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Hanna-Barbera Essays

6/1/95
Written by Bill Burnett
CONTENTS

LIMITED ANIMATION...UNLIMITED IMAGINATION!

IS THERE A STYLE IN THE HOUSE?

ENTERING THE CULTURE

BEYOND GAGS

WHAT MAKES A TEAM?

ACTORS WITH A PENCIL

GREAT CHARACTERS FROM GREAT CHARACTERS

THE HOUSE THAT HUCK BUILT

LAUGHING AT THE FUTURE

THE REVISIONIST HISTORY OF SCREEN COMEDY

HIDDEN TALENTS

A trick question: NAME THREE COMPOSERS WHO DEFINED CARTOON MUSIC?
(Hint: You can’t. There are only two.)

THE BRILLIANT INVENTION OF THE FIVE-O'CLOCK SHADOW

WHO'S THE RAREST OF 'EM ALL?

SEVEN OSCARS AND COUNTING

CALLING DOCTOR FREUD

***DRAFT*** OUR FIRST LIST OF FIRSTS

LAUGHING AT THE FUTURE

IN CARTOONS, MUSIC MAKES THE LAUGHS GROW LOUDER
TEX AVERY INTRODUCTION
LIMITED ANIMATION...UNLIMITED IMAGINATION

Over the years, I’ve occasionally heard Hanna-Barbera criticized for
“cheapening” the art of cartoons by inventing a technique for television
called “limited animation”.

Here’s the true story: When theatrical cartoons were on death’s door,
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera single-handedly (or, rather, double-
handily) rescued cartoons from oblivion. As a cartoon blues man might say,
“If it wasn’t for limited animation, we wouldn’t have no animation at all.”

Seven Oscars weren’t enough.
In 1957 Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were veteran cartoon directors with
over forty years experience between them. These two men had created the
cartoon cat and mouse team, Tom & Jerry. (That’s tantamount to having
“invented” Abbot & Costello.) They had won seven Oscars with Tom &
Jerry, more than anybody else in cartoon history.

But in the mid fifties none of that mattered anymore. Television had
arrived. The theatrical market for cartoons had dried up. And MGM, where
Hanna and Barbera had risen to the rank of executive producers, suddenly
closed up shop without warning. Overnight, Bill and Joe found themselves
out of work, along with virtually all of their cartoon colleagues in
Hollywood.

Never say die.
But these two cartoonists refused to go gently into th-th-th-th-that’s all
folks. They started a studio, and figured out a way to make cartoons viable
for television. You think that’s easy? Consider this: The “full animation”
cartoons that Hanna and Barbera made at MGM took six months per seven
minute episode, with budgets that often exceeded $60,000. Now they had to
create thirty minutes of cartoon material every week, with budgets that were
half the size of what they used to spend to make a single short!
They had a plan.
How did they do it? They called upon the “planned” animation technique
they had developed to test out new Tom & Jerry cartoons at MGM. Instead
of making twenty or thirty thousand drawings, a planned or “limited”
cartoon only used 2 or 3 thousand drawings. Now Hanna and Barbera had to
make this “planned” approach work for them on actual cartoons. They
adopted the minimalist cartoon style which was becoming popular at the
time, with its simple lines and suggested backgrounds, and turned it to their
advantage. They made backgrounds that could be used in multiple scenes;
cloud formations that worked whether the action was going up, down, or
sideways; characters with “muzzles” so only their mouths had to be
animated; characters that blinked a lot, to enhance the illusion of motion.

Shooting stars.
And to keep the entertainment value of their TV cartoons high, Hanna and
Barbera turned up the burners on their imaginations. With Tom & Jerry they
had worked with the same characters over and over, dreaming up different
cat and mouse gags each time. Now these men in their late forties responded
to the challenge of their careers by bringing out an avalanche of vivid,
hilarious, new cartoon stars and stories.

Ruff & Reddy, Pixie & Dixie, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Quick
Draw McGraw (and his alter ego El Kabong), Topcat, Magilla Gorilla,
Snagglepuss, Scooby Doo, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost ...the list
goes on and on. (Oh, and let’s not forget the most successful television
cartoon team of all time, The Flintstones.)

In the list above I’ve barely scratched the surface of what sprang from the
imaginations of Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, and the other great cartoon talents
they assembled at their studio in the fifties and sixties.

Stories, characters, ingenuity, and a dedication to the cartoon cause.
That’s how Hanna-Barbera rescued cartoons from death’s door. Anybody
who says different will have to answer to El Kabong! (I wouldn’t risk it if I
were you.)

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
IS THERE A STYLE IN THE HOUSE?

Among the many amazing accomplishments of William Hanna and Joseph
Barbera is the fact that, in their late forties, after years of doing Tom & Jerry
cartoons at MGM, they created a new studio with a distinct house style. The
vivid Hanna-Barbera color palette, character designs, layout, background art,
sound effects and music are unique and instantly recognizable. How many
other studios can make that claim? (Answer: Only two--and they both
feature rodents with big ears.)

