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Sarcasm Aside

random thoughts of a self-diagnosed neurotic with the attention span of a five-year old... a blog by Alternati

Joseph Barbera (1911-2006)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

December 18, 2006 was a sad day for all kids that grew up during my generation. Joseph Barbera died at the age of 95. Joe and his partner Bill Hanna (1910-2001) created Hanna-Barbera and together they created most of my generation's beloved cartoons: Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear, The Smurfs... the list goes on. BBC Article here.

I am a creative partner of a business we're planning to launch in January. I'll tell you more about it when our plans are tangible already... Anyways, one of the things I did for the business is creating some characters. It was during one Instant Messenger meeting with Pam that she told me about Joe Barbera's passing.

Generally, the cartoons Hanna and Barbera made are wholesome, cutesy characters with their trademark catch phrases and/or hairstyles.
  • Foot-driver Fred Flintstone's - "Yabba Dabba Doo", and a similar...
  • Scooby Doo - "Scooby Dooby Doo", and a similar...
  • George Jetson - "Hooba Dooba Dooba"
  • Pic-a-nic basket thief Yogi Bear's - "I'm smarter than your avergae bear"
  • The sweet southern Huckleberry Hound's - "Oh My Darling, Clementine"
  • The Mystery Machine members: Velma Dinkley's - "Jinkies!", and...
  • Daphne Blake's - "Jeepers!", and who could forget...
  • Shaggy Roger's - "Zoinks!"
  • The pink Snagglepuss - "Heavens to Murgatroid"
There are also a few things I never quite understood in these Hanna-Barbera shows:
  1. A number of the characters (Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss, Wally Gator) have collars and ties attached to I have no idea where. I guess it's one of those "toon things" like the four-fingered Disney gloves.
  2. How can the blue civilization of the smurfs survive with just one Smurfette? (Thanks to Donnie Darko... I have an answer to this already)
  3. How come nearly all female characters have extremely small feet? I think it is impossible to walk with them let alone run in them! in heels!.. Exhibit A: Penelope Pitstop
  4. Look at Top Cat (the yellow feline at the lower left of the pic above)... Who in their right mind would wear a violet vest and a matchy-matchy violet hat, if you have yellow fur? duh...
I've always loved Velma over Daphne (like Betty over Veronica)... I loved it when the Flintstones of the elephant trunk-faucet era met the Jetsons of the conveyor sidewalk and robot nanny era. I've always wanted Elroy Jetson's hat and Bam Bam's loin cloth outfit. I think Muttley is adorable and I wouldn't mind spending an afternoon with Gargamel. These characters are manifestations of Barbera's genius. They were pop culture icons in the 70's and 80's and they are still widely recognizable today with frequent reruns on Cartoon Network.

The best Barbera cartoon, in my opinion, is Tom and Jerry. I think it is the first show to use the cat-mouse formula, nothing like the carnal instincts of predator in prey in a non-documentary to engage the interest of children. It was censored a lot during puritan 40's thru 60's, it was ahead of it's time. Now, all the guns and slicing and explosions are as normal as the roaring lion in MGM intros. And they are invincible, Tom's cut tail always grows back, his smashed teeth always reappear, and his charred body always regains it's bluish tone... what's a few lethal weapons thrown into the plot?

Beyond the violence, what I really like about the show is the fact that they do not speak (something totally destroyed in that supposed movie). They are the feline and murine Charlie Chaplins and Mr. Beans. The absence of language adds to their universality. What really adds to the T & J experience is the music. Especially during the earlier ones, the episodes always incorporated classical music. There are the orchestral background music and there are the tunes that act as sound effects. An ascending piano run depicts Jerry running frantically to his hole. A cymbal clash, Tom's crashing into a trash can lid. We don't see toons like this anymore.

Interestingly, the first Tom and Jerry episode I've seen is "The Night Before Christmas".

Joseph Barbera started working as a tailor's delivery boy and ended up being one of the world's most famous and loved cartoonists. Hanna-Barbera won 7 Oscars for Tom and Jerry. He never got an interview at Disney (tsk tsk)

Not once in six years did I make it to the office by 9 on the dot.
-Joseph Barbera

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posted by Alternati, 10:33 AM

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