Month: February 2012
There isn’t much information around the ‘net about “The Junior Times”, the 8 page little tabloid Sunday supplement for children, started as a supplement to the Los Angeles Sunday Times on July 23, 1922. Here is the announcement of the little paper, advertised on the front page of the Los Angeles Times: The paper started out a lot like a miniature “St. Nicholas” magazine, reprinting some of the Chicago Tribune’s kid-skewing features like “The Teeny-Weenies” and obscure comic strips like “Just Dog” by Robert Dickey and “Buttons and Fatty” by a cartoonist named “Meb”. It wasn’t until Sept. 9th, 1923 that “Aunt Dolly”‘s interactive pages for children started. The mysterious Aunt encouraged poetry, fiction, art and photography from her young readers and got a good response. Among the earliest contributors were Manuel M. Moreno, who was an animation pioneer working with Walter Lantz as early as 1930:This little drawing, “Not So Happy Fourth” from 9-9-1923, is the earliest one I could find in the Jr. Times. Manuel developed a cuter Oswald the Rabbit for Walter Lantz while he worked there, he had a more appealing and controlled approach to his animation than the usual standard at Lantz. As a child, he figured prominently in the 1923 Aunt Dolly Christmas Party: “Speaking of Toy-Makers reminds me of the good news concerning our talented cartoonist, Manuel K. (sic) Moreno. He is making a meteorlike career for himself. First capturing a Kodak as a prize, then receiving a special $5 cash prize in addition for exceptional Toy-Maker work. But not content with such honors, he has become a captain of our famous club, thereby winning another prize. Now just when Aunt Dolly was writing his order for a $2.50 check, in he has come with two bulging parcels under his arm. ‘For the Toy-Makers,’ he said, with his ready smile, ‘I hope they will make some little boy and girl happy.’ It is needless to say that The Times committee of happiness was surprised when they looked down on his clever pivoting toys, a cat that humps his back, raises it’s tail and rolls it’s eyes at you, a football player carved and painted, that throws a ball like a bluestreak, and a clown that opens his mouth and makes grimaces at you.” (by Aunt Dolly, 12-2-1923) Note the early penchant for animation in Moreno’s early toys! I certainly wish I could see pictures of those toys, especially the cat! Here are two episodes of Manuel’s early comic strip for the Jr. Times, called “Mr. Peach”: These are from Oct. and Dec., 1923 and are among the earliest child-contributed comic strips I found in the Jr. Times. I also found an early drawing by Bob Wickersham: from 9-16-1923, and Cal Howard: Nov. 11, 1923. I’m sure both these boys are well-known to animation fans, Wickersham for his animation at Disney’s and Screen Gems, where he was the main contributor to the “Fox and Crow” cartoons, and Cal Howard, animator for Walter Lantz, who became a key gag and story creator in the golden age, contributing stories to Lantz almost right up to 1972. Thanks to the Glendale Library’s subscription to the vintage L.A. Times, I can search the 1920s papers without loading any microfilm into readers, all the material is right here on the ‘net. The “Vacation, ‘Nuff Sed” cover drawing above is by Hardie Gramatky, future creator of “Little Toot” and pioneer Disney animator, as well as one of the finest California watercolorists. He was one of John Bohnenberger’s idols as related in a previous post. Hardie’s mother, and brother Herbert both contributed to Aunt Dolly’s contests as well in 1923. It must have helped Hardie to come from such an artistic family, look what he did with his heritage! I’ll try to find more material from “The Junior Times” as we go along. Such kids as Fred Moore contributed some comics to the Junior Times later on, as we’ll see.
Barker Bill is from 1-24 to 2-6-1955 this time. The circus is still travelling, with many gags featuring the Fat Lady, Phyllis Fizeek and May, her niece, Elephants, a Giraffe and of course, Peanut Perkins, the resident dumb roustabout. Perkins is even in the Sunday page from the Boston Globe. A mix-up in deliveries to the tailor and the Gorilla by Peanut, set up the next batch of continuity gags in the Barker Bill strip.
