Author: Mark


An End and a Beginning


Here are the last three weeks of Herriman’s Krazy Kat from 5-13 to 6-3-1944. Joe Stork makes his final appearance in the 5-13 and 5-14 strips, bringing a “bindle” to Mrs. Coyote, who seems used to many pups. Krazy at the diner in the 5-19 and 5-20 strips seems obscure to me, especially in the 5-19, as Krazy waits outside the Diner doors, too docile to heed the first calls to Dinner, Lunch and Breakfast. Krazy is so docile that he falls asleep outside the diner, a shy and hungry Kat. Offissa Pupp avoids Krazy’s questions about the equator and the north and south poles in the 5-22 and 5-23 strips, just like a father ignoring his child’s annoying questions. The Diner series of strips ends with the 5-26, as a very fat Krazy eats everything in the diner. In the 5-27, a mysterious thing occurs, as a palm tree picks up Ignatz’s brick and hides it from Offissa Pupp. In the final week of the Krazy dailes, Ignatz brags in the 6-1, that no matter how far or how near he throws the brick, he wins! In the 6-2 strip, Herriman’s ugliest drawings of Krazy are in the last two panels as Krazy angrily discovers that what he thought was an “eggo” is actually Ignatz. In the 6-3, Garge introduces a couple of new characters, a dog and her drunken husband. Offissa Pupp is the last classic character to appear in the KK dailes. Herriman draws Krazy and the Pupp with jowls in the last strips, placing a dividing line under the noses, creating a sort of peeved expression on the characters’ faces. It’s sort of a subtle indicator of aging. For the next several posts, the Catblog features a Herriman daily strip that has never been collected before,”Now Listen Mabel”, from 7-28 to 8-2-1919, 102 years ago. The San Francisco Examiner, where these strips came from, didn’t start carrying Mabel until July, missing the earliest strips from April. They carried it all the way to the last strip, dated 1-10-1920, later than generally thought by the historians. According to Herriman’s biographer, Michael Tisserand, George McManus, creator of “Bringing Up Father”, endorsed “Now Listen Mabel” in a special ad that ran in the Hearst newspapers. Here’s a paragraph describing the strip: ” Now Listen Mabel introduced Mabel and her boyfriend, a shipping clerk named Jimmie Doozinberry. Mabel and Doozinberry’s boss, Mr. Sisstim, regularly conspire against Doozinberry until he finally cries out, “Now Listen Mabel.” Although “Mabel” was the name of both Herriman’s wife and his oldest daughter, the likely inspiration was a popular collection of gag verses with the punch line “Ain’t it awful, Mabel?” Herriman also must have noted the success of Rube Goldberg, who based several strips on catchphrases, most notably I’m the Guy. However, Now Listen Mabel was not destined to become the country’s next catchphrase, and the strip concluded before the end of the year.” That last statement is not quite true, for reasons I’ve given above. I’ve linked a video featuriing a lecture that Michael Tisserand, author of Krazy, George Herriman,  a :Life in Black and White,  did in 2016 about Herriman and the odd facets of his life as a man and a cartoonist. Enjoy it, and I’ll be posting again soon.

The Dregs of Garge, 1944


Hi Folks, Here’s Herriman’s Kat from 4-17 to 5-13-1944. We can see from these strips that Garge worked about nine weeks ahead of deadline. When he passed on April 25th 1944 of cirrhosis of the liver, he had a few uncompleted dailes on his drawing board. The Swan/Duck gags of 4-21 and 4-22 just pop up out of nowhere and don’t seem to connect to Krazy’s world, except for the backdrop of Coconino formations.In the 4-25 strip, Offissa Pupp tries to break the Kat Langwitch, as Krazy uses the plural of “Mouse” to mean one mouse, that is, the “Mice”: Ignatz  “A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss” is fractured, as Krazy hears “Moths” as “Moss” in the 4-27. The old adage is VERY old, dating to 1023 in Erasmus’ Adagia. In the 4-29, Offissa Pupp uses a favorite word: chouse, meaning to Trick or Deceive.The 5-1 has a vaudeville feel to it, as a dog joke comes in, probably from the 1913 version of the strip. Another reference to Herriman’s most-referenced Wartime Agency, the O.P.A. appears in the 5-5, claiming that Krazy has a “Priority” on his nine lives.