What’s more, when Bill and Joe opened their studio doors in the late
fifties, the Hanna-Barbera style emerged pretty much full-blown. It bore no
resemblance to the work these two cartoonists had done in the past. And yet,
there was next to no transition time, no period of trial and error. Certainly
the style improved over the years. But a Huckleberry Hound from the fifties
could wander into a frame next to Magilla Gorilla in the sixties and not feel
out of place.

Imagine a musician, or a novelist, or a fine artist totally reinventing
themselves that late in life. It’s almost unheard of. And yet Hanna and
Barbera pulled it off, and in the process created the largest cartoon library in
the world!

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
ENTERING THE CULTURE

The true test of popularity is when the catch phrase of a cartoon
becomes part of the language. "Yabba-dabba-doo" is one good example, but
others like Astro's "Rats rall right Reorge," and of course, Yogi's "smarter
than the average bear" have become universal as well. Hanna-Barbera's
characters have had a knack for entering the culture since the beginning.
Partly due to the immense power of television, and partly due to the great
writing, design and voice characterizations of the characters, everyone from
Huckleberry Hound on down has influenced American pop culture.

The Flintstones effect is obvious. Try singing the theme song at a
party and see how many people join in-- and know all the words! (OK,
maybe not the part about "through the courtesy of Fred's two feet." But
that's a tricky line.) Even before the Stone Age, the beatnik era saw the
impact of Maynard G. Krebs ("You rang?") and the equally cool, like, feline
hipster, Mr. Jinx. "I hate you meeses to pieces" was on everyone's lips in
1958. Many fathers have been tempted to say, "my son, my son," after our
own Doggie Daddy. And who hasn't said, "Exit...stage left!" when in a tight
spot? (if not out loud, then under your breath.)

It's always amusing to hear someone brag that they are "smarter than
the av-er-age bear." While it works well for Yogi, it is kind of self-
deprecating for humans to say. But that's the nature of the beast. A catch
phrase becomes a catch phrase, even if it means admitting you're not too
bright!

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc.
BEYOND GAGS

When you think of Hanna-Barbera, you probably think of Saturday
morning television, right? But there is another side to Hanna and Barbera.
Beyond all the pratfalls and the falling anvils, there lies a body of work with
real subtlety and power. Honest.

Take for instance, Charlotte's Web, E.B. White's classic story about
death and re-birth -- themes not usually associated with the creators of
Scooby-Doo! Yet Hanna-Barbera's film version was so sensitively realized
that even the hard-boiled hipsters at the Village Voice joined the chorus of
critics' praise.

Then there's The Last of the Curlews. This Emmy-winner broke fresh
ground in 1972 as one of the first animated films to highlight environmental
issues. And to make sure that their social message hit home, Hanna and
Barbera dared to break the biggest rule in the (mythical) Book of Children's
Programming -- they ended the story tragically.

And let's not leave out "The Greatest Adventure: Stories From The
Bible"-- over one million videos sold so far.

So next time you're laughing at the misadventures of Yogi Bear or
Huckleberry Hound, keep this in mind: Hanna and Barbera have more than
gags up their sleeve. They've got heart and soul, too.

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
WHAT MAKES A TEAM?

Laurel and Hardy. Lennon and McCartney. Hanna and Barbera.
What makes these teams great? Is it that both partners were talented? Yeah,
but that's not enough. Putting two talented people together can just as often
be a disaster. (Who remembers the comedy team of Jimmy Durante and
Buster Keaton?) The secret to a successful team seems to be the way the
two members complement each other. That's complement with an "e,"
meaning "to complete." (Of course, Lennon & McCartney may have
complimented each other very often as well, but that's another matter.) What
one party lacks the other supplies. Or, the talents of one individual help to
bring out the best in the other.

Look at some of the great pair-ups. Even physically, Laurel and
Hardy were a great match: fat and skinny. Likewise their personalities fit
like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Stan Laurel's childlike innocence and
Babe Hardy's bombastic oafishness. Completely different, and yet each
giving what the other lacked. It's been long debated what it was that made
The Beatles one of the most popular, and enduring, musical acts of our time.
And what made their song writing outlast the hype of Beatlemania. Perhaps
Paul McCartney's sweeter, romantic sensibilities were just what was needed
to temper John Lennon's rebellious rock 'n roll attitude. Or, was it John's
energy that redeemed Paul's sentimentality?
Which brings us to the team nearest and dearest to our hearts: Hanna
and Barbera. William Hanna, a quiet spoken, California musician and story
man with prodigious organizational skills and a razor-sharp sense of comedy
timing. Joseph Barbera, an extroverted, energetic New Yorker and a terrific
draftsman with an uncanny skill for comic inventiveness. Together the are a
team among teams. Each brings out the best in the other. Interestingly,
neither man took the leads in business and management. That's not what
they were about. In fact, for all the years that they ran the company, Bill
and Joe took turns being president of Hanna-Barbera. Bill would head the
company one year and Joe would take it the next. Like Laurel and Hardy,
Lennon and McCartney, and scores of other successful partnerships, Hanna
and Barbera functioned as one -- two halves of a greater whole, with neither
one dominant in a leadership position. Even as they were starting out, they
knew that great teams are made of opposites that complement each other.
Just take a look at their most long-lasting property, Tom and Jerry.

