Easter Cats!

April 20th, 2015

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easter-eggs.jpg My dear wife, Cathy, makes up a little Easter basket and decorates eggs with her wonderful drawings each year. She found a little egg-shaped wooden cat head at a local store and re-created it’s face on one of the eggs. The other egg is a small Japanese ceramic cat she found in the same store which she named “Sake Cat”; this one was an Anniversary gift. Now they are both featured on Easter eggs. If you go to Itza Cat’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/someothercat, you’ll see another one of Cathy’s Easter egg creations featuring Itza’s face.

easter-basket.jpg Here’s a cozy shot of our Easter basket, made up by Cathy. In it, you’ll see a dark chocolate bunny, a couple of Cadbury Caramel eggs (my favorite), a jar of apple butter and some cloth roses. We’re still sampling the delicacies, well into April. I gave Cathy a special card and about 10 pink roses, so it wasn’t an entirely one-sided Easter. It was a happy, peaceful and memorable one.

felix-8-13-to-8-19-34.jpg Felix, from 8-13 to 8-19-1934, at last foils the robber who has been in a black-face disguise to fool the police. The disguise works until a stray bullet punctures a water pipe and washes off the burnt cork. In the Sunday, Felix tightrope-walks over to an immense battle ship and locks the Admiral in his cabin with the whole crew standing at attention. The crafty cat then proceeds to eat his dinner in the Officer’s Mess. The “Funny Films” topper features a black artful dodger, if you put the toy together you can see him dodge the baseballs that Felix throws at his head. If you want to see Popeye throwing balls at another black dodger, just find the first Fleischer Popeye cartoon (actually a Betty Boop) called: “Popeye the Sailor”.

Here’s Myrtle from 5-17 to 5-23-1948. My favorites this week? The 5-18, one of those “makes you think” gags, where Myrtle is wearing her pajamas underneath her skirt as she writes on the blackboard, and the 5-21, a Fisher Fantasy touch as the vacuum cleaner sucks up a cookie crumb and burps, sending Myrtle to the corner. I also found the Sunday page called “Another New House” where the whole neighborhood has fun with a steam-shovel, including Hyacinth the cat!

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Here’s Krazy, from 8-24 to 8-29-1942. The first three strips feature the infrequently featured character, Mr. Bum Bill Bee. In the 8-27, Krazy seems to be suggesting the “heavy light” of Neutron Stars, or is he just being silly? The 8-29 strip doesn’t register with me, I can’t remember the “old watermelon gag” that Offissa Pupp is referring to. Does Ignatz usually hide inside a watermelon each year? Maybe one of my readers can help crack this Kat puzzler. UPDATE: The mighty Pat Ventura, cartoonist extraordinaire has shed light on this Kat puzzler. Here: krazy-sunday-7-11-27.jpg is the Sunday page from 7-11-1927 in which Ignatz not only hides in a watermelon, but goes over a waterfall in it. Look at the comments below to find out more about this page. If the Kats will stay out of the Korn field, I should be back before the end of the month with another post filled with comics, including the next batch of Yogi Bear Sundays. Remember to click on any image to enlarge it. krazy-8-24-to-8-29-42.jpg

Your Comics Page 3-26-2015

March 26th, 2015

krazy-8-17-to-8-22-42.jpg Gentle readers, here’s Krazy from 8-17 to 8-22-42. The sharp-eyed completists among you will notice that 8-20 is missing. King Features doesn’t have it, and I was unable to find it elsewhere, so if anyone can furnish the strip, you will get a free subscription to this website! (Our wonderful reader G. Heinlein has furnished the missing Krazy from 8-20-1942! Thanks, G.! You now have free access to the blog!) Herriman’s staging stands out to me in the 8-17 and 8-19 strips as the lower half (which was often cut-off when 1940s newspapers crowded 16 to 18 daily strips on a page) is adorned with rugs and dark spaces under the floor boards of the  Coconino desert stage where the action takes place. I especially like the last panel of the 8-22 as Garge shows us what Krazy looks like to a near-sighted worm, the inking is a perfect representation of how a near-sighted person without glasses would see the Kat.

felix-8-6-to-8-12-34.jpg Here’s Felix from 8-6 to 8-12-1934. He is still the reluctant pet of a house-burgling crook. Otto gets into a bit of 1930s style racial caricature in the 8-10 and 8-11 strips as the crook paints Felix white and blacks his face up to foil the police. In the Sunday, Felix is still pursued by the ravenous animals on board the deserted ship. He sets a captive bird free, and the grateful avian flies out to land with a rope so that Felix can tightrope walk his way to safety.

myrtle-5-10-to-5-16-48.jpg Myrtle is from 5-10 to 5-16-1948 this time, complete with the 3/4 downshot Sunday page. My favorite is the bunny joke from the 5-15 strip, in which a picky rabbit wants mayonnaise on his lettuce. Dudley Fisher had a way with cute animals and birds, his gentle comedy has no counterpart in today’s nonstop snark that’s taken over just about all comedy outlets, including comic strips.

