Friday, February 2, 2018

R.I.P. Mort Walker and Doug Young!


You know it’s a bad week when we lose a legendary cartoonist, and one of the last surviving classic-era animation voice artists – and so it was, as both Mort Walker and Doug Young left us this past week. 

Mort Walker was the creator of Beetle Bailey, and was also instrumental in giving us Hi and Lois, Boner’s Ark, and more! 


Mr. Walker dates back to when I actually enjoyed reading newspaper comic strips.  He was a TRUE cartoonist, in the very best sense of the word!  His art was clear, clean, easy to look at… and, most importantly, always carried-off the gag as intended! 


Today, to have a successful comic strip (as is sadly indicated by any random perusal of what is left of the once grand newspaper comic strip sections), all you need be is a “gag-writer-who-can doodle”, and you’re in! 

Not so in the days Mort Walker, Chic Young (Blondie), Al Smith (Mutt and Jeff), and their many presumed “assistants”!  Folks that that made comic strips fun – both to READ and to LOOK AT! ...(Click to enlarge, though Jeff will remain "small"!) 


For the best Mort Walker tribute post I can direct you to, go to the newly rechristened Blog of our friend Jaime de Andrade HERE!   Be sure to read all the links Jaime provides WITHIN his post!  He did a really fine job!  


Doug Young, up until now, would have been the last surviving voice actor of the wonderful early years of Hanna-Barbera TV cartoons!   

You *could* count Jimmy Weldon, whose only character was “Yakky Doodle”...


 ...but, if you consider multi-voice-providers, who did starring characters and tons of ancillary ones, Doug Young was the last. 


Mr. Young was best known as the Jimmy-Durante-like voice of DOGGIE DADDY, “Dear Old Dad” to his precocious pup Augie Doggie!


Other regular H-B characters in Doug Young’s stable included Hokey Wolf’s idolizing sidekick DING-A-LING FOX...


...And YIPPEE of the “Three Goofy King’s Guards” Yippee, Yappee, and Yahooey! (...That's Yippee in front!) 


…And a whole-lotta hunters, farmers, western-bad-guys, and what have you. 

Mark Evanier has a nice tribute post to Doug Young HERE, and Yowp has one HERE


The character of Doggie Daddy became such an institution that he even made a brief cameo appearance on FAMILY GUY!  Such endurance for a character who's original first-run lasted only from 1959-1962 must be largely attributed to the "life" breathed into him by Doug Young! 

  
What strikes me most sadly about the passings I’ve reported on lately, such as Walker and Young, as well as Bob Dowdell and Vic Lockman, is that, in their own unique fields of endeavor, they either WERE, or were perilously close to being, the LAST at what they did!  


We’ve discussed the lack of remaining contemporaries for Mort Walker and Doug Young.  

Other than David Hedison, who played Captain Crane, Bob Dowdell was the only surviving regular cast member of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA.  


And Vic Lockman would have been the last (…or certainly the last of anyone considered to be PROLIFIC and IMPACTFUL) writer for the historically great line of DELL and GOLD KEY comic books produced by Western Publishing Co. 


Of course this sort of “transition” has always gone on… one generation of crafts-persons passes-on, and another two or three take their place. 


…But, it’s always saddest when it’s “your particular formative era” that inevitably comes to its end.  …And that’s true no matter what that “particular formative era” would be! 



Rest in peace, Mr. Mort Walker and Mr. Doug Young!  …And thanks for making “my particular formative era” a much better place!   
   You think he's reading "Beetle Bailey"

21 comments:

Marc Whinston said...

"Beetle Bailey," "Hagar the Horrible" and "Hi and Lois" were two staples of my childhood. Back in the days when my sister and I would race to get to the Long Island Press first upon arrival home from school. It would be spread on the living room floor and we both read it together. But whoever got there second had to read it upside down.

One of my favorite recurring gags in all of comicdomwas the way the corners of Killer's cap sprang to attention whenever an attractive woman was near.

I met Mort Walker last year when my son and I, representing StackUp (a charity we volunteer for), attended a Boy Scout event in Connecticut. He was such a friendly, mild-mannered guy. But there was still a sparkle in his eye as he told us about his days in the army. Stationed in Europe, he would sneak out of the barracks at night to go find some of the local ladies.

I found out aftyer he had left that I could have asked him to draw a picture of me set in Beetle's world. Talk about a missed opportunity!

