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TV Guide on Prime Time Animation (1961)

Whenever I appear on Shokus Internet Radio, I get to plow through Stu Shostack’s incredible library of TV Guide back issues – and I always seem to find something of interest for Cartoon Brew. This time I grabbed the July 1st 1961 issue, with the Flintstones cover (click thumbnail at left to see at full size), which contains a good article on the then-current trend towards prime time animation. It’s a pretty nice piece. The writer includes an intriguing list of forthcoming shows that were apparently never made: Sir Loin and the Dragon, Waco Wolf, Muddled Masterpieces and The Late Late War.

(Click thumbnails below to read pages at full size)

  • Gerard de Souza

    Is there a credit for the illustrator? I wonder if each studio had a hand in the drawing; at least roughing in their respective characters?

  • Jody Morgan

    An enjoyable article, though more HB-centric than I was hoping, given the terrific drawing at the start; thanks, Jerry! I have to admit that I have a couple of questions about that drawing: why is Augie Doggie pointing at Pepe LePew, and who’s the short character in front of Flattop? I feel like I’ve seen him before, but can’t place him…

  • Christopher Cook

    Kinda surprised to see Felix the Cat, Dick Tracy and Deputy Dawg in that group as they appeared during morning/afternoon syndicated kidvid shows. Still, nice article.

  • Bill Freiberger

    I looks to me like a cut and paste job, not an original drawing, but I may be wrong. Also, I believe the short character in front of Flat Top is from the Deputy Dawg cartoon. He may be the character who always said, “It’s Posssible”. Again, I’m not 100 percent sure.


  • uncle wayne

    Hey, Jody. That is, indeed, from Dept. Dawg….he is Muskie Muscrat (whose catch phrase was, indeed, “it’s possibulllll!”

    What a super article. And a super collection of characters. Thank YOO for this fond memory!!

  • Musky Muskrat appears in front of Flattop, keeping a safe distance from his usual pursuer Deputy Dawg. If Roger Rabbit were set in 1961, this looks like his supporting cast.

  • Pedro Nakama

    It sure would be cool to turn on my tv this morning and see that line up again.

  • uncle wayne

    Amen, Pedro. (And see a TV Guide like that, TOO!)

  • I’m blown away by the overall quality of the group illustration for this article. I’d love to know who the illustrator(s) were responsible for it. If I had to guess I’d bet it was a Golden Book artist. Maybe Al White, Hawley Pratt, Mel Crawford, Harvey Eisenberg or someone else from that group of versatile and talented artists.

    Thanks for this wonderful trip back to 1961, Jerry!

  • I wonder how TV animation would be different if they continued to make prime-time cartoons into the seventies. Would things have been better or worse?

    I guess one of the downsides is that “The Simpsons” wouldn’t have existed.

  • It looks like each studio provided the artwork of their characters to TV Guide and that an editor assembled all of the elements together. The styling of Huck, Yogi and the rest of the H-B characters are most likely the work of Ed Benedict.

  • John A

    There were some attempts at prime time animated series’ in the ’70s, (H-Bs “Wait til Your Father Gets Home” and “Where’s Huddles?”, but they weren’t very good and consequently not that successful. There was a good deal of prime time network animation in the form of half hour and hour long TV specials in the 1970s, something that has pratically disappeared since cable came along.

  • Mick Collins

    While reading the article I was struck by the realisation that I think of The Flintstones as being really OLD, but at the time of its premiere it was actually a little ahead of the curve. (I’m not the youngest pup in the box by any means, but I’m still too young to remember TV before The Flintstones..) I was also struck by the per-episode cost: US$65,000 in 1961 works out to about a half-million bucks in 2009 dollars. I’m not a professional animator, so perhaps one of you who are could clue me in on what 18-24 minutes of animation costs these days…

  • Mick,

    Long story short, it varies depending on the show and what network its on.

    This chart should give you an idea:

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Though I don’t have time to read the article, I will say that’s the coolest pic I’ve seen today, and love to have that on the wall!

  • Alfons Moline

    Nice picture! They should have added Woody Woodpecker. And Rocky & Bullwinkle (which were already around by that time), too.

  • Certainly a more varied array or cartoon characters than (ICK!) Seth MacFarlane’s programs. This has all the makings of an epic crossover that predated “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” by nearly a good two decades!

  • RobEB

    I’d like to turn that into a poster…

  • Donald Benson

    I’m old enough to remember that first burst of prime time animation. Away from the HB sitcoms, you saw a lot of stuff framed as a “live” show of some kind: Alvin’s opening credits showed a TV studio, Bugs Bunny was a direct ancestor of the Muppet Show with a backstage plot linking the shorts; Bullwinkle had its flashing “Broadway” lights and (briefly) the Bullwinkle puppet host; and Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo opened with the star talking to the camera from his dressing room.

    Granted, it’s an easy gimmick for stringing unrelated shorts together. But I sort of suspect it was an intentional effort to make them seem more like a “real” show.

    Some of the kiddie shows also used a framing gimmick instead of just running shorts: Woody Woodpecker ran a projector; the original Rocky would frame one-shots as stage presentations (“Hello there, poetry lovers”), and even Casper opened and closed with characters partying in a haunted house, although individual shorts had an unrelated opening of Casper’s pals watching a cloud with a TV screen in it.

  • precode

    God, I remember that article and would read it over and over again. Thanks for resurrecting it from the magazine graveyard.

  • Ed

    Excellent article. Thanks for the post Jerry and Stu!