Racketty Ann’s Mystery Flight!

July 19th, 2019
Here are pages 5 through eight of “Racketty Ann and the Lost World”. There’s delightful fantasy here as Racketty Ann and Bla Bla take a ride on the back of a Pteranodon to a mysterious island far out in the ocean. I love the scenes in the nest as Racketty Ann fearlessly gets to know the Pteranodon’s family. Racketty Ann is telling them of her adventures with the condors in Peru, when a Tyrannosaurus Rex strolls by. Racketty Ann and Bla Bla do a big reaction take, but Cathy defuses the drama with a homey touch, the Pteranodon just explains that it’s only Floyd on his way to the tar pits. Just look at that expressive use of white out to show the steamy atmosphere of the island, and the last panel of page eight, with all the weighted lines to show light on the faces of the dinosaurs as they confront Racketty Ann and Bla Bla in the center of the panel. Don’t miss Bla-Bla’s reactions to the dinosaurs, either. They are more comical than Daisy the Pup’s antics in “Blondie”!
In Felix from 7-31 to 8-6-1933, Felix and Danny are lost in the woods, and they build a fire to keep them warm overnight. It looks like a forest fire may be inevitable. In the Sunday page, 8-6-33, Felix wrecks Danny’s bed, declaring: “I’m only a jinx.” But a circus contortionist buys it, since it’s a comfortable fit for his twisted up body.
In Myrtle from 5-2 to 5-8-1949, my favorites are the 5-4, as Myrtle sleeps in the doghouse with Bingo, and picks up enough fleas to be sprayed with a DDT gun by Susie. The 5-7 is also amusing as Hyacinth the cat is tied to a school bell to warn her away from the birds. Hyacinth also is stalking birds in the Sunday 5-8, as Myrtle reads an outdated weather forecast in a two year old newspaper. One of the neighborhood gardeners declares that “…atom bombs got the weather all turned around!”
In the Krazys from 11-1 to 11-13-1943, note the strip from 11-2. It was made famous by Gilbert Seldes, a renowned writer and critic who wrote about the Kat in the book; “The Seven Lively Arts”. This is the strip in which Ignatz declares that “the shades of night are falling” and Krazy catches them, saying “I got ’em, I got ’em”. The gags are a bit more violent in this batch, probably reflecting the Wartime tastes as Offissa Pupp sets Ignatz’s tail on fire in the 11-9 and Krazy threatens a pair of shoes in the last panel of the 7-13.
KURT’S CORNER
In this installment of the ongoing tribute to my late brother, I present some more Clark Gable rarities from his wonderful collection. This time Gable shaves off his famous moustache as he enters the Army in 1942 in an amateur snapshot never published. Gable eventually entered Officer Candidate School in Florida and below you will find the graduation program and a copy of his address to his graduating class (autographed). Note that it reads something like one of the characters he played in the movies: “Gentlemen, I’m not going to say to you ‘get on the beam’. You’re on it. The job is to stay on the beam until–in victory–we get the command; ‘Fall Out’ “. I can hear his voice as I read the text of this speech.
Here’s Gable as a Major in 1944 as he edits his film “Combat America”, at the First Motion Picture Unit in Culver City. He could have met Frank Thomas or Rudy Larriva or any of the animators who were stationed there. He’s probably editing nitrate film here, so no smoking, Clark! Clark had a little trouble in getting in and out of bombers, as he was 6 feet, one, quite a bit taller than his fellow soldiers. He flew five combat missions out of England in 1943, flying in the B-17 Flying Fortresses. He came close to being shot in the head, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. He was one of my brother’s favorite actors. Kurt’s favorite Gable part was Rhett Butler in “Gone With The Wind”.
Remember Folks to click on the images with the right button on your mouse. You will see a menu that says “Display image in another window” or “another tab”, or just “View Image. Click on that and you can make the pictures much larger. Thanks for taking the trouble to read the catblog and enjoy the pictures.

Starting Raccketty Ann and the Lost World!

June 23rd, 2019
Here they are! Cathy Hill’s Mad Raccoons in “Raccketty Ann and the Lost World”! Raccketty Ann is loosely based on Raggedy Ann, a character from old children’s books who was made into charming rag dolls the world over. Raccketty Ann is a real adventurer, she is fearless and remarkably adaptive to nearly any situation, dangerous or not. Her constant companion is “Bla-Bla” a long-suffering canine of indeterminate breed, who loves Raccketty Ann more than any other raccoon. Raccketty Ann’s stories in the community of raccoons were depicted in previously published issues of Mad Raccoons, published by MU Press. The raccoons look up to Raccketty Ann and hang on every word as she regales their imaginations with her tales of travel. In this episode she encounters a Preranodon, wait until you see the other prehistoric creatures she meets!
Felix is from 7-24 to 7-30-1933. Felix is forced to sleep outside by the hard-hearted farmer, and Danny tries to help find Felix a softer bed. The 7-24 strip recalls the story of “Babes In The Woods” as Felix leaves a trail of corn to mark Danny’s way through the woods. The Sunday has Felix trying to crash his way in to the circus, only to be slammed around by athletic trained mice who all look like Messmer’s “Skiddoo” the mouse.

