Month: March 2012
Today, March 27th, 2012, I’m celebrating five years of writing and editing a “blog”. As a special contribution, GREG FORD, my producer on the short cartoon: “There Must Be Some Other Cat”, has sent the first 100 feet of color shots! When I started the CATBLOG, I had no idea which direction it would take, and I knew next to nothing about computers. If truth be told, I had a very strong aversion to the Demon Machines. I didn’t even know how to resize photos and art work so that they could be “published”. I still don’t know how to do a lot of stuff, never got microsoft word or photoshop, but I have word perfect and irfanview, both are free programs and do what I require.
I started out kinda high falutin’, publishing photos of places that Cathy and I have visited for painting trips. Soon, cartoons and comic strips crept into the mix, and now it’s about 90% comic strips. I can’t really make a good defense of reprinting old comic strips, it’s just that I love so many of them, and I’m trying to help them to be remembered. I tried to do a feature for a while where I read DOROTHY PARKER and some of my favorite children’s lit. aloud, but I’m not a great reader, and I got very little response. Again, too high-falutin’.
The CATBLOG was really supposed to be a production journal of the motion picture cartoon: “There Must Be Some Other Cat”, or TMBSOC for short. However, due to fate, TMBSOC and “The Cat” and especially my good friend and producer Greg Ford, have gone through 5 years of hard times and privation. Greg and “The Cat” have lived through a horrible economic crash, the death of cel animation (due in part to these here demon computers), a devastating apartment fire that Greg and his girlfriend Ronnie Schieb managed to survive, the bankruptcy of Kodak and the looming end of all types of photographic film (again, thanks to the demon machines) and now, health problems have affected Ronnie’s life and consequently, Greg’s life (not due to the demon machines). Through all this and more, TMBSOC proceeded at a Snail-Cat’s pace for the last 5 years in the Manhattan jungles. As you can see by the above frame grabs, “The Cat” is beginning to emerge. The scenes really look beautiful projected on 35mm FILM, and I’m so grateful that Greg and many stalwart artists still cared enough to put their best efforts into what seemed like a doomed enterprise.
This Blog has chronicled the passing of many loved ones, friends (Vincent Davis, John Bohnenberger), family (my mother), and animals (Crispy, Little Grey). It has made new friends for me, and regretfully lost some. One of the most popular posts was the article about my visit to Ollie Johnston’s house after he had moved in with his family in Oregon.
(“Here’s the Pitch” Department) Dear Readers, if you can, please buy a cel from “It’s ‘The Cat'” over at https://itsthecat.com/Gallery-FilmArt.htm. If you don’t like the prices, make an offer! We’ll be glad to listen. Also, if you care to contribute any production money directly to “There Must Be Some Other Cat”, you may PayPal it to us at: email@example.com or just write to me at: Mark Kausler, 1632 Loma Crest, Glendale, Ca. 91205-3710. Any contribution over $200.00 will get you a screen credit as an “Ailurophile” (Cat lover). Now is the time! The cameras are actually rolling and we need your help. Thanks so much!
In Barker Bill this time, from 3-7 to 3-19-1955, there is a daily missing, 3-8, and a Sunday out, 3-20. It’s easy to follow the conclusion of the Gelt’s story without the 3-8, the Gelt turns out to be a “hen” and lays an egg. In the story starting on 3-16, Puddy falls in love with the new Circus star, Pompom the poodle. In order to impress her, Puddy decides to speak in public for the first time, and perform “Paul Revere”.
In Felix, from 6-24 to 6-30-1935, Felix and the Professor’s party search for the missing Danny Dooit, and Felix accidentally discovers a rare cannibal plant. In the Sunday, Messmer continues the attractive 9 panel layout from last week. I love the giant Dream Control machine in the second panel, and the silhouette of the little boy against flame in panel five.
In Krazy this time, from 5-5 to 5-10-1941, gag-a-day continues. I love the crocodile design in the 5-5, Krazy knows that the croc is crying because he’s ugly, and diplomatically says so in the last panel.
