Bucky, a couple of steps ahead of Pepito in a walk cycle.


Original medium: Television animation
Produced by: Samsing Productions
First Appeared: 1959
Creator: Sam Singer
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There is widespread agreement among cartoon buffs that Bucky & Pepito is the worst piece of animation that ever blighted American television screens. It wasn't funny. It wasn't suspenseful. It didn't …

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… have memorable characters, except in the most negative possible meaning of the word. And it was certainly not well animated. Cartoon historian Harry McCracken once said the pair "set a standard for awfulness that no contemporary TV cartoon has managed to surpass. They were great at what they did, which was being bad." At The International Animated Film Society, there was once talk about instituting an award for bad animation and naming it after this show's producer, Sam Singer. The particular impetus for the honor was to have been not his earlier Pow Wow the Indian Boy or his later Courageous Cat or Sinbad Jr., but this show.

Bucky was a young, white, Anglo, Southwestern-style boy who lived on a ranch. He didn't dress like a cowboy, but like a kid dressing up like a cowboy — i.e., he wore a small, cowboy-style hat that was pushed back so it didn't shade his eyes, and his chaps and spurs were clearly for decorative use only. He hung around with Pepito, an apparently younger kid, who was pure Mexican stereotype from the huge sombrero that covered his eyes to the slow, lazy ways that were so prominent a part of his character, they were mentioned in the theme song. Need it be mentioned that Bucky was the dominant partner?

Both of the boys' voices were done by Dal McKennon, most of whose earlier career was spent with the Walter Lantz Studio. There, he did Woody Woodpecker antagonists such as Buzz Buzzard and Wolfie Wolf, and series stars such as Homer Pigeon and Inspector Willoughby.

In one way, however, this cartoon actually did shine. The backgrounds were carefully painted, with subtle shades of color in the distance-shrouded mountains, and fleecy, white-to-grayish clouds floating through the sky. They weren't up to the Jimmy Swinnerton standards seen in Warner Bros.' Mighty Hunters, but they were head and shoulders above anything else seen on TV at the time. These beautiful landscapes were marred only by the stiff, crude figures that trudged along in front of them.

Bucky & Pepito was syndicated to local TV stations, starting in 1959, when TV animation in general was still crude enough to where its production deficiencies didn't have too devastating an impact on its salability. Episodes ran in the five-minute range so they could be broadcast on kids' shows where a live-action host would introduce a mix of old theatrical cartoons with made-for-TV fare such as this, Clutch Cargo, Col. Bleep etc. About three dozen episodes were made.

These were part of the mix on that sort of show through the early-to-mid 1960s, but gradually faded from view.


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Text ©2006-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Samsing Productions.