Month: November 2013
Here’s Krazy, 2-2 through 2-7-1942. This week’s strips remind me of Pogo’s declaration: “It hard to figure the angles on a worm child” in his very first daily strip. Garge does 4 out of 6 all about worms and eels, with appropriate word play, especially in the 2-7. The 2-2 had to be cut from a San Antonio Light, so it is not as good quality as the others.
Felix from 1-22 to 1-28-1934 continues the epic battle for possession of the cheese between Felix and three determined mice. In the 1-23, the mice tie Felix’s tail up through a hole in the floor. In the Animated Antic cartoon; “Pop and Mom in Wild Oysters”, Charley Bowers built almost an entire stop-motion cartoon around the premise of a cat’s tail being tied up in a knot and keeping the hapless animal prisoner; showing a cat and dog struggling to free their tails from the floor boards. Look for this cartoon on You Tube; the mice, Pop and Mom, look a lot like the mice that Otto is using here. The mice escape from Felix with the cheese in a toy airplane in the 1-27. The Sunday page continues Felix’s balloon ascension. This time Danny gets into the act and uses his model airplane to send a bottle of milk to starving Felix. I guess the mice must have sent the plane back to Danny after they escaped!
Myrtle is from 10-27 to 11-1-1947, and has some good gags about Halloween. In the 10-29, Myrtle puts on a false face that’s a near perfect likeness of Sampson, but he’s clueless about the resemblance. In the 10-30, Bingo dons Myrtle’s discarded clothes and fools Sampson (gosh, he’s easy to fool), into thinking he’s going to the masquerade party with the real Myrtle. Remember to cherish your dumb characters folks, if you’re going to write comedy, they come in handy.
There are five Yogi Sundays for December of 1963, the first one is a promo for “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear”, Hanna-Barbera’s first theatrical feature cartoon, with their Clark Gable of the early 1960s, Yogi. If you look at the last panel, the Bear has gone Hollywood all the way. The 12-19 gag is an old one, but I like the Ranger’s attitude toward the “pump handle” in the last panel. All the art on these are by Harvey Eisenberg. I didn’t know who Harvey was when I clipped these strips in 1963, but I knew his style from the Dell Tom and Jerry comic books I bought at the Old Orchard Phamacy in Webster Groves, Mo. every month. He really made the early H-B characters look good and streamlined, considering they were designed to be broken into pieces, to make animating them more “planned”. Remember to visit Yowp’s blog from time to time to see these Yogi Bear pages at half-page size in black and white with appropriate comments: http://yowpyowp.blogspot.com/ .
Hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving. “Some Other Cat” did not make it to the Short List at the Motion Picture Academy shorts derby this year. Still, I give thanks that it is with us and that people will eventually be able to see it for years to come.
I’ve been derelict in posting to the old Catblog, much to my disadvantage. Some Other Cat played my home town, St. Louis, Mo. in the St. Louis International Film Festival last Friday, Nov. 15th. My brother was in attendance, and braved a journey to the Tivoli theater in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods to see Itza on the big screen. He reports that Itza drew a few laughs with his patented pogo stick shtick. At the very same time, I was doing a three-day stand at the annual CTN Expo, brainchild of the Matriarch of Contemporary Animation, Tina Price! Jerry Beck was kind enough to put up with Itza’s constant yowling at his Cartoon Research table, and assisted in peddling cels from the production to many fine people. Quite a few friends and former employers came by, Raoul Garcia, Will Finn, Don Hahn, Steve Segal, Wilbert Plainarr, Darrell Van Citters, Craig Clark, Steve Stanchfield and more! It’s especially gratifying when people who have never seen Itza before warm up to him and buy a cel. A professor at Van Arts School in Vancouver, B.C., remarked as he watched Some Other Cat on the little DVD player we keep on the table, “I can feel the emotion in it”. Just the quality that I tried to put in to the short, not only comedy, but feeling. Just that one comment made the whole weekend for me. A little girl from Thailand hung out at the table for quite a while, just touching the cels and remarking about how she could feel the texture of the ink lines. She took several photos of them with her iphone camera while I looked at scans of her beautiful water color paintings. The CTN Expo was absolutely packed this year. It’s grown so large that Jerry and I were under a big top tent, out in the parking lot. You can see what the table looked like in the upstairs photo, including Jerry’s new “The Spongebob Squarepants Experience” book, with 20, count ’em, 20 activity inserts! He sold all the copies he brought to the convention. Probably next year it’ll be in a Las Vegas convention center, this thing has grown almost as big as the San Diego Comic-Con in only 5 years. “Kids” with portfolios waited in very long lines to let the pros, such as Disney, get a glimpse at their masterpieces. Thanks to computers, and modern image duplication, almost every sample case looks professional, so it’s tougher to make an impression. Most everyone has an ipad with them or a laptop, so you can instantly see what their animation looks like. It seems as many women as men are looking for animation jobs, and even little kids are making their own Internet cartoons to be seen on You Tube. Hope springs eternal, and it is inspiring, but the reality is, there are very few jobs available in what’s left of the “cartoon” business. Keep pluggin’ kids!