In Patrick, from 3-6 to 3-11-1967, Nathan stars in two strips, and Patrick and Godfrey dominate the action the rest of the week. In the 3-8, Patrick works in a little political satire, commenting on the campaign fund-raising efforts of Senator Phil A. Buster. I’ll bet that Patrick would have taken great delight in today’s Super PACs! Remember to click on all the above images to enlarge the strips. By the way, who knows how long the archives to this blog will exist, so if you like the strips, download and save them for yourself! We have the complete Felix strips from 1936 in here, the almost complete “Marvelous Mike” strip, and quite a chunk of “Patrick”, amongst other rareties. Do yourself a favor, save them or lose them!
I had such a long rant today, that it crowded out the L.A. Jr. Times comics, to be continued in the next post.
We lead off again this time with more strips from the 1924 L.A. Junior Times. Hardie Gramatky and Manuel Moreno produced more work than any of the other kids and managed to get something in almost every issue of the Junior Times. They were paid the whopping sum of $2.50 for every drawing published. Hardie started a feature called “Captain Kidd” in the 9/7/24 issue. From the outset, Hardie has a lot of maturity in his cartoon style, the way he arranges panels reminds me of Roy Crane’s “Wash Tubbs”. Hardie also drew the cover of the 7-13-24 issue, which starts our post this time. Manuel Moreno continued with two comic strip series, The Boy with the Answers, and “The Tuttlems”, which seems to be his version of “The Bungle Family”. I love the characters ‘plopping’ out of the panels on the punch lines. The dates of Moreno’s strips are, respectively, 7/20, 7/27, 8/3, 8/10 and 8/17/1924. As a coda, I’ve included an early strip by Gilles de Tremandan, an Aesop Fable gag featuring the Fox and Crow, published 8/31/1924. Gilles was 15 when he drew this, by the early 1930s he was animating at Disney under the name “Frenchy” (on the drafts, anyway). The old timers always said that they “drew better” than the young whippersnappers, but if you study the childhood drawings of the first wave of old master animators, their drawings look mostly untrained and immature. They learned a great deal in a short time, thanks to the intensive atmosphere of the Disney studio.
Barker Bill is from 2-21 to 3-6-1955 this time. Dog Biscuit the horse gets a new pair of glasses and gets circus ambitions almost right away. They discourage the stage struck horse by encouraging the fat lady to ride Dog Biscuit bareback! The Gelt re-enters the story line as a Treasury Man shows up to question Bill about the expense of feeding the money-eating critter. In the Sundays, Gertie the Hippo in the 2-27, resembles the proud lineage of Terrytoons hippopotami, especially in her egg-hatching pose in the last panel. Little May is in the 3-6, as the Circus Problem Child once more. The strips here come from Winnipeg and Boston, hope you enjoy them.
Felix is from 6-17 to 6-23-1935, and continues the mad adventures of Danny Dooit and the crew on the Ape’s Island. The giant Duck from last week is here again, still with the walky-talky in his tummy. The island parrots pick up his repeated “Hellos” and broadcast them all over the place, frustrating the old explorer. About this time, Laura is replaced as the top feature on the Sunday page by “Bobby Dazzler”, a ‘Skippy’ like small boy, designed by Otto Messmer. The parrot gag in the dailies almost seems like a farewell to Laura parrot jokes, but it’s probably just a coincidence.
Krazy, from 4-28 to 5-3-1941, is quite shocking! All the gags deal with cats’ fur being a good conductor of electricity, until Offissa Pupp figures out how to electrify Ignatz’s brick to discourage him from throwing it. I love Pupp’s understatement in the 5-2, “I expect him to drop it.”
Patrick, from 2-27 to 3-4-1967, features gags with Godfrey, Elsa and Nathan. Nathan has half the strips, from 3-2 to 3-4, in which he is slowly going mad. Poor Nathan thinks there is a time bomb inside of him, and you can see the result of his hallucination in the 3-4. The strip is slowly starting to shift it’s focus to Nathan, perhaps Hancock found a baby confined in a playpen to be stimulating to his imagination. By the way, I’ll run out of Patrick strips in two more posts, but I have something rare to take his place. The next post should pop up on the 27th, the fifth anniversary of this foolish enterprise called a blog. We started March 27th, 2007. See you then!