Garge does a little more shading with his pen in this batch of dailies. I like the snowstorm effect he gets in the 5-13, he probably scratched out the snowflakes with his knife after putting down a coat of black on the bristol board. In the 5-8 through 5-10, Offissa Pupp quotes Geoffrey Chaucer as he dredges up the old adage, “Time and Tide Wait For Nobody (No Man, originally)”.Jail gags dominate the 5-11 through 5-13 dailies. Offissa Pupp’s head looks really smashed horizontally in the third panel of the 5-11, perhaps Herriman’s arthritis flared up just as he was drawing the old dog’s face that day. There’s another post or two left in the 1944 Herriman opus, so keep checking, they will soon appear. Thanks for reading! Mark

George Herriman Returns!


George Herriman is back at the drawing board, these are some of his last comic strips. The dates are 3-20-1944 to 4-15-1944. The writing harks back to the original Krazy Kat dailies from 1913, not only gag-a-day, but vaudeville style gags, delivered from the Coconino County stage.

Notes on the strips: 3-31-1944: This works as a two-way pun, “sole” and “soul”.

4-1-1944: A World War Two gag: The OPA was the Office of Price Administration which controlled the prices on commodities, here they are rationing bricks, and Offissa Pupp confiscates Ignatz’s masonry.

4-6-44: Garge creates some new characters “Pitter” and “Patter” who really aren’t “twims”, but their feet make sounds like raindrops. They seem to be a small coyote and a cat.

4-7-1944: Garge once again uses Spanish words and phrases for Coconino atmosphere, here a little Spanish dog says: “Poco a Poco, se anda lejos”.

4-8-44: A tribute to Ignatz’s collosal ego: He is certain that the stars look down on Earth because in his words: “I’m here”. Ignatz’s self assurance and quick hand with the brick are the qualities that attract Krazy Kat.

4-12 and 4-13-1944: A two day continuity gag as Krazy and Ignatz explore the concept; “A watched pot never boils”. In the last panel of the 4-13, Ignatz is just starting to reach for his brick, by this time he’s thrown his brick at Krazy’s “bean” so often that we don;t need to see him do it. Garge rarely shows brick tossing in the final years of the strip.

4-15-1944: Garge loved Scottish terriers, and kept a couple of them at his home on Maravilla St. Here, all the regular characters are replaced by one of the Scotties and a new character, “Weenie the worm”. They do a gag elaborating on the old saying, “The early bird gets the worm”.

That’s the notes for this time, my faithful readers. I shall return soon with another month’s worth of 1944 George Herriman. Happy New Year, and I hope your quarantined Christmases were warm and bright.

I’m learning new skills as taught to me by my WordPress advisor. I’m trying to learn how to embed videos.  I love this early Charles Mintz Krazy Kat cartoon, and the silent one that follows it. Click on the arrow in the center of the frame.  Enjoy!

