Friday, April 19, 2013

Yogi Bear Goes to Disneyland!

No, that was never a real Dell Comic (How COULD it be?) but, today, we link to some excellent posts on a classic-era Yogi Bear TV special and the Disneyland theme park as presented in Dell and Gold Key comics.

It isn’t often that I learn something completely new about a Golden Age Hanna-Barbera TV show – or about Disney comics from the equally “Golden Age” of Dell and Gold Key. But, here are some recent posts, from two great Bloggers, that I found fascinating.

YOWP, discusses the YOGI BEAR BIRTHDAY SPECIAL, produced and broadcast in 1961 – though I never saw it until the 1988 syndicated YOGI BEAR SHOW. It also concludes the YOGI BEAR SHOW DVD set of 2005, so you can all see it there. I always had the comic, produced by Dell for the occasion (at top), but never knew of the show!

Because I never missed the YOGI BEAR SHOW in its original early ’60, Kellogg’s-sponsored, syndicated edition, the fact that this apparent one-shot broadcast special somehow completely escaped my notice makes it all the more fascinating. Indeed, I wonder if it was broadcast in the New York market at all! You’ll notice comments from me and our pal “Scarecrow33” in that post.
Put down that BOOK, Boob, and read a Blog!

Read Yowp’s Yogi Post HERE!

And read a second Yogi Post HERE!

Enough BEARS!  Whadda 'bout ME?!
Dan Cunningham has published some amazing stuff on Disney comics HERE, and in a series of two more recent posts on the relationship between Disneyland and Western Publishing. …And, when you can educate me to THIS extent on Western Pub., you’ve really done something!  You’ll also find some really cool art at Dan’s Blog as well.

Was a Disneyland deal directly responsible for the startup of Gold Key Comics? Let Dan be your guide to this fog-shrouded aspect of comic book history!

Read Part One HERE!

Read Part Two HERE!

Here too, you’ll find comments from me and “Scarecrow33”.  (...You can't escape us, try as you might!) 

Blogging is (or should be) a wonderful two-way street of sharing knowledge on “the things that interest us”. And, I’m happy to offer further exposure to these fine efforts!

The Junior Woodchucks would REWARD such Blogging efforts!


Dan said...

Holy crow: thanks, Joe! That's quite a compliment, and I appreciate not only the link to my own posts, but the pairing with Yowp's blog as well.

I check both Yowp and Tralfaz (and The Issue at Hand) often, and those visits never fail to uncover some stellar information. The level of detail is a rare bird and a valuable resource even if you have a minimal interest in H-B or animation... both of his sites have a lot to offer in the context of American culture within the subject matter. I'm sure the late Earl Kress would be proud of the research that Yowp puts in there.

There's been a resurgence in interest in H-B material recently, with the Van Eaton Gallery show and the new Peugeot "Wacky Races" car commercial:

Some wonderful stuff from the first decade of the studio, and it's real nice to see it getting some attention again. It's equally nice that you continue share the spotlight with others as well, creating a nice community for all us to enjoy and observe. In a week full of unsettling current events, that kind of selfless gesture is comforting. - Dan

Joe Torcivia said...

And, thanks right back at ya, Dan – for some very informative posts!

As I said, when you can teach ME something about Western Publishing – especially the Gold Key and Whitman era, in which I specialize – you’ve done something… and, my friend, you’ve certainly “done something”!

It’s the kind of thing I wish to share with those who share my interests!

And, though I’m an arch pessimist by nature, we don’t do negativity here. There’s plenty of it to go around elsewhere. I want this Blog to have a timeless and fun atmosphere to it, and comments like yours help me to believe I’ve succeeded.

scarecrow33 said...

I second what Dan said, Joe--and thanks for the special recognition.

It's great that you can synthesize the information from Dan's blog and Yowp's blog and put them together in such a way that it enriches us all. When you put Yogi Bear and Disneyland in the same title, you KNOW you've got my undivided attention!

All my life I've wanted to learn more about this stuff and discuss it with people who really knew what it was all about--but unfortunately most people give a cartoon or a comic book a brief glance and then it is permanently forgotten--not discussed or researched or analyzed--just "by the way, what's for dinner?" and that's it. During my college years my church held a "family night" to which every member was invited and they showed Disney's "Pinocchio" as the main attraction. I had of course seen it before, but this was before the days of instant home video and so it had been some time since I had viewed it, and I was once again blown away by the power of the storytelling and the brilliance of the animation. I expected a whole-group discussion after the movie, or at least to hear a few comments about it. (So many theological points to consider, to say nothing of the multitude of other symbolism!) Yet when the movie was over, everybody made small talk and went home! That is, I believe, the attitude of most people toward animation or graphic art--something to look at, momentarily enjoy, and immediately forget. Sad, because there is so much to appreciate about it and many people (intelligent people who should know better) don't consider it worth their while.

But in a way it's good, because then when you find people you really CAN talk it over with, it's like striking gold.

So hooray for Yogi Bear, and for Gold Key, and for Disneyland! There are a few rare souls for whom these things DO matter! And that is cause for celebration!

