Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Snagglepuss by George Nicholas

El Kabong is funny. The orange, bad-guy Snagglepuss is funny. Put them together and you have a funny cartoon. And the cartoon is even funnier if the animator is George Nicholas.

They all appear together in El Kabong meets El Kazing (1960). It’s one of my favourite Quick Draw McGraw cartoons as Snagglepuss abuses the dopey lawman through the whole cartoon until Baba Looey, as El Kapowee, swings in on a rope with his own kabongger.

Nicholas was hired at Hanna-Barbera after production ended on Sleeping Beauty and Walt Disney laid off a bunch of animators. Here’s an example of why I like Nicholas’ animation. He tries to do something with limited animation. This scene shows Snagglepuss entering the cartoon from his cave. Look at the curves he gives Snagglepuss’ arm and tail.

You know how the studio would have done it a few years later. Snagglepuss would likely peek out behind the cave overlay then enter on one drawing with dry brush speed lines toward the cave.

As in any good Quick Draw McGraw cartoon written by Mike Maltese, the off-screen narrator and the characters have a little conversation. Here’s what Nicholas does when the narrator catches Snagglepuss’ attention. The mountain lion’s head turns in five positions. Other animators would probably do three. Nicholas loved beady eyes; you can see it all through this cartoon and many others he worked on.

“You don’t look much like a nemesis to me,” opines the narrator. Snagglepuss gets indignant. Again, another fine expression by Nicholas. He tilts Snagglepuss’ head ever so slightly in six drawings.

Timing is generally up to the director, but in this scene Nicholas has some unique timing. Normally, you’d find drawings shot on twos, occasionally on ones or threes. Nicholas varies the timing here; Ed Love used to have his own timing at Hanna-Barbera as well. The second drawing is on fours, the third and fourth drawings are on threes, the fifth drawing is on twos, the sixth is shot twice before Snagglepuss starts his dialogue; only his head is animated for part of the scene, then Snagglepuss gestures with his right arm.

You can go back about six years on the blog and read a review HERE.

The layouts in this cartoon are by Walt Clinton. He would have designed the incidental characters, like the ones in the opening shot (there is a quick right pan from one pair of characters to the other). I love the bull and sheep.

By the way, I apologise for some inept masking here. One of the things that sucked valuable time making posts on this blog for years is that unless these cartoons were released on DVD, they are dubs from American cable TV. They have a station ID bug plastered on them. I’ve tried to cover the bugs with varying degrees of success. I wish I had bug-less copies of them (especially the first two seasons of the Quick Draw show) but since I don’t, you’re getting the best I can do with the time and limited skills I have.


  1. For Heaven's sake!
    Why Warner doesn't release The Quick Draw McGraw Show in DVD for the world-wide markets?
    I'm saying this in the name of the HB-fans from the whole world!
    This is one of the funniest shows which Hanna-Barbera have produced!

  2. George Nicholas is a master in making facial expressions on his animations.
    Take for example, Fred Flintstone animated by him, mainly when we see him speaking with that frog mouth.
    All the times which I read the Flintstones comic strip drawn by the legendary Gene Hazelton, with Fred talking with that frog mouth: it has more similarities with the animation done by George Nicholas.
    Both George Nicholas and Gene Hazelton were from Disney.

  3. Is it me or does this blog's Snagglepuss look different from the one in the syndicated cartoons of decades ago?

    1. Snagglepuss started out an orange-coloured antagonist in various cartoons in 1959. When he got his own series in 1961, he went through a personality change and the designers changed his colour.