Krazy Kat Bob Naylor Special


Here’s a whole month of Bob Naylor’s version of Krazy Kat, all signed Herriman. These originally appeared from 2-21 to 3-18-1944. These strips are pretty good, they represent Herriman’s spirit well, and Naylor has the personalities of the characters “Nayled” (sorry). You’ll notice that the gags mostly center around bricks and Offissa Pupp putting Ignatz in jail. Even Kolin Kelly appears. In Herriman’s 1944 strips, the brick tossing is mostly implied, not shown. Ignatz often ends the strips by starting to pick up a brick, but not actually throwing it. Herriman starts introducing other characters, dogs, birds, and so forth. But Bob Naylor has reverted back to the earlier days of “Krazy Kat”, with the original cast. The strips from 3-13 to 3-18-44 all refer to “frozen” bricks. This is a reference to World War Two rationing, in which products were “frozen”, in other words, no longer made. “Frozen” also referred to fixed price controls during the war. Here, Naylor makes humorous comparisons between frozen products no longer made, and frozen products literally sold from an electric freezer. In 1944, fresh frozen foods, such as orange juice, were just starting up. It took until 1945 and post war years, for frozen orange juice to be perfected so that it tasted good and households could afford electric freezers. So this storyline by Bob Naylor is quite futuristic, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with WordPress lately. A lot of the image displays are distorted vertically, and I don’t know how to fix the problem. Can any of my WordPress expert readers help me? I am willing to pay you if you can fix the distorted images. In the meantime, just right-click on the image,  select “View Image”, and the picture displays in normal proportions. Sorry to make my readers and viewers work so hard to use my blog, but that’s the way things are for right now. If you want to blow these comics up to full screen, just right-click the image, select “View Image” to put it in to a new window. Then press “Crtl” and press the “+” symbol repeatedly. The image will enlarge to the limit of your system’s settings. Enjoy, sorry it’s been so long since the last post.

The Lady and the Tiger Return!


August 7, 2020

In our last episode of Cathy Hill’s comic story; “The Lady and the Tiger”, the lady was going in to a hypnotic trance as she entered the jungle and imagines she’s riding on a pterodactyl. Her feline friend, the Tiger, takes her by the hand and over to a mysterious castle.

The Lady’s Tiger friend tried to protect her from a monster bird in the mysterious castle, but apparently perishes in the attempt, only to transmogrify into another sort of friend, human, male and without stripes. I love Cathy’s style in this story, she used doilies to add an abstract pattern in pages 4 and 5, and her use of black in pages seven and eight weaves a note of horror and mystery into the panels. This is the story’s first publication anywhere.

Here’s Myrtle from 19490620 to 19490626. I love the whistling Bingo in the 6-25, and the action pose on Myrtle in the 6-26 as she socks a croquet ball around the backyard. I am continually drawn to Myrtle at this point in the feature’s life. She evolved from a skinny rube in the early 1940s, to a cute little girl with pigtails coming out of her bonnet as you see here.
In Felix, from 19330918 to 19330924, Felix and Danny find jobs for their fellow animals, cats and pigs, and a French tutor for Danny, much to his disgust. The NRA gets a plug in the 9-24. The Sunday page has Felix driving his rickety car, with power supplied by a goat. He tries to substitute a carbonated beverage for Danny’s Pop in a pun that’s strictly on ice. Otto Messmer did the art on these.
In Krazy Kat, from 19440207-19440212, Garge is doing the artwork in this week’s comics. I like Krazy’s action in the 2-10, as he does a “summa salt” in midair to avoid a brick, and the touch of Spanish tile roof under Krazy and Offissa Pupp in the 2-11. After this week, Garge’s drawing disappears from the strip until March.
In Krazy Kat from 19440214-19440219, Bob Naylor once again takes the pen, and of course, signs the strip “Herriman”. Naylor does the dailies until the end of March. The stories seem to fit the Coconino looniverse, and Naylor’s art looks OK, but it’s not as loose as Garge. This is the first time this particular week of Kats has been reprinted. Herriman passed away on April 27th, 1944. He was very ill with cirrhosis of the liver, arthritis and had one functioning kidney, but kept at the drawing board, turning out his beloved Krazy until the end. He died with nearly two months of strips ready to publish.

Kurt’s Corner

      Here’s a couple of columns for the Irish Independent by James Hilton, compiled by my much-missed brother, Kurt. He put together a very comprehensive file on nearly all of Mr. Hilton’s newspaper articles. The “Timing Laughs” column, from 19380328, gives a little insight in to how comedy writers functioned in 1938 Hollywood. The audience’s laughter was law!