Felix from 6-3 to 6-9-1935 continues the Gorilla Island story. It’s uncanny how such a cartoony style as Messmer’s can create scary monster animals, such as the ones in 6-6 and 6-8 episodes. The giant duck introduced in the 6-8 figures in the story to a great extent later on. The Giant making a pipe out of an elf’s house in the Sunday page, reminds me of some of the gags in “The Brave Little Tailor”, a Mickey Mouse cartoon from 1938. Messmer did them first!
Krazy this time is from 4-14 to 4-19-1941. The continuity lasts all week and involves two trees, Offissa Pupp and Ignatz as the principal elements. The last two strips feature a talking brick. The key weapon in the strip has become a character.
Patrick, from 2-13 to 2-18-1967, concludes our little screed this time. Suzy is the featured supporting player this week, trying to get a valentine out of Patrick and trying to appeal to his stomach with a cake. Patrick believes that St. Valentine’s day is actually Attila the Hun’s birthday. Sounds like an appropriate hero for the horrible little brat.
If any of you historians out there can contribute some info. to the “Junior Times” series, drop me a line. It will be a welcome relief from all the mail I get in Russian and the strange offers of Faster Computer Speeds which usually originate from Gmail addresses. Cut it out you guys, or I’ll give you such a pinch!
The response to the John Bohnenberger posts weren’t too much, but that’s understandable. The computer savvy are too young, and the folks who knew John are mostly computer illiterate. I’ll just post some comics this time, starting with Barker Bill from 1-10 to 1-22-1955. The gags all feature the side-show freaks like the tall man, the fat lady and Phyllis Fezeek, the strong woman. Her little niece May figures in some of these. Peanuts Perkins, roustabout and all-around dumb guy is good for a few jokes as well.
I echo the elve’s comment in the last panel of the Felix Sunday page, “What would we do without Felix?” Here’s Felix from 5-27 to 6-2-1935. He’s still on the Ape’s island with Danny and the explorers from the ship. Mostly insect and strange animals populate the tropical paradise in this batch of strips. I love the pose in the last panel of the 6-1, as Felix happily dozes after subduing a horned beast with a brace of melons. I love the change of character in the “Laura” topper, as she becomes less of a pest, and more of a homeless parrot in need of love.
Krazy, from 4-7 to 4-12-1941, starts off with an iconic Ignatz strip in which he is “Hunted, Haunted and Hounded” as we all are, by the threat of incarceration. There are also a couple of little two-day continuities featuring Offissa Pupp fishing for Ignatz with a fishing pole baited with brick, and Krazy and Pupp sailing down the river in a box.
Here’s Patrick, 2-6 to 2-11-1967. Patrick gets his repulsiveness from pills and sprays, and poor Suzy can’t bake her way into Patrick’s very hard heart with her concrete cookies in the 2-11. Well, I’m gonna keep my head down and keep puttin’ up these crazy strips til’ y’all beg for mercy! See you next post.
Cathy and I are thinking a lot of our late friend, and wonderful artist, John Bohnenberger. Cathy wrote a tribute to him that was in the last post. This time I’m putting up four images of John’s paintings that I found on the Internet that I especially admire. The one upstairs is called “The Fox”, and has to be my favorite Bohnenberger I’ve seen so far. I love the black squiggle he’s used for the little fox at the bottom of the page, and how the small creature seems to be looking out over his purple and yellow pond into the forest beyond. John’s really used complimentary colors well here, and he’s just suggested the forest in the distance by leaving white, pine shaped spaces in the background. Reflections work well in watercolor, and John has used them very appealingly here. I love this painting for it’s color and cartooniness!
