Saturday, May 28, 2011

Comics Review: “Yogi Bear and the Awful It” (1959)

Oddly, the very first Yogi Bear comic book story was about hunting. It appeared in DELL FOUR COLOR COMICS # 990 HUCKLEBERRY HOUND May/July, 1959. The first Huck Hound comic book, and the third Hanna-Barbera comic book overall – preceeded by two issues of RUFF AND REDDY.

Odder still, the book led off with adaptations of the TV cartoons “Huckleberry Hound Meets Wee Willie”, “Lion Hearted Huck”, and Pixie and Dixie’s “Cousin Tex”. The latter with a different ending gag.

Then, there was an original Yogi, and the book closed with an original Huck – that was built on the oft-used premise of “If you need me, just whistle!” – with Huck helping a little bird by pounding on a fox, like the later Yakky Doodle, Chopper, and Fibber Fox.

Here’s what I wrote about that Yogi story, back in 2001:

“Yogi Bear and the Awful It” 8 pg. Story by Vic Lockman art by the great Harvey Eisenberg.

In the issue’s first original story, Yogi and Boo Boo are awakened by a parade of forest animals wanting to hide in their cave from a strange creature they call “The It”. The bears investigate to find “The It” to have the mask of a raccoon, head of a moose, tail of a rabbit, webbed feet of a duck, a bearskin body… and the rifle of a human hunter. Which – predating Scooby-Doo by over a decade – it turns out to be.

Yay! It works every time! I get the animals curious and confused… and have time to take a shot at ‘em! ”

And a bad shot he is. Yogi and Boo Boo have to feign being hit just to stop the wild spray of bullets. Remorseful over his first “score” the hunter proceeds to kill the bears with kindness at his cabin, and then decides to incessantly shoot home movies of them instead. Yogi finally finds peace by hiding himself in the “It” suit, which, now retired, has now become a cozy rug in front of the fireplace.

You can say what you want about this awful ‘It’ suit…but I say it makes an awfully nice hibernating quarters! ZZZZZZ!”

There may be those who are wondering why the first Yogi Bear comic book story would have been about hunting, when we all know that Yogi and Boo Boo reside in Jellystone National Park – where hunting is an even bigger no-no than feeding the bears.

In actual fact, many of the earliest Yogi Bear cartoons did not take place in a national park. Yogi (…with, or without, Boo Boo ) was depicted as a bear in the woods, a circus bear, etc. The cartoon “Tally-Ho-Ho-Ho” (1958) also saw Yogi receiving hospitality from a reluctant and gullible hunter. So, given the time during which this story would have been prepared, the “bears in the wild” approach to Yogi and Boo Boo is far more accurate than it appears at first glance.

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