This TV cartoon – once as popular as it is now relatively obscure — is celebrated today in its vinyl record form with the full cast, consisting of one talented actor.
The Original TV Soundtrack Recording
RCA Camden Records CAL-1048 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP)
Released in 1960. Story Supervisor: Tom Morrison. Music: Philip A. Scheib. Running Time: 43 minutes.
Stories: “Welcome, Mischa Mouse ” “Law and Disorder,” “Shotgun Shambles”
Voices: Dayton Allen (Deputy Dawg, Vincent Van Gopher, Ty Coon, Ali Gator, Pig Newton, Muskie the Muskrat, Lil’ Whooper).
Once upon a time, Deputy Dawg was one of the most popular cartoons of the day. It was not only one of Terrytoons’ earliest made-for-TV series, counting a young Ralph Bakshi among its animators and later directors. There was Deputy Dawg merchandise, including this soundtrack album. In the baby boom days before home video and streaming, it was a tremendous thrill for a kid to get an album like this—six actual soundtrack stories from a favorite show! No waiting until the TV station decides to run it!
Today, an album like this is of interest to those baby boomers, not only because of the cartoons included, but because Dayton Allen himself (who had only a few years earlier performed many puppet characters on Howdy Doody and was well known to adults a Steve Allen Show regular) narrates in his natural voice. And unlike RCA’s Terrytoons Story Time album , which was only narration and no soundtrack material, this is a treat for those who loved Deputy Dawg (and took every opportunity to quote the catch phrase, “It’s possi-bull.”
A very simple low-budget affair, Deputy Dawg was Pogo with no subtext. Deputy Dawg’s voice was akin to Frank Fontaine’s Crazy Guggenheim character (and therefore without the southern accent befitting the cartoon’s setting). Guggenheim was a weekly character in the “Joe The Bartender” sketches on Jackie Gleason’s hit variety show (ironically, Fontaine narrowly missed a chance to immortalize this voice in Disney’s 1967 The Jungle Book, but his character of “Rocky Rhino” was cut because it was decided that he slowed the progress of the film story).
The swampland setting varied from state to state over the course of the series’ production, but there is one story on the album in which the gang visits the Florida Everglades. It’s particularly amusing to real-life South Floridians as the cartoon offers the familiar depiction of the Sunshine State as one big swamp where alligators are regularly wrestled and everyone drives around in air boats. The reality is that, even in 1960, the Florida nearest the Everglades was largely suburban sprawl with supermarkets and tract homes. Yes, Florida is largely swampland, but most of the places where alligators were regularly wrestled and air boats were public transportation were tourist attractions.
There is a certain appeal to the total lack of pretense in these little films. The music is very much in the vein of Terrytoons’ Tom Terrific, which was mostly accordion, while bass harmonica dominates here. The artwork is extremely basic and loose, making animation fast and loose (seeing some of these cartoons on movie screens, as they were seen at matinees in the ’70s, was unique because they were so sparse and rough looking.
The irony of Deputy Dawg’s design is that several acclaimed cartoons of today (among them Adventure Time and Regular Show, while far more sophisticated verbally, are visual descendents in their minimal approach. Chances are that kids were drawing these characters in the margins of their notebook paper over 50 years ago and today they’re doing the same thing with the more recent characters.
Five of the cartoons represented on this album are currently floating around online, except “Li’l Whooper,” which can be heard in the “Give a Little Listen” section below.
“Welcome, Mischa Mouse”
“Law and Disorder”
“Seize You Later, Alligator”
“The Yoke’s On You”
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Vincent Van Gopher tries to tunnel to the henhouse to get eggs for his friends, but he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time—with the wrong egg, hatching a valuable little bird.