In his Irish Independent column from 19380530, Mr. Hilton tried to explain away the escapism of Shirley Temple, Charlie McCarthy and Walt Disney’s Snow White, over more weighty dramatic faire. He chastises the public in the last paragraph for expecting a cinematic “masterpiece” every week.
Kurt’s Corner signs off this time with a collection of 10 rare British cigarette cards of the 1930s featuring Ronald Colman. These represent him as he appeared in “Clive of India”, “Beau Geste”, “Under Two Flags” and “Bulldog Drummond”. The reverse side of the cards is just above, so you can read all the vintage British advertising and the captions.
I hope all my readers are well and sheltering at home as much as you can. When you go out, stay socially distanced and become a “Zorro” in reverse, wear a mask over your nose and mouth. Love to you all.

The Lady and the Tiger


From the Cathy Hill Archive of Unpublished Comics comes “The Lady and the Tiger”. This story was drawn before Cathy started the “Mad Raccoons” series. Unlike the Raccoons, “The Lady and the Tiger” has no dialog, it’s all action and pantomime. The art was influenced by the work of Al Williamson, and Cathy’s staging and design show traces of Aubrey Beardsley and the psychedelic posters Cathy was designing in those days. The Lady is quite exotic, helmeted barbarians try to capture her on page two. Her tiger companion leaps to her rescue, scattering the abductors. Together they ride into the psychedelic tangle of the jungle. See part Two next time as the tangle relaxes.

Here’s Krazy from 1-24 to 1-29-1944. “Garge” is back on the job, complete with the stage details, stairs and floorboards he drew below the main action in the strip. I really like the 1-29, Krazy’s expressions are fun to look at as he pulls the beard of the “Koilly Lox” dog and is knocked for a loop by the bewigged canine. See if you can figure out the wordplay in the 1-25, kinda fun.
“K” here is from 1-31 to 2-5-1944, these again, are all the work of “Garge”. My favorites are the 2-3 with all the active little poses as Krazy evades the bricks tossed by Ignatz. The word play in the 2-2 is quite delicious and super corny at the same time.
Here’s Myrtle (“Right Around Home”) by Dudley Fisher from 6-13 to 6-19-1949. My favorite strip is the 6-18, the mix-up in cutlery reminds me of a children’s book and a Warner Bros. Cartoon. Hyacinth the Cat makes two appearances in the 6-19 Sunday page and has a line of dialog as well.
Here’s Felix from 9-11 to 9-17-1933, drawn by Otto Messmer. Lots of labor/depression gags this time, my favorite is the 9-16 , last panel. Otto could draw cats in myriad designs, all funny. The Sunday page is quite ambitious, as Felix and Danny accidentally start Papa’s roadster and tear up the countryside with it. The city and the rural countryside are quite close together in Danny’s world. I like the long panel when the police show up to interrogate a shocked Papa Dooit.
Kurt’s Corner
My brother’s collection of Lost Horizon stills included this one of Frank Capra, Jane Wyatt, possibly his assistant director and a newborn colt. The lamasery set is in the background. I love the ill assorted stone walkway pieces in the foreground, which fit in perfectly with the art deco Lamasery building.
My brother loved the writings of James Hilton and discovered his columns from the Irish Independent in 1939. This one describes his stay at the Furnace Creek Inn, built in 1927, 66 rooms. He talks about the little airport near the Inn, and paints a word picture of what a weird place Death Valley was before it became a National Monument. I wonder if Mr. Hilton every met up with Death Valley Scotty?
Here’s an interesting article written by James Hilton earlier in 1939, which really throws a rose to the Motion Picture Industry, in it’s finest year. He even relates an opinion of one of the readers of his book “Lost Horizon”, claiming that “…it left out a lot that was in the film…”. Hilton makes a pitch for Hollywood to develop it’s own stable of writers to create original novels for the screen, effectively putting authors like himself out of business!