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yogi-4-18-65.jpg These Yogi Bear pages from April, 1965 appeared in the last month of Harvey Eisenberg’s short life, he died four days before the 4-25 strip reproduced below. The 4-4 and 4-11 pages feature “Mugger”, a snickering pooch designed by Iwao Takamoto for the “Hey, There, It’s Yogi Bear!” animated feature. Harvey was just as adept at drawing Iwao’s designs as Ed Benedict’s or Dick Bickenbach’s, so he exaggerated Mugger’s teeth and streamlined his body for action in a very pleasing way. Harvey’s poses and his way of arranging figures and action on a page always remind me of the best of the Tom and Jerry cartoons. Just click to enlarge the 4-18 strip above and you’ll see a tennis gag that is carried entirely by the action poses.

dexter-_5-cover.jpg Here’s the cover of a “Dexter” comic book from 1947, that Harvey drew for the Dearfield comics company. Harvey was the co-owner of that company along with Joe Barbera, and they published many handsome looking comics with the characters “Red Rabbit” and “Foxy Fagan”. I had never heard of the “Dexter” series until I ran across them on the Internet. Harvey’s trying to tap the teenage comic market which was starting to catch fire post WW2. Archie comics, Mayzie comics, etc. were eating into the funny animal market, so Harvey and Joe tried to fill a niche. I don’t know how adept Harvey was at drawing teenage boys, but his girls are cute, and so is the steer. I’d like to see an issue or two of “Dexter” to see if Harvey drew the interiors. Anybody want to scan any pages for me to look at?

yogi-4-25-65.jpg This was not the last Yogi Bear Sunday that Harvey would contribute to, as you’ll see in future posts, he worked about 9 months ahead, so his art continued through just about the rest of 1965. He died of a heart attack. My guess is that he put in so many hours at the drawing board, that he never got any exercise, and like most folks of the “greatest generation”, he probably smoked as well. He left us a grand legacy of beautiful cartoon drawings, animation layouts, comic books and comic strips. Yowp is no longer posting these Yogis on his blog, so this is the only place where you’ll see them from now on. See you soon!

Your Comics Page 2-25-2015

February 26th, 2015

felix-7-30-to-8-5-34.jpg Here’s Felix, 7-30 to 8-5-1934. Felix is still the reluctant pet of the burglar. He tries to return every stolen item to it’s rightful owner after the crook “hooks” them. I like the 8-1, in which the little boy thinks that the grandfather clock has hatched three smaller clocks and the 8-4 demonstrating that it doesn’t pay to return a bomb to an anarchist. I love the final panel as Felix hurtles toward the sky; it’s an action-packed Messmer sketch. In the Sunday, Felix continues to elude the hungry animals on-board the abandoned ship. He protects himself inside an octopus’s legs in the last panel, similar to a scene in “Felix Braves the Briny” (1926).

 krazy-8-10-to-8-15-42.jpg Krazy is from 8-10 to 8-15-1942 this time. There is a particularly juicy bit of “Kat Langwitch” in the 8-12 as KK asks a question about a piece of furniture called a “High-Boy”: “Podzezzis a prodijjis yemplitude of high, dun’t it?” Translation: “Possesses a prodigious amplitude of high, don’t it?” I also admire the sly sight gag that Garge uses in the 8-14 as Offissa Pupp chases Ignatz around a very thick tree and clubs him off “camera” range. Krazy’s reaction to the unseen “korpse” of the Mice is a Kat Klassic.

myrtle-5-3-to-5-9-48.jpg Myrtle is from 5-3 to 5-9-1948. The storyline in the dailies is “Freddie’s Garden”, as Myrtle’s pop tries to plant his vegetables. I love the 5-7 as Myrtle and Sampson dig up everything in the garden when they are supposed to be weeding it; Myrtle: “Just pull up everything, the ones that come up again tomorrow are the weeds!” Freddie takes away the telephone receiver from Bingo in the 5-8, thinking the call is for him. In Dudley Fisher land, however, the call really IS for Bingo, and Freddie apologizes: “Excuse me, I didn’t know it was YOUR call!” The 5-9 Sunday page is beautifully composed as always. The robins are setting up housekeeping on Freddie’s ladder and Myrtle is charging one cent to look at the eggs. I love the sight gag of the giant bell tied around Hyacinth the cat’s neck to serve as a warning to the robins.

