Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beany and Cecil - The Weirdest TV Cartoon - WATCH IT AT HOME!

and one of the most popular shows of the 50s and 60s
Some comics probably by animator Jack Bradbury, who also designed the first animated version of Beany and Cecil.

When I was a kid, about 9 years old, I used to race home from school to watch the cartoons at my Grandmother's house in Ottawa. We only had 3 channels then: 2 English speaking channels and one French. They all ran cartoons at the same time every day, and I had to switch from channel to channel because I could never make up my mind which to watch all the way through!They ran Huck and Quick Draw at about 3:30 on the 2 English channels, and then Yogi and Beany and Cecil at 4. It used to drive me nuts because I wanted to watch them all!

Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw were all Hanna Barbera cartoons - all with the same look and feel. They had great designs and voices and were appealing, but not very imaginative. Just the same, I loved 'em.

Beany and Cecil, on the other hand - even as a kid - seemed like the weirdest thing ever! It looked great- I especially liked the cartoons designed and layed out by Willie Ito - he did the more "modern" angular style episodes. But the stories were bizarre! If Roger Ramjet was the funniest 60s cartoon, then Beany and Cecil was the most imaginative.

Its main cast was fairly normal - starring Beany a likeable cute little boy who loved fun and adventure,

Captain Huffenpuff, an old homosexual blowhard adventurer who always retreated to his "HIDING ROOM" whenever there was trouble and Cecil The Seasick Sea Serpent - who was a not very subtle visual metaphor with a catch phrase to advertise it "I'm comin' Beany boy, I'm COMIN'!"and an old time melodramatic villain named Dishonest JohnThese main characters traveled around the world where they met much stranger characters. One of my favorites was the beatnick, the Wildman of Wildsville:I used this very gag in the 1988 new adventures of Beany and Cecil and the network exploded!

Clampett cartoons were always hip, just as he was. He kept up with cool trends all the way till the Beatles and then froze into his 1964 look with a Beatle haircut for the rest of his life. He knew The Beatles were the last truly cool thing and then everything pretty much went to know.
I'm sure most of you know that Beany Cecil was originally an Emmy award winning puppet show called Time For Beany that was probably even weirder than the later cartoon.

Daws Butler and Stan Freberg manning the puppet arsenal for Bob Clampett!Willie Ito, the later cartoon designer also drew these great Beany and Cecil comics in the same style he drew the cartoons- a combination of Clampett, Jones, UPA and his own style. These are great drawings for you student types to copy by the way.

Here's the whole comic!

All this great stuff has been out of circulation for decades and now it's here where you can enjoy them again!

10 years ago a Beany and Cecil DVD came out and has been out of print for a while, but now there are a few left.

There is also finally a volume 2 - filled with classic Beany and Cecil cartoons, puppet shows and lots of great supplemental treats!


Lots Of Extras!

Oral History

Bob was a stickler for recording his history. He constantly did interviews with people and recorded all kinds of interesting things.

This 70 minute oral history is taken from recently discovered source material. There were three sources.

A 1950 interview with Scenic artist and right hand man Bill Oberlin.
A 1963 recorded conversation with his Bob Clampett's mother.
And there was a 1978 interview with a close friend of Sody Clampett's.

Volume 1
Clampett fan, animator and historian Milt Gray edited together the definitive two and a half hour oral history on volume one.

Volume 2
This 70 minute continuation on Volume 2 gives some new insight including information about Clampett's Dad that previously none of the family knew. Bob always teared up when he talked about him. That was why it was such a shock when he went into as much detail as he did. It explains a bit of Bob's showmanship.

Bob Clampett Reads Milt Gross!

Clampett was a big fan of Milt Gross and knew him personally. In the supplemental material you can hear Bob reading along to Night in Front... while his kids see the original pages. Laughter and dog barking in the background.

Also, Rob Clampett did a brief audio interview with Milt's oldest son Herb and included pages of illustrations from some of the books.

There is the pencil test (the only one I've ever seen from one of dad's cartoons) and storyboard pages and layouts including deleted sequences from "It's A Grand Old Nag."

Home Movies
The home movies of the 'coolest guy' with his portfolio in NYC in 1945.



