Month: May 2012
Here’s some strips from the L.A. Junior Times from June 6th to the 27th, 1926. I heard from Mario Manuel Prietto, Manuel Moreno’s grandson! In honor of that letter, I’m putting up a whole month’s worth of Manuel’s Jr. Times Comic Strip. Go back a few posts to : “Introducing the L.A. Jr. Times, 1922-23” to read Mario’s letter. He filled me in on some very interesting details of Manuel’s production efforts in Mexico in the 1940s. I still don’t know if the mysterious “Tat” of “Tat’s Tales” studio is Manuel or not. He used the title “Keen and Feeble Tat” in his ongoing strip for the Jr. Times in 1926. You’ll note that Feeble visits Fred Richards’s studio in the 6-13 entry, one of Mario’s fellow Jr. Times cartoonists. Manuel has a pretty mature sense of gags for a youngster, and he always tacks on an extra: “Today’s Can of T.N.T.” at the end of each strip. Bob Wickersham’s Fido Bark continues as Fido gets lost in the African jungles. It’s amusing that so many of the kids used the “world travelling” or “African Explorer” plotlines in crafting their strips. This was a good ploy to make sure that the kid cartoonist would find their strip (and check for $2.50) in the Jr. Times each week. Finally, Aunt Dolly said that she would accept no more “Continued Stories” with “Bad Grammar” in the Jr. Times, but this did nothing to abate the tide of chapter plays (the grammar did improve a bit). Last we have Larry Martin’s panel cartoon of 6-27-26 featuring the World applying for T.J.C. membership from a very glamorous Aunt Dolly! I wonder if she was really that fetching? Her columns in the Jr. Times indicate a very worldly lady with a big heart, who lived a rough life in the Wild West before she settled in Los Angeles. Aunt Dolly should be better known to all of us, she made it possible for a whole generation of cartoonists and animators to get started on their careers.
Make sure you visit Allan Holtz’s Stripper’s Guide blog this week for some great posts on the history of Bob Kuwahara, including some of his extremely rare “Miki” strip! In Bob’s Barker Bill this time, we wind up the story of “Floating Bill”, as Ali K. Zam buys the spell which will bring Bill back to Earth. In the 5-21-55 episode, Bill meets Count Yuhchange from the kingdom of Screwbalia. He wants Puddy to be the King of Screwbalia because he can talk! Puddy takes the entire Barker Bill Circus to Screwbalia with him on one airplane (they’ll never get it off the ground). Puddy learns to his surprise that he is to have a Queen! This reminds me a lot of “Puddy’s Coronation”, which Castle Films released as “Hail the King”. The Sundays this time are from 5-29 and 6-5-1950(?). The color Sunday page was supplied by our reader Ger Apeldoorn, who claims the 1950 date. Since the first Barker Bill didn’t appear until 9-27-1954, I would vote for a 1955 date for this page. I’m really happy to have a color Bill Sunday page, thanks Ger! Go to Ger’s blog for more comics than you’ll ever have time to read. It’s called “The Fabulous Fifties” and there is a link over on the Blogroll.
In Felix, 7-29 to 8-4-1935, Danny once again gets lost, this time in a cave (7-31). There is an odd story gap from between 8-1 and 8-2 as a charging hippo gets mixed up in the continuity. Maybe Otto fell asleep at his desk that day. In the Sunday, Felix controls a boxing match from Dreamland. I think Otto might have been a fight fan, judging from the “Socky” character in the 1936 Felix strip. You can find his adventures in the blog Archive.
In “K” this time from 6-9 to 6-14-1941, the theme is “Big and Little”. I love the giant Ignatz in the 6-10. There is a flea circus on Krazy’s back in the 6-12 and 6-13. I had to get the 6-12 episode from Newspaper Archive, so it is not the same quality as the others. Note the rabbit design in the 6-14, sort of like a cousin of Oswald.
In Myrtle this time from 2-24 to 3-1-1947, most of the week is taken up with Myrtle’s phony diamond ring. You will note in the 2-28 how Myrtle’s punishment is to stand in the corner, sort of a “time-out” in modern parlance. Once in a while Myrtle endures corporal punishment ala Little Lulu, but there is a slightly more liberal, loving atmosphere in the way Myrtle is being raised by her parents. They are quite tolerant of Myrtle’s high spirits, just look at the way she springs through the front door in the 2-26! Well, this blog has taken too much time once again. See you after Yowp puts up a new batch of Yogis.
