November 29, 2013 by briantshock
This week we’re doing things a little differently. After bringing four weeks of facts about how dangerous bears are and how quickly they will destroy you, I thought I’d tone it down a bit. Today I’m going to be talking about some cartoon bears. These bears are a lot nicer. These bears won’t devour you whole. Some even just want to help you out. So relax, enjoy your long weekend (or if you’re at work, just read this here, you know most of your office is gone) and read up on some friendly bears. “Friendly bears”; these truly are creatures of fiction!
Let’s completely ignore that brown bears are not found in Indian jungles for a minute and agree that Baloo is one helluva bear. He doesn’t care that he shouldn’t exist. He’s too busy teaching you the Bear Necessities, if you’ll hear him out. Baloo is probably supposed to be a sloth bear (melursus ursinus), a species that is found in India who were culturally once very popular for being trained (sadly in terribly inhumane conditions) to be dancing bears.
It was not uncommon for Disney to take their animated movie characters and put them in wildly different situations for their series, but I think the transition from Jungle Book to Tale Spin was easily the most bizarre. The source movie had these animals dancing around the jungle, goofing off, helping or hindering Mowgli, and suddenly this show has them wearing clothes, flying planes, and delivering packages and stuff. I will admit that Shere Khan as a shrewd businessman… tiger was an awesome decision though, as was Baloo’s outfit.
This troublemaker commanded behavior that was more in line with what to expect from bears. They don’t have your best interests in mind. At least this bear was stealing your food and not your life. This guy can be found in Jellystone National Park, raising Cain with his accomplish Boo Boo, as one park ranger desperately tries to keep the park safe for all human guests.
Yogi Bear at least had the class to wear a tie and a hat around the forest. In addition to dressing up his appearance quite a bit, the tie provided a collar for his character and thus a clear separation between head and body. This allowed animators to get away with only having to redraw the head for each frame. That’s probably how Hanna-Barbera was able to produce approximately 50,000 cartoons for each of their characters.
Many, many years ago the buffet restaurant chain “Shoney’s” was doing quite a bit better than it is today. As with many restaurants of the time, Shoney’s distributed illustrated activity books to the younger patrons to try to help pacify them as the family ate. This included the standard fare of simple word searches and connect-the-dots, along with comics involving the original characters in mostly odd situations with some kind of lesson or moral at the end. The main character, a cub named Shoney Bear, was fairly unremarkable. My favorite character was Uncle Ed, one big dope of a bear who presented all the “kid’s stories”.
Honestly, I didn’t remember anything about this character or the Shoney’s comic book until a comic book store gave a copy away for free. The pages were brittle and yellowing, but I could still read the ridiculous stories. One thing was for sure, Uncle Ed loved kids, and the asinine stories they had to tell. It didn’t take much to please this big ol’ grizzly.
I wonder what the prize was. Hopefully not stock in Shoney’s! Well, that was a low blow. See you next time!