Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yogi Bear As Metaphor For What Happened To The World

This post is to reward Mike for his contributions. Try not to take it too seriously... Yogi reflected the times quite accurately.


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Late 60s

Uh oh!



When these Ray Dirgo comics came out, I was shocked at how formless they looked. The 70s had arrived. The funny part is, they kinda look good compared to what happened after.

When I saw cartoons drawn like this, I knew that it was over.

Evil corporations preach morals to the poor audience. This has never gone away.

Form and taste replaced by lumpy foul things.





Dume3 said...

Look at Jimmy Page, lol. Zeppelin still rocks though.

Adam said...

Did the late 60s really kick off a decline? I wasn't alive to experience them first hand so maybe some old timers fill me in as to what went wrong.

That 'Yo Yogi' box reminded me of that awful TV show. Even when I was 10 I was smart enough to realize how contrived that was. At 10 I knew I was being pandered to! I wouldn't watch that show on principle. I saw it once and It was the same painful experience as watching your younger brother imitate you and your friends and getting it all wrong a few years later.

Adam said...

Actually, watching 'Yo Yogi' was as traumatic as seeing your dad wearing his baseball cap backwards and trying to ride a skateboard.

pooptooth said...

Fantastic collection of Yogi imagery. I wonder how Yogi will be reflected 10 years from now.


Emmett said...

You make it sound like the end of the world is coming, Mr. K.

What I see here is the tragedy of Hanna Barbera. I watched some of the Yogi all star shows from the 70's and 80's recently. I used to love watching all the HB characters interacts when I was little (I still do for that matter). But they lose their values quickly, the art direction is shakey, and the writing is bland. Even Daws Butler was aware of this in the mid 80's.

Those bland shows inspired me to invent characters. No they show what is WRONG.

Jennifer said...

Interesting perspective. I never really saw it from the artistic perspective, but in general, I think it makes sense.

I noticed a difference in the material between the old-school Yogi Bear cartoons and the Yogi Bear cartoon remake that was out during my early childhood (mid-70s - early 80s).

To me, when I watched the Yogi cartoons made for "my generation", they weren't really funny. The stories were topical and pop-culturish (Hey, Star Wars is a smash hit, so let's put Yogi and pals in spaceships!), and I remember the cartoon being peppered with a laugh track on the stuff that was supposed to be funny, just to remind us on where we're supposed to laugh. There wasn't too much slapstick humor in the cartoons, either. IIRC, they also had Yogi rhyme a lot, and that was supposed to be the funny part. As soon as Yogi rhymed, here came the laugh track.

The old-school Yogis, on the other hand, made me laugh out loud! The stories and situations seemed funnier, and there was a TON of slapstick humor. Plus, there was no laugh track. It's almost as if it was okay for us to pick and choose what we laugh at. Yogi also seemed a little meaner (in a funny way) in the old-school version.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

Why are you using the Spumco stuff as an example of the bad things?

Your stuff sticks out like a soar thumb, because it doesn't have the characters wearing FUBU gear, and is done with more than a modicum of respect for the originals.

Also, I am curious as to why you hate the Beatles post-60's. They experimented a LOT more, and I'd have thought someone who idolizes Clampett, the industry's biggest innovator, would appreciate that.

Thanks for the fun, John! ( Well, the first bit, anyway )

- trevor.

hayden the wise said...

ha ha
i love those simpsons

Peggy said...

Man, that cyclist bulge picture is awesome!

I'm tempted to draw a baggy-pants grafitti heavy-lidded mushy stoner Yogi now...

mike f. said...

Wow - the de-evolution of Yogi Bear as metaphor for the crash-and-burn of popular culture in America!

Y'know, I believe I can pinpoint the exact moment in time when it all went to hell - specifically, 1967. (That's when the first wave of postwar Baby Boomers - born in 1946 - came of age.)

The universe gravitates toward systems in which competing influences are balanced, (call it "cosmic equilibrium", if you will -) so I guess it was inevitable that the Greatest Generation would be followed by the Dumbest one.
By 1968, for all practical purposes, the jig was up.

Modern American culture has lost any semblance that "smart" is cool, that art should be appealing, or that craftsmanship is a good and noble aspiration. This is an across-the-board pop culture phenomenom, encompassing TV, movies, music, comic strips, and fashion - and neatly manifesting itself in cartoon atrocities like YO, YOGI! and YOGI'S SPACE ARK.