Here’s Myrtle from 4-25 to 4-31-1949. I like the 4-29 and 4-30 dailies as Myrtle’s skirt and sweater are criticized by her mother, and Dad Freddie breaks Mom’s hand mirror as he spanks Myrtle with it. The Sunday page depicts the pioneering days of home TV sets as the neighbors put up makeshift antennas as status symbols even though they don’t yet have the sets to go with them!

Krazy is from 10-18 to 10-30-1943 this time. World War 2 enters the strip in a subtle way in the 10-21. Herriman was in a mood to cross-hatch in the 10-27 through 10-30 strips. The 10-27 takes on a mysterious feel in the last panel, due to the shading, giving the feel of twilight blanketing Krazy as she peacefully dozes under the gaze of Ignatz and Offissa Pupp. Krazy sings a hit song from “Oklahoma”, a hit musical of the early 1940s, as Ignatz hurls a brick at his head. Clocks play a big part in the 10-29 and 10-30 strips, a grandfather clock in the 10-29 and alarm clocks in the 10-30 as Krazy is once again wrapped in cross-hatched twilight in the last panel.

KURT’S CORNER In the corner this time are a collection of very rare stills from my brother’s Clark Gable collection. There are from November of 1937, when Clark was married to Carole Lombard. Gable loved horses and this was probably photographed on his ranch. I like the way he captioned the pictures as a film “Short”, labeling himself as a “Villain” and the Calf and Horse as the “Heroes”. I don’t know who Walt Cady was, who took the pictures. Maybe that’s Mr. Cady helping to brand the calf in the last photo. I have no idea how Kurt came by these rare pieces of Gableana, but aren’t they just fresh off the ranch? Look for more rare photos soon, as my tribute to my sadly missed brother continues.

Cathy Hill’s Racketty-Ann and The Lost World Previews!

June 6th, 2019

Hold on to your seats Folks! More spectacular, funny and heart-warming (not to mention timely) than Galaxy’s Edge! It’s Cathy Hill’s Mad Raccoons in “Racketty-Ann and The Lost World” stealing their way in to the old Catblog in our next post!

As a bonus, here are some of Cathy’s serio-comic dinosaurs in two pages of a book project that wasn’t completed, but you can see for the first time right here. If you like these and want to see more, drop us a line. Thanks for reading the Catblog!

Coming! Raccoons! Soon!

June 4th, 2019

This peculiar Raccoon (Mad variety) was beautifully drawn by Cathy Hill in 1997 to start a sort of “Weird Science” EC vibe in potential “Mad Raccoons” comics. Next post we will start the heretofore unpublished tale “Racketty-Ann and the Lost World”. It’s definitely weird, monstrous and strangely sweet. Watch for it next time!

Felix is from 7-17 to 7-23-1933 this time. Felix is on the farm in the dailies, including Messmer’s trademark cows in the 7-17, which were usually the symbol of sustenance for Felix. The Room and BOARD gag is pretty choice in the 7-18. I like the touch of pathos in the 7-23 Sunday as Felix tears up at Danny’s lack of funds to buy circus passes in the second panel.

Myrtle originally appeared 4-18 to 4-24-49. The dailies really explore Myrtle’s Tomboy side, especially when she loses her braids in the 4-20 and starts to look like a boy. In the 4-21, the boys of the Eager Beaver Patrol all don phony braids to make Myrtle feel included. I love the subtle Fisher touch in the 4-19 as Myrtle pounds the floor in frustration accompanied by her look-alike doll doing the same thing. Myrtle is finally allowed to join the Boy Scout patrol after she pitches a no-hit baseball game for the 3rd Grade team. In the Sunday, Hyacinth the cat makes a rare appearance on top of a fence as Minnie and Slug announce their engagement: Minnie got a job!

Krazy ran in Hearst and other papers from 10-4 to 10-16-1943.  Herriman makes a very soft-spoken comment on WW2 in the 10-5 as Krazy declares war on “no budda”. Thanks to Gerd Heinlein, we have one of Garge’s rare elephant strips in the 10-7. I love the drawings of the absent-minded pachyderm as they change proportions and size in each panel. The last panel with the elephant in front of a row of cat-tails is worthy of  framing by itself. The 10-18 is one of those incredibly corny puns that Herriman somehow turned into a quiet moment of “Kat” reflection. There’s also a touch of magic in the 10-14 strip as Krazy silently follows a firefly in the Coconino desert only to see it collapse into ashes on the sand.

