Loopy de Loop Little Golden Book. Artist: George Santos.


Original Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1959
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Loopy de Loop is usually thought of as Hanna-Barbera's only foray into theatrical animation. But …

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… another way of looking at him is Columbia Pictures' final attempt to make cartoon shorts work for them.

Columbia's first attempt was to distribute cartoons produced by Charles Mintz, the man who made animation history by firing Walt Disney and hijacking Disney's popular character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (which didn't do him much good, as Oswald wound up in the hands of Walter Lantz and Disney hit it even bigger with Mickey Mouse). The studio Mintz founded produced one very memorable series, The Fox & the Crow, a lot of very unmemorable cartoons about licensed characters such as Krazy Kat and Li'l Abner, and many non-series cartoons that were less memorable yet.

Next, they allied themselves with UPA, the innovative studio that gave the world Gerald McBoing-Boing and Mr. Magoo. That team broke up in 1959, with UPA going mainly into TV animation and Columbia without any cartoons to release.

The best days of theatrical animation were over by then, with MGM having closed its cartoon department, Terrytoons de-emphasizing movie releases, and even Disney concentrating more on live action and animated features than the cartoon shorts that had made its reputation. But there was still some life left in the concept, so Columbia next signed up Hanna-Barbera, which, with Ruff & Reddy, Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw already under its belt, was quickly becoming a giant in the field. The first Loopy de Loop cartoon, produced by Hanna-Barbera and released by Columbia, was Wolf Hounded, which came out on November 5, 1959.

Loopy was a French-Canadian wolf, hence the name (loup being the French word for "wolf"). His schtick was similar to that of Happy Hooligan, the kind-hearted hobo who was always misunderstood because of his station in life. Loopy tried to do good, but nobody would believe good of him because he was, after all, a sneaky, no-good predator. This was exacerbated by a communication gap, caused by the francophonic broken English he spoke. That broken English was provided by Daws Butler, whose credits as a voice man include Peter Potamus, Chilly Willy and much, much more.

Loopy's cartoons came out about once every month or two during the early 1960s. He wasn't picked up as a comic book character, but a couple of Little Golden Books about him came out in 1960 and '64. And there were the usual toys, lunchboxes, etc., tho he wasn't Hanna-Barbera's most lucrative licensing bonanza.

But the era of theatrical cartoons really was drawing to a close. The series ended with its 49th entry, Big Mouse Take, which was released on June 17, 1965. After that, the cartoons were syndicated to local TV stations along with a lot of other Hanna-Barbera productions that started on TV. But newer cartoons supplanted them on TV, and Loopy's haven't been seen in a long, long time.


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Text ©2003 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hanna-Barbera.