Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sad News For Meddling Kids Everywhere...

Dear Yogi, Fred, Tom, Jerry, Shaggy, Scooby, Elroy, Vanity Smurf, et. al,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this note to express my sympathy for the death of your father, Joseph Barbera, one half of the ingenious creative animation team, Hanna-Barbera. Joseph Barbera was a true inspiration to me, a man who filled on average 8.4 hours of each day when I was a kid, back in the days before parents understood that that much TV watching turned the contents of a child's head into rubber cement. He made me laugh, he made me snort, he made me shoot Froot Loops from my nose in moments of uncontrollable mirth.

Joseph Barbera was my babysitter by proxy. My substitute for books. My reason for spending my entire childhood indoors. He left an indelible mark on my psyche. He left me illiterate until I was 17. Needless to say, he will be missed tremendously. And every time I yell "Yabba Dabba Doo!" "Exit, stage left!" or go on a bender and come home to stuff my face with Scooby snacks, I will be reminded of his legacy.

There is one question, however, that has nagged at me all these years, and I fear now might be the only time I can get it answered. So forgive the timing and any hard feelings this is likely to dredge up, but, "Hanna-Barbera," why? Why, when B so clearly comes before H, does Hanna get top billing? Was there some sort of feud that went on between these prolific partners? I know the pat response is probably going to be that Hanna-Barbera is a more syllabically pleasing rhythm. Ha-nna-Bar-ber-a sounds better than Bar-ber-a-Ha-nna, but still? Wasn't he even the least bit miffed that the rules of alphabet supremacy didn't apply? Was that really the true animus behind many of their more sadistic creations (and let's be real, much of that stuff was mean shit. Tom was, after all, brought into the house to ruthless execute the mouse, Jerry.)

William Hanna openly confessed, "I was never a good artist," and it was apparently widely acknowledged that Barbera was the duo's gag writer, too. So what did Hanna bring to the table that entitled him to firstsies? Again, I apologize if this brings up hard feelings, but I've always been a "meddling kid"... and I think we all know, we have your father to thank for that.

With greatest sympathy,
Robin Epstein

P.S. You are going to write, "Exit, stage left!" on his tombstone, right?
P.P.S. Sure sucks for Chris Hayward, another brilliant TV writer who created The Munsters and wrote for Rocky and Bullwinkle, who also just died. I mean he really gets second billing having the great misfortune of croaking the same week as Joeseph Barbera, no? But maybe this means there's some justice for Barbera in death after all!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hanna had cash and some office space. True story. Scooby and The flinstones were cool & all, but my favorites were the lower profile Schmoo, Speed Buggy and the ever loveable Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels. Rest in peace Mr. B.

December 19, 2006 4:47 PM  
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Right, Schmoo and Captain Caveman! Not sure how I forgot to mention those, but definitely favorites of mine, too.

December 20, 2006 9:45 AM  
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