It's lucky that it looks funny... hence, a cartoon... because probably the better reason is what was called "limited animation" or, as Iwao Takamoto insisted, "planned animation." Because by the late 50s the studios no longer had the market or budget to produce theatrical trailers, they set their sights on producing cartoons for TV. Cartoons are costly things to produce and thus clever minds - such as Joe Barbera - thought up ways to produce economically.
Consider: if you limit your animation drawings strictly to parts that move, you can re-photograph the static parts and superimpose the moving parts on separate cells. With a figure that runs straight up and down you only need one drawing of the torso with the arms hanging at its side and use your animators to create moving legs and feet. And even those would be photographed in cycles such that a couple seconds of animation might only require 8 or 10 drawings. Compare that to theatrical features that might consume as many as 48 drawings for 2 seconds of film (in the costliest scenario). Limited animation would represent huge savings, wouldn't you agree?
Now we start to understand the model sheets a little better. The reason the models sheets look so tame is that they encourage the animators to use cost effective character poses. Nothing too exciting, fellahs, time costs money!!
There is no such restriction, though, when artists use these characters in posters, comic books, Golden Books, and other projects. And that explains why the comic book characters often bore no relation to the figure you saw on TV... with few exceptions. Personally i always though Harvey Eisenberg stayed pretty true to character when he drew H-B comic books.
A long time ago I discovered a poster of Top Cat with Officer Dibble chasing Top and the gang and they adopted most un-TV-like poses. Really funny poses but not the straight up and down kind in the model sheets. I've extracted TC from the poster here:
Drawing this figure was a hell of a lot harder than the model sheet pose. I hope you try it. Here's my initial blue pencil:
|Man, this was tough! I kept getting the proportions screwed up and even in this example he looks a little off-center.|
|I like the quality of thick/thin line using SBP's # 2 brush. In fact, I'll probably be using this one for finish work from now on... I like it that much!! Hyuck hyuck!!|
I didn't show you the entire poster because there are other great poses... especially Benji, he really looks funny. So we can milk this poster for a few more practices.
Stay sane. And stay tuned!
And please don't trace the original. You learn very little that way. Use your eyes and your sense of balance to build the character; draw slowly... so slowly it feels ridiculous. That's the best way to control your lines. Use deliberate motions and get your line angles right. If they stray, Cntrl+Z and do it over again!