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yogi-3-28-65.jpg One of my favorite cartoonists, Harvey Eisenberg, is back with four more Yogi Bear Sunday pages from March, 1965. The first two are more or less “tab” format pages which incorporate the Yogi Bear logo normally missing from the third-page strips usually run here. The first one actually throws a prime-time H-B character, Top Cat into the afternoon cartoon bunch: Huck, Quick Draw, Augie Doggie, Boo-Boo and Baba Looey. The lonely little squirrel in the 3-21 is a typical cute “realistic” Eisenberg animal, along with the mother Blue Jay. In the 3-28, the hotel towels in the last panel are about 90% authentic. These pages all had great attention to comic detail, yet keep an open, friendly cartoon style. Remember to click on the thumbnails to display the images full screen. Watch for Yowp to post black and white scans of these Yogi pages soon on his blog: http://yowpyowp.blogspot.com. He will provide the missing panels and logos that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch didn’t run when I cut these out (gulp) 50 years ago. Can you tell that I wish I could have met Mr. Eisenberg while he was still around?

alice-davis-at-the-chouinard-brunch-2-8-2015.jpg Cathy and I attended the first Chouinard Alumni brunch on Feb. 8th out at the Cal Arts campus in Valencia. The Alumni Association provided a shuttle bus out there, so we got almost a free ride, in addition to a table groaning with omelettes, sausages, vegetables, eggs, coffee and champagne! I remarked to my friend Tim Walker who was there with Sue Crossley, that this was the first time being a member of the Chouinard Alumni Association ever paid off! Many distinguished Chouinardians were there, including my teacher, employer and friend, Bob Kurtz, and Alice Davis, great costume designer, artist, painter and widow of Disney legend, Marc Davis. Alice is hovering around 9-0, and walks quite slowly with a cane, but still remains a dynamic and appealing speaker once she gets wound up. (That’s a snapshot of her at the podium above this paragraph.) She was a friend of Nelbert Chouinard, the founder of the old Chouinard Art Institute, and told stories about her. She told us especially of Mrs. Chouinard’s philanthropy, especially when it came to giving scholarships. In fact, she gave away so many scholarships that her school was on the verge of insolvency several times since she founded it in the 1920s. At these critical junctures, Mrs. Chouinard mortgaged her house and car and kept her school afloat. (I was lucky enough to attend Chouinard in the fall of 1968 on a Bobe Cannon scholarship, which T. Hee arranged for me, and met many people there who I’ve been friends with ever since, like Tim Walker, Judith Morita, Robert Alvarez, Bob Kurtz, Gary Katona and many more.) Alice concluded her remarks by suggesting that we all emulate Mrs. Chouinard and use our great fortunes to set up scholarships for Cal Arts students! With the cost of higher education today, it takes a fortune the size of David Koch’s or Donald Trump’s to put a kid through college. I wonder if Ted Turner ever sponsors animation students, Lord knows he’s made a ton of dough out of old animated cartoons! It was a beautiful day, and a great brunch. So wonderful to hear Alice Davis talk to us! We’ll see you next time, faithful readers.

Post-Post Holiday Post

January 26th, 2015

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“Til’ the mistletoe comes down, ’til the evergreen turns brown, once again, there’s Christmas in my heart..” as the old song goes. Here’s a great post-holiday treat, my old pal James (Tim) Walker sent me this original watercolor painting inspired by “It’s ‘The Cat”"! Tim has Parkinson’s disease, as anyone who follows his website: www.jamestimwalker.com , knows. He published a book a couple years back called “Drawings From The Left”, which showcased artwork Tim has done with his left hand after the Parkinson’s made his right hand too feeble to hold a pencil. Now, the medical science has advanced to the point that Tim can make a transition back to drawing with his right hand again. The painting above was done with that hand, if he keeps this up Tim will become another Alex Lovy! I love the boldness of this watercolor, the white abstract shapes that stand in for stars, and the crazy, antic pose of Itza. The banana-yellow moon and the ultramarine blue background are eye-catching colors. Tim’s health battles haven’t dimmed his bold approach to color and design. I hope you will enjoy this new painting and visit him on the web!