Joe Torcivia said...

Scarecrow writes:
“…and thanks for the special recognition”.

And, why not? You’re certainly a “pal” around here. In turn, I thank you for the great comments.

“All my life I've wanted to learn more about this stuff and discuss it with people who really knew what it was all about…”

That’s exactly what life was like for me during those formative and enthusiastic youthful years – and pretty much was until discovering the heretofore unknown existence of various “fandoms” at or about age 25. Imagine brimming with excitement over a comic or TV show, with no way to share that. I used to think I was the only fan of (…comics, animation, sci-fi, you-name-it) in the world. Small wonder I abandoned such things in my teens. Nothing to sustain them, until accidental rediscovery in my 20s.

So, I very much recognize the value – not to mention the JOY – of not only having such exchanges, but learning more about “the things that interest me” along the way. Younger readers may have a hard time conceiving this but, with no Internet – and even very few (if any) BOOKS on your desired subject, you were darned glad for ANY tidbit you could glean from anywhere.

And, quite frankly, the general business of life doesn’t allow for anywhere near enough conversing on these subjects, and that’s why I treasure the occasional get-togethers with like-minded friends… and the exchanges we have here!

I should save this for TIAH Blog’s fifth anniversary in August (…and maybe I’ll just copy / paste this when that time comes), but it is the COMMENTS that make the experience special for me! That someone reading this thought enough of my chosen subject, or my presentation of it, to contribute to a discussion.

Perhaps, some might think that, in directly responding to nearly every comment I get here, that I might just like to have “The Last Word in All Things”, but nothing could be further from the truth!

I feel that, if someone thought enough to comment on something they read here, that said comment deserves a reply – and maybe even further elaboration (as I seem to be doing here!).

This may not apply to everyone but I feel, when someone comments on a Blog (including some that I visit) and it just “hangs out there”, the host doesn’t seem as engaged as he or she ought to be.

That and, of course, my enjoyment of the overall discussion… er, “At Hand”! And, that’s also why I’m happy to share great posts by other Bloggers that expand my own horizons!

I really like the way this “Blog thing” turned out… a small, regular group of like-minded friends finding common ground and enjoyment! I’d never want the kind of “100-plus” comments per post (many of which are snarky and rude – or, at least, disrespectful to the subject or other commenters) that something like “Cartoon Brew” gets! I like things just fine as we do them!

“So hooray for Yogi Bear, and for Gold Key, and for Disneyland! There are a few rare souls for whom these things DO matter! And that is cause for celebration!”

They matter HERE, so (as with Yogi's Birthday) let’s continue celebrating!

joecab said...

When I was in Madrid a decade or so back, I was flipping through TV channels and they were airing Yogi's Birthday Party in its entirety! I ws in heaven! Why is is foreign markets seem to hold onto that great era of Hanna-Barbera for so long? (I have it from a reliable source that all the characters on Wacky Races are like gods to them. I'm sure that's not hyperbole.)

Joe Torcivia said...

And, tying perfectly to the post’s overall H-B / Disney mash-up nature, why are Disney comics also so much more appreciated in Europe than they are here? (…And, that Wacky Races commercial is great!)

It’s one of life’s great mysteries… The kind neither Detective Mickey Mouse nor Scooby-Doo (he says, bowing to said “mash-up nature”) can solve!

Comicbookrehab said...

I do remember an episode of BBC's "Top Gear" that had Jeremy Clarkson do a review of Dick Dastardly's Mean Machine. The clip might still be on YouTube.

There are a lot of video games of "Wacky Races" made for overseas audiences - only one of them was ever imported for the U.S. - a bland 8-bit game for the NES where you get to play Muttley, but I don't remember any actual racing highlighted on the box. :(

Joe Torcivia said...

Clearly, then, WACKY RACES must be much bigger overseas than it ever was here. Too bad, because it was one of H-B’s last good (not great, but certainly good) series before the malaise of the seventies and eighties set in to pretty much destroy them forever. And, other than Scooby-Doo, Muttley was probably their last “breakout” character.

I’m not sure we had much WR merchandise here. Only the Gold Key comic series, running during and for a short time after the airing of the show, and the DVD set in 2004 stand out to my recollection. Of course, you could point to the spin-off series for Dastardly and Muttley and Penelope Pitstop – but that’s not exactly “merchandising”, more like cannibalizing.

And, exactly how would one “play Muttley”, beyond standing around and snickering at someone’s deserved misfortune? Say, come to think of it, that might be fun!

joecab said...

I think we got more than just one Wacky Races game here. I know I played one years ago on my Mac with Don Messick, Janet Waldo, and John Stephenson reprising their roles (this must have been the NES port). But we also got at least another two, WR: Crash & Dash on the Wii and a Sega Dreamcast one.

(Joe, not to derail further, but it sounds like you could do a post about Wacky Races all by itself! Have you seen the modern day pilot with Penelope and Peter Perfect's kids in it? It was made by the team who gave us Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated.)