KURT’S CORNER

My dear brother was a consummant collector of movie stills and memorabilia. He took over the Ronald Colman collection of the late George E. Schatz of Illinois and augmented it with beautiful original and rare material that he collected over more than 40 years. He also collected on Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Vivien Leigh and many other actors. His huge collection was carefully tucked into loose-leaf three-ring binders, each one immense and thick. Every still was in special plastic punched sheets that make it easy to remove and replace the stills from each binder. Here are three very rare stills from the Colman files:

The lovely Benita Hume around 1926. She was doing a bit of acting in British cinema such as “The Happy Ending” (1925) in which she played “Miss Moon” and “The Lady Of The Lake”(1928) which gave her the title role. She became Mr. Colman’s second wife and co-starred with him on the Jack Benny Program and The Halls of Ivy on radio. In the Halls of Ivy, her character Victoria often does a bit of music hall singing and tap dancing. The Halls of Ivy ran from 1950 to 1952 and was written by Don Quinn who wrote for Jim and Marian Jordan and created the character of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve on the old Fibber Magee and Molly radio show. The Halls of Ivy was very classy and incredibly gentle comedy, the theme song sounds a bit reverent, like the “Whiffenpoof Song”.

Here’s a rare still of Benita and Ronald Colman rehearsing with the radio maestro and Angel of Comedy, Jack Benny in April of 1948. Jack loved being the object of the Colman’s scorn, he constantly irritated them by borrowing every tool and kitchen appliance they had. Jack lived next door to the Colmans in “radio land”, and even borrowed Colman’s Oscar which R.C. won for “A Double Life” in 1947. Jack promptly was robbed of the Oscar on his way home with it by a gangster played by Eddie Marr (info provided by Don Yowp).

It’s hard to recognize Mr. Colman in 1921, when he first came to the United States from his native England to tour in the stage play “The Dauntless Three” and hadn’t yet grown his trademark mustache. He eventually used a grease paint mustache for early silent film parts, such as “The White Sister’ (1923),  before he grew his own. Ronald Colman’s speaking voice was just about my brother’s favorite sound in the world. Kurt prized wisdom and gentleness in actors and writers, such as Colman and James Hilton. The great Frank Capra picture “Lost Horizon” combined Colman and Hilton in one of my brother’s all-time favorite movies. Kurt’s incredible collection of stills is with me now, but will soon join the archives of the Margaret Herrick library at the Motion Picture Academy. Kurt and I often discussed his collection’s eventual “home” and soon they will be going there. Over the next several posts, Kurt’s Corner will feature more rare and unusual bits of cinematic curios. I hope you will look at them and celebrate the love of movies that was such a major part of my brother’s life and dear to his heart.

The Meaning of Life

April 15th, 2019

 

Here at last are the four concluding pages of “Raccoons On The Moon”, or, as the Windsongs of Jupiter prefer to call it: “The Raccoons Search For The Meaning Of Life”.  The Windsongs of Jupiter are real sticklers for accuracy, since the Raccoons spent only one page of their story on the Moon, the Windsongs want the story retitled so that “True Truth” will be proclaimed and the Raccoons will be worthy of knowing the Meaning of Life. The Windsongs’ definition of the Meaning of Life on page 19 is a real “Shaggy Raccoon” argument, leaving the masked Space Explorers dumbfounded. Note the mixture of expressions in page 19’s second panel as the Raccoons either stare at the reader, or furtively glance at each other.  I love Cathy’s timing as page 20 leads off with Virgil saying: “Well, THAT was FUN!” It adds irony to the story’s finish as the Raccoons return to the Moon’s surface.  I hope you liked Cathy Hill’s Mad Raccoons and that you will look forward to another one of their unpublished stories coming soon to the Catblog.

 

Felix this time originally appeared in newspapers from 7-10 through 7-16-1933. Felix and Danny conclude their “midget league” baseball season, and Danny’s family go off on a summer vacation without Felix. I love the poignant panels in the 7-14 as Felix contemplates a lonely summer without the family. Danny comes back home to pick up Felix and packs him in a bag to smuggle him in to the boarding house where the family is lodging.  The Sunday page features Danny and Felix watering an Elephant to earn Circus passes. The Elephant is dry as the Mojave and drinks the landscape to the sandy dregs. 

Here’s Dudley Fisher’s Myrtle from 4-11 to 4-17-1949. All the dailies are devoted to “Wilbur”, the family’s wacky goldfish. Wilbur doesn’t get along with anybody, not Sampson, Myrtle’s Pop, Slug or the local bird family. The 4-16 has the best Fisher timing of the week, since goldfish are “harder to give away than kittens”, Pop dumps poor Wilbur in the river. A panel later there is a knock at the door, and Wilbur comes bouncing in! The Sunday page is the usual visual feast as the family dusts the household carpet for spring cleaning.

