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“Snuffy Smith” by Jim Tyer

Someone just posted on You Tube several of the rarely seen 1963 King Features Snuffy Smith cartoons that were animated by Jim Tyer. Tyer is a real cult figure around here for his absolutely outrageous cartoony animation, way-off model, celebrated by the best in the business and rightly so. Not even limited animation could suppress his looney drawing style – and Tyer-philes will feast upon these links:

The Work Pill
Smoke Screams
A Hauntin’ Fer a House
Snuffy’s Fair Lady
Barney’s Winter Carnival
Snuffy’s Brush With Fame

P.S. While we’re at it, check out the eight-minute Snuffy Smith pilot from Format Films: Snuffy’s Turf Luck. Not a very good film, but it was the first of the series, and directed by Jack Kinney and animated by Harvey Toombs (both long-time Disney veterans). Note Doodles Weaver doing his horse race routine in the cartoon. Mike Kazaleh theorizes: “I’m guessing that Joe Siracusa brought him in. They would’ve worked together when Joe (and Doodles) were in the City Slickers (Spike Jones). Or maybe Jack Kinney brought him in. He’d used Doodles earlier in Hockey Homicide. Note too that they added the Wm. Pattengill animated opening from the Paramount cartoons. I wonder if this cartoon had other titles when it was shot.”

(Thanks, Mike Kazaleh)

  • Wow flashback! That off model animation fits the quirky theme song… yeah!

  • Christopher Cook

    I do recall Tyer being used on the Felix The Cat TV cartoons as well before doing Snuffy Smith. His “shrink takes” were always hilarious.

    • Did anybody else beside Tyer and Terry use shrink takes?

  • Great cartoon! I wasn’t sure how well Tyer’s style would translate to limited animation, but it really is just as crazy as ever. That reused walk cycle was hilarious. The writing was pretty funny too, something I wasn’t expecting. Now I’ll have to check out the rest of them.


    THAT made my day and it’s only 9:11 AM!

    • 9:11? Time’s a-wastin’!

      I always wanted to see Snuffy and Farmer Al Falfa in a duel to the death. Feudin’ and A-Fussin’ was as close as we’ll ever get.

      Pretty good given the era and circumstances. Al Falfa-surrogate’s creaky walk was icing on the cake.

  • Jim Tyer’s work is a revelation, the Holy Gospel to me. Thanks for sharing.

  • These links are pure delight. Tyer seems to have fun no matter how limited the animation is.

  • Randy Koger

    Freaking great stuff! Love the robotic walk cycle (along with the mechanical man sound effects!)
    And the cartoon is actually a decent print…not all red and scratched up.
    What a treat. I’ll have to watch the rest of ’em.
    Thanks for posting it!

  • uncle wayne

    i have a distinct (albeit NOT fond) memory of these films!! Good to see them again. Only possible good thing was its theme song….(we used to sing it at recess!)

  • God, he was unique ! Did Tyer ever make any films on his own ?

    • If you mean ‘his own films’ the way Howard Beckerman later made his own films, I believe the answer is “no”.

      But these TV cartoons (which also include episodes of Felix The Cat and Bat Fink) are rare examples of Tyer animating a film from start to finish. Of course Tyer also animated FLEBUS, but that was more Pintoff and Deitch, and he directed cartoons for Van Beuren and Famous.

      He also wrote many of the stories he drew in comic books and one can only imagine what one of those completely animated in his style would be like. I think Tyer would have been a forerunner to animators like Richard Condie and Cordell Barker had he made some personal films.

  • uncle wayne

    wellll, damn you, i’ll now be humming that tune til midnight!

  • I’ve always said that Jim Tyer could make the lamest cartoon watchable, and this is pretty good proof!

  • That’s some of the wildest limited animation I’ve ever seen. That walk cycle with the foot that zooms out toward you was very odd, but funny!

  • Hah! That was hilarious!

  • I wasn’t sure I knew these cartoons, but as soon as that theme song kicked in, it all came back. It was at the drive in movie theater. Me in my footy pajamas.

  • Rarely Seen? Not growing up in the Twin Cities in the 60’s. Snuffy Smith cartoons were a staple of the “Casey Jones and Roundhouse Rodney” show at noon every day. At the time I did not realize I was watching animation greatness.

  • These cartoons command psychotically focused attention, even though they’re entertaining in only the most abstract sense. Looking away is not an option. The sloppiness is electric. The sensibility is that of Hal Seeger’s detached, formerly conjoined twin, bottled in a closet but still miraculously alive, floating forever in a rubbery formaldehyde dream state.

  • Robert Barker

    No feast here. I dug the Sunday newspaper Snuffy Smith strip, and as a kid in ’63 I anticipated these cartoons. Just another thing that went wrong in a very wrong year.

  • Michael

    I’m sorry, but Jim Tyer animation or no, these cartoons were junk when I was a kid and they’re junk now.

  • David Breneman

    What IS the derivation of that opening theme, anyway? I wondered about that as a 5 year old kid and I still wonder about it today.
    “Barney Google with the goo-goo-googly eyes” was well known, but where did the Snuffy Smith’s “Aahh – augh – augh – Aahh” riff come from? Were they just trying to get a “star” opening like Popeye’s?
    And I agree with “Michael” – these cartoons were low rent 40 years ago and they’re low rent today. Sometimes even great animators have to suck it up to pay their bills.