Continuing our new series on the L.A. Junior Times from 1924, I found a Hardie Gramatky front page drawing called “Knight-Life on the Ark” published 3-16-1924. About 9 years later, in March of 1933, Hardie was animating on “Father Noah’s Ark” in Ben Sharpsteen’s unit at Walt Disney Productions, so here he was predicting his own future! Manuel Moreno was so well thought of by “Aunt Dolly” of the Junior Times Club, that he became the “official” club cartoonist! I’ve run three of his more interesting drawings from the 1924 Jr. Times, “Our Club in Cartoons” from June 22, dutifully promotes all the divisions of the Club, writing, cartooning, baseball, acting, humane works and member recruiting. What a club that must have been! Manuel did a lot of different drawings for the Jr. Times, some showing pretty girls in flowery outfits, some showing an idealized Aunt Dolly (leader of the Club), and then his own comic strips. I ran a couple of “Mr. Peach” pages last post, here is the first strip of an irregular series called “The Tuttlems” that ran 7-66-1924, and an episode of the series, “The Boy Who Wants To Know”, from 7-13-1924. The latter strip uses a very old joke that must go back to 1889, still in use as late as ’24. I’ll post more of these as I come across them.
In Barker Bill, from 2-7 to 2-20-1955, Peanuts Perkins’ mistake in mixing up costumes, leads Gorgonzola the Circus Gorilla to don Barker Bill’s extra tuxedo. The Boombar Gang catches Gorgonzola and believes him to be Barker Bill by the cut of his clothes and hat. Hatchet Head, one of the Gang’s minions, wants to run “Bill/Gorgonzola” for Mayor, believing the Gorilla can be easily controlled by the Boombars. Puddy, however, being the brains of the Circus, lures Gorgonzola back to the Circus using a beautiful Girl Gorilla for bait. In the Sunday page from 2-20, Puddy sings a little of “Beautiful You”, a song composed by Phil Scheib for the Terrytoon: “An Igloo For Two”, released in 1955, same year these strips were published. It’s interesting that Bob Kuwahara, who drew the Barker Bill strip, and Hardie Gramatky both animated on “Father Noah’s Ark” at Disney in 1933. Another animator in the Sharpsteen unit on “Father Noah’s Ark”, Tom Bonfiglio, was my first boss in animation in St. Louis when I was a kid. He trained me to do inbetweens and gave me cels in exchange for my “work”. He had changed his name to Tom Goodson by then. It’s interesting how everything hooks up eventually. Tom told me that the animators on “Father Noah’s Ark” were promised bonuses and other favors if they would work a lot of extra hours to finish all the “crowd” scenes with the Ark animals. All that they received for the moonlighting was fifty cents for a hash-house dinner, the bonuses never materialized.
In Felix, from 6-10 to 6-16-1935, Felix and the ship’s crew spend a week on the Ape’s Island being confused by a giant duck that swallowed the Captain’s two-way radio transmitter. The duck becomes terrified of the radio in his tummy and flies all over the island, mixing everybody up. In the Sunday page, Felix lures the subconscious mind of a skilled carpenter to Dreamland, to build a house for the elves, and we bid farewell to Laura, the first Felix “topper”. She concludes her 1927 to 1935 run by cussing a blue streak! Maybe that’s why she was fired?
A good six strip continuity is in Krazy this time, from 4-21 to 4-26-1941. Ignatz and Krazy take turns scaring each other with really zany masks that only Garge could draw. In the 4-26, Ignatz turns his talents to scaring a pachyderm; love those Herriman elephants!
In Patrick, from 2-20 to 2-25-1967, little brother Nathan has the starring part in two strips, and Suzy’s meringue pie and “very chewy” caramels drive Patrick nuts! In the 2-22, a Washington’s birthday strip, Patrick refers to “L.B.J.”. To those of you who weren’t around then, that’s Lyndon Baines Johnson, President from 1963 to 1969, Patrick’s President!
You know, if it weren’t for Yowp’s blog (see link to your right), I couldn’t start posting each month. The black and white Yogi Sunday pages he posts, spur me on to put up the color half-page versions. These ran 3/4, 3/11, 3/18 and 3/25/1962, and feature the work of Harvey Eisenberg (also an animator on “Father Noah’s Ark”-Just Kidding!), and others. I had some good news on “There Must Be Some Other Cat” this week, I’ll tell you more about it when I get some more definite info. Until the next time, when, possibly you all will tune in again…