The two paintings here are called “Blue Boy” and “The Intersection”. They show two sides of John’s skill, “Blue Boy” shows his almost photographic style, very realistic handling of the boats with those watercolor reflections dominating the composition. The top half of the picture is loaded with detail, but doesn’t feel heavy. The bottom half is devoted to reflections of the top half, but not a mirror image. John could really do water! “The Intersection” is the more impressionist side of John’s ability. Very loose handling of the people, buildings, umbrellas and sky, coupled with a wet street for those attractive reflections. He’s used little bits of bright color, red accents in the signs and orange in the ponchos, which brighten the whole painting. He’s used violet and subdued colors most everywhere else. This painting suggests a city street without painting every window ledge and headlight. Here is another beautiful watercolor that John called, “The Klondike Cafe”. This painting suggests a little harbor in Alaska without an over-excess of mood. The trees in the background are really one big shape with just a few little accent shapes for contrast and the buildings and boats are defined by the shadows and reflections they cast on themselves and on the water. Note how different the reflections are in this painting than in “Blue Boy”. Very simple white shapes with a few white squiggles on the surface of the water. This painting reminds me of watercolors that might have been done by Roger Armstrong (who John knew) and Hardie Gramatky. Here’s a copy of the now “rare” little program printed for John’s eulogy near the retirement community where he lived. John lived to be 86, but always seemed younger than that to us. John, Cathy and I are and were shy people. We don’t like to force ourselves on anybody, and usually keep to ourselves. John didn’t encourage any visitors to his little living space which you can see below from the outside. According to friends, John had no room in his apartment for anyone to sit. It was FILLED floor to ceiling with his paintings. If you visited, you stood until you got tired, then the visit was over. Like visiting Ollie Johnston’s house when he had left it, this same feeling came over me when we saw where John had lived. How I wish we (or I) had just BULLED my way over there and knocked on John’s door. I really wanted to visit his studio. He never invited us (or me) and didn’t encourage visitors, but shucks, this man was very special, and SHOULD have been visited. So, dear, shy and gentle readers, if you admire an artist or want to visit them, just BULL your way in there. Look how short life is, and how little time we have to say “I love your work, how do you do it?” I wish I could have put a little note in John’s mailbox below, saying simply, “John we loved your paintings, and loved you, too.”
In Barker Bill, from 12-27-1954 to 1-9-55, the strong woman, Phyllis Fezeek, invites her niece, May to visit her. May immediately starts playing rough with Puddy, who breaks his rule against speaking to anybody but Bill and talks to May. The circus packs up to go on the road, fat lady, efficiency expert and all. In the Sunday for Jan. 9th, there are a couple of gags that remind me of the song “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” from the Marx Bros. film “At The Circus”, and the final panel reminds me of the RBGH that cows are fed these days. Maybe they give the cows green colored glasses so they can’t see the awful stuff they throw in their troughs.
Felix this time, from 5-20 to 5-26-1935, continues the story of the Island Ape held captive on the ship. Felix lures the Ape’s little family on board to keep him company, and ship’s company prepares to explore the island by getting inoculated against jungle fever. In the Sunday, Felix continues to wear white gloves as he uses hollow spaghetti to blow black pepper in the face of the giant.
Patrick, this time from 1-30 to 2-4-1967, missed two days, 2-1 and 2-3. I guess Dad didn’t bring the paper home those nights. Nathan certainly has command of philosophy in the 1-31. I’m not familiar with John Stuart Mill, guess I’ve got some research to do.
Yogi this time, for the month of February, 1962, features four strips which are probably a collaboration between Gene Hazelton and Harvey Eisenberg. The 2-25 really looks like Harvey’s work to me, especially the last panel. The rest of the strips could have been drawn by Hazelton, but the logos look like Harvey’s distinctive letter designs. Make sure you click “Yowp” on the blogroll over to the right, and read what Yowp has to say about these Yogi Bear pages over at his blog. Check out Tralfaz too, always interesting reading. Remember to click all the images above to see them larger and avoid those computer headaches.