Archive for December, 2008

Remembering Lyn Joy

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

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Hello Everyone! It’s almost Christmas Eve, the wood is gathered in against the approaching storm and we have food to eat, how blessed we are! I send a lot of Christmas cards around this time each year, and I think about friends I still hear from, and friends who are gone. Lyn Joy Kroeger was a friend who I heard from every Christmas for the past 20 years. She was my assistant animator and inbetweener on a few free-lance commercials I did for Duck Soup and Bob Kurtz in the 1970s. She started doing inbetweens on Lady and the Tramp in 1954. She left Disney’s after Lady wrapped and worked at a lot of the small studios, Quartet Films (Mike Lah), The Haboush Company, Murakami-Wolf, Levitow-Hansen, Duck Soup and Hanna-Barbera. She stopped doing animation in 1984, and passed away in March of this year at the age of 77. I used to drop off and pick up work from her at her house over on Figueroa St., which she inherited from her mother. It was a large old house in a rather bad neighborhood, with bars on all the windows and doors. She lived alone with her huge great dane, Tarzan IV, who was almost as big as she was, and Lyn Joy was quite tall. Lyn had at least six dogs named “Tarzan”, all fierce looking, but gentle once you got in the house. She liked to go walking through the neighborhood, and nobody bothered her with Tarzan along. Lyn was a very talented artist, who made “assemblages” out of her huge collection of household brick-a-brack. She did three-dimensional canvases that resembled Magritte’s floating heads and bowler hats, and made a lot of fake bowls of soup with clear resin; many of the bowls had little toy ducks floating in them (duck soup). The house was very large, the upstairs was filled with “junk”, things that had belonged to her mother, and things Lyn Joy found around the neighborhood, materials she used in her art. All of her Christmas cards were made out of old cards that were re-assembled to make new ones. She was an unrepentant individual, she was unhappily married at least once, and was quite a striking beauty when she worked at Disney in the 1950s (she appeared in person on a You Bet Your Life episode, where she traded quips with Groucho). Even though she had been through a lot of bitter experiences at the hands of the men in her life, Lyn Joy’s attitude was self-satiric, she could stand outside of her life and make fun of it and herself without losing your respect in any way (with Tarzan around, you’d BETTER have respect). Her drawing was very good, she did a great job on the commercial jobs we shared. I last heard from her at Christmas, 2005. She always sent letters and cartoons she had drawn along with her card, usually reacting to the cards I sent to her. Here are a few excerpts from her 2005 card:

Good News              Bad News

I’m Still Here           It Ain’t What It Use to Be

I Followed My Dream          I’m seeking SSI

I’m Still Trucking        I have fallen behind and can’t catch up

I Have a 1,000 Boxes of Collectables    My House Is A Mess

I Do Mom Art        They’re Only Buying Pop Art

2 of my 3 Toilets Are Working       I Have an Active Bladder

Tarzan and I Go Walking      The Time Limit is 30″

The Roof Doesn’t Leak        There’s A Lien On the House

You see what I mean about her sense of humor? Even though she was in reduced circumstances, she could de-fuse bad situations with her existential jokes. I think if Lyn Joy had not been as shy and embattled as she was, she could have been a fine stand-up comedian. Here are a couple of her humorous and bitter paragraphs:

“From the Baby’s View”–A Womb of One’s Own

1-26-05: Most men most of the time have no real understanding about women. They all have this emotional, sometimes a barrier, reaction to the first experience of action in his beginning namely, “Mother”….and how she related to him. Was it a good, happy experience, or was it hell on Earth…& this “Chinese Water Torture” would go on intensely for the first 5 yrs.

Post Disney  9-14-05

A. It’s A Dog Eat Dog World–Competitive

It’s A Dog Chases Cat World–he wants HER

But For What? To Kill, or Serve and Protect?

It’s a Dog Chase Pussy World–To Possess, Abuse, Use, Control

Be A Dog in the Manger?

Her attitude toward the men in her life, certainly comes through here, but you can perceive the artist in her, and her appreciation of childhood imprinting as a prime directive of mature sexual attitudes. Lyn Joy had not only a stormy relationship with men, but she evidently had battles with her mother as well. I never met her mother, but her influence was all around Lyn, the house, and all of her mother’s old things were with her all her life, and she made art out of all of it. Here’s a little of her last letter to me:

“..Tarzan -Good Dog & I are still hanging out, hanging in there. I’m 75, man, one slows down, so make hay & ha while you’re still in the running. I wish I had more time to draw, but everyday chores is a time thief…You, Mark, working with, for you–one of the nicest experiences I have had in my life.  You’re honest and you didn’t try to beat me out of anything. I’m sure you’re aware of how bad & cruel it is, but you shine like a rose, mixing metaphors—I like. …If the shoe fits, send it to the funny farm. Take Care…. Love, it’s a Lyn Joy & Tarzan VI”

I haven’t changed Lyn’s punctuation or spelling, I think it should be read just as she wrote it down. Lyn Joy Kroeger was one of the many artists who worked in the “rank and file” of the business, she never animated on professional jobs, but did finish one experimental film: “Mandela”, which may be on You Tube someplace. It was a film made of abstract designs, I can’t remember if the soundtrack was Ravi Shankar or not, but I’m sure you get the general idea of the film. It aired at least once on Los Angeles TV.  Most of all, her odd and unique life was her art. I have no idea what happened to her in 2006 and 2007, I didn’t hear from her and should have suspected something. I hope she had someone to care for her, when I knew her she didn’t have any family except for Tarzan, and I believe no close friends. She was a “prickly” person, but a very dear one. I miss her very much, especially at Christmas.