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
ACTORS WITH A PENCIL

We're accustomed to think of a TV character being played by an actor.
But an animated TV character is really played by two actors. The person
who provides the voice is the obvious one; the other is the animator.
Animators are much more than pencil pushers. Sure, they have to be able to
draw like crazy, understand movement, dynamics and the laws of physics
(even if they break them most of the time). But perhaps more importantly,
they have to be able to act. They have to know what the character's face
looks like when he or she is happy, sad, angry wistful, lonely, joyful, jealous
or bored. They have to know how the character walks and stands in grips of
those emotions. But instead of using their own voices, facial expressions
and body language to express themselves, animators have to squeeze all the
character's feeling and actions out through the tiny point of their pencil.
Ouch!

One of the most amusing things about visiting the Hanna-Barbera
production studio is watching our cartoonists draw. They silently scrunch up
their faces, wriggle in their seats and contort themselves as they get into
their "roles." Sometimes it's completely unconscious; they don't realize
they're doing it! On occasion you might see an animator with a mirror on
his or her desk, making faces and sketching furiously. Through the magic of
the animator’s talents, the face in the mirror gets reflected on the paper as
the face of Yogi Bear, Wilma Flintstone or Snagglepuss. What acting!

Method actors throw themselves into a role. They think like the
character, believe in the character, and if they're good actors, they become
the character. But actors have it easy compared to our cartoonists. Imagine
how tough it is to think like Dino, to believe in Elroy Jetson, or to become
Baba Louie. Hanna-Barbera animators need great imaginations to go with
their great acting and drawing talents.
Unlike Shakespeare's "poor player that struts and frets his upon the
stage," an animator never gets to strut, walk, run or sweat bullets on opening
night. They never get the applause that on-screen actors do, nor do they get
even the small recognition that voice actors receive. But here at Hanna-
Barbera we know that inside each cartoonist beats the heart of a great actor.
The smell of the cel paint, the roar of the crowd!

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
GREAT CHARACTERS FROM GREAT CHARACTERS

Do some of the classic Hanna-Barbera characters seem familiar.
(Well, they should, since they've been around for 30 years or more, but that's
not my point.) Many of Hanna-Barbera's most endearing characters were
already endeared to the American public when they burst on the screen. A
paradox? Nope, pure genius. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera had a trick
up their collective sleeves for creating characters that were at once original
and yet familiar. They based their voices and personas on existing
comedians of the day.

It isn't hard to figure out that The Honeymooners was the inspiration
for The Flintstones. Fred is almost a cartoon Ralph Kramden and Wilma is a
Stone Age Alice. But wait, why doesn't Barney bear more of a resemblance
to Art Carney's Ed Norton? (You didn't know there would be a quiz, did
you?) The answer is, Hanna-Barbera had already tapped Carney's brilliant
characterization a few years earlier. Take a look at Yogi Bear, with his flat
hat and occasional vest. Listen to Yogi's voice in your head, "He-ey Boo-
Boo!" Now play back your memory of Ed Norton, "He-ey Ralphie Boy!"
Audiences were primed to love Yogi Bear because they already loved
Norton!

Some of the other Hanna-Barbera inspirations are a bit more obscure,
but in historical context they make perfect sense. Before he was cast as the
Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, Bert Lahr had a long career as a radio
comedian. His stop-and-go voice pattern was unmistakable. And his
character was eminently lovable. Who better to serve as the role model for
that overzealous thespian known as Snagglepuss?

Here's an even tougher one, one you'll really have to travel back to the
late fifties to appreciate. Listen to Huckleberry Hound's voice in your head.
(Or better yet, watch the cartoons!) Picture his laid-back demeanor and
easy-going southern disposition. Nothing ruffles the feathers of this hound
of hounds. Who's Huck modeled after? Although today's audiences know
him as Matlock, and older ones among us will forever think of him as
Sheriff Andy Taylor, Andy Griffith had made quite a name for himself as a
Carolina comedian by 1958. His slow-talking style and southern charm
made Andy's comedy records very popular and a good choice as a blueprint
for the true blue cartoon pooch.
Baba Louie, the Mexican bull, was inspired by the comical twists of
the English language by a Cuban star of the period. Yes, Baba Louie is a
caricature of Desi Arnaz (bet you figured that one out.) Of course, before I
Love Lucy, Desi's big hit was a song called "Babaloo." And none other than
the inimitable (but often imitated) Jimmy Durante served as the prototype
for Doggie Daddy. You almost can't see one without thinking of the other.
There are many more that I'll let you ponder on your own. (Maybe
tracing the roots of Hanna-Barbera characters could become a popular party
game?)

Ironically, many of the Hanna-Barbera characters have outlasted their
live-action counterparts. But to their everlasting credit, Bill and Joe always
knew how to make enduring characters out of endearing characterizations.

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc.
THE HOUSE THAT HUCK BUILT

Before The Simpsons , before Ren and Stimpy, before Beavis and
Butt-Head, there was Huckleberry Hound. A true blue canine with a flair for
fantasy, Huck was the star of the first show to smash the barriers against
television animation and emerge as a giant hit. And who smashed those
barriers for the sake of all future cartoonists? Bill Hanna and Joe
Barbera.
Without their inspired efforts, a genuine American art form -- cartoons
– might have died a pathetic death. Theatrical cartoons were over, the victim
of economic forces. Television was deemed too expensive to animate. But
then, a giant light bulb went off above Hanna and Barbera's collective head.
Limited animation, it said! (Luckily, it was a
talking light bulb.) Use fewer drawings!

