Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top Eight Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Characters

Starting in the early 1960s and up until the syndication of weekday afternoon cartoons in the mid-1980s, American animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. dominated the highly popular Saturday morning cartoon category. Along with the creation of numerous successful cartoon shows came fortune and fame for animation directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, who created an entourage of cartoon characters that would pave the way for decades of animated entertainment. Below are the top eight cartoon characters ever created by the Hanna-Barbera Enterprise.

1. Fred Flintstone – Fred Flintstone is the blue-collared brontosaurus-crane operator from Bedrock who coined the catchphrase “Yabba-Dabba-Doo!” The loud-mouthed and aggressive Flintstone spends most of his time and efforts scheming up ways to improve the working class lot of his family, which consists of his wife Wilma and daughter Pebbles. Despite his appearance, Fred Flintstone is a highly skilled athlete who excels in sporting events such as bowling, golfing, football and pool. He even went to the extent of taking ballet lessons to improve his bowling skills where he adopted the nickname “Twinkletoes”, a name that stuck with him throughout his college football years.

2. George Jetson – 38-year-old George Jetson lives with wife Jane, teenage daughter Judy and 7-year-old Elroy in the fictional and futuristic Orbit City, where all of the buildings are set on giant poles, much like the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. Formerly the star pitcher for the Orbit High School Spaceball team, Jetson is a digital index operator who works at Spacely’s Space Sprockets, a manufacturer of “sprockets” and other high tech equipment. Jetson often complains about his heavy workload, which requires him to push a single button on a computer for one hour, one day a week, and frequently loses his job at the whim of his short-tempered boss, Cosmo G. Spacely. Despite losing his job repeatedly, Jetson always regains his position by the end of the episode once Spacely has cooled off and come to his senses.

3. Papa Smurf – After Grandpa and Nanny Smurf, Papa Smurf is the third oldest of the Smurfs, and has lived for an unprecedented 542 years. It is easy to recognize the gentle, wise and knowledgeable Papa Smurf, who stands out from the remainder of the 100-year-old Smurfs complements of his red attire and bushy white beard, which was once brown during his younger years. Serving as the leader and paternal figure of the Smurfs, the naturally altruistic Papa Smurf is always looking to lend a helping hand, and is constantly concerned with the harmony and well-being of the Smurf community. In his leisure time, Papa Smurf enjoys experimenting with magical chemistry, or alchemy, and his greatest hobby is creating elixirs that he uses to help fellow Smurfs who have gotten themselves into trouble.

4. Yogi Bear – In 1958, Yogi Bear made his television debut as a supporting character to Huck in The Huckleberry Hound Show. Three years later, in 1961, Hanna-Barbera Productions gave Yogi his own self-titled show, The Yogi Bear Show, which eventually became more popular than The Huckleberry Hound Show. Yogi was the first break-out character ever created by Hanna-Barbera Studios, but more significantly, he was one of the first of several characters created with a collar. The collar allowed his body to remain static so that only his head would need to be drawn in each frame while speaking, drastically reducing the number of drawings needed to create the cartoon. In fact, artists could now create a seven-minute cartoon, which usually requires 14,000 drawings, using only 2,000.

5. Scoobert “Scooby” Doo – Best friend and pet of Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, Scooby-Doo is the unique, seven-year-old (or forty-nine in dog years) Great Dane who gets scared just as easily as his master. Despite being terrified of what is lurking around the corner, close friends Velma, Daphne and Fred encourage Scooby to go after dangerous villains with enticing and irresistible “Scooby Snacks.” Unlike the other dogs in his reality, Scooby is able to speak, but only in broken English where he tends to pronounce words as if they started with an “R”. Scooby reveals this error in pronunciation at the end of the episode when he howls out his catch phrase, “Scooby-Dooby-Doo!” only it tends to sound more like “Rooby-Rooby-Roo!”

6. Huckleberry Hound – Despite having a name that is synonymous with being “average”, Huckleberry Hound is the blue dog who always seems to come out on top. Either through his slow and persistent style of tackling assignments, or just out of sheer luck, “Huck” has the remarkable ability to successfully complete his jobs, even in the face of backfiring results. Huckleberry Hound has taken on roles in numerous fields, including serving as a police officer and working as a dogcatcher, where he never fails to accomplish his goals with a relaxed, sweet and well-intentioned approach.

7. Tom Cat – Thomas “Tom” Cat is the blue and grey anthropomorphic cat who makes up 50% of the academy-award winning cat-and-mouse duo known to the world as Tom & Jerry. Since his first appearance in the 1940 animated short Puss Gets the Boot, Tom Cat has chased and competed with Jerry Mouse episode after episode, but rarely sets out to eat him despite the natural laws that define the food chain among the creatures of the animal kingdom. Tom spends most of his time setting traps for Jerry, but many of them backfire and end up hurting him rather than Jerry. It is worthy to note that Tom, who started out as a cat with normal feline intelligence, has changed dramatically over the years. Since his debut, Tom Cat has become almost completely bipedal, branching off from his quadrupedal nature to adopt an almost-human level of intelligence.

8. Jerry Mouse – Gerald “Jerry” Mouse makes up the other half of the dynamic duo, Tom & Jerry. The brown anthropomorphic mouse also made his first appearance in Puss Gets the Boot, where audiences knew him as simply, “the Mouse”. It was not until his next appearance in The Midnight Snack where he adopted the name Jerry. Jerry Mouse has walked on two legs since his debut, and made his last appearance in The Karate Guard, a 2005 Tom and Jerry cartoon produced and directed by Joseph Barbera before his death. The Karate Guard short remains the last theatrical cartoon to feature the famous cat-and-mouse duo.

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