Thursday 27 October 2022

The Life and Times of Yowp

Before he played a cowardly Great Dane that solved mysteries (I’ve forgotten the character’s name, Scrubby or something), and before he portrayed Astro on The Jetsons, what was the first dog Don Messick voiced at Hanna-Barbera?

No, the answer isn’t me! Actually, his first pooch was Woolly the sheep dog on Ruff and Reddy, who first appeared on TV on March 22, 1958.

But forget Woolly. Who’s birthday is it today?

That’s right. Mine. Though judging by George Jetson, fans can just make up their own birthdays for characters and people will swallow it without question so long as it’s on the internet.

It was on this date in 1958 that Foxy Hound-Dog aired on a number of stations where Kellogg’s bought time.

Lew Marshall is the main animator of the cartoon (although the two frames above are by Mike Lah) and he saves Joe and Bill some money by coming up with a few cycles that take up a little more than the first 30 seconds of the cartoon. Here is an endless cycle of my initial run in the cartoon. It takes 32 frames to go from one end of the background to the other. Marshall uses only three drawings; one is used twice to create a four-position cycle, animated on twos.

You’ll notice the inconsistent colour separation. The head/trunk are on one frame, the legs and ears are on separate frames.

The Yowp debut cartoon has a few things old-time animation fans will remember. There’s a variation of the log-over-a-cliff gag that Tex Avery and writer Dave Monahan pulled off in All This And Rabbit Stew (1941). You’ll remember it from other Warners cartoons. I must have seen that, or the Bugs/Elmer version, as I realise my fate. Even with limited animation, Mike Lah draws a nice little expression. Wile E. Coyote could not have done it better. I emit a forlorn “yowp” before plummeting.

The old drag act appears, too. I think this is the only time Yogi did drag. Unlike similar dress-ups by Bugs Bunny or Woody Woodpecker, it isn’t being used to arouse and confuse but merely as a disguise. These two frames are consecutive. Hanna-Barbera was still employing pose-to-pose movement in its animation.

You’ll notice something else. Lah’s animation has my muzzle the same colour as the rest of my body. Marshall’s very is a sporty blue-ish grey. It could be whoever painted the Lah scenes didn’t get the correct colour chart.

There were three Yowp cartoons in all. Duck in Luck first aired on January 26, 1959, where the nemesis was the pre-Yakky Doodle duck, animated by Carlo Vinci. The final appearance came in the second season on Sept. 28, 1959 with Bare Face Bear, animated by Gerard Baldwin. By this time, Warren Foster was the sole writer of the Yogi Bear cartoons and a decision was made to permanently give Yogi (and Boo Boo) a home in Jellystone Park and Ranger Smith as a nemesis. “We’re going in a different direction,” they would say today, as I became unemployed (but that duck later got his own series. Drat!). It’s significant that neither Boo Boo nor Smith are in the final Yowptoon.

During the first year of the Huck Show, Hanna-Barbera marketed its characters, but since there were only five stars (Huck, Yogi, Pixie, Dixie, Jinks), secondary characters were included to round out things. Yes! There were Yowp toys and games at one time. Above is a Knickerbocker Roly Poly Target Game made in 1959. It came with a gun that shot corks and had some kind of tie-in with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.

With that, I will wish myself a happy birthday. The blog is pretty much shut down but there are are still a few posts left in storage so we’ll try to get them published.

Saturday 15 October 2022

Clean Getaway

“What are you doin’ with the soap?” ringmaster Huckleberry Hound asks Pixie and Dixie, in one of those little cartoons between the cartoons.

“It’s for Jinks. He’s chasing us,” says Dixie. We hear Jinks off camera. The meeces, with their elfin eyes, take off with a high step.

Jinks runs into the scene . . .

. . . Slides into the washing machine . . .

. . . And into the wash cycle. Check out some of the drawings of Jinks. Pixie and Dixie just move their mouths and an arm comes up; otherwise, they’re rigid.

The frames come from a 16mm black and white reel courtesy of Steven Hanson’s YouTube channel.

Saturday 1 October 2022

Boo Boo's Revenge

Hanna-Barbera cartoons rarely made fun of themselves in the olden days, but it happened in one of those little cartoons between the cartoons on either The Huckleberry Hound Show or The Yogi Bear Show.

“Hey, Boob! Watcha doin’, Boob? I’ll bet you’re drowin’ our lawn, Boob,” says Yogi, walking over to his buddy Boo Boo. (Why a flower is in a pot not being watered, I don’t know).

“Keep up the good work, Boob. You’re a real buddy, Boob!” Boo Boo is less than happy with Yogi’s patter.

Silently, and with his expression unchanging, Boo Boo turns the hose on Yogi.

“Hey! What’s with you, Boob?”

“After all,” Boo Boo says to the TV audience, “How long can a guy stand being called ‘Boob’?”

For you younger readers, “boob” meant “idiot” until another definition was popularised on the 1970s version of The Match Game.

My guess is this was written by Warren Foster. No one else at the studio would have likely struck back at being forced to write dialogue a certain way (e.g., Yogi’s rhyming couplets).

The animator, I suspect, is Don Williams with the backgrounds by Bob Gentle. The beet-red, fading colours come through the courtesy of Eastmancolor and my inability to improve on them. The print is from the collection of Steven Hanson.