Here’s another small survey of the L.A. Jr. Times and the future animators of America! May of 1926 was Bob Clampett’s greatest month in the Jr. Times. “The Innocent Pussy” was the ten dollar cover winner of May 16th. It really captures the innocent and mischievous spirit of a cat, like I tried to do in the animated cartoon “It’s ‘The Cat'”. I’d like to think that Bob C. would have liked my cartoon. There’s also a photograph of Bob at the age of 12 when he lived in Glendale, a poem he wrote for the Jr. Times on the virtues of the T.J.C. and one of his rare comic strips featuring the “Duke” (monocle) and “Kewp” (Derby hat) in a swimming race from Santa Monica to Ocean Park. Note that this strip foreshadows the story in “Porky’s Naughty Nephew” (babies are funny) where all the cartoon animals have a race across the lake, and Pinkie scares the wits out of them with a phony shark fin. He scares Porky into winning the race, like Duke and Kewp are frightened into swimming like two Buster Crabbes by a real shark. In “Porky’s Naughty Nephew”, a real shark gets into the act at the end of the picture, made even more ludicrous by appearing in a fresh water lake. The germ of the ideas was there in 1926! Also we have a strip (4-25-26) from future Clampett animator Larry Martin (and the model for Dishonest John), and Fred Moore, shamelessly promoting the T.J.C. in a cartoon published 4-4-26. I wonder if Bob Clampett and Fred Moore knew each other, and how did they get along at those Aunt Dolly meetings with the live jazz bands? Also we have the earliest comic strips by Bob Wickersham, a future Disney animator and key artist of the “Fox and Crow” cartoons and comic books for D.C.. He breaks precedent by working with an animal character, Fido Bark (5-9 and 5-16-26), who starts out promoting the T.J.C. (surefire for getting Aunt Dolly’s approval) and then starts doing father and son gags that remind me of “Smitty” or “Skippy”. Actually, “The Innocent Pussy”, the photo and the poem are already on the Internet, but I wanted to show them here, especially with the cat tie-in.
In Barker Bill, from 5-2 to 5-14-1955, Bill solves the Hippo mystery (the hippo coughs up the radium watch), and starts a new story line as Ali K. Zam, the circus treasurer, practices the old levitation trick and makes Barker Bill float away with Puddy on his chest. Ali can’t get Barker Bill back down to Earth without buying the counter-spell, which he can’t afford (what do you expect from a character who wears a shoe on his head?). Bill floats by the offices of Bitten, Button, Bursten and Foghorne (parody of Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn advertising agency), and the execs think that Bill’s floating girth would be a great place to advertise Dunker’s Donuts. They wind up tying a banner to Bill’s feet, and he’s off to make some money to buy an antidote to Ali’s levitation spell.
Felix, from 7/22 to 7/28/1935, follows Felix and Danny’s adventures on the Ape’s Island. Felix ties a string to Danny so that they don’t lose track of each other, but finds himself on the end of a spider’s thread. The ensuing spider gags last the rest of the week. Otto animated Felix vs. a spider in at least one silent Felix, but I can’t remember which one, David? In the Sunday, Felix once again descends from Dreamland to entertain a sleepless youngster.
In Krazy, from 6-2 to 6-7-1941, Herriman predicts the “Suspense” radio show, which didn’t start until 1942. Or, maybe Garge is just commenting on an increasing awareness of suspense as a continuity device in comic strips. In any case, all the strips this week hinge on the concept, with the brick remaining “suspended” in the air in the 6-5 and 6-6 episodes. Ignatz even talks to the brick in the 6-5, addressing it as “brickie”. More hard knocks next time.
In Myrtle this time, from 2-17 to 2-22-1947, we’re into our first full week of strip continuity. In the 2-18, Susie reminds me of Popeye as she strides out the door ready to sock neighbor Mac in the eye! I like the little subtle touch of Pop hiding a mouse trap behind his chair in the 2-21. Fisher’s characters are so full of life, it’s fun to see Myrtle continually flying through the air, or hanging on to the garden gate, just being an energetic little girl. Many more to come. In about 5 or 6 more posts, Barker Bill will run out of episodes, so this blog will take less time to make up. For the most part, each little strip has to be separately scanned and uploaded, it takes a great deal of time, so I hope you will excuse the less-than-frequent posts. I’ll never be an Evanier, how does he do it? (Well, for one thing, he doesn’t post too many daily comic strips!)
