Monday, 24 November 2014

Corny Barney

Barney Bear isn’t the greatest character and the cartoons in his third go-around at MGM are hit-and-miss. Dick Lundy directed ten Barneys that were released between 1952 and 1954. The stories were much the same. Barney always seems to be outsmarted by a character much smaller than him (a possum, a gopher, a duck and so on). Some of the gags are like less outrageous versions of things you might find in a Tex Avery cartoon and even the animation seems a little familiar. That’s no surprise as Lundy took over the Avery unit, and used his story men, animators and background artist.

In “Cobs and Robbers” (released in 1953), it’s corn farmer Barney vs. corn-thieving crows, a pair named Joe and Moe being the focus of most of the cartoon. Here are the crows peeking out from behind one of Johnny Johnsen’s overlays. Notice how their eyes are together.

Then Barney does a little stomp on twos before he runs off. Here are the drawings.

The joint eyes and the pre-run stomp were staples in Avery’s cartoons in the early ‘50s. As far as I know, Mike Lah animated these. He animated for Avery, of course.

Walt Clinton, Grant Simmons, Bob Bentley and Al Grandmain get the other animation credits.

After Lundy left, Fred Quimby kept talking in the trades about bringing back Barney Bear. For example, Variety reported on July 15, 1954 and September 27, 1955 that Lah’s new unit would be animating Barney shorts. It never happened. Barney was relegated to comic books and, in 1960, TV reruns

Incidentally, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera produced a cartoon in 1958 called “Two Corny Crows” where corn farmer Huckleberry Hound comes out on the losing end (during most of the cartoon) with a pair of corn-thieving crows named Iggy and Ziggy, who their studio marketed in the early days. Coincidence?


  1. "Two Corny Crows" is more than matched by "Barney's Hungry Cousin", which features the title character in a battle with a picnic basket-stealing bear in Jellystone National Park. Bill & Joe got a wee bit of mileage out of that concept.

  2. There was also a Pink Panther cartoon called "Pink on the Cob" (1969), which is about the Panther trying to get rid of two crows eating his corn field. I guess if you need a story on the quick for animation, this is one of them.

    Hawley Pratt directs. Story is credited to Jack Miller, his only Panther cartoon as a writer.

    1. As well as Crow's Feat (1962), featuring a silent Elmer Fudd.