little-bear-by-juan-alfonso.jpg My friend and retired post office delivery man Juan Alfonso, did this little pencil sketch for me featuring one of his cute little bear characters. She’s putting the topmost ornament on her tree. Juan is a fixture in furry fandom, he’s drawn many comics for fanzines. I don’t know if he’s done much on the Internet, but you can always Ixquick him. Juan lives in Miami, Florida. He sent me an old Willie Whopper pencil box for Christmas along with this drawing. If you go to Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research blog, you can find a picture of it there. The Whopper pencil box features scenes from “Davy Jones’s Locker” one of the CineColor Whoppers.

felix-7-23-to-7-29-34.jpg In Felix from 7-23 to 7-29-1934, Felix is enslaved by the crook into helping him with his burglaries. In the 7-25, it’s a little chilling to hear how dispassionate the crook and the cop are about drowning their cats. The attitude toward felines has definitely softened since Felix’s heyday. In the Sunday, 7-29, Felix is stranded on the abandoned ship and finds that he has company: a crowd of hungry wild animals! Felix is forced to toss them the ship’s food supply to appease them. Maybe next time the animals will be ready for a Felix feast!

myrtle-4-29-to-5-2-48.jpg In Myrtle from 4-26 to 5-2-1948, Dudley Fisher pulls a lot of his switcheroo gags. My favorite is the 4-27, as Myrtle’s parents try to figure out which one is the most intelligent while Myrtle hangs out in the backyard with Bingo. I like the 4-30 as well: Sampson’s pop foils Freddie’s boast that he can out run him in a race, by stealing his bathrobe! This is what I mean by a switcheroo, it’s unexpected that Sampson’s pop would resort to bathrobe robbery to thwart a potential defeat. The Sunday page is beautifully organized, as Slug’s car breaks down and the whole town’s talking about it, including the gas pumps!

krazy-8-3-to-8-8-42.jpg Krazy from 8-3 to 8-8-1942 trots out Krazy’s Kat Langwitch by the doleful dropfull. I love the 8-3 as Krazy speculates about what a gingerbread man was as a “Yoot”, and the “Wail”, “Jail”, “Bail” string of words in the 8-4.

yogi-2-1965-all-strips.jpg Harvey Eisenberg dazzles again in these Yogi Bear third page Sundays from February, 1965. I love the guest appearance by the forgotten TV star, Quick Draw McGraw, and the carousel gag.

In the next week or so, Yowp at www.yowpyowp.blogspot.com will be putting up these same Yogi pages in the half-page size in black and white, from Canadian newspapers. So keep checking in with the old dog, he never disappoints (he’s a pointer, not a disappointer). C U Soon.

Post Holiday Post

December 30th, 2014

christmas-card-2014.jpg Wishing you a Merry Un-Christmas and Chanukah! I’ve been spending a lot of time sending out our annual Holiday Card and writing a message on each one. This year the card was based on an actual ornament, which we thought was a very cartoony and quietly subversive one. This is one of the few cards we’ve done that has actual color printing on it, usually I hand-color them. We stalwarts who print and send our Holiday Cards through the mail are a dying breed. More and more greetings are sent out by Email these days. I really appreciate the effort behind an artist-produced Holiday greeting, printed on paper. I especially like the cards that are sent by cartoonists and friends in the “business”. Here are a few of my favorites:

christmas-card-graham-webb-2014.jpg Here’s my friend Graham Webb’s card. Graham is a tireless researcher on animation history, he’s published two editions of The Encyclopedia of Animated Shorts, and now he’s working on an Encyclopedia of Live Action Shorts of the Twentieth Century. He likes to draw caricatures and turn them into cartoons, this year he’s drawn “Ghost Buster (Keaton)” and says “Have a Spook-Free Christmas”. He could also have called it “Sta-Puffed Buster”.

christmas-card-june-foray-2014.jpg June Foray’s card this year showcases her versifying and her dogs! She is a wonderful friend, both personally and for the animated film. She’s been doing voices for radio and cartoons since the 1940s and still continues to do them. My favorite voice she’s done? Midnight the Cat in “The Buster Brown Show” on radio, written by Hobart Donavan. The Annie awards were her idea. She’s recovering from a fall right now, so I wish her a quick recovery.