Joe Torcivia said...

On games, I will defer to any and all of you. But, glad to know WR had a presence there.

Where did this pilot air, since [the so-called] “Cartoon Network” doesn’t do that anymore?

Are they “Racer Kids”? …Or more of a “Penny and Pete” sitcom family kinda thing, a la WHERE’S HUDDLES, but with racing instead of football? Can you see Dick Dastardly as the cranky neighbor? And a bunch of snickering Muttley-pups?

Dan said...

Interestingly, due to the international interest in "Wacky Races" Cartoon Network made a pilot proposal in 2006 called "Wacky Races Forever" which is a continuation of the original series (think "Wacky Races" by way of "Powerpuff Girls" style-animation)

It's actually a smart update of the original show, you can watch the pilot here:

Joe Torcivia said...

Interesting, but why does it always have to be in THAT STYLE!

The best H-B stuff was done in the old Ed Benedict style. That’s what made the early Johnny Bravos so great! Benedict was involved with those. Iwao Takamoto (depending on your point of view) either “improved upon” it or, at the very least, made it sleeker and more stylized. I’m okay with either view, though I lean toward the latter. But, there was an “H-B look continuum” that worked its way through most of the product – even the less successful (my opinion) post-1970 material.

But, what’s the point in recreating H-B cartoons that do not LOOK anything like H-B cartoons? Unless you’re an “out-there celebrity animator” like John K., that is. Oh, wait… The New Looney Tunes Show, Loonatics, etc… Never mind!

Dan said...

"Interesting, but why does it always have to be in THAT STYLE!"

LOL—that style isn't necessarily offensive, but I understand what you mean!

By the time "Wacky Races" was produced Iwao's art direction had taken hold and HB's "on-model" phase was incorporated into every show. Don't forget Iwao assisted Milt Kahl, who was a master draftsman and held the highest standard for any single drawing. Had the cost-savings of xerography not come into play, their output might have retained the look you mentioned a while longer.

Overall their character designs had tightened up by the release of "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear" to theaters (which was a fun, well-made feature) but it heralded the era when HB's "funny" drawings and wilder takes went away.

Today, there's plenty of creatives at WB/HB who want to do something in the classic style with those characters, (one project was a Huck/Yogi/Quick Draw direct-to-DVD film written by Paul Dini) but they continually get shelved.

Something new CAN be done to match the original stuff in Flash-style animation if they control the fluidity and study nuances like head bobs and poses by guys like Ed Benedict, Carlo Vinci and Alex Lovy, etc. There just has to be some $$$ to back up the project... a good testing ground would be to air some shorts on CN & reprint select Yogi & Huck Golden Books or Dell/Gold Key comics. All it takes is one sales bump for the marketing folks to focus on something that's been dormant.

I'm with you on the re-imagining to the point of bastardization—but in all fairness, Bill and Joe did a bit of that while they were still around after they sold the Studio (Yogi Bear's a cop? In space? Fred and Barney are cops? They hang out w/ Al Capp's Shmoo on patrol?)

Man, I guess the 70s were weird for all of us...

Joe Torcivia said...

I lived through the seventies, Dan -- and it’s the only decade of my life I’d like a “refund” on!

Except for Batman comics, it seemed that almost everything that I thought was great, took a nosedive in that decade! Animation, TV, comics in general – and (my favorite) Gold Key Comics in particular! H-B’s slide in that decade was unimaginable. Culturally, I’ll counter anyone who says “Star Wars” with “Laverne and Shirley”!

Watch any TV show from that time now, and the hairstyles and clothing are embarrassingly bad. You don’t get that from older ‘50s and ‘60s stuff, which seemed timeless by comparison.

As you say, it’s not “THAT STYLE” I have the problem with, but its application to H-B characters, who should have a style all their own, owing to either Benedict or Takamoto.

I preferred Benedict overall, but was perfectly fine with Takamoto. However, if there is a place where Takamoto failed, it was with Ranger Smith. With his design, the character was no longer “funny”. He belonged more at the wrap-up of a Scooby-Doo case – hauling-off the unmasked bad guys, than in Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. Still, Takamoto’s became the only truly stabilized look the character ever really had, so who am I to argue.

To paraphrase my favorite Homer Simpson quote concerning doughnuts (from the great “Monorail” episode – and which I borrowed for an UNCLE SCROOGE script): “Paul Dini… Is there ANYTHING he can’t do!”

Finally, yes… Bill and Joe were the greatest violators of their own creations. And, maybe that’s why I stick strictly to their pre-seventies stuff!

joecab said...

Thanks Dan, that's the pilot I was referring to. Yeah the style isn't for me especially that weird Flash movement that almost never works for me. (Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is a rare exception.)

Funny, because the style those same producers went with on Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated actually goes back to their original design (look at the size of Freddy's chin! that's all Alex Toth, baby) but with a modern patina that works great. It's a shame this show wasn't renewed after two seasons. In fact they just burned off the last half of that final season in a two week stretch recently and then removed the show from the schedule entirely.