Iron maiden said...

Dishonest john? is that suppose to be a parody of honest john from pinocchio

SuperHappy said...

Oh my god, they actually released a Volume 2? Thanks for the news!

diego cumplido said...

John, please check this "Old Grey Hare" exercise of mine. I did an special effort checking my errors this time.

Pilsner Panther said...

I'm a bit too young to remember "Beany and Cecil," or "Kukla, Fran, & Ollie," or much of anything on TV before the late sixties, when my parents would park me in front of the set, which they called "the electronic babysitter."

In the 70's, PBS broadcast some of the old Ernie Kovacs Shows, and I was astonished by that cigar-chomping maniac's endless creativity.

Kovacs was to early television what Bob Clampett had been to cartoons a decade or so earlier— only he was sort of a "Mad Hungarian," like Bela Bartok had been in music. No subtlety, and no restraint! The closest American comedy equivalent is, I suppose, Clampett, and also the Curly-era Stooges and the Marx Brothers.

I think that the "Best Of Kovacs" 2-DVD set might still be available... if not, you might find a copy on eBay.

Once all you eager cartooning students learn about composition from Mr. K., then you have to learn about timing.

For that, study Ernie. Only, he can't answer your questions.

Except for the epitaph on his tombstone: "Nothing in moderation!"

Which is as good a guideline as any.

Chulextarrero said...

Whoah! Ist first time I see something about this show. Well, I remeeber watch it somewhere in your blog. Anyway, its look really awesome, and the comics design are great to study. Thanks!

-jjmm- said...

¿What can I do to join that private school?

-jjmm- said...


Jake Thomas said...

I love Beanie and Cecil, Cecil is hilarious. Ordered both volumes now.

I did some more Preston Blair practice.
The dogs muzzle is tricky, for the first two it is just the usual stretch and squash, but for the 3/4 and other poses it gets a lot more complicated and harder to control, is there some trick to it?

Caleb said...

Great info. Here's a sketch I did of Cecil.

ezBadfish said...

The backgrounds of the Wildman of Wildsville shots are far out daddy-o!

Mateo said...

Jeez, that's the cool stuff! Eye-Candies. :)

I've done some practice if you could check it out, would be cool. :)

Latest practice

and the

Mateo' Blog

Torsten Adair said...

Ah, when I was a child of the 80s, the local NBC affiliate ran WB cartoons (everything but Bosko, those horrible Daffy/Speedy cartoons, and the strange post-Termite Terrace characters), and thirty minutes later, the ABC affiliate ran old MGM cartoons (everything, including the hallucinogenic Dietch Tom & Jerry cartoons).

This immediately got me hooked on animation, and I discovered Beany & Cecil almost immediately. I think Columbia video issued the entire series on VHS (Library of Congress has a set), and I've one bootleg DVD in my collection (yes, I'll buy the legit DVDs!).

Great stuff... lots of bad puns (Tearalong the Dotted Lion, Go Man Van Gogh, Peking Tom), wackiness, and some fine animation!

J C Roberts said...

I had no idea you grew up with such hardships. Quick Draw and Huck on at the same time in a pre videotape world? And adults think kids have it easy...

That's where the 6 years you have on me makes a bit of a difference. You were the right age to see B&C firsthand, while it was being burned into my soft, impressionable brain before I was fully aware of what it was. It continued to air when I old enough to absorb it better, but I think the early exposure is what helped form my Clampettized brain. The bold lines and crisp design style made an impression right down to the core. I've long been told as an infant, I would wail and cry at the opening fireworks of The World Of Disney, but Beany and Cecil always got my attention in a deeper way. In the head, Clowny!

In addition, thiswas always around the house as well. I've got all the VHS collections too, but I didn't know they quietly made the vol 2 DVD available already. Must get.

I certainly enjoyed your short-lived revival, and was sad to see it yanked so soon. My brother always thought a scene with Cecil going bolt stiff had a lot to do with it disappearing. Is he on to something there?

Anyway, nice to see a big feature on them here.