The world is a less-funny place without him.

Joe Torcivia said...

Those are REALLY great stories, Marc!

And, despite your “missed opportunity”, you DID get to meet Mr. Walker – and that must have been a GREAT opportunity in itself!

scarecrow33 said...

Mort Walker was one of those names, along with Chic Young, Dik Browne, Walt Kelly, Charles M. Schulz, that you saw on the comic strips but never really thought much about the person--being more concerned with the creations than the creators. And these comic strip artists plus many, many more created such unforgettable characters. My first introduction to Beetle Bailey was in the television cartoons. Later, my parents switched newspapers and we got the Beetle Bailey comic strip. I always enjoyed it...or nearly always. The one recurring gag I didn't like was when Sarge would beat Beetle to a soggy pulp...that seemed unspeakably cruel. What I did like was when Miss Buxley started dating Beetle. She was a much more rounded character to be his steady girlfriend than Bunny had been. (And yes, I guess the pun is intentional!)

I wish there had been more crossovers with "Hi and Lois". After all, Lois Flagston was Beetle Bailey's sister. An annual family reunion, at Christmas perhaps, would have been a nice comic strip tradition.

And Doug Young--as I mentioned in another comment on another blog, my father thought that Jimmy Durante was the voice of Doggie Daddy. That shows what a great imitative talent Doug Young was. He certainly contributed powerfully to the Hanna-Barbera canon. Doggie Daddy and Ding-a-Ling, plus the numerous voices he contributed to the Flintstones and other HB creations, left his indelible impression.

The loss of these great talents is truly a time to mourn. It seems as though the Golden Age is gradually ringing down the curtain. It was great while it lasted--how great, only those of us who remember it will ever know.

Joe Torcivia said...

Scarecrow:

I actually knew Beetle Bailey AND Snuffy Smith (though without “Barney Google”) as newspaper funnies before the King Features cartoons… and knew Beetle Bailey as a Gold Key comic after both the newspaper strip and the TV cartoons. …It always interests me how and when people of a similar era discover different things, at different times and in different ways!

I have a long article I wrote for my old “The Issue at Hand” APA and Fanzine column (the father of this Blog) about my knowing both The Road Runner AND Peanuts(!) as Dell Comics before the familiar ways everyone else knows them… primarily as a cartoon and a comic strip, respectively! I always keep meaning to find the time to reformat and illustrate that now-18-year-old piece for the Blog, but never do. Maybe this year? Maybe next? It’s very apropos to this topic.

…WAITAMINNIT! Lois was Beetle’s SISTER? I never knew that… but, keeping it “all in the Mort Walker family” (so to speak), it makes perfect sense.

I knew, from the comic BOOKS, that Beetle had a little brother named “Chigger” (Were their parents entomologists?) but, I guess because Western didn’t publish a HI AND LOIS title as part of their Dell and Gold Key comic lines, that part of the family must have become estranged!

Doug Young was vastly underrated as a versatile voice talent! The fact that persons who are not “deep-diving cartoon enthusiasts” as are we, can name Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, and Paul Frees, but have never heard of Doug Young, speaks to that… alas.

“The loss of these great talents is truly a time to mourn. It seems as though the Golden Age is gradually ringing down the curtain. It was great while it lasted--how great, only those of us who remember it will ever know.”

So true… save for folks like us who continue to share those passions with those “who were not there”, and introduce them to additional wonders, through means such as this!

Achille Talon said...

I hate to comment on an obituary-post with such a flimsy nitpick, but @Marc Whinston…

"Beetle Bailey," "Hagar the Horrible" and "Hi and Lois" were two staples of my childhood.

Yes, our two chief weapons are surprise, weaponry, and an almost fanatical devotion to our task. Our three chief weapons are…

Anyway, we never really had Beetle Bailey in France (it was too closely associated with the U.S. Army to be that funny to Frenchmen, I suppose…), but the Journal de Mickey did print Hi and Lois and Hagar the Horrible, with the latter being an old favorite of mine as far as non-Disney American comics went. The Hagar strips were masterfully translated, with Hagar's name becoming a double pun in France as "Hagard du Nord" (literally "Hagar the Northern", but a pun on "gare du Nord" = a famous railway station, and the double meaning of the adjective "hagar" which means "clueless").

TC said...