And so The Huckleberry Hound Show was born. And Huck begat
Pixie and Dixie who begat Yogi Bear who begat Boo Boo who begat
Snagglepuss. A classic cavalcade of characters all born from one show.

Buoyed by success, Hanna-Barbera proceeded to make America's
evening hours their personal empire with Quick Draw McGraw and Auggie
Doggie and Doggie Daddy, The Hanna-Barbera Series featuring Wally
Gator and Touche Turtle, and The Magilla Gorilla Show.

And then the lodestone: The Flintstones, the world's first prime-time
cartoon sitcom, followed by The Jetsons, Top Cat, and the first cartoon show
to feature realistic humans, The Adventures of Jonny Quest.

Expanding their empire to the realms of Saturday morning, Hanna-
Barbera created instant favorites like Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying
Machines and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You ?

All in all, the body of work begat by Huckleberry Hound adds up to
the largest video library in the world. Hanna-Barbera boasts more than
3,500 half-hours of cartoon programming and more than 350 television
series, specials and films. And of course, now that Hanna-Barbera is
sponsoring the biggest commitment to original programming in over
thirty years, with 48 new short cartoons debuting on The Cartoon Network,
Huck's legacy just keep's on a-growin'.
Not bad for a slow-talkin', Southern-drawlin', calamity-bound blue
hound.

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc.
LAUGHING AT THE FUTURE

When The Flintstones turned out to be a major success, Hanna and
Barbera looked around for another idea that could follow America's favorite
Stone Age family. The obvious solution was to create America's first Space
Age family, The Jetsons. Although similar in their concepts, the two shows
had opposite approaches t humor. Where the Flintstones showed us how the
foibles of modern society had roots in the Paleolithic period, the Jetsons
warned us that things could get even worse for us in the future -- or at least
that they wouldn't get much better! Fred's backbreaking job of smashing
rocks at Slate's gravel pit reminded us that our own occupations weren't all
that bad. And George Jetson's complaints about getting sore fingers from
pushing buttons seemed funny, considering how much easier he had it
compared to those of us stuck in the 20th century!

This year, as The Jetsons turns 33 year old, some of the show's
predictions about the future life bear reexamination. We are living in the
future right now (from a 1962 standpoint) and it does look a little familiar.
Technology has created jobs undreamed of in 1962 -- except by Hanna-
Barbera, of course. (George's job at Spacely's Space Age Sprockets is
"digital index operator." Don't tell me that doesn't sound like a 90's job
title!) Today, computers are in every business and in many homes. And
while they don't make our lives quite as easy as they do for the Jetsons, they
do cause some problems. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has become a major
malady among 9-to-5 keyboardists. (George was ahead of his time even
with his health problems!) Robots like Rosie don't yet act like our maids,
but robots build our cars and make increasing inroads in our daily lives. The
Jetsons magical food preparation device, the Food-a-Rac-a-Cycle, has
almost come true in this age of microwavable instant meals. And picture
phones do exist today, even though they are not quite ready for the mass
market yet. Will we be walking the family dog on treadmills in the future?
Maybe not, but how many people work out on treadmills in the gym or in
their own homes? Sadly those jet-powered flying machines that people in
the 21st century use to get around town in have not yet materialized. (We're
still waiting. Make mine a red convertible.) And we don't yet live in mile-
high bubble domes like in Orbit City. (Not a bad idea though, considering
the flood problems we've been having in L.A.)

But much of the Jetsons world is with us already. Which is not to say
that the original Jetsons cartoon don't still make for entertaining viewing. In
their future world, there is no depleted ozone layer, no disappearing rain
forests, and no radioactive waste disposal problems. You know, escaping
into the world of The Jetsons seems like a better idea than ever.

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc.
THE REVISIONIST HISTORY OF SCREEN COMEDY

Think of great movie comedians. Charlie Chaplin. Bob Hope. Bugs
Bunny ? Or how about TV stars? Lucille Ball. Jackie Gleason. Fred
Flintstone? From years of indoctrination into Hollywood history, the
cartoon comedians seem out of place in these lists. And yet aren't these
animated comedians just as funny as the live actors? Why shouldn't they be
honored right up there with the live-action greats? They were in their
day. Bugs Bunny received and Oscar for his film comedy. Tom & Jerry
earned seven, along with an additional four nominations. Bob Hope? Three.

For some reason, as the history of movie and TV comedy is written,
cartoons are usually ignored. Maybe it's because they're short. (Although a
seven-minute cartoon often has a better laugh-per-minute ratio than a 90-
minute feature comedy.) Maybe cartoons are neglected because they're
drawn rather than shot with live actors. (Then again, which takes more
work? Drawing thousands and thousands of cartoons or pointing a camera
and saying "action!" ?) Maybe cartoons get the short shrift because they're
"just for kids." (Of course, until the TV era, cartoons were made for adults
and families to see in theaters.)