:: smo :: said...

yeah! i saw this on cartoon brew and i ordered the set of volumes one and two! a few years ago i got a hold of volume one and the extras alone would have been worth it, the puppet shows and cartoons included are amazing too!

hearing clampett talk about directing and timing is HUGE. these are definitely a worthwhile purchase!

Trevor Thompson said...

Why is it so hard to get this on a proper DVD release? Who owns these wonderful shows?

Too bad Bob couldn't pull a Lucille Ball and gain the rights to the shows.

Bill J. Barry said...

Great news. Also good to see some space devoted to Beany & Cecil on your blog. It's almost like the last three years have been working up to this.

John said...

Bob Clampett is the man, I'm so getting this!

Here's my study of a panel from this comic.

Jonathan Harris said...

Hey John, something I've been unclear on for a while, did you know Bob Clampett personally?

MLP said...

Strange: I never thought of Cecil as a big dick.

Patrick McMicheal said...

Holy Crap.....What an awesome post!
I can remember my older brothers watching this show back in the late 60's ( when I was a wee lad).

Glen said...

This reminds me of something I would love to hear you weigh in on, John.

I recently saw that they released a DVD of "Tom and Jerry: the Chuck Jones collection" and it made me remember just how awful those were. I love Chuck Jones, and I love Tom and Jerry, so why were these cartoons so bad?

Also of course feel free to disagree with me entirely, I'm just really interested to hear what you would have to say on the matter.

Parka AKA said...

WOW! Thanks for posting this because Beany & Cecil is my favorite cartoon show and I had no idea that there was a volume 2! The first DVD is what all dvds should be about with all of the bonus goodies and history though I missed the episode with CECIL the LOVE-SICK-SEA-SIR-*pint*!

perspex said...

the picture of Daws Butler and Stan Freberg is AWESOME

Dave Mackey said...

Willie Ito's drawing was great. He did layouts for the TV show, credited as "Willie Ito, Jr."

I always thought Clampett had a Roy Orbison vibe going on in his later years.

Dave Mackey said...

Oh, about the first comment... I'd heard that Dishonest John is actually based on an old Looney Tunes animator Clampett worked with named Larry Martin.

Anonymous said...

Hiding room...ha! fantastic! I'm too young to have seen it but it looks like sunken treasure to me :) As usual though, there doesn't seem to be a PAL release for us in the UK :(

more studies:

trying to do one a day

Roberto González said...

I don't know about John but I disagree entirely about Chuck Jones' Tom and Jerry being 'awful'. But the later ones were a bit boring.

I've never watched Beany and Cecil, it's not a very popular show here in Spain, I think it was on tv at a certain point, but nobody (and I mean nobody) remembers it, except maybe a few animation geeks (and they are also a minority among animation geeks).

I'm not sure about the series, for some reason I tend to get bored by limited animation sometimes but I reallu like the drawings in that comic book, they are very cute.

I watched the puppet show once in internet and you are right, it was weird and pretty cool. There was a sexy girl playing Red Hot Ridding Hood too, which gives it extra point. And even though it was an old show the girl was really hot for modern standards, too.

David C. Matthews said...

I got to meet Bob Clampett, years ago, when he was guest of honor at OrlandoCon. I didn't do more than just shake his hand and tell him how much I enjoyed his work, but he was as gracious and friendly as you'd want someone of his legendary status to be.

He'd brought along some of his memorabilia, including many of his cartoons like "Book Revue" on film (first time I'd seen it on anything larger than a TV screen. But the highlight for me was his presentation of some pencil tests and concept art for a proposed (but sadly never produced) series of John Carter of Mars cartoons.

So I was very gratified to find this material as a bonus feature on the first Beany and Cecil DVD! I honestly believe that if Clampett had been able to produce his Mars series, they'd have rivaled the Fleischer/Paramount Superman cartoons in popularity and influence, and John Carter himself might have gone on to at least as much recognition as Edgar Rice Burroughs' other well-known creation, Tarzan.

mike f. said...

Bob Clampett doing a live reading of Milt Gross comics? That's too good for modern humans!

I can't even believe how cool the world used to be. I need a Wayback Machine...

Ted said...

Is there any art from you on v2, as there was on v1 (all one still of it)?

Larry Levine said...