(There was a brief respite from mediocrity in the 1990's with BOO BOO RUNS WILD - and then back to The Age Of Stupid.)

Thanks for the validation, John. I know we couldn't be the only ones who notice this stuff...

Kali Fontecchio said...

Nice progression! My favorite part was all the old cool wonky Yogis, Jimmy Page, and those biker's lumpy bits.

Jack said...

I say we start a genocide.

Sean Worsham said...

You're too hard on yourself John, oh and happy birthday to this blog!!!

Bitter Animator said...

They may be preaching morals but, simply on looks, personally speaking I'd put the 70s behind all of the decades. That's even taking into account the 80s shock shot of the cyclists (a dirty tactic). And I don't think the toys of any decade are anything to shout about (though I love that El Kabong model that came out a while back).

Pre-70s, however, seems to beat all. Really interesting to see th changes through the years.

What's a Lovable Smoking Traveller's Pet?

I.D.R.C. said...

The last doll looks like the illegitimate offspring of Boo Boo and Barney Rubble.

jesus chambrot said...

Wow John, You included that cell painting kit from Spumco. Did you have any say over this product when it was being done.

And I do see the 70's Yogi's severely deteriorating in form.. It seems the artist they hired didnt give two shits about drawing Yogi in a woryhwhile manner.

D-Notice said...

Its a bit unfair to use the second one in the 90s as an example - it's a piss-take on the Simpsons...

I agree with the general trend that you show though.

Barbara said...

Jimmy Page just wants his pic-a-nic basket, eh?

Eshniner Forest said...


Chip Butty said...

The classic damning indictment finally has a perfect visual chart in a single post!

Anonymous said...

I'm just shocked at how the world decline this fast (even Yogi was affected by the hippie movement)! Worst of all, it happened within only two decades (even though those Dirgo comics still appear to be professional, with a bit of sloppiness). I wasn't even born then, yet even I could see some major decline.

Larry Levine said...

Didn't Friz Freleng do some work on the 1964 "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear" feature film?

Camari Xela said...

So funny. Now I realize how screwed my generation was for growing up in the 90's.

Roberto González said...

Wow, that's a lot of Yogi. Yep, I get your point, except for some of the toys. I actually think that Ranger Smith and Huckleberry Hound's ones from the 90's look kinda decent and some of the older Yogi's ones don't really look that good. Still, they look better than Yogi's new ones, but I don't know if Yogi's old ones look better than the RS and Huckleberry new ones...Ugh, I'm ranting a little too much.

But I definitely despise that drawing with the easter eggs signed by Hanna and Barbera. I've seen it before and my reaction has been always the same. The sad part is , unlike some of the others, I think a non-cartoonist wouldn't find this one especially ugly, cause its flaws are not evident, but it's not aesthetic at all.

I think both the Yogi Bear and Friends and Yo Yogi drawings , like modern Looney Tunes, are fairly well drawn if you forget about the backgrounds or bad concepts. They lack personality, though.

The first Yogi picture is hilarious and reminds me of some Ren and Stimpy expressions in fact. The winter sports picture is also very nice.

Charlie J. said...

Ray Dirgo's actually pretty cool. At least compared to the lumpy looking, "Dark" super hero comics kids read now.

I can't believe Mike F has that scary Felix! I think we should go back to giving kids toys sharp dagger teeth.

Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir, I hope not to insult my own intelligence, but I cannot divine the meaning of this post.

Unless the message is: "As cartoons grew into blobs, orchestration and arrangement were taken over by performers." But surely that's mostly an extension of smaller groups (compared with swing) allowing for simpler arraignments. I must admit: I am confused.

If I may use your blog as an inquiry tool for a moment, does anybody know who wrote the arraignment to Heartbreak Hotel? I've heard some people credit the arraignment to Elvis himself, but other sources credit songwriter Mae Axton.

Lluis said...

Funny post John!!! I like these posts!!!
they are sad also...sob sob... from 70's onward seems like the exects had the bright idea that kids(or more likely their parents) are stupid and will buy anything!!!
Companies saving their pennies not paying for good draughtsmanship!!