Hi & Lois ran as a semi-regular back-up strip in the comic books in 1966-67, when they were being published by King Comics, maybe also later, when Charlton was publishing them. At the time, I knew the strip was created by Mort Walker, although it was not until many years later that I found out that Lois was Beetle's sister, and that the strip was a spin-off.

Walker said in an interview that Beetle and Lt. Fuzz were both based on himself. He was a laid-back private, but he got gung-ho after they sent him to officer candidate school and commissioned him a lieutenant. He was assigned as a platoon leader in a military police unit stationed in Italy shortly after WWII.

They had radios, field glasses, and other equipment that they could not ship back to the US, because the cost of shipping was more than the value of the equipment itself. And they could not sell it, because it would flood the market and wreck the Italian economy. So the brass decided to destroy it, by putting it in an open field and running over it with trucks.

The MP platoon was there to guard the warehouse, to prevent anyone from stealing the stuff that the Army was planning to destroy.

Elaine said...

I *believe* though I can't confirm that the first time I ever realized that comic strips were created by regular people, Mort Walker was the creator in question. As a tweenager I subscribed to the magazine "Calling All Girls," and there was an article in it once written by a girl whose father wrote and drew comic strips. If I recall correctly, the father was Mort Walker. For me this was the first time that I thought about the people who created comic strips as actual people, people you could meet, or be related to. It was several more years before I thought about Disney comics this way, since the names of creators were never attached to the comics! I did at least know Carl Barks' name before the Gladstone comics run, though. And then Gladstone introduced me to many other creators by name, Don Rosa and a bunch of new-to-me European authors/artists and others I had enjoyed for years without ever learning their names. Wouldn't it have been cool if the comics of our childhood had included occasional pieces introducing the creators, like that article I read in "Calling All Girls"!

Jaime de Andrade said...

"You think he's reading "Beetle Bailey"?"

As the Goofy Gophers would say, "Indubitably."

Great tribute, Joe. And thanks so much for linking to my own tribute. That really means a lot to me.

It is indeed sad to see one's "particular formative era" come to an end. As I've said here, I'm a kid of the 1990s and 2000s. Just yesterday, I was reading about how the former Nickelodeon Studios building at Universal Studios Florida no longer has any vestiges of Nickelodeon's longtime use of the building. All Nicktoon murals have now been removed, though some had remained in place for years after Nick vacated the property in 2005. As I read that, I felt a tinge of sadness. I don't consider Nicktoons to be great, let alone classic, but as time rolls on, I am beginning to feel some nostalgia for them.

To bring this back to the issue at hand, did you know that "Beetle Bailey" was the last strip personally approved by the legendary newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst? Who'da thunk it? Hearst is perhaps best known today for his role in sparking the Spanish-American War back in the late nineteenth century. Yet he was still around to approve "Beetle Bailey." We often think of the Spanish-American War as having occurred a really long time ago (at least I do), yet it wasn't really that long ago! It's fascinating to ponder how one era links back to a previous one...





Joe Torcivia said...

WOW! Take a few days off to see some friends, watch the Super Bowl (Yay, Eagles!), catch up on some IDW work and the general obligations of life, and a wonderful series of comments rolls in.

I can always count on you all for enthusiastic and just-plain-great comments! Sorry for the delay in getting to them! Let’s take them in order…

Joe Torcivia said...

Achille:

During MY childhood – and much more so in my teenage years – I was not exactly pro-military, by any stretch. Though, to be more fair and accurate, my fears and anger were actually directed toward those who commanded those troops to fight in Vietnam (where I spent far too many years of my life convinced of my inevitable death in that conflict) than toward the troops themselves. From Presidents Johnson and Nixon on down, there was no love comin’ outta this guy!

But, despite all that strong emotion (…and, everyone, let’s please not “go political” – it’s not what we do here – and I’m only framing something in a deeply personal context to serve as an example) it never translated into any sort of negativity toward Beetle Bailey… or other comics like “Sad Sack”, or service comedies like “McHale’s Navy” and the like.

…But, I could see how even an innocuous funny-paper-strip like Beetle Bailey might stir up such feelings, based strictly on its subject matter.

While it isn’t exactly such, I could easily see Hagar the Horrible being done in that Franco-Belgian style that I’ve come to love! It’s kinda close, for an American creation. And, really nice work by the French translators there!

Joe Torcivia said...

