The Jetsons. Scooby Doo. Tom and Jerry. The Flintstones. These familiar cartoon characters all originated from the same artistic team: Hanna-Barbera.

In 1939, Joseph Barbera was working for MGM Studios. He was partnered with William Hanna on a project for Fred Quimby, the studio's animation department head. The two animators collaborated on a nine-minute, 15-second Technicolor cartoon entitled "Puss Gets the Boot," starring Jasper the Cat, Jinks the Mouse, and Mammy-Two-Shoes. In what would become a familiar pattern, the cat was threatened with eviction by the lady of the house, and the mouse did everything he could to get the cat kicked out. If this doesn't sound familiar, it is helpful to note that Jasper was renamed Tom in the next cartoon, and Jinks was renamed Jerry. This first Hanna-Barbera collaboration was released in theaters in 1940, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject - Cartoon. The award went to another MGM cartoon, "The Milky Way," directed by Rudolph Ising; oddly enough the credits for "Puss Gets the Boot" also list Rudolph Ising - Hanna and Barbera are incorrectly omitted from the credits.

"Puss Gets the Boot" was so wildly popular that Hanna and Barbera quickly began producing several cat-and-mouse cartoons annually. The first cartoon from 1941, "The Midnight Snack," marked the first appearance of the duo as they would be named for history: Tom and Jerry. This was also the first Hanna-Barbera cartoon to have a soundtrack, featuring "Sing Before Breakfast," written by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed (who also wrote the classic "Singing in the Rain") for EMI. In December 1941, the cartoon "The Night Before Christmas" was released to theaters; this was the first cartoon to star Tom and Jerry by themselves without any human interference. "The Night Before Christmas" also was the first cartoon to carry the duo's theme music, composed by Scott Bradley, and the short was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to Disney's "Lend a Paw."

Although they had worked on other MGM projects while creating the first two Tom and Jerry cartoons, Hanna and Barbera were put on exclusive cat-and-mouse duty for the next several years. Their 1943 production "The Yankee Doodle Mouse," a pro-American feature during World War II, won them their first Academy Award for Short Subject - Cartoon. Tom and Jerry cartoons were nominated nearly every year for the same award, and won six more times. Hanna and Barbera continued making cartoons for MGM through 1956, when the studio decided to cease production of animation. They decided to start their own studio, and in 1957 H-B Enterprises produced "The Ruff and Ready Show" for NBC. Instead of the full animation used at MGM, the fledgling company used a new cel animation technique that allowed cartoons to be produced much more cheaply.

The next character to be created by Hanna-Barbera was Huckleberry Hound, and with his debut the studio focused exclusively on full-length television shows rather than the shorts that were made for MGM and "The Ruff and Ready Show." Because television could show many more programs than movie theaters, Hanna-Barbera began producing record numbers of cartoons. To accomplish this, they used a few different techniques: "planned animation," which left some elements of a scene (such as a character's body) intact while animating only necessary parts of the scene (such as limbs); reuse of cycles of movement across characters and even series; and even the borrowing of ideas from other shows. "Ruff and Ready" was based on the 1948 cartoon "Crusader Rabbit," one of the earliest cartoons made for television.

In fact, one of the world's favorite cartoons, "The Flintstones," was based on another show: "The Honeymooners." Its premiere in 1960 was the first prime-time cartoon ever shown on television, paving the way for later favorites such as "The Simpsons." Two years later, Hanna-Barbera made another prime-time television show that would also be seen around the world: "The Jetsons." The show came from two inspirations: the idea that a suitable followup to the stone-age Flintstones was to go to the space age, and also the popularity of the space program, which would take off one year later with the Apollo missions.

In 1964, Hanna-Barbera's first full-length feature movie was "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear." Despite the re-entry into theatrical productions, Hanna-Barbera was not nominated for any further Oscars while independent from MGM. Also in 1964, "The Adventures of Jonny Quest" premiered, the first "serious" animated program. Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, Hanna-Barbera cranked out more and more programs, from "Secret Squirrel" to "The Funky Phantom," from "Jabberjaw" to "The Perils of Penelope Pitstop." Other cartoons from this time may be familiar to fans of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim segments. "Space Ghost" originally premiered in 1966, "Birdman" in 1967, and "Sealab 2020" in 1972.

Reading a list of other Hanna-Barbera favorites is a great flashback for Generation X'ers. The Smurfs, Monchichis, The New Yogi Bear, and Captain Planet are all their creations. Although William Hanna died in 2001 and Joseph Barbera is almost 95 years old, their production company continues to produce shows that are aired on the Cartoon Network and elsewhere - in fact, that entire network is owned by Ted Turner, who also owns the Hanna-Barbera company. Modern programs like "Dexter's Laboratory," "Cow and Chicken," "Johnny Bravo," and the "Powerpuff Girls" are all by Hanna-Barbera Productions.

One important part of the corporate operations of Hanna-Barbera has been licensing. Since the 1960's, cartoon characters have been made into comic books, and comics have been made into cartoons. The Flintstones and Yogi Bear are comic books now published by DC Comics, and the Hanna-Barbera programs "Josie and the Pussycats," "Fantastic Four," and "Super Friends" have all been based on comic books. Other licensing venues for the company have been through product placement - in addition to all kinds of products marketed to children, characters like Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear are seen in Paramount amusement parks, both as walking characters and as themed areas.

Hanna-Barbera is unquestionably one of the most prolific cartoon creators in the world. Although they reuse and remake old programs, they also continue to produce innovating new work popular with children and adults alike.

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originally written for nonficwrimo06