Your Comics Page 5-17-2020


“K” drawn and written by “Garge” Herriman, 1-9 to 1-15-1944. Maybe “Garge” took his daughter to a circus, and was inspired to do this series of gags on tightrope walking?
“K” is by Bob Naylor (?) in this batch, from 1-17 to 1-22-44. I can’t tell if these are re-worked or new gags, but Naylor is very carefully doing Herriman’s style and signing each strip as “Garge”. For the next few weeks, Herriman was evidently ill, but he comes back to the land of Coconino eventually.
Felix and company promote a “New Meal” in these comics from 9-4 to 9-10-1933.
Myrtle and her friends play baseball, set up a scarecrow and sell bad lemonade in the strips from 6-6 to 6-12-1949.
KURT’S CORNER features a few items from a collection of Isabel Jewell material that Kurt won at an auction. This and the next picture were taken in 1940, at a movie theater that featured personal appearances, headlined by Georgie Jessel and an all-woman ensemble of players, including Rochelle Hudson (voice of “Honey” in the Bosko cartoons), Steffi Duna, Jean Parker and Lya Lys, among others. The USA still hadn’t jumped in to WW2 with both feet yet at this point, but you will note that Lya Lys was a player in a picture called “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” in 1939, the first major studio (Warner Bros.) release to be critical of Hitler’s Germany.
Kurt and I both love this style of home made theater promotions. The lettering is beautiful, and the stills are nicely displayed. Oh for the days of lobby cards, one sheet posters and Ballyhoo!
I leave you this time and Kurt’s Corner signs off with a column by James Hilton for the Irish Independent in 1939. Mr. Hilton (author of “Lost Horizon”) opts to collect experiences rather than objects in this little article which praises Los Angeles Union Station just weeks after it opened! Rail travel was lots more ‘luxe in the 1930s, for those who could afford it. Union Station is still very beautiful after all these years, and now is a Subway terminal downtown as well.
I hope you are all making like Zorro and The Lone Ranger these days and masking up for your peregrinations around your neighborhoods. This Covid-19 virus puts the damper on a lot of things, but not in the sharing of comic strips and remembering my dear brother. Stay safe, oh my readers! So sorry it’s been so many months since the Catblog meowed!