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Here’s Roy and Dann Thomas’s card. Roy, of course, being a long-time writer of comics, mostly Marvel. He’s quite the historian and collector of comic books as well. Roy and Dann (his wife) live on a farm and love to take care of animals. They found the owl on their card lying face-down in the courtyard, and nursed him back to health. Then he was released back into the wild.  The light green tinted card is from Marc Schirmeister, a veteran cartoonist and story artist, he almost always draws his own card each year, sent out as a postcard. Santa’s pack seems to look like a giant ass in this one! There’s also a little labor union humor here.

christmas-card-tom-sito-2014.jpg Here’s Tom and Pat Sito’s card, showing us how Roger and Jessica Rabbit have fun! Tom Sito is a world-class student of world and animation history, a director (Osmosis Jones), animator (Roger Rabbit) and story artist. He is teaching at USC and hoping to be a tenured professor there one day.

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Here’s good friends Willie and Rosemary Ito’s card. It shows the legendary layout man’s Disney Productions ID card from 1954, when he was working on inbetweens for “Lady and the Tramp” under the World’s Greatest Assistant Animator: Iwao Takamoto. Willie sent me some Magilla Gorilla layouts he did when I was a kid, and bowled me over with his generosity. He now does wonderful children’s books like ”Hello Maggi”, about the life of a child confined at the Manzanar camp during World War 2. Willie has a wonderful collection of Mickey Mouse memorabilia, so now he’s “Steamboat” Willie!

    Leslie Iwerks is another good friend who is the grand-daughter of Ub Iwerks, ( I was lucky enough to meet him in 1968), who remains one of my greatest cartoon heroes and influences. Leslie is a wonderful documentary film-maker, she’s done one on her Grandpa, “The Hand Behind The Mouse”, one on Pixar (”The Pixar Story”) and a great piece called “Recycled Life” on the people who live on the trash dump near Guatemala, Mexico. She’s currently working on a doc. about the Imagineers at Disney.

christmas-card-bob-jaques-2014.jpg I’ve included my friend Bob Jaques’s and Kelly Armstrong’s card, even though he did not draw it, because I think the idea’s funny (and Bob could easily have drawn it). Bob is a long-time animator and animation director, best known for his contributions to “The Ren and Stimpy Show” and the modern update of “Baby Huey” alongside many others. He has a terrific blog on Popeye animators: http://popeyeanimators.blogspot.com , go over there right now and read his post on the Fleischer Popeye cartoon “Onion Pacific”.

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Felix, from 7-16 to 7-22-34, continues the Scarecrow Bandit adventure. The Bandit escaped jail last time, and continues to elude the cops and the bulldog. He abducts Felix and manages to pin his subsequent crimes on the hapless cat. Scarecrow can’t get away with this forever! In the Sunday, Felix is stuck on a deserted ship, as the crew leaves for shore with their new-found riches, provided for them by the lonely cat.

myrtle-4-19-to-4-25-48.jpg In Myrtle this time, from 4-19 to 4-25-48, Dudley Fisher features mischievous Myrtle mixing up her mater and pater as always. I like the 4-21 as Myrtle is too busy taking a bath to take a gift of an ice cream cone, so Sampson shoves it in the mailbox! The 4-22 is a favorite also, as Freddie tries to lure Bingo to his bath by making a noise like a rabbit, then consulting with a real bunny (”Let’s hear you say something!”) to find out what a rabbit sounds like. We also found the Sunday page this time, as Freddie poses for a picture.

kraxy-7-27-to-8-1-42.jpg Krazy, from 7-27 to 8-1-42, explores the half-way point between lines on paper and solid objects in the strips this time. A dog artist draws Ignatz in his cell so realistically that it puzzles the “mice” himself. Offissa Pupp’s badge and buttons appear and disappear as the lines they are drawn with wash away. Ignatz draws a realistic brick on a wooden fence, but another Law Dog censors it. In the 8-1, there are no bricks at all, due to the War materials shortage, and the three featured players take a nap under a tree.

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yogi-1-31-65.jpg The Yogi Bear Sunday pages are here from January, 1965, the third-page versions. Yowp, at http://yowpyowp.blogspot.com/ will be posting these pages at half-page size in black and white very soon, so keep an eye out for those. Remember to click the thumbnails to see the comics at full screen display. Harvey Eisenberg still has the feel of momentum and action in his drawings in these pages that he must have had in his layouts in the golden days of the MGM cartoon studio. The pose of Yogi throwing the snowball in the 1-3, has that Tom and Jerry quality to it, as does the sled dog being cracked with the whip in the 1-10.  The stampede of animals (with the moose silhouette) in the 1-17, and the Ranger sailing on the ice in his ice boat in the 1-31, passed by Yogi with an outboard motor strapped to his back, also have the lively animation layout quality.

Here’s hoping that all my readers will enjoy New Year’s Eve, and that we will all quaff a root beer for Auld Lang’s Syne. See you next year!