We have our own theory about the absence of cartoons from the
comedy history books: they're the secret guilty pleasures of cinema and
television historians. Where Chaplin is considered "high-brow" art, cartoons
with cats chasing mice are too common, too "low-brow." But we'll bet that
when no one is looking, those people who write the history books don't sit in
plush screening rooms to enjoy the sophisticated wit of classic
movie comedy half as much as they curl up on the couch with a bag of chips
and watch Tom and Jerry, Bugs, Daffy, Huckleberry Hound or The Jetsons.
Just like the rest of us!

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc.
HIDDEN TALENTS

The whole world knows the names of Hanna-Barbera. But what about
the names Takamoto, Hazelton, Singer and Benedict?

Stumped? Don't feel bad. Hardly anyone recognizes the names of
these inspired animators who toiled beside Hanna and Barbera for decades,
inventing and refining the television cartoon.

So join me as I tear away their veil of anonymity and blast the
limelight on these Hidden Talents!

Meet Iwao Takamoto, head designer of Hanna-Barbera for over thirty
years. A Disney graduate whose mastery of design and layout has
influenced every aspect of the studio's work. Television legend Fred
Silverman once said of him, "As a designer, he's simply the best in the
business."

Gene Hazelton's story has intertwined with Hanna-Barbera's for more
than fifty years, ever since their "Tom and Jerry" days at MGM. That was
Gene who created the initial storyboards for "The Jetsons" and designed the
"Pebbles" and "Bamm-Bamm" characters for "The Flintstones."

Ed Benedict celebrates six decades of animation wizardry, beginning
with Disney, Tex Avery, and the earliest days at Hanna-Barbera. He was the
first designer of Ruff and Reddy, The Flintstones, and present-at-the-creation
of Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, Quick Draw McGraw, and
Pixie and Dixie.
Bob Singer was the inventor of the layout that allowed animators to
use the same background for different scenes, thereby making television
cartoons economically possible.

Four anonymous hard-working stiffs in the cartoon salt mines. Four
inspired artists inventing a new era in entertainment. Four of Hanna-
Barbera's Hidden Talents.

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
A trick question:

NAME THREE COMPOSERS WHO DEFINED CARTOON MUSIC?
(Hint: You can’t. There are only two.)

Ask any reasonably well-informed movie buff who the major film
composers are and you’re likely to get a pretty long list of names. You’ll
hear Mancini, Williams, Barry, Goldsmith, Bernstein, Steiner, Hermann...

But cartoons? Even the most obsessed cartoon-o-phile comes up short
when the subject turns to music. Which is pretty strange when you think of
how important music is to the manic power of cartoons. (Try watching a
few of your favorites with the sound off and you’ll begin to see what I
mean.) Still, the fact remains: In 50 years of cartoon history, only two truly
identifiable musical voices have emerged.

There’s Carl Stalling at Warner Bros., who wove together brilliant
orchestral pastiches--often rivaling the mad montages of Charles Ives-- to
accompany the antics of Bugs, Daffy and the rest.

And then there’s Hoyt Curtin at Hanna-Barbera. Like Stalling, Curtin
called upon the dominant musical form of his day--in Hoyt’s case, the big
band sounds of the forties and fifties--and translated it into a series of
themes and scores that are maddeningly catchy, effortlessly funny, and
utterly unmistakable. You can tell a Hanna-Barbera cartoon from across the
street, just by hearing a few strains of music.
Hoyt Curtin’s music jumps out at you and wraps itself around that part of
your brain where the giddy, childlike pleasures live. It nudges and jolts and
eggs the action on. It’s as bright and instantly recognizable as the Hanna-
Barbera color palliate. That’s called style.

To hear what I’m talking about, pick up a copy of Hanna-Barbera
Cartoon Themes volume 1. (If you have trouble finding a copy write to
Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90025.) Just
put that collection on your player, and then sit back and get ready to enjoy a
prolonged involuntary grin. (How long has it been since you’ve had that
experience?)

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc.
THE BRILLIANT INVENTION OF THE FIVE-O'CLOCK SHADOW

It's been a well documented how Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera saved
the dying art of animation by finding ways to make it possible on a
television budget. But here's one aspect you probably never noticed or at
least never understood. The real genius behind limited animation is the need
for a shave. Yep. Ever noticed how Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, George
Jetson and Officer Dibble always seem to have a five-o'clock shadow? Now
look at the animal cartoon characters. Yogi, Boo Boo, Quick Draw, Huck,
Dino, and on and on, all have muzzles or snouts of a different color.
Genius! Why? Think about this. How much of a TV cartoon is actual action
and how much is characters talking? And like they say, talk is cheap!

By giving the human and animals a distinct "mouth zone" Hanna and
Barbera were able to have the characters' head on a separate cel level and not
have to re-draw it over and over. The top cel level would contain just the
mouth movements. This enables countless dollars to be saved when
characters are in dialogue scenes. But once the action starts, all bets are off!

So next time you see a cartoon character who needs a shave, think
about a world without TV cartoons. Yikes! Thank goodness for Hanna,
Barbera and stubble!

