When you set nostalgia aside, it’s pretty clear that Hanna-Barbera cartoons mostly sucked ass. Of course, in their ‘60s heyday, they produced some durable classics like The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Jonny Quest, and my childhood favorite, Top Cat, the theme song from which will be my walking-out music if I’m ever a guest on a talk show. But come the ‘70s, they were mostly churning out it’ll-do halfassery like The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan and Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo.
But even their greatest stuff was cheap as hell, often pushing limited-motion animation techniques so far that they’d become distractingly bad. Ever wonder why Yogi Bear had a collar and a necktie with no shirt? That was to create a straight line behind which artists could animate just the characters’ heads and keep everything else in the frame static, because cheapness. Same deal with Betty Rubble and Wilma Flintstone’s necklaces. Pretty much every character design had some variation on that tactic. Which would be forgivable if HB weren’t already so notorious for their “hey, didn’t they walk past the same rock like three times already?” approach to backgrounds. The reality is, they were grinding out product, and while they ground out some inspired product early on, they were ultimately still just an animation mill.
So when Decaying Hollywood Mansions’ Facebook page turned up this 2007 Secret Fun Spot roundup of INCREDIBLE Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! background paintings, my jaw bounced off the floor a few times. The artistry on display in these gorgeous and gloomy scenes of abandoned and mysterious places is remarkable, certainly beyond what I was equipped to really appreciate when I was little. It kind of makes me want to have a look at those old shows again.