Month: June 2009
Last Friday, June 19th, I drove out near Granada Hills to an estate sale I came across in the Pennysaver. It stated that it was the estate of an animator, with artwork, film equipment and 35 and 16mm films! The Pennysaver listed the wrong address on Darla Ave., but I could tell from the people filing in and out that I’d come to the right house. It was a typical Valley residence, ranch style, large airy living room and many small rooms to be used for bed and utility. It turned out to be Stan Phillips’s house. Stan Phillips had a company of his own for several years in Colorado called Stan Phillips and Associates. He made non-theatrical cartoon short subjects and commercials, mostly for local clients. He made WATER FOLLIES and A SNORT HISTORY in the early 1970s. Stan animated WATER FOLLIES (gags concerning water conservation) and Pat Oliphant, the famous editorial cartoonist animated A SNORT HISTORY (about DUI through history). Prints of these two films show up on Ebay quite often. Stan gave employment to a good friend of mine in New Mexico many times. Evidently, Stan moved out to Granada Hills eventually and worked on such TV properties as “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, “Madeline”, a Christmas special or two, and so forth. He subcontracted storyboards and probably timed out exposure sheets like so many animators have done. It must not have been easy to be a corporate soldier after heading his own company for so long. I never got to meet Stan, but I’ve heard a few stories about him, so I almost feel I know him. His house was full of artwork he’d collected, cels and storyboards from the TV shows he’d worked on, old Indian pottery, an old RCA 16mm projector, 16/35 mm films and old children’s books. Stan had a whole bookcase full of those, including some rare first editions of Dr. Doolittle and Oz books on sale for very little money. He even collected tribal masks from New Guinea; the same sort of thing that Marc Davis used to like. I finally found the films in the garage, being stood over by a very stocky and gruff looking guy (typical film collector), who wouldn’t even let me LOOK at the films. He just glared at me when I explained that I had driven a long way to see what the films’s titles were. “Don’t even THINK about it”, he grunted. He bought them all for $100.00, and they all seemed to be prints or “elements” from Stan’s WATER FOLLIES and A SNORT HISTORY, judging by a sneak peek I took. If Stan had prints of anything else, I’ll never know. I can’t understand collectors with that kind of greedy attitude at all. Film should be shared, it HAS to be run every so often or it develops Vinegar Syndrome and shrivels up and dies. The guy carted off the stuff in a hurry, maybe he slept with it underneath his pillow that night, who knows? So anyway, there is another obscure little chapter in animation history discovered by accident in the Pennysaver, just as I found Ollie Johnston’s estate sale in there some time ago.
This week’s comics are “Nize Baby” from 4/17/1927:
Great Red Riding Hood strip by Milt Gross. “Nize Baby” was an offshoot of the “Gross Exaggerations” column that Milt wrote in 1917. The Feitlebaum family started in that column and were in fine slapstick form in the weekly comic page that started on Jan. 2, 1927. You’re seeing strips from early in the run here. It only ran about two years, until Feb. 17, 1929.
Krazy is from 9/18 to 9/23/1939, this week the cast pretend to be “Little People”, not exactly children. Mrs. Kwakk-wakk goes back to an egg, and Offissa Pupp and Ignatz play hide and seek. In the 9/23 strip, Offissa quits counting in the hide and seek game to yell “Ya Come”. Is this how they used to say “Ready or Not, hear I come” in the 1930s?
In Marvelous Mike from 4/29 to 5/3/1957, Cliff Crump finds a runaway orphan who has escaped from Mr. Meadows’s foundling home. The orphan explains that they mistreat and SELL the orphans that live at the home! Cliff doesn’t believe the orphan’s story. Another mystery to be solved soon. Remember to click on the thumbnails to see them at reading size.
I came across a small collection of Milt Gross’s “Nize Baby” from 1927 and 1928, mostly from the Los Angeles Examiner. This week’s strip is from 4-10-1927. I don’t have a scanner big enough, so I took digital photos and tried to enhance them as much as I could. These pages are literally falling apart, that’s why the dark chunks showing through. Those chunks are the rug on my floor. Also from the LA Examiner, I’ve reprinted part of an article called, “Speaking of Wives of Our Great Men” (4-11-1926), illustrated by the creator of the “flypaper sequence” from “Playful Pluto”, Webb Smith! Webb Smith and Bob Kuwahara, creator of “Marvelous Mike” (who is a pretty “nize baby” himself), both worked in the story department at Disney, Smith was more of a concept artist who wrote with his drawings, and Kuwahara was the first Disney story sketch man, who specialized in visualizing scripted words.
