December 19, 2006

As Snagglepuss would say: "Exit, stage right."

I have to do a second cartoon obituary post, because Joseph Barbera has also died. He was 95.
Mr. Barbera and the studio he founded with Mr. Hanna, Hanna-Barbera Productions, became synonymous with television animation, yielding more than 100 cartoon series over four decades, including “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?,” “Jonny Quest” and “The Smurfs.”

On signature televisions shows like “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons,” the two men developed a cartoon style that combined colorful, simply drawn characters (often based on other recognizable pop-culture personalities) with the narrative structures and joke-telling techniques of traditional live-action sitcoms. They were television’s first animated comedy programs....

“I was never a good artist,” said Mr. Hanna, who died in 2001. But Mr. Barbera, he said, “has the ability to capture mood and expression in a quick sketch better than anyone I’ve ever known.”
It's touching and charming that they were about not drawing very well!
Mr. Barbera’s influence can be found today in prime-time animated series like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” and in cartoons that satirize the Hanna-Barbera style, including “The Venture Brothers” and “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.” His own work continues to be seen on the cable channel Boomerang, which broadcasts vintage Hanna-Barbera programming 24 hours a day.

Though he was often asked to explain the enduring popularity of his cartoons, Mr. Barbera was reluctant to subject his life’s work to close analysis. “To me it makes little sense to talk about the cartoons we did,” he wrote in a 1994 autobiography, “My Life in ‘Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century.” “The way to appreciate them is to see them.”
Well, it may make little sense, but let's talk about it anyway. To get you started, here's the list of all the Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I can't copy it here, because it's so damned long. I'll just list the ones I remember spending serious time watching:
The Ruff & Reddy Show (1957)
The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958)
Yogi Bear
Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks
Quick Draw McGraw (1959)
Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy
The Flintstones (1960)
The Yogi Bear Show (1961)
Snagglepuss
Yakky Doodle
Top Cat (1961)
The Jetsons (1962)
The Magilla Gorilla Show (1963)
My favorite? "Top Cat"! I was a sucker for "The Huckleberry Hound Show" when I was really young, and I watched the "Huckleberry Hound" spin-off "Yogi Bear," but it was "Top Cat" that I loved the most. I think it's the great theme song:

25 comments:

Al Maviva said...

Boy howdy, there's a lot of mediocre-@ss cartoons in that list...

Sorry H/B lovers, but for me, cartoons reached their apogee with Bugs Bunny, and the lesser technicolor scribblintgs with voiceover... well, it's like comparing Aaron Copland to Stewart Copeland. Yeah, the latter is okay in a pinch, but it's not the same at all.

The Count said...

I have to agree with al maviva...

As a kid it was always a let down to flip around for Bugs Bunny and find...Tom and Jerry. I can still feel the disappointment today.

Then again, the mention of Top Cat and Huckleberry Hound does bring a smile. Maybe just kid-based nostalgia, since I don't recall smiling at the time they aired.

Goesh said...

Heckle & Jeckle, how I loved those crows...

AJ Lynch said...

I agree with Al & The Count. I viewed Hanna-Barbara toons as innocent rip-offs of real quality stuff like Bugs Bunny. H-B were like B-Movie producers who found their niche and milked it- no crime there but I am just saying.

Ann, you have poor taste in cartoons- if you enjoy the Three Stooges, I guess you discerned no differnce between Curly and Curly Joe.

OddD said...

The Chuck Jones "Tom & Jerry" cartoons were good, but those were done by MGM after H/B started their own studio, and after WB had shut down theirs.

"Mediocre" is a generous term. Most of those toons were sheer crap. Look at the '70s list for things like "Partridge Family 2200AD" and "Scooby's All-Star Laff Olympics".

Easily the best work on that list is the Cartoon Network stuff done in the late '90s before HB/CN were absorbed by WB: "Dexter's Laboratory" and "The Powerpuff Girls". And the derivative stuff that's not on the list that's on CN's Adult Swim, like "The Venture Bros", "Sealab 2021" and "Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law".

vw: ohbjobsk (What you do during the summer to keep the cashsky coming in.)

Bruce Kratofil said...

HB cartoons filled a valuable function -- letting kids see the difference between HB cartoons on the one hand, and Bugs or Disney on the other, gave them the chance to develop skills in art criticism.

Plus I have fond memories of a Quick Draw McGraw piggy bank.

Anonymous said...

These posts dismissing Hanna Barbera for not delivering the animation quality of Bugs Bunny are making a category error. The Bugs Bunny aesthetic was formed by his movie shorts, which set a high standard but were very expensive. HB cartoons were cheaply drawn and mass produced, but that meant they could fill a lot of Saturday mornings and after-school periods for kids in my age cohort, when I was too young to notice the difference between a great Chuck Jones cartoon and a cheap episode of Magilla Gorilla. They drew appealing characters, their gags were funny if you were 7, and they had great theme songs/intros, including the one Ann posted. I can't remember a single plotline for Top Cat, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, the Flintstones, etc. but I smile whenever I recall their theme songs and the cartoons that went with them. Plus the sound effects. KLUNGGGG!

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ruth Anne Adams said...
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SteveR said...

Its hard not to respect the role they played in my generation's childhood entertainment. Of course by the 70s when I was no longer a child, the material they produced was not that great IMO. You can't compare them to the WB and Disney productions.

On a related note, I loved Heckle and Jeckle as well as Woody Woodpecker.

George said...

Jonny Quest....best cartoon show ever made for television...still very watchable today....great stories, great gadgets...perfect boys' adventure stuff...No Gurls Allowed!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonny_Quest

Just imagine having your very own personal SST...

Oh, and the theme song....classic....

Anonymous said...

