Archive for April, 2009

Walt Stanchfield/”The Night Before Christmas” Pt. One

Friday, April 24th, 2009

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Hi Folks,

My friend Don Hahn has put together a two-volume set of books that took him almost 20 years to get published. It is called DRAWN TO LIFE, and comprises the entire set of “handouts” that our gesture drawing teacher at Disney, Walt Stanchfield, distributed to all takers every week in the late 1980s and 1990s. Walt was one of those rare art teachers who made figure drawing accessible to us “cartoonists”, by making the poses and the ideas behind the poses the point of the drawing lesson, rather than the fine points of anatomy. These were “gesture” drawing classes that usually used clothed models holding props. It was OK with Walt to be as creative as we wanted to be with the poses, even turn them into Donald Duck if we wanted to, just as long as we caricatured the model’s gesture in a few well chosen lines. These books would enhance any art school that prizes traditional drawing skills, as the lessons transcend animation and give a lot of inspiration along with the lectures. Walt Stanchfield was an assistant and animator at Disney during the years 1949-1986. Before that he worked for the Charles Mintz studio in 1937 and Walter Lantz in the mid to late 1940s (the Fred Moore/Ed Love era). He started his classes in the late 1980s and taught through the 1990s, he died in 2000. Walt was amiable, sometimes he would draw a real quick little doodle right next to my labored-over gesture drawing, that got right to the heart of the pose in a few seconds. Sometimes, Walt wouldn’t get the pose either, and he was quick to admit his failures. He lived in Solvang, CA with his wife Dee and was a very good watercolorist as well as being a whiz at gesture. Walt was a very modest man, who played tennis nearly every day before work. He always described himself as “just a plodder”, nothing special in animation. If you praised him too much to his face, he could get riled, he thought compliments were insincere. I really learned a lot from him, though. If you get Vol. 2, there are about a dozen of my little sketches reproduced, even indexed! I never thought those little drawings would be in a nice textbook like this one, what an honor! These books have a cover price of $29.95, and well worth the tab, but if you lurk about Amazon, etc., you can probably grab a copy or two off for less. The great Focal Press of England is the publisher, they also did the little paperback “How To Cartoon” by John Halas and Bob Privett, in the late 1940s, I believe. These books deserve a space in any art school library, and deal with drawing, gesture, tangents and acting among a lot of other things. Get them, or just read them, you’ll be glad you did.

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Here is the first part of a draft for the Tom and Jerry cartoon: “The Night Before Christmas”, see if you agree with it:

1. Fade in Exterior, Tom and Jerry’s Home–No Anim.

2. Dissolve to shot of fireplace—-Jack Zander

3. Cut to C.U. of Trap at Hole——Zander

4. Cut to Packages Under the Tree—–Zander

5. Cut to Candy Cane hanging on Tree— George Gordon

6. Cut to Doll’s Rocking Chair—————-Gordon

7. Cut to Stuffed Toy Lion———–Gordon

8. Cut to Jerry in Lion’s mane, he jumps—-Gordon

9. Jerry lands on Tom——-Gordon

10. Jerry runs from Tom—Cecil Surry

11. Pan of Jerry in Light Socket—-Surry

12.  Dissolve to Jerry running———Bill Littlejohn

13. Jerry in line with toy soldiers——–Littlejohn

14. Tom at end of soldiers line———Littlejohn

15. Perspective shot of Jerry in Line—-Littlejohn

17. Jerry in line, Tom enters——Littlejohn

19. Tom at Railroad Crossing——–Surry

20. Perspective shot Jerry on Train———Surry

21. Pan of Tom———–Gordon

22. Tom puts on boxing glove———Gordon

23.  Tom runs around tree to Jack in the Box——–Gordon

24. Boxing glove on spring—-Gordon

25. Pan shot with mistletoe———Zander

26.  closer shot of mistletoe and Jerry———-Zander

27. close up of Tom acting defiant——–Zander

28. Repeat of Sc. 26——–Zander

29.   Tom in coy poses (modelled on Mickey Rooney’s gestures)——Zander

We’ll continue on from here next week, let me know what you think.