Jadthe said...

I think you're just looking in the wrong place in all of those decades- i.e. you can't use Yogi Bear as an analog for all culture. There was plenty of shitty stuff to come out of the 40's, 50's and early 60's too, but time weeds the chaff, as they say.

I mean, you got to do a couple of TV shows, which I assume you're pleased with. Which decades were they in?

Tony C. said...

It's amazing how you can see the solid construction,quality, and fun in the art fade and disappear over the years. Finally we are left with "Yo Yogi" which I think sums it up.

Congratulations on your Annie Award John. It is more than well deserved. How many other cartoon big shots give away their hard earned knowledge to the world in order to improve a worthy art form? None I can think of.

Thank You.

Rodrigo said...

Damn kids and their rock 'n roll music!

JohnK said...

>>Wow John, You included that cell painting kit from Spumco. Did you have any say over this product when it was being done.<<

I had total say over it. It was my attempt to try to bring back clarity, form and fun.

Rainer said...

There is no denying the decline of yogi (and cartoons) in these pictures.

However, he is not suitable for culture as a whole. I may be in the minority, but I never really cared for the Beatles music (although good), and find the seventies hard rock bands like Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy more satisfying. Same for 80's metal like Iron Maiden and Saxon. Now, were these bands influenced by the Beatles? Undeniably. But they rose above them and had better songs, structure, speed etc.

http://tinyurl.com/2a9j8b (Beatles)


http://tinyurl.com/yok6dr (Deep Purple)

Not to mention that great movies like the Godfather, French Connection, Patton, Aguirre, and Coonskin were all released in the seventies. Many enjoyable Marvel comics as well.

But, and this is the important part, there was a revival of 30's and 40's culture at the time. Colleges were plastered with Greta Garbo posters. In short, they had a sense of history, of previous greats. That to me is what the current culture is missing. Perspective. That's why we accept so much mediocrity. We don't even know what we like, because we have no idea what is good.

Operation GutterBall said...

That's what happens when you base your character on Ed Norton from the Honeymooners.

Joseph said...

I always compared Yogi Bear to Al Gore.
First he was a thief and then he became an environmentalist.
Too bad there wasn't a picture of Al Gore.

pinkboi said...

You wanna see really hideous now attempt at bear:


I saw a few flash's of light in the 90's... like the Simpson's screen! harharhar

Showzie said...

I'm sorry John, but all I saw in that post was a middle-aged man yearning for the "good ol' days".

samuel said...

maybe its more to do with a decline in production values than civilisation as a whole, and lets not forget we have beatifully designed cartoon charectors these days like spongebob and of coarse John K's genius work. So things are'nt that bad. Still get that sinking feeling when a Tom and Jerry cartoon comes on and its from the seventies end not the golden years though.

Elisson said...

As much as Yogi Bear (geez, does anybody still name characters creatively any more?) declined over the decades, at least he never developed the insufferable insipidity of, say, the Care Bears - greeting card characters brought to life. That's far worse than crap like "Yo, Yogi."

To me, where a character got its start is a general guide to quality. 1930's and '40's theatrical shorts? Great. TV? Hit or miss. Greeting cards or toys? Feh. It ain't scientific, just empirical observation, but there you are.

James N. said...

"Yo Yogi"... the worst (or best) example of TV execs trying to be "hip" and "cool" <_<

El Bergo said...

the present sucks.

David Germain said...

Hey, John, if Yogi Bear had any part in any of the Star Wars movies that came out between 1999 and 2005, you might be able to link him to . Yeesh!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I couldn't have put it better myself. Amazing how everything sort of devolved at the same time. It's more sad than funny.

I blame rock & roll for instilling a sense of arbitrary rebellion in children. They rebelled against all the wrong things when they grew up. Now that these idiots are reaching retirement, they're rebelling against retirement and the economy! I'd like to see them rebel against dying, Lord knows they'll try.

Anonymous said...

David, I have a feeling John isn't a fan of the Star Wars movies that came out in the 70s, either.

Michael said...

hey Mr K, make some new cartoons.

John A said...

I know it's easy to blame those dirty hippies for everything that's wrong with the world, but Yogi wasn't done in by the counterculture, Yogi WAS the counterculture.