Your Comics Page 1-22-2020


http://Felix 8-25 to 9-3-33
Here’s Felix from 8-28 to 9-3-1933. Felix is confused with a mean Bulldog in a boxcar freight mix-up. The Bulldog holds Danny Dooit and his family hostage in their home until Felix saves the day with a fishing pole. In the Sunday, the Circus story continues as Felix and Danny try to sneak in to the show with disastrous results. Don’t the lions recognize Felix as a fellow cat?
http://Myrtle 5-30 to 6-5-49
Here’s Dudley Fisher’s Myrtle from 5-30 to 6-5-1949. My favorites from this batch are the 6-2, in which Sampson rearranges Myrtle’s braids so that she looks like a “rinotheroth”, and the 6-3 in which Myrtle plans on being sent to bed without supper for beating up Sampson! The Sunday page shows the start of the Picnic Season as Myrtle and Sampson scare Susie right out of her shoes by presenting her with a “little wild kitty” that looks very much like Hyacinth with skunk stripes. I like the little detail in the lower left hand corner of the men trying to light a campfire with their cigarette lighters.
http://Krazy Kat Dailies 12-27-43 to 1-1-44
http://Krazy Kat Dailies 1-2 to 1-8-44
Here’s the start of the final six months of “Krazy Kat”. The last week of 1943 through 1-1-44 is the work of George Herriman. He foreshadows the week of 1-2 to 1-8-44 in the strip for 1-1-44, as Krazy says “Wot this progrem nids is a guess artist”. And starting 1-2-44 that’s just what the strip gets. Garge was not well in January of 1944 and had to be hospitalized for what he called “dropsy”. Today we call it edema. So an old friend of Herriman’s pinch hit for him on Krazy Kat. You will note that all the comics from the first week in 1944 are carefully signed “Herriman”. Garge did not and had not signed his dailies for many weeks prior to 1-2-44. He didn’t sign any of the 1943 Sunday pages, and signed only four Sundays in 1944. So I think it’s a good bet that when Herriman’s signature appears on a 1944 daily, it’s the work of the “guess” artist. The “guess” artist went back to the late thirties for his models of the characters, perhaps tracing them. The lettering and balloons are a bit too neat and regular to look like Garge’s work. These strips are quite possibly the work of Bob Naylor, who worked with Herriman on the “Embarrassing Moments” panel cartoon of the early 1930s. Naylor could imitate the Herriman style quite well and also submitted gags which Garge used for the panel. He also drew the “Barney Baxter” feature in the late 1940s. If any one of you readers knows that Bob Naylor did NOT draw the KK dailes in 1944, please leave me a comment!
Herriman’s art was beginning to look a little shopworn in the last strips of 1943. Krazy’s head nearly looks like it’s melting in the first panel of the 12-28-43 strip The last panel of the 11-30 looks like Offissa Pupp and Ignatz are disappearing into the page as Garge uses his knife to scratch off the ink lines. He uses a similar technique in the last panel of the 1-1-44 strip as Krazy says “Looks like a stranger to me”, as the “Guess Artist” walks through the strip. Krazy nearly looks transparent in the panel.
Kurt’s Corner
In the ongoing tribute to my dear brother who passed away nearly a year ago, I present some more treasures from his collection of vintage movie stills. Above are color cigarette cards featuring Janet Gaynor who was in “Sunny Side Up” (1929) and starred as Esther Blodgett in “A Star Is Born” (1937). In the heyday of cigarettes, colorful little cards likes these were wrapped up in the cellophane that protected the packs. I think that Janet Gaynor had an influence on the character of Snow White. The two ladies have similar faces, and Snow White’s personality may have been based on the sweetness of Gaynor’s screen character.

Here are some rare stills from Frank Capra’s “Lost Horizon” (1937), directed by Frank Capra.  That’s Mr. Capra behind the movie camera (right top) and his head cinematographer Joseph Walker is behind the blimped camera on the left.  That’s Jane Wyatt as Sondra Bizet posing on the balcony of the Lamasery, designed by Stephen Goosson, in the second photo from the top. That house was put up near Hollywood Way in North Hollywood and evidently the exterior still survives. Perhaps Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Frank Capra and Isabel Jewell are celebrating the completion of principal photography in this photo, as they dig into a cake baked in the shape of the Lamasery.  I hope one of my readers can tell me if these photos have ever been included in books about “Lost Horizon”.

2019 seemed about 5 years long without my brother. He and his girlfriend Linda were so generous to give me many fine books and stills like the ones here. But Kurt was so much more than just a collector. To say I miss him is not enough, he was a living reminder of our childhood in St. Louis, Missouri. With him died many memories and a big piece of my heart and soul. Again, at the risk of alienating readers of the Catblog, I say God rest you, kind and funny brother. Your memory will be with me forever. Look for more chapters of “Kurt’s Corner” coming up.

Remember that you can enlarge the pictures by resting your mouse line on the image, pressing the “Ctrl” key, holding it down, and then press the “+” or “-” keys to make the image bigger or smaller.