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
WHO'S THE RAREST OF 'EM ALL?

In a world of one-hit wonders, how do we judge an artist? Armies of
them seem to burst on to the scene for a brief magic moment, then vamoose
into the void. Only a few -- a depressingly few, don't you think?-- manage
to hang on for a lifetime of sustained excellence. Then there's the rarest of
'em all -- the artist who creates such an immense body of work, so studded
with classic achievements, that he comes to almost personify his art form.
In mysteries, for example, think Agatha Christie. In painting, Pablo Picasso.
In suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. And in TV cartoons, Hanna and Barbera.

Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera have been creating classic cartoons for
over fifty years now. Together, they've invented some of the best-known
characters in history and the largest cartoon library in the world. Tom and
Jerry , The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons , Huckleberry Hound, Jonny
Quest, Scooby-Doo, Quick Draw McGraw... These are only a fraction of the
classic characters who continue to cavort in Hanna-Barbera's 3,500 half-
hours of cartoon programming and more 350 series, specials and films.

In a world of one-hit wonders, Hanna-Barbera's lifetime of
achievement is a wonder unto itself.

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
SEVEN OSCARS AND COUNTING

They say that greatness is its own reward, but it doesn't hurt to have
seven Oscars, too. On my desk are five pages (count 'em, five) listing all the
awards that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera have won over the years, from their
first Oscar in 1943 right through their two Emmies in 1994. Fifty-one years
of top honors, including more Oscars than any cartoon directing team in
history.

Is your mind boggled? Mine is. Who else out there has been called
up to podiums for more than half a century? On top of Oscars, there are
Emmies, including the first ever given to a cartoon show. (That was way
back in 1960 for "Huckleberry Hound.") Not to mention the Governors
Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Science, the
Humanitas, Christopher, Golden Globe, Iris. And on and on.

By the way, next time you're in Hollywood, drop by Hollywood
Boulevard and x Street and take a peek at The Joseph Barbera and William
Hanna Hollywood Walk of Fame Star. And please -- step on it.

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
CALLING DOCTOR FREUD

All the great art comes from deep within the soul. Keep this handy
theorem in mind, as I shine my Flintstone flashlight deep into the souls of
Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera for clues to the source of their finest work.

Uh huh... I see... Well, what do you know? What we have here are
two very different souls. Who'd ever think that soft-spoken, mathematical
Midwesterner (Hanna) would team up with a hard-driving Italian artist from
Brooklyn (Barbera)? And manage to keep this unlikely partnership going
through the storms of fifty years?

Aha! I got it! Think of all those legendary teams of cartoon characters
that Hanna-Barbera created -- teams of natural adversaries who somehow,
despite all their differences, were buddies, too. Tom and Jerry, Ruff and
Reddy, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinx... Could these teams of battling buddies
have been -- dare I say it? -- autobiographical?

Well, maybe not. I have it on good authority that Joe never hit Bill on
the head with a frying pan. But still, it's on intriguing theory, n'est pas?

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
***DRAFT***

OUR FIRST LIST OF FIRSTS

You are about to read Hanna-Barbera's First List of Firsts, wherein we
proclaim some of the ground-breaking achievements of our first fifty years.

But please be warned: this is only our First List of Firsts. Because
now that Hanna-Barbera is turning out the biggest commitment to original
animation in over thirty years, with 48 new short cartoons debuting on the
Cartoon Network, we intend to
be adding many more Firsts to our List.

So without further Yabba-Dabba-Doo, we herewith present:

HANNA-BARBERA'S FIRST LIST OF FIRSTS

1. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera are the first (and only)
cartoonists in history to receive seven Oscars.

2. Ruff and Reddy was the first animated television show to ever appear
on television.

3. Huckleberry Hound was the first animated television show to
ever become a smash hit.

4. Huckleberry Hound was the first animated show to receive an
Emmy for distinguished children's programming.

5. Jonny Quest was the first animated show to feature realistic
humans.

6. The Flintstones was the first prime-time animated sitcom.
[Are there other firsts that they might know about in marketing?
e.g. The first cartoonists to have shows running x days of the week.
The first animated show to pass the 100th episode.
the first animated show to feature rock music.
the first television animation company to celebrate its 35th
anniversary. to celebrate its 350th series.
to base an animated show on a prime-time show.
smurfs -- to win an emmy two years in a row.
pac-man -- first show based on a video game.
the first original animated video cassette series to sell
over one million copies. "The Greatest Adventure." '
These facts would have to be checked.

Stay tuned. Further Firsts are on the way.]

Bill Burnett
Creative Director
Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc.
UNLIMITED IMAGINATION

by Fred Seibert
President, Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
&
Bill Burnett
Creative Director, Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.

This much I know to be true: when theatrical cartoons were on death’s
door, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera single-handedly (or, rather, double-
handedly) rescued cartoons from oblivion.

But, I’ve occasionally heard Hanna-Barbera criticized for “cheapening” the
art of cartoons by inventing a technique for television called “limited
animation”. As a cartoon blues man might say “If it wasn’t for limited
animation, we wouldn’t have no animation at all.”