This week in comics we have the next two pages of “Twinkle, the Star who Came Down From Heaven” from CALLING ALL KIDS #7, any clues on who might have done the art? I love the relative sizes of Twinkle and the Earth’s Moon in the second page, I’m a sucker for fireflies in Japanese lanterns too. In MARVELOUS MIKE this week from 3/18 to 3/23/1957, Peggy Kimball is a big part of the action. It is revealed to her Dad, Mr. Kimball that she is the leader of the car “thieves”. Mike overhears her  confession as he eavesdrops on her telephone conversation while she “babysits” him. Krazy Kat this week is from 8/7 to 8/12/1939. Edgar Bergen must have been on the radio in Garge’s house as he concocted this story of Ignatz making his brick talk through ventriloquism. A whole week’s worth of strips follows “starring” the brick. As always, I would love to hear your comments, see you next time.
 

Salt Water Tabby Part Two, Twinkle

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

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Hello readers! This week I’m featuring Part Two of my draft to “Salt Water Tabby“:

Jerry running, Tom in with bucket, plops it over Jerry, takes it off revealing bucket-shaped sand pile, Tom up with shovel, slices off chunks of sand pile rapidly, no Jerry, Tom digs in sand fast, sand comes in on top of him from screen right–Lah

Jerry digging sand with shovel fast, covers Tom in hole, Jerry jumps on sand to compact it, jabs shovel handle in sand, Tom’s head out of sand, Jerry lets the shovel slam into Tom’s face, exits–Lah

Jerry runs in, jumps in basket, Tom in, looks around, gets banana out of basket–Muse

Tom peels banana, revealing Jerry hiding inside peel, Tom looks at him, Jerry snaps catch on beach umbrella, snaps on Tom, Jerry opens little patch on umbrella, jumps out left–Muse

Jerry jumps into soda bottle, stuck, Tom runs in, grabs bottle(?)

CU Tom shakes bottle, truck in to Jerry-(?)

CU Jerry shoots out of bottle (?)

Jerry tumbles through air, hits clam shell in water, opens shell, mad, grabs sea weed and burnt stick–(?)

Jerry throws seaweed over pylon, draws eyes on pylon with burnt stick–(?)

Tom grabs sandwich and chicken leg from picnic basket, hears yell for help, looks right–Lah

Jerry yelling by disguised pylon–Lah

Tom does heroic antic., runs out, right–Barge

Tom runs, dives to pylon–Lah

Tom smashes head first on pylon, wave in, pan over, wave recedes revealing Tom with a big lump on his head–Lah

Tom runs on pan–Lah

Jerry jumps on bucket, reaches up to toy sea horse, unfastens catch on air intake, sea horse flies off right fast–Lah

Tom stops run, open mouthed take, swallows horse, air propels Tom off right fast, suit comes off-Lah

Tom sails to and from camera in the air as sea horse deflates inside of him–Lah

Jerry hides in Tom’s bathing suit–Lah

Long shot, Tom flies up in air–(?)

Tom runs out of air, starts to fall, long vertical pan–(?)

Tom hits the water, Tom up our of hole in the sand on re-inflated sea horse’s back, does take screen left–Lah

Jerry sails away in basket, using Tom’s suit for a sail–Lah(?)

As you can see, there are 7, possibly 8 scenes that I can’t positively identify. Especially the “soda bottle” sequence, students?

This week in comics, I present “Twinkle, the Star That Came Down From Heaven” from CALLING ALL KIDS #7, February 1947.  I first encountered the character in the old HUMPTY DUMPTY’S MAGAZINE in the 1950s, it was only later that I found out the character goes back to 1945. He was always published by Parent’s Magazine, since they did both CALLING ALL KIDS and HUMPTY DUMPTY’S. I have a crude photo of a couple of pages from a Twinkle story of 1959 in HUMPTY’S, so that the styles can be compared. The Twinkle I used to read, was much more like a children’s book, very stylized, black and white drawings with captions. The original Twinkle was very much a 1940s Funny book, looking to be a production of an East Coast comics “shop”. This Twinkle story looks very much like a Famous Studios animator drew it. In coming weeks, I will re-print a story that Marty Taras drew for this issue of CALLING ALL KIDS, as well. Twinkle was a little God, who came down from Heaven to solve the little problems of the insect and animal cast. I think the design for Winky Dink was stolen from Twinkle, both star-headed characters. If any of you cartoon scholars can guess who drew this Twinkle story, let me hear from you.