    • John

      There actually is a full version of the song in the first Paramount-KFS short, “Snuffy’s Song” (truth in labeling here I guess). The other semi-interesting thing is it was actually Part I of a three-part story that debuted the series, with “The Method and Maw” making up Part II, and “The Hat” being Part III.

      All three were theatrically released by Paramount under the “Comic Kings” banner, though I’ve never seen anything about KFS trying to peddle the three shorts together as a part of a full 30-minute TV episode.

      • Of course, in a head-desk-slam moment, Paramount released it out-of-order. The last part, “The Hat” was the SECOND they released (in June 1962, the same month “Snuffy’s Song” came out), with “Method and Maw” not coming out until October, four months later.

  • Gray64

    Good grief! I remember seeing this on, I think it was TBS when I was a little kid (more than 25 years ago). I remember them having Krazy Kat and Beetle Bailey cartoons, too. The Snuffy Smith’s were never my favorites, though.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Probably how I faintly saw ’em too (I’d say almost 30 years myself). Locally a CBS affiliate in the early 80’s had the KFS Popeye package instead though where I lived.

  • I hated these “King Features Syndicate” cartoons when I was a kid. They ran these on local kid shows, where hosts like Officer Joe Bolton and Chuck McCann and Captain Jack McCarthy would intro them. These cheap cartoons were always the filler that you had to wade through, to endure, while you waited for the good stuff — the Looney Tunes cartoons or a Three Stooges short.

    As I recall, this “King Features Syndicate” package included cartoons starring “Snuffy Smith,” “Beetle Bailey,” “Krazy Kat,” and every one of them was as dull as dishwater. Of course, in this very same package, “King Features” included a batch of new Popeye cartoons, and these additions to the Popeye universe virtually destroyed the property. I believe these “King Features Syndicate” Popeye cartoons, in which “Bluto” was called “Brutus,” actually made children’s eyes bleed. After years of enjoying the great Fleischer Popeye cartoons in syndication, it was tough for us kids to stomach these new Popeye cartoon atrocities. What a waste of animation resources and talent! And what a tragic waste of time for the kids watching and waiting for something fun or funny to happen.

    • That said, have you checked out the animation in the Snuffy short above? It’s funny stuff.

      • I must admit, there are some funny and crazy drawings in there — unfortunately, the material is so weak and the voice work is so pedestrian that the sum total is not worth wasting six minutes of your life.

      • I dunno, I had absolutely no trouble with the KFS Popeye cartoons as a kid growing up in the Bronx. I thought the Fleischer and Famous Studios stuff was much better, but I remember the KFS Popeye cartoons very fondly. I also have the DVD collections, so I could tolerate even the worst cartoons. But that’s just me.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        At least John understands how I felt. If nothing more, it’s a nice nostalgic trip for us.

  • Marc Baker

    I’ve never seen A ‘Snuffy Smith’ cartoon before, and this particular one is my first. Now I have seen the TV ‘Popeye’ cartoons from that era growing up, and the overall tone, and production values are pretty much the same. However, i gotta say Tyner’sanimer animation style was quite unusual for A cartoon like this. It’s almost as if it’s trying it’s hardest to show some semblance of fluid wackyness despite it’s budget constraints. Not bad.

  • John

    When they debuted in New York, on WPIX back in 1963, the cartoons ran as their own self-contained 30-minute show weekdays at 5:30 p.m. (almost always a Beetle Bailey cartoon, followed by a Krazy Kat and then a Snuffy cartoon). One of the interesting things here is that while the cartoons were for the most part done in New York (on on Deitch’s Krazy series, in Prague), the voice work and the stories were in large part recorded and crafted out of Hollywood, including by a number of then-current or future TV sitcom writers.

    That kind of makes these things some of the earliest examples of the “script-driven” animated cartoon, where you didn’t have the writers in-house storyboarding the shorts, because the writers were 3,000 to 6,000 miles away from Kneitel, Dietch and the animation staff. Tyer’s desire to pretty much abuse the normal early 1960s Famous/Paramount cartoon ‘look’ adds a little bit to your viewing enjoyment here, but of the KFS trio, the Snuffy cartoons always came off to me as the weakest of the bunch, lacking the off-beat/bizarreness of the Krazy efforts, or the pre-Magilla voicework paring of Allan Melvin and Howie Morris on the Beetle Bailey cartoons.

  • Shmorky

    The only thing I really like about this is Clem Cut-plug’s walk cycle. Other drawings in this were funny but there was nothing in this cartoon that really made me laugh. The characters mostly stand around and talk and don’t even say funny things!

  • Pez


    THIS IS AWESOME. Study this cartoon!

    limited and expressive.

    Off model done funny.

    Thank you for sharing

  • The Batfink eps that Tyer did are even crazier; you should particularly check out his first one, “Manhole Manny”. I guess Seeger just let him loose as well.

  • Doug Drown

    An actor’s talent becomes obvious when his/her performance can redeem an otherwise mediocre film or play. (Johnny Depp is especially good at this, IMO.) Jim Tyer had this ability with cartoons. He could take a crappy cartoon like this, run with it, and using his unique animation style he could make it entertaining.

    I had long forgotten that the Snuffy Smith cartoons even existed. Thanks for the post and the links.