February 10th, 2016

power-from-the-sun.jpg Hey, don’t ever let ‘em tell you that solar power is easy. We had some panels installed on the roof and it took from last July to January of 2016 to complete the job. The roof had to be re-shingled, then we had to design the system (which took a lot of emails), then they put on the panels, then upgraded the meter to 200 amp service, then installed the inverter to change DC to AC power, then the Glendale Water and Power folks had to inspect the system (3 trips), then install a second meter, then give PTO (Permission To Operate). I threw the switch myself to turn the system on. We are now actually generating power from the sun! The photo above was shot before we got the official PTO. The inverter we got has an outlet on it which you can plug things into during the day if the electric grid does a Ken Lay and shuts down. This was my first brush with solar power and I was very excited and happy! The guy on the right side of the photo is an electrician who works for the solar company we used, Solar Optimum. They STILL aren’t through! A special little computer reader has to be installed to keep track of our generation and usage. Everytime I look at the panels I remember the Bell System Science Series show: “Our Mr. Sun” from 1956, SIXTY years ago. This wonderful TV show, directed by Frank Capra and Bill Hurtz (animation),mr-sun-and-father-time.jpeg predicted that the solar energy from Mr. Sun would solve the Earth’s fuel problem and even predicted the Solar Battery! After all this time, there still isn’t a really efficient and low cost Solar Battery, but the Tesla company is working on one. Hopefully Big Oil won’t buy up the patent THIS time! At last, part of the scenario of “Our Mr. Sun” is a reality.

felix-12-17-to-12-23-34.jpg Felix, 12-17 to 12-23-1934, features Felix’s happy reunion with the Danny Dooit family, and their cantankerous Dachshund. Plenty of long dog gags here. In the Sunday page, Felix continues to stay with the Millionaire’s family, feeding his bonanza of fresh milk to his alley cat buddies.

myrtle-9-20-to-9-26-48.jpg Myrtle is from 9-20 to 9-26-1948 this time. I like the 9-24, as Myrtle discovers a box of candy on the upstairs bed, then has to pretend she knows nothing when Freddy asks her about it. I like the little coy pose she does in the last panel. Myrtle’s bare head makes a rare appearance in the 9-22 as her hat flies off in surprise when the clock Sampson is repairing strikes 13. In the Sunday, Hyacinth the cat holds her nose at Myrtle’s fish catch in the second panel.

krazy-12-28-42-to-1-2-43.jpg Some WW 2 “Spy” points get made in the Krazy dailies from 12-28-1942 to 1-2-1943. Ignatz is in the “Sicritt Soivitz” and gets all his information from the “Grape Wine”.  Check out Garge’s mastery of knife technique in the 1-1 and 1-2-1943 strips, especially the final panel of the 1-2, as a character emerges from the “Grape Wine” who reminds me of Winston Churchill. The delicate knife scratches look like fine branches of ferns that surround the ”Churchill” character. Probably by this time in his career, George Herriman’s arthritis problems were starting to affect his drawing, as was the reduction in daily strip space caused by the wartime demand for newsprint.

So Long, Carson

January 14th, 2016

carson-van-osten-obit.jpgcarson-van-osten-drawing-mickeys-60th.jpg I’m very sorry to report the passing of a real cartooning icon, Mr. Carson Van Osten. The L.A. Times Obituary writer can’t seem to decide whether Carson left us on November or December 22nd, 2015, but this Obit. didn’t get published until January 10th, 2016. Carson started out animating or assisting, maybe both. I can’t remember if he always worked at Disney’s or not. Perhaps I met him during my freelancing years in the 1970s and 1980s. He got kicked upstairs at Disney’s, becoming a model trouble-shooter on all the classic characters, especially Mickey Mouse. In 1988, I was doing some animation on the “Mickey’s 60th” TV special. One of the segments of that special featured Mickey’s visit to the “Cheers” bar. If you look at the snapshots above, you’ll see Kirstie Alley and Ted Danson with Mouse stand-ins, arranged so we animators could gauge the relative sizes of Mickey and the “Cheers” cast.  I remember it was kind of risque to have Mickey in a bar setting, I hadn’t seen “Plight of the Bumble Bee” at that point, or the idea of the mix of alcohol and Mouse wouldn’t have seemed so radical. To the right of the Cheers snapshots, you’ll see a rough sketch that Carson drew of Mickey in a casual outfit, complete with tennis shoes. The notes in red, are in my friend Sam Cornell’s printed script. Sam directed the “Cheers” sequence, and I seem to recall he was quite taken with Ms. Alley. Carson worked on many Disney television projects, merchandise designs and notably, the comic strip department. If you look around the Internet, you’ll probably find some of Carson’s wonderful “style guides”, which not only featured Disney character drawing hints, but advice on how to make an effective panel layout, the “silhouette” rule, and other theories. I didn’t realize that Carson had gone to Disney Paris, in 1994, or was voted a Disney Legend this past August. Carson was a very talented cartoonist, and evidently a painter of miniatures as well. (Read the Obit.) In addition, Carson was a heckova nice guy, a very patient teacher and very fast on the comeback, especially when defending his drawing expertise. I haven’t seen him since 1988, but I’ll always remember. This little post is designed as a memorial to Carson; who should be remembered by anyone who admires good Disney-style drawing in the classic manner. Adios, good friend.

