Month: December 2017
Here’s a special Holiday greeting to all my readers from my dear wife, Cathy. She loves Felix and dabbles in studying Spanish, so the two interests got together and produced this delightful drawing, enhanced with watercolor. It was a big Christmas surprise for me, and I’m delighted to share the joy with all of you, and of course, Felix. Cathy thinks someone else must have used this pun, but for now we’ll say it’s her own invention.
Felix, from 5-15 to 5-21-1933, tries to help Danny in his arithmetic homework. Danny can only count to five, so this qualifies him to be a golf caddie, since no golfer wants more than 5 strokes a hole anyway. Felix is called a “black jinx” in the 5-18, and Danny is fired as a caddie in the 5-20 much to the delight of Felix, who was feeling neglected. In the Sunday, Felix throws a rock at an ape, thinking his head is a coconut. I like the shadows that Otto used in panel seven of this Sunday page.
Hyacinth the cat does a couple of bits in the Myrtle strip, from 2-14 to 2-20-1949. She appears in a mouse-hole gag in the 2-18, and pushing her kittens in a perambulator in the 2-20. I love Myrtle’s look-alike doll being pushed in a toy carriage by Sampson in the 2-20. Myrtle’s tomboy side emerges fully in the 2-19, as she is made to stand in the corner for showing prowess as a schoolyard fighter. If you had to pick a characteristic pose for Myrtle, it would be standing in a corner.
In Krazy, from 5-24 to 5-29-1943, an electric eel shocks Ignatz, who then harvests the eel’s electric output in the 5-24 and 5-25. In the 5-29, Offissa Pupp gets a hammerlock and a headlock on Ignatz before being beaned by a baseball that Krazy throws at his head. “Zup-Klup”!
As a late Christmas present, here’s another Story Book Record Company production, read by Walt Kelly. “The Three Bears” and “The Gingerbread Boy”. I put them up on Archive.org, so that you can hear them. Here’s the link: https://archive.org/details/WaltKellyThreeBearsGingerbreadBoyComp . The records start abruptly and there is a repeating groove in the Gingerbread, but it’s so much fun being able to hear Mr. Kelly take all the parts and entertain us for a precious 2 minutes and 49 seconds. I hope we will have a happier New Year than 2017 has been, and that the repeal of net neutrality will not cut us off from each other, dear readers. See you soon, I hope, Itza and Mark
Every Christmas since 1975 or so, I have received a delightful card from June Foray Donavan. This year I find myself missing her more than I thought I did. I don’t feel like going to the Lynwood Dunn theater where our Shorts branch had its screenings, because June won’t be there anymore. I’m sharing some of her Christmas cards to keep her memory with us just a little while longer. On the back of the 2010 card, June wrote: “What a magnificent painting, Cathy! Sorry about the fire. Wow! It would destroy me! I had a (my fault) accident trying to avoid an oncoming car and smacking into a parked car. My beautiful Jaguar GONE, but what is worse–the DMV took away my license and I’m so dependent on friends and family. Oh well, I’m still well and vertical. Hope your project is successful in 2011. Stay in good health and have a bountiful 2011–Love, June” I’ve forgotten just which of Cathy’s paintings June is referring to, but you can see in her note, the beginning of June’s loss of independence, which I’m sure hurt her terribly. Her 2011 note read: “Dear Mark–I miss seeing you, life has been frenetic judging shorts, features (live action and animation) nights on end and getting to bed after midnight. Thanks be that these Oscar screenings will be over in Jan. Hey, I’m still working! This photo was taken at a Warner cocktail party for me as Granny in a new theatrical short showing in theaters before “Happy Feet”. I’m glad that you both are still painting. Are you selling them on Ebay? Have a terrific 2012. Maybe we’ll see each other more often, Love, June”
2014 was the last card I received from June, she was very busy in 2015. She really loved her dogs, and was proud of the biographic video: “The One and Only June Foray” that she helped produce in 2013. I love her little rhymes, she was quite a poet. She published a book of her poetry called “Perverse, Adverse and Rotten Verse” in 2015, maybe that’s why she didn’t send out Christmas cards that year. It was quite the sardonic tome, revealing a cynical, yet warm, side to June Foray, through her poetry. Perhaps if we all have more Christmases, I’ll reprint earlier cards from June, and she will be with us a bit longer.
Felix from 5-8 to 5-14-1933 takes on a Gus Edwards feel this time. Felix has to educate Danny by piling up multiplication tables, demonstrating punctuation with a bee sting and my favorite gag, confusing a cow bell with a school bell in the 5-13. Felix is in the stone age again in the Sunday, he teaches a caveman how to sharpen tools with a grindstone, then uses the grindstone for a unicycle.
Myrtle is back from 2-7 to 2-13-1949, the dailies are filled with Dudley Fisher’s imaginative use of Myrtle’s alter-ego, a doll that looks exactly like her in miniature. In the Sunday page, the doll does a line of dialog in a balloon. I love the old feeling of wintertime in “Send Out The St. Bernards”, with the newfangled tractor taking the place of the horses.
It’s interesting that in the later Krazy Kats (such as these from 5-17 to 5-22-1943), Garge soft pedals the actual brick contacts with the Kat’s “bean”. He can get as comical a feel by just showing Ignatz reaching for the brick like 5-22 or 5-20. Or he can vary the situation as in 5-21 as Ignatz buys a loaf of bread for Mrs. Coyote (?) and her 5 ninas and ninos, which Mrs. Kwakk-Wakk thinks is a brick. I like the empathetic feel in the 5-21, as the gossip Mrs. Kwakk-Wakk is overcome by her conscience and exits the last panel sheepishly.
My friend Tim Walker keeps requesting to see one of my watercolor landscape paintings, so here’s one of Crystal Cove State Park, near Laguna, Ca. This was done just a few years ago, after the funky little houses that line the beach were taken over by the state and turned into a state park, which happened in 2006. The cottages used to be privately maintained, now they are for rent on a lottery basis. They probably go for plenty. Cathy and I used to go out to the Cove before the cottages became state property, and we had the pleasure of meeting Roger Armstrong, famous California watercolorist and cartoonist and his wife, Julie. Roger and Julie were living in one of the cottages, and Roger gave me a tour of their cottage and showed me a beautiful original of “Napoleon” which he drew in the style of Clifford McBride in the early 1950s. It was a real thrill to spend some time with him, he and his wife spotted us painting and took to us right off. That was a memorable and golden afternoon. Mr. Armstrong had a bold sense of color and design in his watercolors that look a lot like another cartoonist’s work: Hardie Gramatky. Roger sadly passed on in 2007, but I can still hear his voice and see his friendly smile in my mind. Have a great Christmas and New Year’s, gentle readers. See you very soon.