Moving the Island


In this post, “Racketty Ann and the Lost World” reaches it’s fifth and final chapter. My favorite page is number 18, as Racketty Ann confides to her captivated audience, that she “moved the island.” I love the lightly inked dinosaurs in the clouds over Racketty Ann’s head and the bold darkness surrounding the raccoons at the bottom of the page. Note the confused expressions on the raccoons faces at the top of page 19 as they try to figure out “How Can You Do That?” and “CAN she do that?” The next panel on page 19 is a dynamic triangular composition as Racketty Ann declaims to the admiring crowd and their pointy little faces seem to be holding up her airplane. On page 20, Racketty Ann revs up her plane and saying “Gotta Go! I’ve got a summit meeting!”, takes off for the last time on a mysterious journey. Cathy gets in a subtle gag in the last panel as the raccoons muse about the fate of the dinosaur island: “She probably moved it to MARS or something.”, and Virgil (or a friend of his) concludes with “She has friends in HIGH PLACES.” In many of her stories, a fantastic premise is gracefully brought back down to normal with a little remark, an understated “shaggy racoon” ending. I hope you enjoyed Cathy’s epic story, an exclusive CATBLOG feature!

Felix is from 8-21 to 8-27-1933 this time. The Dooits visit to the farm is coming to an end, as Felix tries to make the boarders feel at home, farm style. In the 8-26, Danny is afraid his beloved cat will be left behind in the move back to the city, so he puts old fashioned luggage decals all over Felix’s body. The 8-27 Sunday page is full of funny drawings as Felix and Danny get side-tracked to the Circus on their way to the grocery store.  I love those wacky heads of Felix that Otto Messmer drew for the “Felix Movies” toy that’s on top of the page.

Myrtle, from 5-23 to 5-29-1949, continues Myrtle’s fleeting romance with rich kid Walton. I love the 5-23, which contains a rare moment of sentiment as Myrtle hugs Bimbo to comfort him after Walton refuses to shake hands with the sensitive canine.  The 5-28 again features Myrtle’s bi-sexuality as she nearly becomes a he as she disrobes to put on a boy scout uniform, and Sampson tops her by putting on her dress and hat complete with braids! In the Sunday page, 5-29, Hyacinth the cat appears in both panels as Freddie tries to get Arnold to sneak out to a golf match by putting on false whiskers to fool his wife.

Krazy from 12-13 to 12-25-1943, features the never ending battle of wits between Offissa Pupp and Ignatz. They try disguises in the 12-14, Ignatz tries to look like his portrait in the 12-15, and in the 12-16 Iggy tries to manufacture a brick in a mold right in front of the confused Pupp. The 12-20 to 12-25 strips feature a wacky woodpecker. Perhaps Garge saw a Woody Woodpecker in a cinema in 1943. Herriman’s woodpecker taps a hole in Krazy’s door, taps an iron tree trunk, taps Offissa Pupp’s wooden head, and makes iron and clay sculptures of himself to fool the Pupp. The Officer’s Christmas present to the woodpecker is to throw him in jail with Ignatz. “Kwee Pippils, them Wood Peckas”, says Krazy.

BOOK REVIEW:

Boffo!
You will enjoy reading Bill Griffith’s graphic novel biography of Schlitzie, the famous pinhead, star of MGM’s “Freaks”. This book would make a terrific feature picture in itself, you can just see it in black and white with a few color scenes, and maybe getting a real pinhead (or digitally modified) to play the main part. The carnival settings are really well done and well thought out. The ink lines and meticulous attention to the details of the buildings are wonderful to look at. If you are a fan of Carnival or old time Midway subjects-“Freaks”, “Carny (1980)”, “Nightmare Alley”; the details of Schlitzie’s life should be especially interesting. There are intense dramatic moments where Schlitzie gets riled up and says “Y’SEE!” repeatedly. He is at his most monstrous at these points in the story, yet vulnerable. The making of “Freaks” sequence was of course very involving; pg. 100 was especially good as Bill Griffith provides a translation of Schlitzie’s garbled dialog. Pg. 233 really resonated with me, as Griffith draws Schlitzie’s time hanging out in MacArthur Park. I went to Chouinard on Seventh street, which was right across from MacArthur Park and I used to frequent the area quite a bit in 1971, so I could have seen Schlitzie, but sadly, never did. This is a very well done graphic novel and made a very sympathetic character out of a so-called “freak”. Pgs. 240, 241 and 242 are a poignant farewell. Did you ever see the old Jimmy Durante TV show? At the end of every show, Jimmy put on a battered hat and coat, wished Mrs. Calabash “Goodnight” and walked away from camera into a dark set lit with star spotlights back to infinity. Schlitzie walking over the stars of Hollywood Blvd. reminded me of Durante’s finale. The die-cut cover is attention-getting as well. Bill Griffith reportedly spent five years working on this book. Quite an accomplishment when you consider the hours he spends each week on the “Zippy the Pinhead” comic strip. Note that Robert Crumb rates this book as “the best graphic novel of the year”, and Mr. Crumb is never too lavish with his praise.

