Month: May 2013
Here are the last two Felix dailies from 1935, 12-30 and 12-31. Go to https://itsthecat.com/blog/?p=2175 to see the post of 8-8-2010 (“Time Trifles With Felix”) to read the rest of the story into 1936. Messmer could do suspense pretty well.
Before we take Felix back to 1934, we’ll jump FORWARD in time to 3-14-1949 for a week of Felix dailies. By this time, the Felix the Cat strip was in a shrinking number of papers. Most of the action in the strip was Felix Vs. Moocher Mouse (Not Skiddoo), as they tried to chisel each other out of various fortunes and advantages. I like the Owl lawyer and the Pig judge. Messmer could still design an appealing cartoon character in 1949. The strip Felix and the Dell comic book Felix looked alike by this time, although Moocher Mouse was pretty well confined to the strip. We’ll have several weeks of the ’49 continuity scanned from original tearsheets coming up!
In Myrtle (8-4 to 8-9-1947) Snoggons returns Myrtle’s braid VIA Felix the Dog! Sampson’s antics take up the rest of the week. I like the timing on the 8-9, as Sampson first glad-hands Freddie, then (after a pause) remembers that he doesn’t like Myrtle’s dad at all! Eventually we will rejoin a clipped run of the strip, but in the meantime Newspaper Archive fills the gaps.
Our favorite Herriman Kat (11/10 to 11/15/1941) entertains us with his “Kat Langwidtch”, especially in the 11/10, as he talks about “Wita Min B” versus a Bumble Bee, and in the 11-15 as Bees re-enter the dialog, Shakespeare fashion. The 11/13 is an early 1940s gag, as two Waltzing Mice have a “Jiving” child. The 11/14 gag about the Owl (“Hoot, Barn or Ground?” “Stuffed.”) might have been influenced by the Bob Hope radio show and his exchanges with Jerry Colonna (“Hank, Planked or Cranked?” “Yanked.”)
The Yogi Bear Sundays from June, 1963, all feature the wonderful art of Harvey Eisenberg, who drew the early Hanna-Barbera characters as well or better than anyone. I especially like the 6-25, as Yogi can’t remember which dog is Augie or Doggy Daddy. Yogi uncharacteristically loses his cool with Doggy Daddy as they drill for oil inside his cave (in a 1960s National Park? Of course now it’s OK to Frack in a National Park, right?). The little boy who is an expert at toothpaste squeezing in the 6/16, looks like a Gene Hazelton design. Yowp will no doubt have the half-page versions of these comics coming soon over at his blog. Watch for them there.
Thanks for the comments on “There Must Be Some Other Cat” and it’s ASIFA-EAST honor. If there’s any more news, you’ll hear it here or over at Itza Cat’s Facebook page.
Here’s the only other example of Herb Gardner’s “The Nebbishes” I could find for now. It’s the episode of March 1st, 1959, which could be titled “Irving’s identity crisis”. Irving takes off his glasses and Gladys (who knows both Irving and Seymour) mistakes him for Seymour. The gag builds upon Irving’s declaration in the third panel that he must “distinguish myself from the masses in some way”. If I find any more of these pages I’ll run them here. I would love to see these available in book form, but “The Nebbishes” are a forgotten chapter in comics history and a collection probably wouldn’t sell. So back on the dusty shelf they go.
Krazy from 11-3 to 11-8-1941, uses the first four strips to do a little continuity about Krazy’s ambition to be a sculptor. He does a bust of himself and a bust of Offissa Pupp, but the bust of Ignatz proves to be just…a bust. The balance of the week’s strips involve shadows and silhouettes. My favorite drawing of the week is the last panel of the 11-5 as Offissa Pupp react’s to Ignatz’s sneeze. The scratchy pen line really has movement to it; Pupp’s cigar is just a few lines hanging in the air.
Felix is from 12-23 to 12-29-1935 this time. Felix is caught between the guns of Fooy Tu Yu and Punk Chow as he hides in the “junk” ashcan with his precious diamond. Felix gets away before the Chinese bad guys spot him. In the Sunday, we have part one of a fanciful story of Felix’s descent into the substrata of the Earth by “Gravity-Rocket”. Felix’s old friend (?) the chemical scientist, puts him into his new rocket as a reluctant experimental animal. If you want to see what Felix found underground, go into the blog archives and find “Time Trifles With Felix”, August 8th, 2010 for the 1-6-1936 Sunday. We’ll fill in the last dailies of 1935 next time.
Myrtle is here, from 7-28 to 8-2-1947. A new boy joins the cast named “Snoggons”, his name reads the same way backwards or forwards. He snips off one of Myrtle’s braids and makes a wall hanging and a bike tassel out of it. When Sampson tries to avenge the theft of the braid, Snoggons takes off Sampson’s top-knot! I like the 7-28 gag, which continues Bingo’s facility with opening doors. Bingo is supposed to fetch Aunt Susie’s pillow from the back yard, but a sweet little pekingese is asleep on it. Bingo just wordlessly refuses to move the little dog and the idea is expressed by just cutting back to the inside of the house with Bingo closing the door.