The original Yogi, as created by Mike Maltese and Warren Foster, was a total non conformist, constantly at odds with "the man". His personality owed a lot to not only the classic Warners characters, but a few other "devious bum" characters from the live action world like Phil Silvers, The Marx Brothers, and W.C. Fields. Con men that spent their time living by their wits and confounding athority figures. Yogi was the antithesis of the conservative late fifties and early sixties.

Unfortunately Yogi was corrupted, not by the hippies, but by the Goddamned social engineers that popped up after WWII. After fucking up comic books, these blasted do-gooders turned their sights on TV cartoons. Since being an activist requires a total abscence of the humor gene, and a complete lack of understanding regarding concepts like imagination and vicarious thrills, instead of seeing fun and amusement, they saw dangerous antisocial behavior. These psychobabblers tend to neglect their own offspring and after they turn into juvenile delinquents, they set out to prove that it was caused by anything other than their own abysmal parenting. (for the record, my own son was fed a steady diet of classic cartoons from the time he was able to focus his eyes in front of the television, he's also an avid reader,and a popular kid at school, he's an honor student in a private high school, taking college level courses, and expressing an intrest in going to medical school. Oh, and he still watches cartoons and reads comic books. How did this happen? Maybe it was because I talked to my son about the things he watched instead of censoring them.) I know it sounds crazy, but the social engineers felt that if every character on TV was a positive role model, it would usher in some kind of social uptopia where everything is safe and nice. instead it turned cartoons into pablum, and killed of all the creative brain cells that allows a child survive in the real world. Instead of learning how to laugh at absurbity (not to mention learning the difference between fantasy and reality)and developing a crital mind that allows them to detect danger and bullshit, kids grow up learning that they are very special and everybody just needs to get along, and that some people are just misunderstood. The problem is, realty eventually raises its head and a kid is completely unprepared for life's harsh realities like rejection, humiliation or any other character building experiences. Then they become total whack jobs.

John A said...

Sorry about all the typos around the end of my last post .I was starting to ramble, so i finished up w/o the spellcheck.

Anyway, once the social activists and child pyschologists forced their way into Saturday morning cartoons, the industry started to die. Instead of relying on the tastes of the people that actually made audiences laugh for three decades, writing assignments were handled by people with AGENDAS. This is completely contrary to what all comedians know instictively about comedy: good comedy, like all good art, is based on truth. Changing the truth, because you might not like the truth, doesn't make it so. When your content is made up of lies and distortions, you don't have art, you have propaganda. Saturday morning cartoons became less about entertainment and more about marketing ang propaganda. The animators at that time must have sensed something was missing in these newer,safer cartoons because almost immediately all the energy was sucked out of their work, layouts became formulaic and bland, and all action was reduced to head bobs and eye blinks and mouths that moved on a character that was perpetually locked in a 3/4 position. No wonder draftmanship slipped to amature levels--Who needed to know how to draw when static poses could be traced straight off of the model sheets?

Bad ideas, badly drawn, with shallow (and usually false) messages. Then they just added insult to injury when they started dragging classic characters (or re-imagined classic characters)into this mess. The result?: Yo Yogi and the Flinstone Kids(& dozens of other bastardized concepts). Yuck!

Adam said...

'I know it sounds crazy, but the social engineers felt that if every character on TV was a positive role model, it would usher in some kind of social uptopia where everything is safe and nice. instead it turned cartoons into pablum, and killed of all the creative brain cells that allows a child survive in the real world. '

I agree 100%. These sorts of people seem to be on a mission to destroy anything that they ever felt guilty about enjoying, and their plans seem to always backfire.

How many more televangelist, catholic priest, or congressman sex scandals do we need until people start realizing that many of the people trying to cleanse the world of 'evils' are really just attempting to cleanse the world of their own temptations.

You give enough people like this any kind of political or economic power and they will make everybody as miserable as them as they unknowingly drain all forms of fun from this country.

Anonymous said...

the last yogi bear dolls are simply scary, formless, disfunctional


Jeff Read said...

Yo Yogi! Are you down wit' Droopy D?

I saw that show exactly once. I wanted to check out what the cool 3D glasses I got in a cereal box did. The results were disappointing, and I had to sit through a lot of crappy, unfunny cartoon to get to the 3D part.

