Wednesday 27 February 2019

Walking and Running by Carlo

Yogi Bear and Boo Boo dip their knees, tilt from side to side and then straighten up in a six-drawing walk cycle in the 1958 cartoon Big Bad Bully.

The animator is (as you may have guessed) Carlo Vinci. It takes 96 frames (one drawing shot on two frames) for the bears to get from one end of the background drawing to the other and repeat the cycle. Unfortunately, when the cartoon was shot, there were lighting flares from the camera. That’s in evidence if you isolate the cycle.

Yogi and Boo Boo disguise themselves as a cow to fool a bull in a farmyard. The bull accidentally strips the bears of their costume. Here’s Carlo’s drawing when they realise what’s happened.

When Yogi makes a break for it, there’s a high-step, three drawing cycle. The three drawings are animated on two frames, then Carlo reuses the second drawing of Yogi with his feet in mid-air as the fourth drawing.

Carlo liked to use a two-drawing stomp cycle before characters zipped out of a scene. Here’s an example in frames three and four. Yogi then leads with his chest to run to the left.

These are just a few examples. Carlo has some other walk/run cycles in the cartoon, including a version of the jaunty butt-walk he animated in several first-season cartoons. The animation was limited, but Carlo Vinci made sure it didn’t look too repetitious (imagine the same cycle all through the cartoon) and kept things fun for the viewer.

Saturday 23 February 2019

Flintstones Vs Jonny Quest

Doug Wildey, who gets credit for creating Jonny Quest, once grumbled about the artists working on the series as being, to paraphrase him, “Flintstones animators.”

That was true, but some of them had also come from Walt Disney, where they had animated on Sleeping Beauty. They weren’t hack artists who could draw nothing but talking animal caricatures.

I thought of that when I ran across this newspaper piece about the difference between Jonny Quest and The Flintstones. It’s unbylined, so it may have been a publicity handout from the PR department working alongside Wildey at Hanna-Barbera, or it could have been from ABC. It would seem self-evident what the differences are between the styles of the two shows, but perhaps it was written for publication before Quest debuted. It appeared in several papers; this one is from the News Leader of Staunton, Virginia, November 27, 1964.

There was one similarity between the two series, besides being made by the same studio. In a way, they had the same time-slots at ABC. The Flintstones was getting, er, stoned in the ratings by The Munsters on CBS, so ABC swapped time-slots. That saved The Flintstones from cancellation, allowing its huge merchandising to get another season of free TV publicity. Poor Jonny and Bandit didn’t attract enough adults in its new slot to entice sponsors to put up the kind of advertising money Quest needed to stay in production for another season, so it came to an end in 1965. (Later incarnations notwithstanding). Even if it had stayed on, one wonders how much longer Tim Matheson’s voice could hold out from the effects of time.

Cartoonist Compares Shows
HOLLYWOOD—"There's a big contrast between 'Jonny Quest' and 'The Flintstones,' and that's what makes the two series so much fun to work on," said Joe Barbera, co-producer with William Hanna of the two animated series airing in prime time on ABC-TV.
"I hate having the word educational used in connection with one of our shows, but truly, 'Jonny Quest' has many educational aspects for youngsters," stated Barbera.
"First of all, there's the magnificent art work which we used as backgrounds. It would be impossible for a live or filmed TV show to show such authentic and thoroughly beautiful surroundings as backgrounds for their shows. It would be far too expensive. In 'Jonny Quest,' we take viewers to all parts of the world with our unique backgrounds."
A product of over two years of research by Hanna-Barbera artists and story editors, "Jonny Quest" brings up-to-date adventure to the television screens. "The Flintstones" deals with adventures in the stone age.
The type of art work is different, also. In "Jonny Quest," the art style is illustrative, while "The Flintstones" is pure cartoon-art, using strictly cartoon characters. The characters in "Jonny Quest" are more life-like.
Explaining this difference in the type of characters, Bill Hanna said, "The idea actually stemmed from the beautiful color background drawings for 'Jonny Quest' which Joe and I thought were so stimulating. We realized that here was a different approach to animation, so we decided that the characters should be different by animating them in a life-like manner.
"In 'The Flintstones' it's entirely different," Hanna continued. "The backgrounds are strictly caricature, and we designed the characters to conform."
The stories used on "Jonny Quest" and "The Flintstones" also are contrasting. The only parallel drawn is that the stories for both series are written expressly for family viewing and not toward one age group above another. Barbera and Hanna insist that there be something for every member of the family in every story on both series.
The differences between the two series point up Bill Hanna's and Joe Barbera's versatility. The pair have parlayed two strongly contrasting shows into a real success story. "That's what keeps us going," concluded Barbera. "The contrast makes for more stimulating work and keeps us on our toes. That's what I mean by our work being fun."