We took second prize in the ASIFA East Competition for Independent Shorts! That’s in New York City, folks! If you can make it there you can make it anywhere! We are now the Avis Rent-A-Car of cartoon shorts, we’re number two, so we’ll try harder! Congrats and love to all our stalwarts who made the cartoon possible, Greg Ford, Kim Miskoe, Igor, Ronnie Scheib, Cathy Hill and many more! I think we can safely say that this cartoon is the very LAST cel-animated analog production in the USA!! We’ve thrown down the cat-gut, no other cartoon producer can make that statement!
Here are the next two weeks of “The Nebbishes” by Herb Gardner (called “Hy” or “H” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Herb tends to go for big emotional displays followed by a sarcastic understatement that renders those displays moot. I love the Devil’s big show of confidence as he tries to barter for Seymour and Irving’s souls in the 1-18-59 strip and how Irving goes on a binge of artistic blather in the 1-25-59 as Seymour paints his house (“..creating truth, beauty and other nice things.”) There is a bit of parallel with Max Shulman’s writing on “Dobie Gillis” (just starting on TV in 1959), as Dobie often waxes poetic and seeks truth and beauty. Maybe Gardner and Shulman knew each other or drew from the same wellspring of comedy. I’ll look around for more of these old “Nebbishes”. When I was a kid I didn’t know from Jewish comedians or Yiddish expressions or anything of the kind, but somehow I really dug the comedy of Herb Gardner. The 1-18 page had to be pieced together for this blog, it’s pretty fragile, but well loved.
There are two “echo” gags and two gags using the word “solo” in the Krazy Kat week of 10-27 to 11-1-1941. I especially favor the 10-31 strip as Offissa Pupp and Ignatz Mice shake hands as they realize that their animosity is a main driver of the strip in which they live. This idea takes a little of the sting out of all the Jail time that the Mice has had to put up with “for a number of years”.
Felix, this time from 12-16 to 12-22-1935, has the Cat in hot pursuit of Fooy Tu Yu. Felix obviously disposed of all that water he swallowed in the previous week’s strips. Fooy Tu Yu is blackjacked by another Chinese who takes the diamond away and gives it to Okey Joe who hides it on a “junk”. See the next post for the conclusion of the 1935 dailies. The Sunday page continues the science fiction aspect of Felix as he experiments with a pair of glasses that enable him to see into the future.
In Myrtle this time from 7-21 to 7-26-1947, Fisher shows a mastery of comic strip timing. The strip for 7-22 has a terrific “all you can drink” lemonade gag that dispenses with Pop’s reaction to tasting Myrtle and Sampson’s citrus quencher and just skips to the last panel. Fisher also uses timing to advantage as Sampson goes to his mother’s house to wash his neck and just leaves Myrtle hanging on a tree. In the last panel we find that Sampson used a guest towel to wipe his neck and is banished to a corner. The 7-26 continues the idea that Bingo the dog is good at opening doors; this time he gets a lump on the head for opening the wrong one. We are now into the spate of Myrtle strips culled from Newspaper Archive.com so the quality is only fair.
The cartoon short that Greg Ford and I made called “There Must Be Some Other Cat” has been selected by a film festival to screen in September. I can’t say which one, but we are thrilled to be accepted.
I recently read “Al Capp, A Life the the Contrary” by Denis Kitchen and Michael Schumacher” a new biography of one of the USA’s greatest comic strip creators. Elsewhere in this blog, you can find a few “L’il Abner” strip continuities reprinted, including the infamous “Joanie Phonie” story. I’ve been a fan of Al Capp’s strip all my life, I loved reading the strip each night in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and when my father didn’t bring home the evening paper, it was hard to hide my disappointment. I always liked the little fantastic characters in the strip, the Schmoos, natcherly, and the Kigmys, the little flying hot-dog shaped creatures of the planet Pincus #7, the Adorable Snowman, the Bald Iggle, and many others. I got a kick out of Big Barnsmell, the head man at the Skonk Works, and of course, Moonbeam McSwine and the gorgeous Daisy Mae. It’s said that Al Capp really didn’t like any of his characters very much. It’s lucky for him that somehow they were sympathetic to his readers. I always felt sorry for the dumb but lovable L’il Abner, and worried about his cliffhanger predicaments enough to want to keep reading about him. In reading about Capp’s sexual misadventures in the 1960s on college campuses, including his mistreatment of Goldie Hawn, Mark Evanier (world’s champeen blogger) feels uncomfortable even reading old L’il Abner stories knowing that Al Capp could be a pervert. I can’t defend Capp, but I look at his creation as a satirical fantasy unlike any other comic strip and will always enjoy it. Al Capp’s depression era background and his loss of a leg as a boy certainly colored his world view and his strip. He lived life as if he always had something to prove, and he’d do it by hook or crook. (Wait until you read how he got through art school!) “Li’l Abner” was an unapologetic bold slash of a comic strip, blending fantasy with satire. The drawing was both serenely slapstick and delicately sensuous, drawn with beautiful pen lines. Mark Evanier even got to MEET Al Capp, something I would have loved to have done. This book is a very thorough biography, I learned a great deal from it. Some of the most interesting stuff is in the notes at the back of the book. I’ve always wondered from where Capp’s comic book company, “Toby Press” got it’s name. The notes informed me that “Toby” was the name of one of Elliot Caplin’s daughters. Elliot Caplin was one of Al Capp’s brothers and wrote many comic strips, including “The Heart of Juliet Jones” and “Long Sam”, both strips about beautiful women. Toby eventually took over the writing on “The Heart of Juliet Jones” after Elliot retired. Too bad they didn’t put the story of how Felix the Cat and Otto Messmer got picked up by Toby Press after their Dell Comics run. Again, this book is highly recommended, even though it may sour some fans on Al Capp, like it did for Mark Evanier. Now, won’t some brave soul step up and reprint the rest of “L’il Abner” through the final strip? I would love to read all the “conservative” strips that caused so many newspapers to drop Abner. Let’s get Roger Ailes to do something meaningful with his life and foot the bill for reprinting these strips!