TC:

For some reason I never found or read and of the King Beetle Bailey comics, though I did get the King Popeyes – and still have them to this day. With material by the great BUD SAGENDORF, they looked and felt just like a continuation of the Dell and Gold Key series… until George Wildman began appearing in the interiors, and some of the covers, as you can see HERE.

And, once both titles moved to Charlton… Well, you know what I think about Charlton!

That “equipment story” is proof positive that Mort Walker translated his “Army Life Experience” into a wonderful comic strip!

Achille Talon said...

All this about your feelings towards the U.S. Army is interesting, but actually a little besides the point of my humble remark. I didn't mean that Frenchmen would dislike the comic out of a dislike for the U.S. Army; it's just that as far as I can tell Beetle Bailey is at least partially rooted in stereotypes (and facts) about the American army, and the French army is just different in many tiny ways that would dilute the joke. French readers wouldn't instantly be thinking "Oh, that private is tricking his sergeant, that's funny", they'd be thinking "Wait, what are those weird uniforms? OH RIGHT, they're American…"

Joe Torcivia said...

Elaine:

I can’t confirm beyond all doubt, though it is VERY likely that the first person who produced comics whose name I was aware of was also Mort Walker. If not, it was almost certainly Chic Young … perhaps even Ernie Bushmiller, but I’m confident in throwing this “honor” (such as it is) to Mort Walker.

That is a WONDERFUL story about your reading "Calling All Girls", and the information it provided! And it *IS* funny that persons of a particular generation, where comic STRIPS were credited and comic BOOKS were not, DID tend to think of them differently in terms of those talents that were behind them. I *did* think of comic strips as having “real persons” behind them, before I thought similarly of comic books – most likely because comic strips were signed, or carried a byline, and comic books were not.

In support of this, I knew of Mort Walker as a li’l kid in the early-to-mid sixties, and didn’t learn the name of Carl Barks until the “Life-Altering- Experience” (Yes, really!) of a book by THIS AUTHOR in 1971! …And it would be about seven or eight more years before learning the names of Floyd Gottfredson and Paul Murry – and others that would follow in the ‘80s.

Oh, how I would have LOVED to have had occasional text pages within the comic books themselves to tell us about those who did so much to make our childhoods better places!

One RARE place in which this did occur was THE FOX AND THE CROW # 98 (1966). Its text page featured contributions by artists Win Mortimer and Jim Davis (…The “Jim Davis” who did such great work drawing THE FOX AND THE CROW and its related ancillary features – not the “Jim Davis” who created GARFIELD!).

Davis’ text is particularly informative, discussing the contributions of Hubie Karp, Cecil Beard, and Alpine Harper to THE FOX AND THE CROW, as well as Davis’ own! …Yeah, there shoulda been much more stuff like this!

Joe Torcivia said...

Jaime:

“As the Goofy Gophers would say, ‘Indubitably.’
Great tribute, Joe. And thanks so much for linking to my own tribute. That really means a lot to me.”


In turn, I will thank you for creating a tribute so worthy of being linked-to! …Perhaps, underneath it all, WE are the Goofy Gophers! (…After you! No, after you! No-no-no… I insist…)

Being of the 1960s Hanna-Barbera /Jay Ward TV-cartoon generation, I can’t say very much about “Nicktoons”, though in recent years Thad Komorowski has given me a pretty good appreciation for REN AND STIMPY. …And, to completely digress, the Warner cartoons of the ‘90s, from TINY TOON ADVENTURES thru BATMAN BEYOND, were completely unsurpassed by anything – contemporary or future!

…And so, if I lived in “The-Fantasy-World-of-Orson-Welles-Cinema”, I would have Charles Foster Kane to thank for Beetle Bailey? …Fascinating!

Joe Torcivia said...

Achille:

You write: “All this about your feelings towards the U.S. Army is interesting, but actually a little besides the point of my humble remark. I didn't mean that Frenchmen would dislike the comic out of a dislike for the U.S. Army; it's just that as far as I can tell Beetle Bailey is at least partially rooted in stereotypes (and facts) about the American army, and the French army is just different in many tiny ways that would dilute the joke. French readers wouldn't instantly be thinking "Oh, that private is tricking his sergeant, that's funny", they'd be thinking ‘Wait, what are those weird uniforms? OH RIGHT, they're American…’”

Ah, that’ll teach me! Funny, in those younger days when I read ANDY CAPP, I saw that things “were phrased differently”, “looked differently”, and even “worked differently” – but I quickly came to realize it was British, and that explained it all, even the stuff I didn’t understand! …I’d figure French readers would have made similar adjustments.