felix-12-10-to-12-16-34.jpg Felix, from 12-10 to 12-16-1934 has Felix emerging from his hollow tree hiding place and attempting to return the stolen jewelry that the robber put into the tree. It turns out that the jewels belong to the Danny Dingle family! Felix is reunited with his favorite family at last. In the Sunday, Elmer the millionaire kicks Felix out of his house, and back IN to win a bet with his wife. Felix now has TWO families, Daily and Sunday.

myrtle-9-13-to-9-19-48.jpg Myrtle’s from 9-13 to 9-19-1948 this post, a bunch of non-continuity gags this time in the dailies. The Sunday features Hyacinth the Cat in a non-speaking role as the neighborhood meets the local Weatherman. I admire the way Fisher designs the Sunday pages so that the reader can start anywhere on the page, with any balloon, and understand the story.

krazy-12-21-to-12-26-42.jpg Krazy, from 12-21 to 12-26-1942, the characters keep busy for “Our Duration”. Mrs. Kwakk-Wakk in the 12-21 is thought by Krazy to be a “Snoopa”. The brick is delivered by air on the 22nd and 23rd, and Offissa Pupp’s Jail goes plastic, followed by Ignatz’s Brick on the 24th and 25th. Durable goods made out of plastic were considered very newfangled in the 1940s, reference the Donald Duck cartoon, “The Plastics Inventor” (1944) with the Duck’s all-plastic airplane that melts in water. Ignatz actually pulls a rifle on Offissa Pupp in the Dec. 26th strip, but the Pupp ignores him. I hope that Carson read my blog from time to time, he was a great fan of Gottfredson and Barks.

Out with the Old, in with the OLDER

January 2nd, 2016

felix-12-3-to-12-9-34.jpg Happy 2016, gentle readers! Here is Felix from 12-3 to 12-9-1934. All the dailies are set near Felix’s new home, a hollow tree. In the 12-7, we see a typical Messmer human (a burglar, naturally), made of very rounded shapes. I love how the checked pants define his stomach and legs in the second panel. This story continues soon. In the Sunday, Felix loses another home as he sets up listening tubes for his alley cat friends, which they use as kitty entrance pipes. I love Messmer’s knack for designing cartoon cats, you can see that in the third panel and in the last row.

myrtle-9-6-to-9-12-48.jpg Myrtle is from 9-6 to 9-12-1948 this time out. The first two dailies form a story, as Myrtle sticks her tongue out at Bingo, and Sampson follows suit.  The 9-9 has some of the unique Dudley Fisher gag timing, as Bingo holds a dime in his mouth to fool Sampson, only to swallow the ten cent piece in the last panel when Myrtle is paying for a soda! The Sunday is a two-panel masterpiece of composition and story. You can almost start anywhere on the page and get a main story point (the burglary), and all the character’s reactions. Hyacinth the cat makes a rare appearance in the second panel on the right hand side of the page.

krazy-12-14-to-12-19-42.jpg World War Two, referred to by Garge as “Our Duration”, continues to set the background for the gags in Krazy Kat from 12-14 to 12-19-1942. Even the peaceful Krazy does soldier duty for Kokonino Kounty in the “Lend Patrol” in the 12-14. There are references to “Dim-Outs”, “Second Front”s and in the 12-17 to 12-19 dailies, Ignatz proves to be an inexpert parachutist. Ig manages to sneak a brick past Offissa Pupp in the 12-19, by parachute!