I used to own a Beany Boy doll...I mean a Beany Boy action figure.

Pat Cashin said...

With all the talk about Volume Two coming out soon my six year old son and I watched the first six cartoons on Volume One this evening after dinner.

He'd never seen B&C before but was familiar with Clampett's name from his Warner Bros. work.

To say that Beany and Cecil absolutely rocked his little world would be a gross understatement. He even came upstairs to bed singing "a Bob Clampett cartoooooooooooooon!" at the top of his lungs.

Your post is much appreciated, John. Please share more info on The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil when you have the time.

Pilsner Panther said...

The trouble with the Chuck Jones Tom and Jerry series as I see it was that they weren't his characters, they were Mr. Hanna and Mr. Barbera's characters.

So Mr. Jones was stuck with a form of comedy that he really didn't like at all. The total antithesis of of Chuck's later style was the classic "cat and mouse" cartoon. He'd do just about anything but follow that formula. When he directed something like "The Dot And The Line," he wasn't thinking much about cats and mice.

So it's not any surprise that his Tom and Jerry series is sort of bland. There are a few good ones (and I leave you to discover them on your own), but the real inspiration has gone out of the whole idea.

Without Hanna and Barbera directing, it's like someone else "taking over" the characters, which could never have worked— no matter who tried it.

Gene Deitch's Tom and Jerrys were worse, but he had a good excuse for it... on short notice, he had to train an eastern European animation team that had absolutely no idea who the characters were! They'd never seen even one Tom and Jerry cartoon. Behind the "Iron Curtain," all American cartoons and feature films were banned!

Chuck Jones had much better resources at his disposal, and his T&J series could have amounted to something good, but it really didn't. There's a sense in most of these cartoons of "We're just going through the motions," and nothing else can kill comedy so dead, and so fast.

HemlockMan said...

I recall being enamored for a time with BEANY & CECIL when I was a child. But I grew out of it rather quickly, or else they stopped showing it on TV. I do remember that at some point I preferred KING LEONARDO and CLYDE CRASHCUP and stopped watching BEANY & CECIL.

Tommy said...

This is all 100% amazing!

Sven Hoek said...

I have such a soft spot in my heart for this cartoon but I barely remembered any of the episodes. But when that music came on some old dusty part of my brain woke up and I started singing it. That stuff is in my subconscience and Im a better person for it. Thanks again Bob Clampett, you genius you.

John K, didnt you work on a Beany and Cecil show at one point?

Sven Hoek said...

I always wanted to see the Sea Sick Sea Serpent throw up, to complete the fallic metaphor.

J C Roberts said...

Cecil is an interesting character to draw, since his structure is little more than a sock puppet. You can use your own arm as a postitioning model then wrap his features around it. The folds in his "skin" usually mimic what a cloth puppet body would do.

This was just the motivation I needed to finally take all the VHS releases I've had since the 80s and transfer them to my DVD recorder. I was missing vol. 11, but I was able to track one down online and order it. As soon as it comes I'll be able to put the entire run on DVD-Rs.

bob abdou said...

can anyone tell me the name of the clown on the puppet show for Beany and Cecil? I can not find any info or photos. I think he was called "Clowny" any help would be appreciated, here is my email thanks

bob abdou said...

can anyone tell me the name of the clown on the puppet show for Beany and Cecil? I can not find any info or photos. I think he was called "Clowny" any help would be appreciated, here is my email thanks

bob abdou said...

can anyone tell me the name of the clown on the puppet show for Beany and Cecil? I can not find any info or photos. I think he was called "Clowny" any help would be appreciated, here is my email thanks

bob abdou said...

can anyone tell me the name of the clown on the puppet show for Beany and Cecil? I can not find any info or photos. I think he was called "Clowny" any help would be appreciated, here is my email thanks

bob abdou said...

can anyone tell me the name of the clown on the puppet show for Beany and Cecil? I can not find any info or photos. I think he was called "Clowny" any help would be appreciated, here is my email thanks

bob abdou said...

can anyone tell me the name of the clown on the puppet show for Beany and Cecil? I can not find any info or photos. I think he was called "Clowny" any help would be appreciated, here is my email thanks