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Flintstones Weekend Comics, February 1970

If it’s one thing they had in Bedrock, it’s leaky houses. Fred Flintstone deals with (or doesn’t deal with) a leak in two of the four comics that appeared in Sunday newspapers this month 49 years ago. Barney and Betty don’t appear this month; all the comics revolve around Fred, mostly at home.

The gag in the February 1st comic is cute. You’ll notice, unlike the Yogi cartoons, there are plain backgrounds at times in the Flintstone comics. Some small panels only have an off-white colour. This one also has a silhouette panel.

The February 8th comic and the next two include bedroom scenes. Notice how the row of houses exists solely for the gag. We all know Fred’s house has a garage and a little more front law. Note the TV antennas. It really IS the Stone Age. Dino makes his only appearance this month.

Drip Number One shows up on September 15th. So does Pops.

Drip Number Two on September 22nd turns out to be post-nasal drip. Maybe that mastodon caught Fred’s flu from earlier in the month. Other than Pebbles in a window, this is the only time we see her this month.

Click on any of the comics to enlarge them.

My thanks to Richard Holliss for supplying the colour versions.

Saturday 16 February 2019

The Prowler

The Prowler was the third Flintstones cartoon put into production. Can you guess who the animator was on it?

Fred’s mouth in the frame above is kind of like Carlo Vinci’s work, but not as angular. (Note the thick ink lines on Fred).

This frame should give it away. Only one animator gave Fred a huge open mouth and floppy tongue. That was the great George Nicholas, one of my favourite Hanna-Barbera animators. He did really funny work on the Quick Draw McGraw vs. Snagglepuss cartoons when he came over from Disney, and infused Mr. Jinks with some nice personality poses in Lend-Lease Meece.

More big mouths.

Only Nicholas would do scare animation like this.

Nicholas liked wavy mouths and beady eyes. My favourite wavy mouth/beady eye take is in Dino Goes Hollyrock when Dino learns they’re going to slice off part of his tail to make him more telegenic.

Here’s something I’ve never noticed Nicholas do with Fred before. He closes one eye of a character and holds the drawing. You can see him draw the orange version of Snagglepuss that way in the Quick Draw McGraw cartoon The Lyin’ Lion.

Something else Nicholas did in a couple of Flintstones episodes was dialogue with the eyes closed and an open almost-grin, tilting the head back slightly. You can see the same kind of mouth curvatures in The Hot Piano, another first season Flintstones.

Nicholas doesn’t animate the whole episode. There’s some Ken Muse footage as well. It’s very prosaic next to Nicholas’. Perhaps the studio had to add scenes to lengthen the cartoon. My wild guess is Walt Clinton handled most, if not all, the layouts in this episode.

Nicholas had come to Hanna-Barbera after production of Sleeping Beauty ended at Disney. You can read a short bio from Nicholas’ obituary in this post.

Another great cartoon with Nicholas animation is the....oh, the phone. Pardon me.....Hello, Yowp Request Line, if you want to swoon, we’ve got the tune....What?.....You want to hear that Far East music of Hoyt Curtin’s from The Prowler?.....You got it....And, by the way, what’s your favourite At-Work Cartoon Blog with the Phrase That Pays?.....Oh.....Yeah, I guess that one’s all right. Thanks for calling.

Okay, by request, here are some cues. I think the first three were used in the cartoon. I don’t know about the others. “Jiu Jitsu” and “Chinese Jitsu” are the actual names of the tracks; the other ones weren’t labelled.

I’ve given up embedding media players; you’ll have to click on a title and hope your own player calls it up.


Wednesday 13 February 2019

Running Ranger

Here’s Carlo Vinci at work in the 1960 Yogi Bear cartoon Gleesome Threesome. Ranger Smith spots Yogi jumping off a diving board and heading straight toward him. Low crotch, high step as the ranger turns.

Carlo doesn’t draw every run cycle in every cartoon the same way. In this scene, he comes up with a high-leg run cycle of four drawings. See how Carlo draws the mouth differently in each drawing and bends a wrist in one of them just to get some variation.

Running in place can look static, even if the cycle lasts for a few seconds. What Bill Hanna or story director Alex Lovy did here was move the cels with the ranger slightly to the right starting at the third frame so it looked like Smith was backing up and not in one place.

Yogi lands on Mr. Ranger in three drawings. Again, this isn’t a case of sliding a cel of Yogi to save animation. If you look at Yogi’s tie in the second drawing, you can see that Carlo made a completely new drawing.

A little later, Carlo gives Yogi one of his head tilts, down, then turns in two drawings, then turns back again. Again, the drawings are not shot the same. Some are a single frame, some of two frames, some on three. It looks less mechanical that way.

Carlo’s drawings were a little cruder and a little more fun two seasons earlier when the Yogi cartoons were brand new. But he is still a big reason why I enjoy the early Hanna-Barbera series.