So, which H-B cartoon had the dog that used to respond to getting a treat by floating off the ground? Was that "el Kabong's dog? And was there an "el Kabong", or did I just dream it? Was that the alter ego of "Quick Draw McGraw?"

Impchucker said...

I'm with Ann. Maybe it's a matter of how old you were at the time. But I loved Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Jonny Quest, and especially Top Cat when I was in elementary school. I've seen episodes of Jonny Quest and Top Cat within the last few years, and I still enjoy them. The animation isn't wonderful, but the story lines and the sense of humor are still fantastic. I prefer Jonny Quest to the original Star Trek, not least because it's utterly politically incorrect.

Anonymous said...

My TV watching was pretty limited as a kid, but I loved that dog that floated down after catching a biscuit! I think it was Snuffles from Quickdraw McGraw but I remember nothing else from the cartoon. I also liked (and was permitted to watch) the Flintstones, and I liked Johnny Quest too, but my brother and sister - both older than me - didn't like it and insisted on watching something that was on another channel. Maybe the Addams Family or the Munsters? Can't remember.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, most of the cartoons mentioned had some variety to their plots, unlike Scooby Doo, one that came after my childhood and is apparently still around. Seen one episode, seen them all of that one. (Unfortunately, I've seen many while baby-sitting nephews and nieces. I pity you poor parents. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ruth Anne - I remember that (the twin bed barrier and the Camels, which my dad had just stopped smoking)! Wasn't Fred actually portrayed going out to buy a carton of Camels or something like that in a segue to a commercial?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ruth Anne! (I hate these public displays of my faulty memory. Although I do know for a fact that my best friend's parents smoked Winstons at that time.)

Chris O'Brien said...

I have a 5 year old who loves Boomerang Network, so I have been re-living some Hanna Barbera stuff I watched as a kid and observe the following:

1. So much HB did, The New Schmoo, The Charlie Chan family, Umpteen Scooby spinoffs, Herculoids, and countless others were crap. Steaming pile. Not clever in any way, manner or form.

2. Most followed a worn formula. For the short cartoons, Wise cracking anthropomorphic Alpha Character with smaller wise cracking side character.(Yogi, Deputy Dawg, Lippy the Lion, Richochet Rabbit, Jabberjaw etc..)The longer ones were all hip-kids-solve-mystery, patterned on insipid Scooby (Chan, Josie, Shmoo,Speed Buggy etc.) Blech.

3. The its-not-fair-to-compare-them-to-Bugs doesn't fly with me: Ward and Anderson's Bullwinkle cartoons and the Underdog Show were great and original. HB redid the same old tired things over and over.

4. The Flinstones were overrated, and The Great Gazoo, by his presence in the last season retroactively undid any thing good in the previous ones.

5. OK..3 cool things: Wally Gator - more so than even Snaggle-Puss - was the gayest character, animated or otherwise, in the history of of any medium. Also, Mouse in Manhattan was a great cartoon, Gershwin score I think. And Dexter's laboratory, but I can't believe that either had anything to do with Dexter's production day-today.

Moment of clarity as I re-read this: My wife is right. I really do have too much free time.

Rob said...

I believe the proper quotation is "Exit, stage left....even!"

My favorite HB quote: "Hey Boo-boo, let's go get a picinic bas-ket!"

Shawn L. said...

Too many more cartoon related obituaries, and I'll be worried that Ann's been secretly replaced with Mark Evanier (http://www.newsfromme.com/)...

sigh... I'm afraid no one's going to get that joke. How many people are reading both this law-blog and Mark's comic-blog. (I know this isn't exactly a law-blog, but then again Mark's site isn't exactly a comics blog either, but at times it damn near looks like an obituary blog for the comics and animation industry)

bkzalley said...

to anonymous at 3:33pm,
I too remember 'Snuffles' from the Quick Draw McDraw cartoon. I have been trying to remember his name forever. Here is the site I found him at:http://www.toontracker.com/huck/quickdraw.htm
thanks for the memory!

Pokey said...

To be honestly frank, I've always enjoyed the first half decade of Hanna-Barbera [Kellogg's/Columbia-Screen Gems TV, i.e.].

The voices [Daws Butler, Doug Young, Janet Waldo, Don Messick,etc.] back then were excellent.

The stock cues, originall from third-and fourth even [if you allow me to quoth Snagglepuss!] from unsung composers George Hormel, Jack Cookerly, Roger Roger, Spencer Moore, John Seely, Bill Loose, Emil Cadkin, Jack Shaindlin, Harry Lubin, Harry Bluestone, Nino Nardini, Phil Green, David Rose, Lou E.DeFrancesco and others then by Hoyt Curtin and at first Tedd Nichols, right thru the early Taft era, were great.

But then after 1967 ["Abbott and Costello", great open titles], things started falling apart. Too many action shows, the network Broadcast Standrds & Practices department dictating emasculated teenage boys a la Freddy from Scooby, Shaggy from thaty show and MOST AWFUL the former strong baby from third-final seasons of "Flintstones", Bamm Bamm Rubble for that 1971 Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys-Archies ripoof "Pebbles and Bamm Bamm",etc., constantly repetion, etc.,etc. lost me as a young teenager. I always will treasure the early shows, though.

Of course if you see my name you will know what non-HB show I enjoyed as a pre-teen [1960s] and teen [1970]--hameless blog plug

OTHER PEOPLE's BLOGS for fans of EARLY HB stuff,. while we're at it:
The creator of Nickelodeon's Ren and Stimpy, John Kricfalusi's blog
Canadian newscaster/old time entertainemnt researcher J.G.Bennie's blog named after an early Yogi atagonist
[Note-I did not create nor maintain the above two.]

Also a plug for my facebook page:
More interesting related stuff