Man, these blogs are just a lot of damned hard work sometimes! This thing is running away with itself, but I just love these old strips and the early work of famous animators, so here we go again with the L.A. Junior Times from 1926! There’s a cover up there from Feb. 28th, 1926, by the pioneering comics editor and cartoonist, Chase Craig! I like the collage he brings to the design, like no other cover designer I’ve seen so far. He received the grand total of ten dollars for his design, large money for a kid in 1926. There are two “Al Falfa” strips by Chase from Feb. 14th, 1926 and an “Archy Jr.” strip by Chase’s pal, Al Perez. Al puts Chase in his “Archy Jr.” strip and makes fun of the “Al Falfa” character. I wonder if Chase knew about FARMER Al Falfa? I love these strips not so much for the jokes, which are strictly Capt. Billy material, but for all the comaraderie and high energy in the Junior Times strips. Note also that Chase had his own fanzine he published from his home in Texas called “Cartoonist and Illustrator”. I have never seen an issue of that ‘zine, have you? For a real jolt of L.A. history, check out “Bobbie’s Clown” from March 7th, 1926 by Bobby Richards. The Clown and his pal visit the Chaplin studio over on La Brea as Charlie films “The Circus”. The first panel is quite authentic, that’s the way the entrance to the studio really looked. I’ve also posted three Fred Moore cartoons, two strips, from Feb. 28th and March 21st, and another 10 dollar cover design, from March 28th, 1926. I don’t quite know what Fred was trying to imply here, did the Times Junior Club eat up it’s members? Even at this early stage of his life, Fred Moore liked cute, appealing characters, and his little cat on the Jr. Times cover is very cute. Fred drew a lot of little kid gags in his comics, these two look like they were stolen from an old Gus Edwards stage routine. Weren’t these kid cartoonists lucky back in ’26 to have Aunt Dolly of the L.A. Times? She really cared about the kids and promoted their work every way that she could. She threw lavish parties for them downtown with guests like Hoot Gibson and Tom Mix, full jazz band orchestras and all the food the kids could eat! More about the Times Junior Club cartoonists next post.
Here’s Barker Bill, from 4/18 to 4/30/1955. The Hippo is in big trouble as she swallows a watch with a radium dial. The midget buys a Geiger counter from Col. Whetwhistle and finds that the Hippo is radioactive! A bunch of gangsters kidnap the Hippo to mine the uranium out of her (they think). Puddy and Barker Bill trail the Hippo to the gangsters’ hide-out. The strip from 4/28 is very blurry on the copy I have here (from the Boston Globe). Here’s the dialog: Gangster: “Another juvenile delinquent, disgustin–” Moll: “Leave the poor kid alone and get goin–” Gangster: “Here goes Moll with her mudderly instincts again–” Moll: (to midget) “Diddums baddums man hittums itty bitty darling–” Midget (thinking): “Humiliatin’–But I better play along–” Puddy (to Bill):”Hey–this gives me a hot idea, Bill–Bzzz–” Puddy figures out a pretty painful way for them to escape.
Felix from 7-15 to 7-21-1935 has Felix and Danny still on the Ape’s island trying to re-join the Captain’s company. But the Professor’s explorers are cut off from the Captain by a giant Armadillo, who does not suffer cartoon cats gladly. Felix flies up in the air on a giant bird to signal the Captain with cigar smoke sky writing (it’s fun to see Felix smoking), and then temporarily blinds the Armadillo with pepper bombs. Will the Professor cut Felix some slack for these brave deeds? In the Sunday, Felix reforms a robber by giving him a nightmare in which all his body parts are wanted by various dentists and doctors and Indians of Dreamland. The robber is scared straight.
In Krazy, from 5-26 to 5-31-1941, there are two phony brick gags, two “chiggen” gags, featuring incubators and an aborted “tryst” turned into a “twist” ending by Ignatz. Herriman continues to suggest a stage setting for the Coconino Kast by popping floorboards and rugs into his foregrounds whenever he can. I especially like the 5-27, with it’s dirt path, cobblestones, floorboards and hedge that falls out of the last panel, while the big tree trunk remains stationary.
Here’s Myrtle (Right Around Home) by Dudley Fisher, from 1-18 to 2-14-1947. Next post we will get into a more regular sequence with the dates, this time we skip a lot. Bingo the merry dog is featured in the 1-18, 1-31 and 2-8, and Myrtle’s mischievous traits are revealed in the 2-7 (she plays poker better than her Dad) and the 2-14, in which she tries to start a fight between the neighbor and her Dad just for her own amusement. I love the pose that Sampson takes in the second panel of the 2-10 as he gives out with a loud “Whoop”! Fisher’s strips are full of beautiful, flexible character poses and wonderful arrangements of his character groups, with great harmony of design. Most cartoonists today have no concept of a flexible spine in a character, mostly they stand stiff as flagpoles. Composition, character groups? Mostly the same arrangements over and over again.
Readers, I’m gonna beat Yowp to the punch. Here’s the May, 1962, Yogi Bear Sunday pages. They are from 5-6 to 5-27. I’m sure he will have good notes on these soon over at his blog, so just keep clicking on “Yowp” over on the Blogroll, and keep tabs on him. I put one over on the old hound this time!
People, I’m exhausted, but you can catch more craziness on the Cat’s new Facebook page: www.facebook.com/someothercat . There, you will see drawings and a few cel set-ups from the short currently before the cameras, “There Must Be Some Other Cat”. Itza (the Cat’s name) would love to be “Friends” with you over there. Humph, I’ve been doing this blog for five years, where are all my “Friends”!?
Until the next time, Bullet your Heart and Hall Lugea!