cartoons myself. Adel, also include Julie Bennett as regular female. Adel, I didn't knwo of GeGe Pearson or Sandra Gould'sa presence in Hokey shorts! Fascinating! Too Bad Michael Maltese never wrote Hokey, Yogi, or the Orange Beatnik Cat/Meeces or any Hucks except for ":Grim PIlgrim". SC

  8. Count me as a fan of Hokey. Good point about the similarity to other big/little combos and maybe that is why I liked it. I think this was still in the era of charming HB characters and had not yet become repetitive and tired. I know--no more Hokey reviews promised but take it as a compliment to your work when posters tell you they would love to see more of X, Y, Z.

  9. I think the problem with Hokey's cartoons being memorable was he was too obvious a derivative of Silvers, in terms of how the dynamic played out. Fred Flintstone was based on Jackie Gleason's character, but enough was built around that character which was different from "The Honeymooner" as to give the show and character their own feel, and the same held true for Snagglepuss -- Bert Lahr may have forced Hanna-Barbera and Kellogg's to put that disclaimer on those Cocoa Krispies ads, but the voice was only a jumping-off point for a character who did things Lahr never did. Hokey (and to the same extent, Top Cat) did things exactly how Bilko would have done them, so their personalities aren't as unique or memorable.

    1. One could also compare Fred Flintstone (at times) to Moe (Three Stooges).

  10. Hokey Wolf's voice in "Tricks and Treats" as provided by Daws Butler is slightly different from the voice of the later Hokey cartoons. It's as though Daws is still trying to "find" the Hokey voice. It's similar, but compare it to the voice of Hokey in "Castle Hassle" and in others.

  11. You know. I always liked Hokey but he wasn't one of my favorites. I honestly wondered why HB used certain tv actors voices more than once in different cartoons. Don't get me wrong, the voice actors were brilliant but I kind of thought Hokey should have had his very own voice.

  12. Probably the best and most memorable of the Hokey toons. Hokey looks muck better in this higher resolution version, as opposed to the bleached out Boomerang copies.

    Love the review of one of my favorite HB characters. Thanks again.

  13. This is what a Huck/J. Evil Scientist interstitial would be like…

    Per Bill Hanna, Mrs. J. Evil would be absent so as not to pay Jean Van Der Pyl. If Junior’s “GWAAWP!” sound was done by someone other than Daws Butler, Junior would either be silent, or previously recorded “GWAAWPs” would be used.

    Huck walks into a ghastly NURSERY SCENE, from left, where J. Evil is reading junior a bedtime story.

    Howdy, J. Evil Scientist. Readin’ Junior some nursery rhymes?

    J. EVIL (chuckles):
    Yes, this is one of his favorites.


    Huck is bemused, as J. Evil begins to read.

    J. EVIL:
    Little Miss Muffet, Sat on a tuffet , Eating her curds and whey…

    J. EVIL (continues):
    …Along came a SPIDER…

    A GIANT SPIDER enters frame from right. Huck leap-exits out of frame left.


    J. EVIL (addresses audience):
    Too bad. I was hoping he’d stay for the next J. Evil Scientist cartoon… It’s delightfully GRUESOME!


    So, cast your vote! Hokey Wolf or J. Evil Scientist to play off Huck! The polls are open!

    Yes, the show would have been DIFFERENT with J. Evil, but I think little single-digit-age me would have liked it anyway! …And yes-again, I’d LOVE to be able to write this stuff for comics!

  14. Isn't Don Patterson also worked at MGM and Walter Lantz as well?

    1. Yes, he did. Yowp..I fondly remember this episode..and the farmer's dazed, dizzy look from being shot by the camera.S