Month: January 2016

So Long, Carson

carson-van-osten-obit.jpgcarson-van-osten-drawing-mickeys-60th.jpg I’m very sorry to report the passing of a real cartooning icon, Mr. Carson Van Osten. The L.A. Times Obituary writer can’t seem to decide whether Carson left us on November or December 22nd, 2015, but this Obit. didn’t get published until January 10th, 2016. Carson started out animating or assisting, maybe both. I can’t remember if he always worked at Disney’s or not. Perhaps I met him during my freelancing years in the 1970s and 1980s. He got kicked upstairs at Disney’s, becoming a model trouble-shooter on all the classic characters, especially Mickey Mouse. In 1988, I was doing some animation on the “Mickey’s 60th” TV special. One of the segments of that special featured Mickey’s visit to the “Cheers” bar. If you look at the snapshots above, you’ll see Kirstie Alley and Ted Danson with Mouse stand-ins, arranged so we animators could gauge the relative sizes of Mickey and the “Cheers” cast.  I remember it was kind of risque to have Mickey in a bar setting, I hadn’t seen “Plight of the Bumble Bee” at that point, or the idea of the mix of alcohol and Mouse wouldn’t have seemed so radical. To the right of the Cheers snapshots, you’ll see a rough sketch that Carson drew of Mickey in a casual outfit, complete with tennis shoes. The notes in red, are in my friend Sam Cornell’s printed script. Sam directed the “Cheers” sequence, and I seem to recall he was quite taken with Ms. Alley. Carson worked on many Disney television projects, merchandise designs and notably, the comic strip department. If you look around the Internet, you’ll probably find some of Carson’s wonderful “style guides”, which not only featured Disney character drawing hints, but advice on how to make an effective panel layout, the “silhouette” rule, and other theories. I didn’t realize that Carson had gone to Disney Paris, in 1994, or was voted a Disney Legend this past August. Carson was a very talented cartoonist, and evidently a painter of miniatures as well. (Read the Obit.) In addition, Carson was a heckova nice guy, a very patient teacher and very fast on the comeback, especially when defending his drawing expertise. I haven’t seen him since 1988, but I’ll always remember. This little post is designed as a memorial to Carson; who should be remembered by anyone who admires good Disney-style drawing in the classic manner. Adios, good friend.

felix-12-10-to-12-16-34.jpg Felix, from 12-10 to 12-16-1934 has Felix emerging from his hollow tree hiding place and attempting to return the stolen jewelry that the robber put into the tree. It turns out that the jewels belong to the Danny Dingle family! Felix is reunited with his favorite family at last. In the Sunday, Elmer the millionaire kicks Felix out of his house, and back IN to win a bet with his wife. Felix now has TWO families, Daily and Sunday.

myrtle-9-13-to-9-19-48.jpg Myrtle’s from 9-13 to 9-19-1948 this post, a bunch of non-continuity gags this time in the dailies. The Sunday features Hyacinth the Cat in a non-speaking role as the neighborhood meets the local Weatherman. I admire the way Fisher designs the Sunday pages so that the reader can start anywhere on the page, with any balloon, and understand the story.

krazy-12-21-to-12-26-42.jpg Krazy, from 12-21 to 12-26-1942, the characters keep busy for “Our Duration”. Mrs. Kwakk-Wakk in the 12-21 is thought by Krazy to be a “Snoopa”. The brick is delivered by air on the 22nd and 23rd, and Offissa Pupp’s Jail goes plastic, followed by Ignatz’s Brick on the 24th and 25th. Durable goods made out of plastic were considered very newfangled in the 1940s, reference the Donald Duck cartoon, “The Plastics Inventor” (1944) with the Duck’s all-plastic airplane that melts in water. Ignatz actually pulls a rifle on Offissa Pupp in the Dec. 26th strip, but the Pupp ignores him. I hope that Carson read my blog from time to time, he was a great fan of Gottfredson and Barks.

Out with the Old, in with the OLDER

felix-12-3-to-12-9-34.jpg Happy 2016, gentle readers! Here is Felix from 12-3 to 12-9-1934. All the dailies are set near Felix’s new home, a hollow tree. In the 12-7, we see a typical Messmer human (a burglar, naturally), made of very rounded shapes. I love how the checked pants define his stomach and legs in the second panel. This story continues soon. In the Sunday, Felix loses another home as he sets up listening tubes for his alley cat friends, which they use as kitty entrance pipes. I love Messmer’s knack for designing cartoon cats, you can see that in the third panel and in the last row.

myrtle-9-6-to-9-12-48.jpg Myrtle is from 9-6 to 9-12-1948 this time out. The first two dailies form a story, as Myrtle sticks her tongue out at Bingo, and Sampson follows suit.  The 9-9 has some of the unique Dudley Fisher gag timing, as Bingo holds a dime in his mouth to fool Sampson, only to swallow the ten cent piece in the last panel when Myrtle is paying for a soda! The Sunday is a two-panel masterpiece of composition and story. You can almost start anywhere on the page and get a main story point (the burglary), and all the character’s reactions. Hyacinth the cat makes a rare appearance in the second panel on the right hand side of the page.

krazy-12-14-to-12-19-42.jpg World War Two, referred to by Garge as “Our Duration”, continues to set the background for the gags in Krazy Kat from 12-14 to 12-19-1942. Even the peaceful Krazy does soldier duty for Kokonino Kounty in the “Lend Patrol” in the 12-14. There are references to “Dim-Outs”, “Second Front”s and in the 12-17 to 12-19 dailies, Ignatz proves to be an inexpert parachutist. Ig manages to sneak a brick past Offissa Pupp in the 12-19, by parachute!

Thanks all youse guys and gals, for sticking with the Catblog throughout 2015. We’ll sho try to give you the mosta of the besta in the coming year.

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