Talkin’ Nerdy: The Hanna-Barbera Zoo’s Big Three

Hey, I’ve noticed something about Hanna-Barbera’s roster of 1960’s ‘funny animal’ characters (hereinafter referred to as the Hanna-Barbera Zoo): Nearly all of them seemed be derived from 1 or more of the same 3 basic archetypes. You have your Big Three of:

Huckleberry Hound

Yogi Bear

Quick_Draw_McGraw

…And Quick Draw McGraw.

…And then you have the others.

Hey, kids. Did you spot Waldo?

It’s no secret by now that HB liked to repeat successful formulas, and so I theorize that just about all of HB’s 1960’s output is in some way a derivation of one of those characters’ shorts. They’re either about an animal who appears in a different setting/occupation each time, an animal in a recognizable human sanctuary like a park or a zoo where they make trouble for some human shmuck in charge of them or an animal hero crime fighter who does battle with wacky criminals and is often aided by another animal with the opposite personality who acts as their sidekick.

Now when I first proposed this theory on a message board, someone hit me with this:

“That’s not true! What about Snagglepuss?! He’s not like any of them! He’s the Shakespearean actor of Hanna-Barbera!”

To which I say:

“IRRELEVANT!”

That’s not my point. Like, at all. I’m not talking about individual cast members, personalities or character shticks. Geez, even H-B’s characters aren’t that autonomous. I’m referring specifically to the tones and structures of the shorts themselves. Many of them can be traced to either Huck, Yogi or Quick Draw. Some examples:

  • The aforementioned Snagglepuss is a Huckleberry Hound archetype: a funny animal who appears in a number of various settings in each short doing his usual shtick each time, regardless of how incongruous.
  • Wally Gator is Yogi Bear in a zoo.
  • Ricochet Rabbit is Quick Draw McGraw except here the smaller animal is the leader and the taller one is the sidekick. Also, the leader here is competent and the sidekick dim-witted rather than the reverse like on Quick Draw.
  • Touche Turtle is Quick-Draw in a French period setting.
  • Squiddly Diddly is Yogi Bear in an aquarium.
  • Hokey Wolf is kind of a Yogi/Huck hybrid: a canny taller animal and his short sidekick who scam humans, but in a different setting each time.
  • Breezly and Sneezly are Yogi and Boo-Boo in the Arctic.
  • Magilla Gorilla is Yogi Bear in a pet shop.
  • Snooper and Blabber are Quick Draw and Baba Looey as cat and mouse detectives.
  • Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har are basically a luckless Hokey Wolf and Ding-a-Ling, who as previously stated carry traits of both Huck and Yogi.

-Of course, not every HB funny animal toon falls into 1 of these boxes. Pixie & Dixie is a TV version of Tom & Jerry, but with the main characters able to speak and with limited animation. Loopy DeLoop is a character fighting against his stereotype, in this case a do-good wolf trying to undo the myth that all wolves are evil. Winsome Witch follows a similar formula, only with a witch. Yakky Doodle can be traced back to Tom & Jerry, with a recurring character similar to the titular star and the formula of a small animal being protected from a wily predator by a tough animal with a heart of gold who has no reservations about beating the predator’s brains in (see also It’s the Wolf!). Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy likewise have roots in Tom & Jerry; they’re somewhat more anthropomorphic versions of Spike & Tyke. The Hillbilly Bears are a family of, well, hillbilly bears. (Incidentally, Ma and Pa Rugg were voiced by Jean VanderPyl and Henry Corden respectively, who’d go on to voice Wilma and Fred Flintstone.) Ruff & Reddy was a takeoff of multi-part adventure serials. Yippy, Yappy and Yahooey were 3 hyperactive canine royal guards who shouted their names and crashed into stuff. Dumas is back and we’ve got him!

So while there are exceptions, it’s no secret who had the stroke in the Hanna-Barbera Zoo.

“You heard the man. You jobbers, second-stringers and ham-and-eggers better pay yer respects. WE’RE the top dogs in this pound, an’ doooooon’t you ferget it!”

Talkin’ Nerdy: Furry Confusion

If you’ve been following the news for past few weeks, you’ve undoubtedly heard or read the declaration made by Japan’s Sanrio company that’s shaken up the nation:

Sanrio’s mascot, Hello Kitty is NOT  a cat!!

“So what happens if I get sick? Do I go to a doctor or a veterinarian?”

In the words of Phillip J. Fry, “I’m shocked! SHOCKED!…Well, not that shocked.
The president of Sanrio goes on to explain that Hello Kitty is not an actual cat, but rather, she’s the personification of a cat. Her actual name is Kitty White. She’s a little girl, but no more an actual cat than Mickey Mouse is an actual mouse. Hello Kitty wears clothes. She stands, walks and talks like a human. She even owns a pet cat named Charmy Kitty.
He almost had up until he said that Hello Kitty owns a pet cat, but more on that later…
So going by that logic, then that means that Gumball Watterson isn’t a cat either, which he isn’t.
Gumball Watterson
Gumball is a human with cat like features. Gumball went “meow!” in one short and was seen hanging out with H-B characters Tom (of Tom & Jerry fame) and Top Cat in one of Cartoon Network’s 20th Anniversary spots, but those are the most cat-like things that Gumball has ever done.
For all intents and purposes, Gumball is an anthro, but definitely more human than animal.
Honestly, I think that fans outrage over this news is no more than a knee jerk reaction. After all, the practice of creating anthropomorphic animal characters who are essentially humans in animal guise is nothing new. Anybody remember this guy?

“Howdy, folks.”

Huckleberry Hound, despite his name and appearance, has done very few canine things in his long career. He was even employed as a dog catcher in one of his original shorts. He must’ve really needed the money.
Heck, among the most famous anthros of all time are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (granted, the Turtles were ordinary animals who were anthropomorphized through mutation, so they now can be thought of as at least part humanoid, although I’m still not feeling the idea of any of the Ninja Turtles dating human women.

“Humans datin’ anthros is sick! It’s an atrocimity!”

 Homophobia, perhaps? Or would the correct term be “bestophobia”? I honestly don’t know what to call sex between anthropomorphic animals and cartoon humans, let alone an irrational fear of such practices. It gets even stranger when you have anthro animals interacting with non-anthropomorphic animals, such as having anthros vising non-anthros at the zoo. Are zoos like insane asylums for cartoon animals? Or how about Mickey Mouse having a dog for a pet and also hanging out with Goofy, another dog?
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As previously stated, the likes of Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty and Gumball Watterson are not real animals, nor are the generic toon animal sprites in the now defunct video game Toontown Online.

“Check us out! In your face, natural order of things!”

…But even those characters are preferable to THESE animated abominations!!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is arthur-characters-2.jpg
What has science wrought?!? Someone think of the children!!!
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The characters on PBS’ Arthur aren’t animals; they’re mutant humans with animal heads! The females have full heads of hair. They’re fully clothed. They have completely human anatomies (including human fingers and toes). They don’t even have tails. Sorry, but when cartoon animals are anthropomorphiszed to the point where they have human feet, then it officially has crossed over from being cute to creepy! animal heads on human bodies may seem endearing in a cartoon or a video game, but in the real world, not so much.
If you saw these creatures in your neighborhood, they’d soon be chased out of town by angry villagers wielding pitchforks and torches. Talking animals are fine when not being human is part of their shtick, but keep it in Cartoon Country, please.