Achille Talon said...

Hm, perhaps. Still, the vintage Journal de Mickey translations tended to be full-on "localizations" as far as culture went, even if they didn't rewrite dialogue and add jokes like you IDW folks do. Scrooge's wealth was made of Francs, most everyone had French names, and while I don't believe they ever outright said that Duckburg/Donaldville was located in France, they constantly referred to America as a foreign country. For instance, in the French printings of Mickey's Great-Grandfather, Albemarle Mouse was his "great-uncle who'd moved to America".

Joe Torcivia said...

Achille:

“The Perfect Calm” had Donald able to “walk to Tibet”, indicating that, in this story at least, Duckburg was considered to be in Europe – as there was no body of water to be crossed.

…Naturally, for American readers, I had to modify that to something else that still worked!

In a body of work so vast, inconsistencies can’t be helped! So I say… embrace them, and (if you can) make them work for you! …I suppose it worked that way for the more popular and widely distributed comics STRIPS too!

scarecrow33 said...

I am thrilled to have been able to enlighten an admired and respected comics historian on a bit of "Beetle Bailey" trivia. This is one little-mentioned fact that I have found quite fascinating over the years. Some other relationships between comic strips and their spinoffs are more widely known--Donald Duck having his origins in the Mickey Mouse strip before getting one of his own is the best example I can think of. I have looked online for examples of crossovers between Beetle Bailey and Hi & Lois and found one comic strip reprint that shows brother and sister together. But these crossovers were extremely rare over the years. As I indicated earlier, occasional regular crossovers between the two strips would have been interesting--but I imagine they are both so ensconced in their respective worlds that the two strips don't need that much interaction. But as with the old JLA/JSA annual team-ups, it is fun to see different characters from different worlds mix 'n' match from time to time.

Interestingly, the King Features comic strip characters do occasionally appear in each other's strips--most notably in Blondie and Dagwood's 75th anniversary celebration a decade or so back. That particular bash extended to several different syndicates besides only King. But even since then, Sarge, Beetle Bailey, and Popeye have all appeared at different times--and once all together--in the Blondie strip.

I am now also remembering the 70's cartoon on the Saturday Superstar Movie--"Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter" which besides mangling the verb tense actually brought together a wide variety of comic strip characters, all from King Features, I believe--and some like Maggie and Jiggs who hadn't been heard from in years. I don't recall that the show was much of a wow, but it was fun to watch all the same. The plot was a bit hackneyed but it was fascinating to see these classic, iconic, and in some cases, forgotten comic strip characters mingling together in one adventure.

Joe Torcivia said...

Scarecrow:

“…an admired and respected comics historian”?

First, I’d like to thank you for those very kind words.

Second, I’d like to apologize to Mark Evanier, Michael Barrier, Alberto Becattini, and/or David Gerstein for accidently receiving, and inadvertently publishing, Blog comments clearly meant for them! :-)

Seriously… Yes, I was unaware of the connection. Yet, it makes great sense, considering both strips sprang from the same source. Although “Lois Bailey” must have left home before those comic book stories I read about Beetle’s visits, his little brother Chigger, etc. Perhaps she’d gone off to college, or to marry Hi Flagston… whose family name might have originally been “Fjordsen” and been descended from Hagar the Horrible.

Or, given brothers “Beetle” and “Chigger”, she simply laid low, embarrassed by her original name of “Butterfly”! …“Butterfly Bailey”? I can see it – if I were predisposed toward naming my children after insects, that is!

With that, let’s also consider the sad tale of their “Cousin Dung Beetle”, who had his name legally changed to “Boner”! Realizing he wasn’t much better off with that new moniker, he gathered a bunch of talking animals, herded them onto an “Ark” he hastily built in his backyard, and put out to sea, never to be seen by the Bailey Family again!

I’ve never seen "Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter", primarily due to my very low opinion of most TV cartoons of that particular post-sixties era… but, then again, I did end up unexpectedly liking “The Roman Holidays”, so who can tell!

Adam said...

Excellent tribute to a great cartoonist.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, Adam!