Monday, 11 October 2021

Unmatched Pilgrim

Grim Pilgrim is, in a way, a Thanksgiving cartoon, as Huckleberry Hound makes peace with an American Indian stereotype—and the turkey they both want to eat—as they all sit down to dinner at the end.

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today. Canada doesn’t have any pilgrims but there are turkeys in grocery stores or ovens, so we’re marking the occasion with this brief post about the Huck cartoon. You can read a full review of it in this post.

The animator is Ken Muse, who turned out footage faster than anyone at Hanna-Barbera. I’m not an animator and I’m not quite sure how Muse worked, but I get the impression he didn’t make each extreme in consecutive order from start to finish. My uneducated guess is he drew long shots and then went back and did closer shots.

Sometimes, the positions of the characters don’t match when the director cuts from a close shot to a longer one. Here’s an example from Grim Pilgrim. The two frame grabs below are consecutive.

At times, this kind of thing can be really jarring. It’s not so bad here, perhaps because the Geordie Hormel stock music in the background binds the scenes together, or because there’s no change in animators.

You’ll notice the native’s head is a slightly different colour than the rest of his body. Muse animates the head, the rest of body is held on a cel.

I really like the background being panned at the start. The colours are a bit off on this clipped together version. The credits say Dick Thomas painted this. He had arrived at the studio after being laid off at Disney. Before that, he spent many years at Warner Bros., first with Bob Clampett and later settling in with Bob McKimson.

This was the first Huck cartoon put into production in the 1959-60 season. Mike Maltese wrote the first two cartoons of the Huckleberry Hound Show (the other was Yogi Bear’s Lullabye-Bye Bear) until Warren Foster was hired after his gig on Rhapsody of Steel with John Sutherland Productions.

It was also the first Hanna-Barbera cartoon voiced by Hal Smith; a newspaper story earlier in the year said that Joe Barbera was looking for additional voice talent. Smith said he was the first voice of Barney Rubble but when Bill Thompson had problems handling Fred Flintstone’s voice, the two parts were recast (Joe Barbera once said Mel Blanc wasn’t available at first). Despite that, Smith went on to a long career at Hanna-Barbera and turned up at other studios, too.

Anyway, I give Thanksgiving greetings to Canadians and to non-Canadians willing to accept them, and suggest you mark the day watching at least one Huckleberry Hound cartoon.


  1. Day late Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to you, Yowp. When I first saw this one many years back, being used to Don being the narrator in most of the early H-B shorts, I had to listen carefully before realizing it was Hal Smith.

  2. Happy late Canadian Thanksgiving day to you, too. Bit odd, to say the least, that Mike Maltese wrote a cartoon for Huck and also one for Yogi but none for The Meeces!

  3. Thanks for the post. Any day watching a Huck cartoon is a good day.