The Beatles produced their best music during the hippie days.

Calton said...

There's a game called "Yo! Yogi!"?

I wonder if you can buy it in a certain neighborhood of Tokyo?

rodineisilveira said...

By the way, Johnny K. and friends, have you seen the Yogi Bear action figure, made in 2006 by McFarlane Toys (http://spawn.com)?
On it, we see Yogi and Boo Boo escaping with a "pic-a-nic" basket from the Ranger Smith's fury.
This action figure is loyally reproduced. You can see it clicking on the following link: http://www.spawnclub.com/ListImage/06120463-3.jpg.

Mr. Semaj said...

Makes me glad that I never saw Yo Yogi.

I'd say in terms of cultural evolution (or devolution if you'd like), things started to pick up sometime during the mid 80's, but dipped in the early 2000's.

I wouldn't view this as "the end". Soon, all of those who have buried common sense will be long gone, and the successors (hopefully the intelligent ones) will set us back on track.

Cool_Steve said...

Excellent post, I lol'ed at the end. Perhaps it should have ended with the recent Yogi Bear cameo in "Family Guy":


While I do agree animation (to an extent) has gone downhill over the past couple years, there are still a few newer gems out there avast a sea of boring, cheaply produced shows. You just have to really look for them.



Jim Rockford said...

WOW,very well put,(and more than a little scary) this post visually portrays the cultural decline of America!
In my opinion things really started doing a nosedive around 1964.
The fins coming off cars was a sign that things were changing for the worse.
Then the damn hippies further loused up a good thing.
Men wore long hair and looked like fruits and women stopped doing thier hair and wearing makeup.
Newsflash,the natural look sucks!
In the 50's we tried to make things better than they were naturally,we brought to life all manner of products that emulated the optimistic dream of the future we had envisioned.
Then things changed and people killed it.
This modern day "culture" disgusts and angers me to no end(and no,I'm not 80 years old)
As long as brain dead morons exist who blindly emulate low life ghetto styles like tatoos and baggy pants and 300" pioneer wagon wheels on 84 caprices,and have not an ounce of cultural perspective and good taste,things will continue to degrade and become even more hellish.(if thats even imaginable)
I started collecting things from the 50's and 60's as a kid because I recognized the artistic quality and futurism of them.
Its hard to believe,living in this world of Paris Hilton,border bandits,Ghetto thugs,and 13 year old girls who dress like the happy hooker...that such an amazing culture once existed!
Whats funny,is that there is some much apathy by people today regarding the horrible state things are in.
Its as though everyone is a moron like Homer Simpson.
Give the average person their porn,beer,sports and reality shows and they are content.
Its all sickening.

Andrew said...

How deppressing. I wonder how this all started.

Kevin said...

Having read all the comments, I am struck by the fact that using characters for two or more decades is probably, in and of itself, indicative of a decline in standards. Could they not improve on Yogi? Was the well dry?

Fortunately, Bugs was mostly spared such a fate.

Pokey said...

LOL! I was just on Amazon.com and read a review of Hey There, whcih I saw in 64 with my brother Mike nad my parents..osomeone said here in a longago topic that the humans were a orerunner to Scooby..

I had just enteredmy teens in 1973 when that awful Yogi get-together in an ark appeared. And prefered Bugs, original Yogi, ANYTHING but the modern day versions...though I admit I enjoyed Galaxy Goof Ups, which had Joe Besser as Scare bear..

Marty Fugate said...

Why did Yogi devolve?

OK. Speaking as a cartoonist, it seems to me the key is this: You draw cartoons that don't suck if your characters are real to you. (This applies if somebody else originated the characters.) You have to love your characters, even your hateful, weird characters.

Yogi is a being. You approach him with a certain respect and don't violate his character. He's real to you, so you make him real to the eyeballs at the end of the process. (As the early Yogi was.)

If your characters aren't real to you (or the corporate entity cutting your checks and telling you what to do) your cartoons suck.

The reason the Devo Yogi of the 70s and 80s began to suck is that he wasn't real to the people drawing him. The cartoonists keep drawing the same stock expression over and over. There's no heart, no feeling behind him.

Lurking Grue said...

I do believe the world seems to be standing on John K's lawn.