This just in, I noticed that Elliott A. Caplin was the Publisher of CALLING ALL KIDS comics! Elliott Caplin was Al Capp’s brother, and later published Toby Comics, and wrote several long-lived daily comic strips such as Abbie N’ Slats, The Heart of Juliet Jones, Big Ben Bolt, Dr. Kildare and even wrote Little Orphan Annie for a time after Harold Gray passed away. It’s interesting that the caterpillar’s name in “Twinkle” is Eliot, maybe Elliott Caplin wrote this story and slipped himself in disguise into the action! Perhaps Elliott worked on CALLING ALL BOYS, CALLING ALL GIRLS and POLLY PIGTAILS, which were all magazines that Parent’s published featuring comics. They were all out in about the same span of years, 1946-1949, except CALLING ALL GIRLS dates back to 1941. If anyone can check their copies for his credits, let me know, I don’t have any issues of the other Parent’s Magazine comic books.

       As you know from the comments on last week’s post, MyToons.com is no more. I received two one-line emails from them the night before they closed, one saying that they were closing down, the other saying that my check was in the mail. To their credit, I did receive a check, for four dollars. We had about 7 paid hits, thanks to all of you who tried it. I actually am very sorry to lose MyToons, not so much for the money it generated, but because of the advertising and web presence it had. They really did a LOT of advertising and promotion. Greg Ford and I are considering other options for “It’s ‘The Cat'” on the Internet. If any other streaming cartoon sites are around, paid or not, and if you are interested in “It’s ‘The Cat'”, please let us know.

     In comic strips this week, Marvelous Mike (3/11 to 3/16/1957)’s dad Cliff finds out that Mr. Kimball’s daughter Peggy is a juvenile delinquent who swipes Kimball’s car and drives recklessly all over town. Of course poor Cliff is fired by Mr. Kimball for telling him about his daughter’s split personality. Mike seems to have the solution, see the next post! Krazy Kat (7/31 to 8/5/1939) is mostly about the “Bird on Mrs. Kwakk-Wakk’s Hat”. The bird scandalizes both Ignatz and Offissa Pupp, in a sequence that seems to hark back to old time melodrama. Walter Lantz based one of his Nellie “Mello-Drama” cartoons on the Bird on the Hat theme, titled “The Bird on Nellie’s Hat”.  As always, thanks for your comments and support, folks. I really appreciate hearing from you.

“Salt Water Tabby” Draft, Pt. One

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

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Hello Readers, I apologize for the long gaps between posts lately. I’m getting some nice mail regarding Little Grey from old friends like Bill Warren and David Gerstein. Milt Gray gave me a hopeful message verbally: “Someday another kitty may come along.” A cat that needs you is the best kind of cat to have, and that’s certainly what Little Grey was.

Here is part one of my draft to “Salt Water Tabby”, I’m pretty sure about the scene IDs in the first part, in the second there are a few gaps. We’ll get around to that next time:

Salt Water Tabby–Barge, Lah, Muse credited

Tom comes out of Beach Club House in red suit, closes door pinching suit, runs out–Lah

Tom tries to dive into ocean, suit stretches, pulled back to Club House–Lah

Tom crashes into Club House, making hole in the door, runs out again on long pan, dives onto dry beach as tide goes out, swims in junk lying on beach, tries to get water out of his ear, runs out, junk dripping from inside his suit–Lah

Tom jogs past “Toodles”, girl cat, falls into trash container–Muse

Tom slides into shot with grapefruit on his head, tips it to Toodles like a hat–Muse

MCU Tom sips Toodles’s soda, grabs her hot dog–Muse

CU Tom eats hot dog with typewriter sound efx.–Muse

MCU Tom antics., lies in Toodles’s lap, hit by tomato, banana, looks left, pan over to basket, Tom into shot with shovel–Muse

CU Jerry eats bologna from sandwiches, grabs hard boiled egg–Muse

CU Jerry throws eggs and olives at Tom, forming an extra set of “eyes”–Muse

CU Jerry chews celery in Tom’s hand,.taking bites out of his finger, Tom yells–Muse