Seven Oscars weren’t enough
In 1957 Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were veteran cartoon directors with
over forty years experience between them. These two men had created the
cartoon cat and mouse team, Tom & Jerry. (That’s tantamount to having
“invented” Abbot & Costello.) They had won seven Oscars with Tom &
Jerry, more than anybody else in cartoon history.

But in the mid fifties none of that mattered anymore. Television had
arrived. The theatrical market for cartoons had dried up. And MGM, where
Hanna and Barbera had risen to the rank of executive producers, suddenly
closed up shop without warning. Overnight, Bill and Joe found themselves
out of work, along with virtually all of their cartoon colleagues in
Hollywood.

Never say die
But these two cartoonists refused to go gently into th-th-th-th-that’s all
folks. They started a studio, and figured out a way to make cartoons viable
for television. You think that’s easy? Consider this: The “full animation”
cartoons that Hanna and Barbera made at MGM took six months per seven
minute episode, with budgets that often exceeded $60,000. Now they had to
create thirty minutes of cartoon material every week, with budgets that were
half the size of what they used to spend to make a single short!

Bill and Joe had a plan
How did they do it? They called upon the “planned” animation technique
they had developed to test out new Tom & Jerry cartoons at MGM. Instead
of making twenty or thirty thousand drawings, a planned or “limited”
cartoon only used 2 or 3 thousand drawings. Now Hanna and Barbera had to
make this “planned” approach work for them on actual cartoons. They
adopted the minimalist cartoon style which was becoming popular at the
time, with its simple lines and suggested backgrounds, and turned it to their
advantage. They made backgrounds that could be used in multiple scenes;
cloud formations that worked whether the action was going up, down, or
sideways; characters with “muzzles” so only their mouths had to be
animated; characters that blinked a lot, to enhance the illusion of motion.

Shooting stars
And to keep the entertainment value of their TV cartoons high, Hanna and
Barbera turned up the burners on their imaginations.. With Tom & Jerry
they had worked with the same characters over and over, dreaming up
different cat and mouse gags each time. Now these men in their late forties
responded to the challenge of their careers by bringing out an avalanche of
vivid, hilarious, new cartoon stars and stories. Limited animation coupled
with unlimited imagination completely changed the rules of the game.

Ruff & Reddy, Huckleberry Hound, Pixie & Dixie, Yogi Bear, Quick
Draw McGraw (and his alter ego El Kabong), Top Cat, Magilla Gorilla,
Snagglepuss, Scooby Doo, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost ...the list
goes on and on. (Oh, and let’s not forget the most successful television
cartoon team of all time, The Flintstones.)

In the list above I’ve barely scratched the surface of what sprang from the
imaginations of Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, and the other great cartoon talents
they assembled at their studio in the fifties and sixties.

Stories, characters, ingenuity, and a dedication to the cartoon cause.
That’s how Hanna-Barbera rescued cartoons from death’s door. Anybody
who says different will have to answer to El Kabong! (I wouldn’t risk it if I
were you.)
LAUGHING AT THE FUTURE
by Joseph Barbera

When The Flintstones turned out to be a major success, Bill and I
looked around for another idea that we could use to follow America's
favorite Stone Age family. The obvious solution was to create America's
first Space Age family. (One of my mottoes is “Why avoid the obvious?”
It’s a question I encourage all aspiring young cartoonists to ask themselves
every day.)

And so, we invented The Jetsons.. Although similar in their concepts,
the two shows had opposite approaches to humor. Where the Flintstones
showed us how the foibles of modern society had roots in the Paleolithic
period, the Jetsons warned us that things could get even worse for us in the
future -- or at least that they wouldn't get much better! Fred's backbreaking
job of smashing rocks at Slate's gravel pit reminded us that our own
occupations weren't all that bad. And George Jetson's complaints about
getting sore fingers from pushing buttons seemed funny, considering how
much easier he had it compared to those of us stuck in the 20th century!

This year, as The Jetsons are about to turn 34 years old, some of the
show's predictions about life in the future bear reexamination. We are living
in the future right now (from a 1962 standpoint) and it does look a little
familiar. Technology has created jobs undreamed of in 1962. (George's job
at Spacely's Space Age Sprockets is "digital index operator." Don't tell me
that doesn't sound like a 90's job title!)

Today, computers are in every business and in many homes. And
while they don't make our lives quite as easy as they do for the Jetsons, they
do cause some interesting futuristic problems. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has
become a major malady among 9-to-5 keyboardists. (George was ahead of
his time even with his health problems!) Robots like Rosie don't yet act as
our maids, but robots build our cars and make increasing inroads in our daily
lives. The Jetsons magical food preparation device, the Food-a-Rac-a-
Cycle, has almost come true in this age of microwavable instant meals. And
picture phones do exist today, even though they are not quite ready for the
mass market yet. (Will they ever get that right over at AT&T?) Maybe we
haven’t started walking the family dog on treadmills, but how many people
work out on treadmills in the gym or in their own homes?
Sadly those jet-powered flying machines that people in the 21st
century use to get around town in have not yet materialized. (We're still
waiting. Make mine a red convertible.) And we don't yet live in mile-high
bubble domes like in Orbit City. (Not a bad idea though, considering the
flood, fire and smog problems we've been having in L.A.) But much of the
Jetsons world is with us already. Which is not to say that the original
Jetsons episodes don't still make for entertaining viewing. In their future
world, there is no depleted ozone layer, no disappearing rain forests, and no
radioactive waste disposal problems. You know, escaping into the world of
The Jetsons seems like a better idea than ever.
IN CARTOONS, MUSIC MAKES THE LAUGHS GROW LOUDER
by Bill Hanna

Years ago, I got my start working for a cartoon production company
run by Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising. They were the creators and
producers of the early Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. It was no
coincidence that those early cartoons (along with Disney’s Silly
Symphonies ) were named after forms of music. Why, the very name of the
company--Harman-Ising--had a harmonious musical ring to it.