Hi There! We lead off with the first two Sunday pages of Herb Gardner’s “The Nebbishes” from 1-4 and 1-11-1959. This comic strip was an early venture of Mr. Gardner. He is best known today for his play/movie “A Thousand Clowns” featuring Jason Robards. Some web pages say that his strip “The Nebbishes” (Yiddish for “Nobodies”), started in 1954 and was distributed by the Chicago Tribune/New York News syndicate. Allan Holtz’s book says that 1-4-59 was the first one. The Nebbishes only lasted until 1961, and was only carried for the first few months of that run by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. My copies are from those dates, and were pasted on highly acid old scrapbook pages, so I had to gently piece them together for the scanner. I love the adventures of Irving and Seymour. I always thought they were cousins of “Flebus” and “Mr. Moo”, essentially walking heads with white, squared-off bodies. The first two strips break the fourth wall to smithereens. Irving is very aware that he and Seymour are trapped in a comic strip. I love how Seymour reacts like the early Daffy Duck in the 1-11, when he realizes he’s being watched (woo woo woo). I found these strips to be quite funny when they first were printed, still do. The Nebbish statues were very popular in greeting card shops of the day (you find them on Ebay now) and the famous Nebbish sign (“One of these days we’ve just GOT to get organized”) was also a best-seller. According to the websites, Herb Gardner opted out of all this lucrative cartooning and decided to become a playwright instead, producing his classic “A Thousand Clowns” in 1961. The dialog in “The Nebbishes” became so dominant that the balloons nearly crowded out Irving and Seymour. If speech was so important, reasoned Herb Gardner, then why not write dialog all the time? His biggest commercial hit play was “I’m Not Rappaport” in 1985 (movie in 1996). Herb also wrote and produced the movie “Who is Harry Kellerman, and why is he saying those terrible things about me?” in 1971, starring Dustin Hoffman. In 1987, Gardner appeared in the historic big budget flop movie “Ishtar” as Rabbi Pierce. He passed on in 2003. I have very few examples of “The Nebbishes” put I’m happy to scan the ones that are still with me and put them up here.
There is a mystery in the Krazy Kat dailies of 10-20 to 10-26-1941. In the 10-21, why does Offissa Pupp lie in wait for Ignatz under a date palm with a sign tacked to the tree reading, “June 30 1941” backwards? I consulted the Krazy strip from that date, but it just features Krazy getting a bleach job at a beauty parlor, with no reference to any date palms. So Garge has once again baffled and amused us. In the 10-22, there is a hallmark of Herriman’s writing in Krazy’s annoyed reaction to the Sun, “Y-you..”. He used this stuttered experession many times in Krazy Kat and many of his other comic concoctions.
Felix continues to attempt to reclaim his diamond in the dailies from 12-9 to 12-14-1935. Fooy tu Yu pours water on Felix as he hides in the basement of Fooy’s hide-out. Felix just drinks all the water to keep from drowning! A very fat, water-logged cat continues to pursue Fooy in the 12-14. In the Sunday page, you’ll have to print it out and color it according to the dialog, to get all the humor out of the Professor’s chameleon serum introduced last time, not to mention the X-Ray camera!
Myrtle, from 7-14 to 7-19-1947 has two gags revolving around Bingo’s ability to open doors, but for me the funniest one this time is Freddie’s devilish reaction in the third panel of the 7-15 as he hits upon a way to stop Sampson from annoying him with his bad harmonica playing.
In anticipation of Yowp’s blog, we have the May, 1963 Yogi Bear Sunday pages, all thirds this time. I think the funniest gag is the 5-12, in which all the restaurants in town that feature “All you can eat” specials close down after Yogi and Boo-Boo patronize them. Yogi, Boo-Boo and Ranger Smith all seem to be drawn by Harvey Eisenberg, but the teenagers in the 5-5 and the little Boy Scouts in the 5-19 look like Gene Hazelton. Only Jerry Eisenberg would know for sure, and he doesn’t read this blog! Remember to CLICK ON THE THUMBNAILS if you want to display any of the comics full screen. Keep visiting https://www.facebook.com/someothercat to see the complete storyboard from “There Must Be Some Other Cat” one page at a time, courtesy of our webmaster, Charles Brubaker.