Jerry runs on pan, hides in rocks, Tom in, reaches into rocks–Muse

CU Tom grabs crab, crab nips his whiskers off–Barge

Tom tries to run away, crab pinches his tail–Barge

CU Tom up in pain, exits fast–Barge

Tom runs behind rock, looks at tail, it’s cut like paper dolls–Barge

Jerry runs up beach umbrella handle, steps on catch–Barge

Umbrella closes on Tom–Barge

Jerry exits Tom’s pants, runs on pan to crab, crab tries to pinch him, both run out left–Barge

Jerry pursued by crab, in cycle–Barge

Jerry holds up Tom’s trunk leg, crab runs up his trunks, snaps him four times in the rear–Barge

Tom and umbrella flie up in the air, come down on tip–Barge

CU crab opens rear of Tom’s trunks like beer can with claw, crab hops out of shot–Barge

Jerry out of basket with soda pop, runs into Tom, Tom pops off bottle cap, puts it on Jerry’s head–Ray Patterson

Jerry feels his way with cap over his eyes–Muse

Jerry trips over crab’s claw, uses it to get bottle cap off his head, crab almost snaps him, exit–Muse

Jerry runs behind picnic basket, looks screen right–Lah

Tom takes sandwich from Toodles–Muse

Jerry runs in with clam, puts it in the sandwich–Muse

CU Tom bites sandwich with clam in it, teeth break off–Muse

Tom giggles to Toodles, tries to nonchalantly swallow the sandwich with effort–Muse

CU Tom with broken teeth–Muse

Jerry runs over with bucket of sand, no suit on–Muse

Tom spoons sugar into coffee cup, truck into sugar bowl-Muse

Jerry with suit on, subs sand for sugar, puts extra shovel of sand in coffee-Muse

CU Tom drinks sandy coffee, spits it out–Muse

Jerry scoops salt water in bucket from ocean, runs on pan–Muse

Tom choking, Jerry in with bucket, Tom grabs bucket, drinks, spits it out in Toodles’s face–Muse

The Jim Tyer text illo is from LAFFY-DAFFY COMICS #1. None other than Art Spiegelman has borrowed my copy to scan for an upcoming book called “RAW: Junior”, I assume it’s a collection of comics originally aimed at children. Watch for it.

In comic strips this week we have MARVELOUS MIKE from 3/4 to 3/9/1957. Cliff has a conflict of interest as a working judge and employee of Mr. Kimball. It seems a pal of Kimball’s needs a ticket fixed, but Cliff is too ethical to do it and seems doomed to lose his position with Kimball and Co. In the meantime, Cliff narrowly manages to rescue Mike and Merrie from being run-down by Mr. Kimball’s car! In Krazy Kat this week from 7/24 to 7/29/1939, we have two days of Krazy’s grief over the lack of a “love brick” from Ignatz, the balance of the week Garge does mostly food gags, with watermelons and ice cream bricks.

Don’t forget our cels for sale on this site, www.itsthecat.com. I have had some so-so reports from customers on the viability of the www.mytoons.com site. It seems that it is quite complicated to download the “It’s ‘The Cat'” movie. I tried it, and the site requires you to 1. Register to get a user name and password. 2. Go to my window in the My Toons store and click on the “buy” or “add to my cart” link. 3. Pay the $1.99 with a credit card or Paypal link. 4. The “file” goes into a “digital safe”, which you have to re-enter your user name and password to get in to. 5. Click on the icon in your “digital safe” to download the movie file to your computer. 6. Save the file in a favorite spot on your hard-drive; I use “My Music”. 7. Open the file and choose a player. Not all of the players work, I can’t seem to play it in Winamp, but Quick Time played the movie without a hitch. Some of the customers can’t get it to play at all. I’ve taken this up with My Toons, as way too complicated for the average customer. This after all, is an impulse buy. Once the “nickel” is dropped, the customer should be able to see the cartoon IMMEDIATELY, preferably in a POP-UP WINDOW. Do any of you computer jockeys out there know if this is technically feasible? Write and let me know. I hope to hear from you.