Thanks all youse guys and gals, for sticking with the Catblog throughout 2015. We’ll sho try to give you the mosta of the besta in the coming year.

Christmas Present

December 17th, 2015

walt-kelly-record-a.jpgwalt-kelly-record-b.jpg Here’s wishing the best of the Holiday Season to all my readers wherever you are! As a special “gift”, I’ve put up these two sides from Walt Kelly’s series of cardboard records for the Story Book Record Company. He recorded these in 1946, early in the wave of post World War 2 children’s records. He did 16 sides in all, they only run a little over a minute per side, because they turn at 78 RPM. These two stories, The Lion and the Mouse and The Traveling Musicians are good examples of Kelly reading and performing in his hysterical and histrionic acting style. Mike Barrier in his 2015 volume called “Funnybooks”, tells the story of these recordings on pages 226 and 227, get your copy for Christmas! What I love about these records is that I got to experience the younger Walt Kelly when he had his full range of bass and treble and could do squeaky mouse voices or grumbling, roaring lion voices and narrate the story in his “normal” tone of voice. As you listen to these, imagine you are watching Kelly pitch a storyboard, his pitching style was probably quite a lot like these records sound. His voice changed considerably by the time he recorded “Go Go Pogo” and “Lines Upon A Tranquil Brow” for the 1956 record album, “Songs Of The Pogo”. His energy fell considerably, he can barely bellow out “Break Out the Cigars, This Life is For Squirr’ls. We’re off to the drugstore to whistle at girls.” I won these records on Ebay, and digitized them from our old 78 turntable. The sound has an electronic “hum” in it, and The Traveling Musicians has a skip or two, but these are only cardboard base records with plastic grooves laminated on to them, so just go along with them. Consider it time travel! Click on the line below; that should get you over to the Archive.org website, where you will see a player bar. I hope you will enjoy them.


felix-11-26-to-12-2-34.jpg Felix is from 11-26 to 12-2-34 this time out. Felix loses his home with the wealthy dieting lady and her family after eating up too much of his mistress’s food. I love the 11-28 as Felix does a gag from which Tex Avery spun a lot of comedy gold in his 1940s MGM cartoons. The old “Hospital Zone” joke, as Felix gets swatted by a cop’s club and runs into the woods, before he can say “OW”. Tex used this in “Rock-a-bye Bear” for instance, as Butch the Bulldog has to continually run out of the sleeping bear’s hibernation house so that he won’t scream “OW” or “YEOW” and wake the bear up. The pose of Felix in the third panel of the 12-1 was duplicated on a strip of wallpaper designed for a child’s room in the 1930s. The Sunday page continues Felix’s adventures with the wealthy tycoon who adopted him. Felix scares a burglar away with a pair of huge arms which he accidentally broke off of a statue.

myrtle-8-30-to-9-5-48.jpg Here’s Dudley Fisher’s “Right Around Home” from 8-30 to 9-5-1948. This time, Freddie worries about his bald spot in the first three dailies, and Myrtle has a problem with moving her chair, so that her Mother Susie can sweep under it, in the next two dailies. In the Sunday, “Bingo’s Birthday” Bingo and his dog friends have a picnic lunch, while Hyacinth the Cat, next door, misses her date with Thomas, the pet cat of Freddie and Susie’s next door neighbors.

krazy-12-7-to-12-12-42.jpg Krazy is from 12-7 to 12-12-1942 and continues Mrs. Kwakk-Wakk’s Submarine Spy Center from last time. I love the last panel in the 12-8, as Offissa Pupp is shocked by an electric eel. The original art from this panel, is a great Herriman “scratch-off” demonstration. Garge paints a lot of solid black in the panel in question and begins to carve out his delicate cross-hatched look with a steel etching needle. He apparently lost his scratch board, so he had to start over again. So the next time you lose your scratchboard, just paint a puddle of ink on a piece of Bristol board and scratch! You’ll be walking in the foot steps of giants and scratching with the best of them.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all, Feliz Navidad and Prospero Ano Nuevo! Mark