In the daily strips this week, Krazy Kat (9-11 to 9-16-1939), spends the week doing gags with a pop-up toaster that tosses bricks! Marvelous Mike (4-22 to 4-27-1957) this week concludes Mike’s stint as a stockbroker. The baby genius solves the trucking company mess by getting Tempo trucking to ship produce on Overall’s trucks, thus taking advantage of the lower shipping costs. With his managerial chops, he could be another Fred Hoertel! (Family joke.)
Vincent Davis’s Memorial was celebrated at the home of LeeAnne and Monte Young out in Woodland Hills on Sunday, June 7th. Vince’s wife Hiroko organized it and almost 100 people turned out. In the photo third from the top, you can see Ted Woolery, Mariko Chouinard, Roger Chouinard and Chuck Swenson. In the fourth photo down, John Kafka and David Brain pose to be digitized. All these good people worked with and knew Vincent, Roger Chouinard went to school with Vince. There were so many old friends there, Libby Simon, Jill Stirdivant, Jim Duffy, Frank Furlong, Fred Wolf, Kunimi Terada, Robert Alvarez among the throng. Lunch was served, mostly from Brent’s Deli, but with a lot of home made concoctions, mostly desserts, supplied by good friends of Vince. “Dr. Octopus” played on DVD in the living room with a lot of Vince’s animated commercials and clips from shows he worked on. “Doc Oc” was just as funny and peculiar as it was the last time I saw it, almost 20 years ago! I had forgotten that Chuck Menville played the hero, and there was the unforgettable Sylvia Dees playing the heroine. I think Vincent played “Doc Oc”, but I don’t remember him actually admitting to it. There was a little boy watching it who got very anxious when any adults got too close to the TV set, he was afraid that the Octopus was going to be turned off! He took it very seriously, even though the whole thing was a spoof. When you’ve never seen an old serial chapter, maybe you think that “Doc Oc” is the real thing! Horrors!
Fred Wolf told a funny story about Vince. Fred and Vince had a very serious business meeting to attend, and of course Vince dressed appropriately. In a camouflage outfit, complete with camouflage hat, camouflage sunglasses, camouflage shirt, camouflage jacket, camouflage tie, camouflage shoes and camouflage shoelaces! Fred told Vince that he looked ridiculous, and that he ought to change to something more sedate for the meeting. Fred said to Vince: “Why would you want to go to the meeting dressed in that camouflage outfit?” Vince replied: “I didn’t want them to see me.”
That’s such a typical Davis dalliance, always be the most ridiculous at the most serious times, sticking pins to the pompous. That’s Vincent in one of his green polka-dot clown outfits in the photo at the top of the post, and posing by his beloved BMW motorcycle with the side car, which he bought from Chuck Swenson. Riding in that sidecar was like riding in a Mixmaster, you felt like a strawberry milkshake at the end of the ride.
There were so many great stories flowing out about Vince, and Cathy and I spent so much time talking to folks we hadn’t seen for years, that four o’clock seemed to come at one thirty! Vince’s spirit really took us all over for the afternoon. He got a lot of old friends back together again, I think he would have liked that.
I want to thank all of you who posted comments on my last article. I think “So Long, Vincent Davis” had more response than anything I’ve written on here so far.
In the strips this week, we have Krazy Kat from 9-4-1939 to 9-9. Ignatz thinks he’s Lindberg this week. Marvelous Mike this time is from 4-15-1957 to 4-20. Cliff Crump’s boss, Mr. Kimball, faints dead away when he finds out that Mike is the financial genius that got everybody to invest in Tempo Trucking. Kimball changes his mind and brings Mike to the stockholder’s meeting when Mike tells him he has a solution for disposing of the overvalued stock. Please remember to click on the small images to display the pictures larger for comfortable viewing. Enjoy!