This week’s comics are the last two pages of Jim Tyer’s Hennery Hound from Barnyard Comics #7, on page 6, Hennery runs out of the graveyard so fast that he leaves his clothes behind. This story is signed “J.T.” Marvelous Mike this week is only four episodes. The strips from 12-25 and 12-28-1956 are missing, because the Post-Dispatch didn’t publish on Christmas, and the episode for the 28th was not in the microfilm. The homeless boy, Billy and his mom, Ellie, are re-united with Don, their long-lost papa. Cliff Crump lands the International Department Stores account, because amnesia victim Don was the President of the IDS. Mike solved the whole case through Billy’s locket, what a genius! Krazy Kat is from 5-15 to 5-20-1939, this week’s storylines are “Firecracker Crack-Ups” and  “Top Hat and Bricks”. Enjoy the strips, may Santa bring us World Peace. Love and Joy to all.

Gallery Christmas Cat

Monday, December 15th, 2008

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Very busy around here getting ready for Christmas. Our Catblog post leads off with a painting by my wife Cathy called “Gallery Cat”. We encountered this sleepy citizen in a chair in the middle of a bustling art gallery near Temecula a few years ago. Cathy did this small oil painting later from a photo that we made of the gallery’s mascot. I like the bright red that she used behind the black and white cat, it also feels in keeping with the season.

Our comics this week are the third and fourth pages of “Hennery Hound” by Jim Tyer from Barnyard Comics #7. Hennery tries to escape the noise pollution in the movie theater, the park and the library, with no luck. I wonder how he would have reacted to cel phones? Especially after next February.

Marvelous Mike from 12-17 to 12-22-1956 continues the Christmas tale we started last time. Mike and Merrie are trying to get the homeless boy and his mother to their house for Christmas, but have to get their idea past the depressed Cliff, who can’t seem to catch a break landing the International Department Stores account. Krazy Kat this week from 5-8 to 5-13-1939 is about, what else?, bricks! I especially like 5-12, with the unusual pose of Krazy winding up to toss a brick at Ignatz! It looks like Los Angeles is in for torrential rains the next few days. I sure hope I can post again here soon, but if you don’t hear from me, I may be dealing with situations. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!

Howdy!

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

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Hello, fellow prisoners! Thanks to Mark Evanier’s website, I scored a $10 copy of the new Howdy Doody 40 Episode collection from NBC-Universal. The earliest episode on the collection seems to be from Feb. 1949, when the whole show was done live. You can hear Howdy’s mouth making little clicking sounds on the live microphone, and there are no scenes in these early shows with Bob Smith and Howdy talking in the same set-up. After all, Mr. Smith (as Howdy addresses him in the early shows) did Howdy’s voice live and not being a ventriloquist, he had to do the marionette’s lines off-camera. Bob Keeshan is very funny as Clarabelle the clown, in one episode the clown gets frustrated trying to do a magic trick and spends most of his screen time flailing around on the floor attempting to tie knots in a scarf without actually touching it. Keeshan’s Clarabelle is a small child in a clown suit who speaks through his horns. Paradoxically, he was the spear-carrier and on-camera engineer for the show as well, producing live rabbits from the Flapdoodle and running old Jones Family and Mickey McGuire silent comedies on the Scopedoodle. The quality of the old kinescopes is pretty sharp for their age and the audio levels are just fine for comfortable listening. This is a 5 disc set, and includes many extras, even the last episode broadcast in 1960. If you love 1950s television, try to pick this one up. It’s a window on a world before the mean-spirited scatology that passes for comedy became the norm in our 21st century world. It’s especially heartening to see the adoring reaction to the family of rabbits that Clarabelle produces from the Flapdoodle from the kids in the Peanut Gallery. They seem enchanted by the family of angoras. Bob Smith was one of the warmest on-air kid’s show hosts ever, he always seemed to have a loving and respectful relationship with the “little guy”, Howdy, which enhances the family atmosphere on the set.  I’ll report on some of the other features in the collection when I get to see them.

Our comics this week are, Hennery Hound from Barnyard Comics #7, by Jim Tyer. It looks like Jim inked this one with a brush. Hennery seems to be a forerunner of Huckleberry Hound, he looks a little like Huck, and is the same hard luck type of character as Huck was in the TV cartoons. His Hippo wife is a very funny touch. When her bridge club steps all over Hennery on the second page, a high-heel goes right into his eye! While we are looking at Tyer, here are the last two pages of the Flebus story, “Thumb’s Up”. I love that distorted thumb on Rudolph, and Flebus as a tall, cranky old man takes the story out with a laugh.

Marvelous Mike this week is from 12-10 to 12-15-1956. In a new story line, Mike wants to feed the homeless on Christmas Day, and finds a needy boy in the local department store that he wants to care for. Liz Crump wants to invite the boy and his mother for Christmas dinner, but Cliff is feeling the pinch financially and his inner Scrooge is emerging. Let’s give a birthday shout out to my brother Kurt (Dec. 10), who braved the somewhat “charged” atmosphere at the downtown St. Louis Public Library to copy all these strips from microfilm for our reading pleasure. Krazy Kat is from 5/1 to 5/6/1939 and continues Mimi the poodle(?)’s appearance from last week. Mimi is a heavy user of “Pomme d’or” perfume, much to Ignatz’s delight. Ig’s wife, Molly, is jealous of Mimi’s perfume and starts to use some of it herself. Garge gets a week’s worth of gags out of these olfactory antics.