Farewell Yogi

November 30th, 2015

felix-11-19-to-11-25-34.jpgFelix is from 11-19 to 11-25-1934 this time around. Messmer continues the story of the disgruntled magician’s rabbit from last week, using the magic hat to protect the rabbit from pursuing hounds. Felix then secures a berth with a society dame who is trying to lose weight. The Sunday page is loaded with action as Felix shoots holes in his master’s coat. Check out the 8th panel, Felix trips on a rug in a wild drawing showing him putting the bite on the shotgun as he falls; it’s true cartoon exaggeration.

myrtle-8-23-to-8-29-48.jpg In Myrtle from 8-23 to 8-29-1948, Myrtle just does gags “Right Around Home”. I love Myrtle’s reaction as she inhales soapy water from a bubble pipe in the 8-26, and Sampson trying to “make a noise like a rabbit” in the 8-27 is right in character. The Sunday page is beautifully staged, as always. I like Myrtle’s little sit-down machine that picks up lost golf balls on the green at the local driving range.

 krazy-11-30-to-12-5-42.jpg Krazy is from 11-20 to 12-5-42 this time. World War 2 completely takes over the story, as Mrs. Kwakk-Wakk is featured, fighting enemy (probably Japanese) submarines. There are a lot of references to periscopes, and Ignatz uses one in the final panel of the 12-5 strip.

yogi-12-5-65.jpg We bid farewell to the Yogi Bear Sunday pages in this blog, as we post three out of the four Sundays from December, 1965. I haven’t seen the fourth one in years, I look forward to Yowp’s blog at http://yowpyowp.blogspot.com/. Keep checking in with him, for soon he will post all the December Yogi pages in black and white from good quality scans. It’s obvious that the Christmas strip is missing here. Art is probably by Jerry Eisenberg and Iwao Takamoto.

yogi-12-12-65.jpg I really admire the mobile gags in this one. Alexander Calder’s mobile sculptures were popular in the U.S. in the 1960s, so Yogi figures out a practical way to use the large shapes to substitute for fishing lures. There’s even an underwater cross-section in the final panel, featuring some rather confused fish.

yogi-12-19-65.jpg The last Yogi strip for this post is the full half-page version of the 12-19-65. Yogi figures out how to use beaver tails for snowshoes, to get to the market for them. He thoughtfully orders a bag of wood for between-meal beaver snacks. Yogi has never been a really good fit for my blog, but I wanted to give Yowp’s blog a little cross-promotion, so I ran the color pages to complement his black and white scans. I still have a soft spot for the early Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon characters, and Yogi has a claim to part of that spot. Look how long I’ve held on to these old Sunday pages! I find myself doing vocal impressions of the character from time to time, it’s usually his embarrassed laugh: “Hee-ee-ee-ee-ee!” Daws Butler could really inject a note of the hard-sell carnival shell-gamer into Yogi and Hokey Wolf. Yogi managed to come off lovable even though he was a “con-bear”, with no respect for authority. Art Carney’s Ed Norton role in “The Honeymooners” certainly cast a long shadow over the Bear, our family loved Ed Norton. I also tried to imitate Yogi’s special walk and vocally replicate the syncopated tympani and coconut shells that set the rhythm. Now I’ll close the memory book on the Bear, I’ve just run out of the stuff (strips).

I had a pleasant time at the CTN expo at the Burbank Marriott Inn over Nov. 20th and 21st. It was hot and crowded in the tent where they put Jerry’s table, but we were right across from Pixar and Cal Arts’s stands, so a few stray dogies ambled by. I managed to sell three cels from Itza’s cartoons. Old friend Steve Stanchfield bought one. Remember you can buy our cels right through this website, just go to the home page: www.itsthecat.com, and visit the art gallery. If you would like custom made cel set-ups from favorite scenes, just write us here at the blog and we’ll get them for you. $80.00 buys a matted cel set-up with a reproduction background, the original pencil drawings from which they were traced, and a DVDr of the finished cartoon. Get a unique gift for the holidays for your cartoon loving friends. There aren’t many production cels on the market anymore.ctn-expo-table.jpg