Music was our inspiration, our jumping off point, you might say. I
used to time out cartoon gags using musical bars and staves, because the
timing in cartoons is so crucial to getting the laugh. “Timing” is a musical
concept, really. A seven minute cartoon can be seen as a short piece of
music, with pacing and dynamics that can almost be charted, like a musical
score. My love and understanding of music has served me well throughout
my cartoon career, because it helped me nudge the laughter out of an
audience.

Probably the most enjoyable part of producing cartoons at Hanna-
Barbera has been writing the lyrics (and some of the melodies) for many of
the main titles of our shows. I did this while working with our main musical
director for many years, Hoyt Curtin. I believe that Hoyt Curtin is one of
the two truly distinctive musical voices to have emerged in cartoons over the
last 50 years. (The other one is Carl Stalling over at Warner Bros.) Like
Stalling, who used primarily symphonic orchestral arrangements, Hoyt
called upon the dominant musical form of his day. In Hoyt’s case, that
meant the big band sounds of the '40s and '50s, which he translated into a
series of themes and scores that are maddeningly catchy, effortlessly funny,
and utterly unmistakable. Thanks to him you can tell a Hanna-Barbera
cartoon from across the street, just by hearing a few strains of music.

When it came time to write a theme song for one of our new shows,
Hoyt and I would get to work. The lyrics almost always came first. I would
compose the lyrics in my head, jot them down on a sheet of note paper, give
Hoyt a call at his home, and recite them over the telephone. Invariably, Hoyt
would call me back within a day or so with a musical composition and sing
the thing to me, complete with my lyrics. Hoyt’s ability to create a bright,
lilting melody to match my lyrics time after time was to me nothing short of
astonishing.

Over the past 40 years I have attended hundreds of recording sessions,
and have gotten to know and respect many talented musicians. But Hoyt
Curtin was the one I spent the most time with. We worked together. We
sang together. And we became good friends.

Even today, music plays an integral part in the creation of cartoons for
me. I recently wrote one more title for a short I created for the Cartoon
Network. It’s about a little duck called Hard Luck Duck who is always
getting into trouble, and his best friend Harley, an alligator who rescues him.
If you get a chance to see it, listen for the music. And see if it doesn’t play a
part in nudging a laugh out of you.
TEX AVERY INTRODUCTION by Bill Hanna

Ride sharing to work during World War II was an earnest civilian attempt to
conserve gas rations and assist with the national war effort. There were
several people working at MGM living in the San Fernando Valley at the
time, and a few of us decided to make the daily trip across the Santa Monica
Mountains to work together.

Of the handful of folks who joined our little carpool unit every day, only Tex
Avery and I owned cars. Every morning, one of us set out and picked up the
other and then made the rounds collecting passengers.

Any ride with Tex Avery, of course, was a cinch to be one of sidesplitting
hysteria. Tex's backseat humor was as spontaneously zany as any of his
wildest cartoons and often a lot racier. Tex exerted a tremendous
professional influence over my career in animation. He was looked up to by
just about everyone in the industry and was held in high regard as an
exceptionally gifted animator and director. Although he was only a few
years older than myself, he had already established himself as a kind of
prodigy in our business with his distinctive style of exaggerated timing and
direction of frenetic madcap Merrie Melodies cartoons at Warners. Like a
lot of other pioneers in the cartoon business, Tex Avery remained a kind of
unsung hero in our business for many years to just about everyone except his
colleagues. But to me, he is one of the biggest personalities in cartoon
folklore that ever lived.
I admired Avery for his phenomenal sense of timing along with his
imaginative flair for wild gags which combined to make his cartoons among
the funniest ever produced in the business. Whenever time permitted, I
would take the opportunity to run one of Avery's latest cartoons and study it
on the movieola, frame by frame, in order to hone my own skills in timing.

One of the best assets that Hanna-Barbera Studio ever produced for Joe and
me was the opportunity to reunite with many of the veteran producers and
animators with whom we worked back at MGM. Both Tex Avery and Friz
Freleng joined us at H-B as directors of Saturday Morning cartoon shows,
and the reunions with these guys, I'll tell you, really helped keep the creative
excitement of this business as vivid for me as it was when I was a kid back
at Harman-Ising.

When the end finally came for my old friend and past mentor on August 26,
1980, it marked not only the passing of a great pioneer in animation, but for
me, signaled an epoch symbolic of the passing of an era.
The End.
Hanna­Barbera Positioning Essays.