The Kat this time is from 9-20 to 10-2-1943. The first batch is mostly odd gags, but the 9-24 and 9-25 refer to Brazil, which was a hot topic during World War Two, what with the Good Neighbor Policy being in effect and all. But what is that creature in the 9-25 with the head of Krazy Kat and the body of a spotted cat? It is a species of Brazilian wildcat called “Oncilla”, “tigrillo” or “tigrinas” depending on which part of the country they come from. They are smaller than a Margay, which is a pretty small wildcat. Garge must have been a student of cats worldwide, both wild and domesticated, to come up with a gag like this one. In the 9-27 to 10-2 batch, the gags are all about plants and flowers, such as a shrinking violet that throws stones at Krazy’s “bean” and a sunflower that rises and sets and says “Bong Swar” to Krazy. But the most obscure reference is to the tomato (or “to-mah-to”) as a “Love Apple”. “Love Apple” is derived from the Italian word for tomato, “pomodoro”, which the French freely translated as “pomme d’amour” or “Love Apple” in English. The “to-mah-to” is a reference to the Fred Astaire 1937 movie “Shall We Dance” and the song “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off” (you say ‘tomato’ and I say ‘tomahto’). Maybe Garge liked that movie and built the 10-2 gag around the song?

KURT’S CORNER    Here’s another little remembrance of my dear brother Kurt, who passed away in January. That’s us in the faded and worn photograph of 1956. Probably taken in the backyard of our family house in Crestwood, Mo. 701 Hutchins Drive. The house is still there today, I wonder if that tree is still there? The Mickey Mouse Club TV show was a never-missed event every weekday afternoon, and we had all the gear, Mickey ears, shirts and Kurt is playing a Mouse Ge-Tar. The photo looks blue because it was faded nearly pink and I flipped the color so you could see it better. You can tell that Kurt had a very irreverent attitude from a very early age. He is obviously “Putting It On” as you can tell by the little sneer on his face and the sassy tilt to his head. Even his fingers have attitude as he strums a guitar that was really a wind-up music box. It seemed the entire neighborhood of kids came in to our living room each afternoon to watch the Mouse Club with us. We must have had one of the few TV sets, and poor Mom had to serve beverages and cookies to the hungry little Mouse Clubbers. We all loved Annette and thought that Jimmy Dodd was like a minister with his little aphorisms in song form. Of course they built Jimmy a REAL Mouse Ge-Tar full size! But my favorite feature of the Club was the old black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons. For some reason they fed in to Kurt’s and my fascination with everything “old” and “antique”. We were fascinated by the very primitive and bottle-nosed Mouse that was in the old cartoons. I guess the Disney Studio wasn’t concerned with the original dotted eyes Mickey appearing alongside the exceedingly cute and almost child like Mouse that headlined the Club TV shows each day. We used to have fights over which of our toys was the oldest, and sometimes even such things as spoons and salt shakers entered into the “antique” debate. Disney dominated our lives in the late 1950s, we both had Davy Crockett hats and Kurt and I were Civil War buffs so “The Great Locomotive Chase” really excited our imaginations. Fess Parker traded in his Crockett hat for an engineer’s cap in that one.

Last time I posted one of Kurt’s “Mickey Mark” cartoon drawings which I believed to be the last one he ever drew. I was wrong, the one reproduced here is really the last, he sent it with the 2018 Christmas card. It’s a celebration of Mickey’s 90th anniversary. I love Kurt’s caption as he refers to the Mouse being a “corporate symbol, a pawn of copyright extension (just look up the Sonny Bono Copyright Act), a union busting rodent (probably a reference to the Disney strike of 1941)”. I don’t know what the little female mouse means by “Sparta-Mouse”, although it might be a misspelling of “Spatha Mouse”, a special computer mouse for gamers. But “you have delusions of grandeur” was a favorite phrase of our Mother, whenever Kurt or I got too ambitious and dreamed too big for her taste. She probably got the phrase “delusions of grandeur” from a psychology book or newspaper article and took it to heart. For some reason, neither Kurt nor I ever forgot that phrase or Mom’s use of it at times when we could have used a word or two of encouragement. 

I wish I could have talked about Kurt’s last Mickey Mark cartoon with him, but what turned out to be our last telephone conversation was filled with the usual nonsense and Kurt’s sidesplitting and VERY irreverent imitations of Linda, his girlfriend of many years. Kurt really did love her, but he also loved to make fun of her, as he made endless fun of Mom and our Grandma Katie. I can’t begin to tell you how much I would give to hear him do his “fussy female” voice one more time.  Perhaps there will be more Kurt’s Corner features in our next edition. Many Meows until then.