Here’s Krazy Kat from 1-16 to 1-31-1942. Offissa Pupp pits his “subtle noodle” against Ignatz’s “puny mind” in a week’s worth of continuity. Offissa Pupp has a station wagon which doubles as a paddy wagon, and he loves to have attractive goils like Mimi the French poodle riding in it. 1-16 to 1-28 deal with Mimi’s sense of outrage as it dawns on her that she is gracing a Police vehicle, and Ignatz is treated as a “fifth wheel”. Ignatz gets back at Pupp with a box of thumb tacks and hobnail boots in the 1-30 and 1-31 strips. I love Garge’s drawings of the Station wagon; the front of it resembles a locomotive boiler.
Dudley Fisher’s Myrtle is from 10-20 to 10-25-1947 this time around. I love the pragmatism of Myrtle as she finds that she has unjustly accused Sampson of breaking her slingshot, and needles him into doing her arithmetic problems as punishment. Even though she finds out that her Mom broke her slingshot in the vaccum cleaner, Myrtle decides to let Sampson finish her homework for her just the same. (10-25 strip) The slingshot also comes in handy in the 10-20, as Freddie accidentally surprises Myrtle with the slingshot drawn and Myrtle retreats to the Park, convinced that her Dad is going to snap her with her own weapon.
Felix is from 1-15 to 1-21-1934 this time. Those rotten mice try to get away with a hunk of Swiss in Danny’s toy train and Felix can’t stop them. When the mice run Felix’s blockade in a toy tank, Felix comes after them with a can opener! In the Sunday, Felix continues his balloon ascension and nearly starves, but manages to hook a Sea Bass with his anchor and roast it over a candle. Feast your eyes on the magical cartoon drawing of Otto Messmer, Felix constantly changes appearance year to year, but always remains himself. My friend Will Finn who has his own blog called “Small Room”, http://willfinn.blogspot.com/told me that he really enjoys the old comics I post here, so Will, this one’s for you!
Here’s a very positive review by Anne-Katrin Titze:
It’s The Cat, and Some Other Cat
Mark Kausler’s It’s The Cat
One of the last hand-drawn animated cartoons, Mark Kausler and Greg Ford’s It’s The Cat from 2004 is set to the tune of It’s The Cat by Gus Kahn and Isham Jones. The slightly unhinged protagonist cat goes for a stroll, makes a wooden plank carousel on a dog’s head and flies off, taking a bite out of the moon. Can a cat exchange faces with the moon? Why not! When three blind mice dance by with their canes, you might remember for a second why you started loving movies in the first place.Some Other Cat, the more recent sequel from 2012, kisses the photo of his beloved, picks up some cacti in the desert and off he goes to Pearly’s house to pay her a visit, but – oh, no – there is someone else with her! If these cats and their tempo don’t lift your spirits to the sun and the moon, nothing will.
Greg Ford, who attended the screening was slightly puzzled at the placement of his films together with The Chase. Festival chair Kent Jones told me in our conversation before the festival that he didn’t want the cats to get lost in the short film programme, “it seemed like a good place to do it, because The Chase is kind of a crazy film”.
Some Other Cat played at the Santa Fe International Film Festival last week, I hope the people enjoyed it and got some laughs. I couldn’t be there, had some priority commitments. I thought of Itza’s cartoon showing in that little theater in Santa Fe, it’s an ideal place for a cartoon set in the SouthWest to play.
Here’s Krazy from 1-19 to 1-24-1942. It’s all about Offissa Pupp’s new police car. The garage is featured all week, but we only see the car in the Saturday episode. Some of Garge’s masterful scratching technique is apparent in the 1-21 and 1-22 strips, as Pupp’s car zips in and out of the garage. The originals were probably torn to shreds!
It’s a full week of Myrtle, from 10-13 to 10-19, with the Sunday page! Dudley Fisher was most famous for his “Right Around Home” Sundays, with their panoramic approach to comics layout. I really like the dailies, too, because they bring the characters of the strip to center stage. I especially like the 10-17, with Myrtle and Sampson coming under the withering criticism of the townsfolk for the way they pull each other in their Radio Flyer, until they decide to just take the dogs for a ride. The 10-18 draws upon Myrtle’s superior strength as Sampson and a friend call upon her to blow up their football.
Felix is from 1-8 to 1-14-1934 this time. The action is similar to his troubles with Moocher Mouse, as he battles a whole gang of mice around the Christmas Tree. Felix comes off second best to the little rats every time. I love the kiddee phonograph gag in the 1-12, since I had a couple of miniature phonographs when I was a kid that I played for about 5 hours a day. The Sunday page starts a long continuity, as Felix takes off in a balloon basket to hunt geese. The Funny Films topper features great drawings of not only Felix’s face, but Sammy Johnsin from the Billy Marriner strip makes a guest appearance as well!
The Yogi Bear Sundays from November, 1963 as drawn by Harvey Eisenberg grace our blog this time. If you want to see the full length strips in black and white, make sure you keep in touch with Yowp’s blog at www.yowpyowp.blogspot.com , he’ll have them up very soon. The 11-24 Yogi was nearly lost in the collection, but I found it on the back of a Pogo page I clipped back in the day. The 11-3 is a real Kennedy era space ship gag, the 11-10 still uses the military style rankings of the forest Rangers as a basis for the gag and the 11-17 has a cast of hundreds, all fat folks as Mr. Eisenberg saw them; the last panel must have taken quite a while to draw.
Sorry I’ve been absent from the Catblog for such a long time, life is very full, lots to do, and unfortunately, the Catblog pays not a penny for the time I spend on it, which is not a lot. Not that I’m complaining, just keep an eye on Yowp’s blog (I use Yowp’s links nearly everyday to check on great animation and comics sites) or your RSS reader for our next episode!