Sunday, 13 October 2013

Bucky and Pepito

Broadcasting boils down to money. Companies (I hesitate to call them broadcasters) will put something on the air, no matter how mediocre, because it’s cheap. They don’t think viewers will notice.

Thus it was that a wretched cartoon series called “Bucky and Pepito” was still seen on TV screens (and we suspect only few of them) in New York City in 1970.

Of course, trade ads described them a little more glowingly. One proclaimed the series: “America’s newest favorites, in a group of imaginative animated five-minute cartoons in color and black-and-white. The gay and sparkling adventures of two small boys whose laugh-laden escapades will captivate audiences young and old!”

Many of us can thank YouTube and Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Dump for even hearing about these cartoons. I never saw them in the ‘60s when I picked and chose where the TV set would be tuned for animated adventures. They were the product of Sam Singer, who foisted several cartoon series on the world that were all known for the über-cheapness. And the lack of dollars shows on the screen. Add to that inept and oddly-plotted stories and you have several hours of bad cartoons: 52 of them, about eight minutes in length.

Variety proclaimed on November 26, 1958:

Governor TV's New Animated Cartoon Segs
Governor TV has signed on a new group of fully animated cartoons. Transvideo Artists [sic] is producing a series of 52, five-minute shows for the moppet mart called "Bucky and Pepito," in color, and the first seven are already completed. Governor boss Arthur Kerman closed the initial deal for the animations with WHDH-TV, Boston. The flicks are being produced at the rate of two a week, with all 52 pegged for completion by spring.


And a Variety ad on December 3rd screeched: "FREE GIVE-AWAY! Available to a limited number of early subscribers - 200 hand-painted stills of Bucky and Pepito and their friends."

The series theme song was copyrighted on December 5, 1958 with music by Gerald Dolin and lyrics by Johnny Holiday (Daniel Siegel). “Bucky and Pepito” was copyrighted by Samsing Creations on April 15, 1959 (and in black and white). Radio-TV Daily, a New York publication, announced in 1959 (date unknown):

With the sale of the “Bucky & Pepito” series to three stations in major markets this week, the Governor Television Attractions' color cartoon films are now showing in 25 markets. The new sales of the "Bucky & Pepito" series were to NTA-TV, here; WGN-TV, Chicago; and KCOP-TV, Los Angeles.

And the Los Angeles Times of December 30, 1959, announced Bucky and Pepito were part of KCOP’s Webster Webfoot Show, starring Jimmy Weldon and his duck puppet. One of the earlier 25 stations was KOAT Albuquerque, which began broadcasting a 15-minute show with the cartoons (but not every weekday) starting October 12th.

Eventually, the cartoons were syndicated by Medallion Television Enterprises and then Golden Arrow Films of New York.

The reason for the post is because of an e-mail I received from Christopher Kennedy about Hanna-Barbera background artist Venetia Epler. She apparently worked on “Bucky and Pepito” and, better still, retained some storyboard drawings. They were posted on this web site. I’d never seen them before, so I pass them on to you. No, I haven’t any idea who drew them.



There may be some of you out there who have never had the experience of watching Bucky and Pepito. Well, here’s your chance, thanks to Cartoon Dump. You may recognise a few names on the credits. Ed Rehberg animated for the Fleischers in the 1930s. Ken Southworth’s name appears on Lantz and MGM cartoons in the ‘50s. Sid Glenar’s studio handled the photography; he worked at the Mintz studio in the ‘30s. And while Holiday got credit for the music supervision, he didn’t write the cartoon “score.” Fans of the Capitol Hi-Q library and Huckleberry Hound cartoons will recognise the first cue as “TC-202 Eccentric Comedy” by Bill Loose and John Seely. Be warned. You won’t find Huck’s charm or humour here, just his stock music. Skip to the 3:54 mark to watch the cartoon.



The fine animation historian Harry McCracken has called Singer “The Ed Wood of Animation.” I don’t necessarily agree. Granted, Wood’s films were incompetently made to the point of hilarity. But Wood buried in them a social conscience. “Glen or Glenda” was a plea for tolerance. “Plan 9 From Outer Space” was a plea for peace. “Bucky and Pepito” was a plea for syndicators to buy cheap-looking cartoons.

5 comments:

  1. Correction: “The Mighty Hercules" was a product of Joe Oriolo (the guy who did those "Magic Bag" Felix the Cat), not Sam Singer.

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  2. And Johnny Nash sung its theme song - not Johnny Holliday.

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  3. Copying and Pasting from Facebook...

    I was surprised when I found out that "Bucky and Pepito" aired in Japan. To expand upon your comments about broadcasters looking for cheap cartoons, evidently it extended further East to Japanese television as well.

    In Japan, the cartoons aired on Fuji Television from Sept. to Nov. 1964 , and again July to Dec. 1965, Mon thru Sat evenings at 6:00-6:05 PM.

    American cartoons were very common in Japan, even stuff like "Q.T. Hush", "Colonel Bleep" (known as "Captain Bleep" over there), and "Spunky and Tadpole". Then Astroboy debuted, igniting the anime industry. Japanese broadcasters saw little use for cheap American cartoons when they can buy cheap anime from local studios...

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  4. To me, the name of American animation studio ''Samsing'' recalls the name of the famous South Korean multinational conglomerate company ''Samsung''. How about that?

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  5. Another episode to waste your time on!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxdSJgHI60I

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