Dino Tears


Howdy Readers, if you want a quick and easy way to enlarge the pictures on the Catblog, just hold down your “Ctrl” (Control) key and click the + (plus) sign to enlarge and the – (minus) sign to reduce them. Remember to HOLD DOWN the Control key while you are doing this. Enjoy!

Here’s part four of Cathy Hill’s unpublished comic story: “Racketty Ann and The Lost World”. Cathy was truly a prognosticator of our current dilemma, as she attributes the dinosaur’s mortality to the human encroachment of their island. She combines comedy, comment and empathy as she uses comic drawing on pages 14 and 15, and a more sympathetic treatment on page 16. The first panel shows a stegosaurus collapsed in the background while a brontosaur looks after her little one in the foreground.  In  the second panel, Cathy uses dinosaur tears as a mother tyrannosaur looks over her ailing progeny still in the shell.  As you wipe away the tears, enjoy the multiple screens of the videographers on page 14, and the intrusion of the buses, helicopters and motorcycles on page 15. Coming soon, the final chapter of this epic tale.

Felix is from 8-14 to 8-20-1933 this time. Felix saves Danny from the forest fire, much to Papa Dooit’s relief.  However, Pop’s money was burned in the fire and he faces financial ruin, but Danny gets a 200 dollar bonus from the logging company for saving their logs, so Papa is rescued. Poor Felix, however, is left out in the rain and seeks refuge in an empty boot. The Sunday page continues the adventures of Felix and Danny at the circus, trying to dry clean a bear!

Myrtle is from 5-16 to 5-22-1949 this time out. In the 5-16, Myrtle looks kind of like a boy in the first panel as she lifts weights, then reverts to looking like a girl as she puts on her hat with the braids attached. She does this to impress “Walton”, a very rich boy who likes “proper” behavior. Myrtle starts to loosen him up by 5-21, as they are both blowing bubbles in their sodas. The Sunday page features a beautiful Fisher layout, as Freddie spray paints Myrtle, Sampson, Hyacinth and even the little Myrtle doll, much to Susie’s horror.

 

Krazy, from 11-29 to 12-11-1943, is mostly non-continuous gags this time, I like the reference to Kayenta, in the 12-7, and the feline subtext in the 12-10, as Krazy “puts the light out” by placing the lamp on her back porch, in a beautiful panel using intricately cross-hatched blacks to reveal Offissa Pupp’s bewilderment. You will note that the 12-4 to 12-11 strips are a bit taller, that’s because I got them from the San Francisco Examiner, which was one of the few papers to run the Krazy Kat strip in the 1940s, and probably the only one to run the full panels as Herriman drew them. Again, these panels show the little Coconino theater that Garge imagined, the little stage with the floorboards exposed, like in the 12-8 and 12-9. The KFS files don’t have the un-edited panels, but you will see them here in the Catblog!

Kurt’s Corner

Here are more stills from my late brother’s library and his extensive files on Clark Gable. I chose these because they feature Mr. Gable’s checkered career on network radio. This one features Clark and Virginia Bruce performing the Oscar-winning motion picture “Cimarron” on the Lux Radio Theater, 9-26-37. Cimarron won best picture in 1931, and was the only Western which achieved that honor until “Dances With Wolves” in 1990.

From that same year, 1937, here’s Clark on NBC, probably the Chase and Sanborn show, with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. This would have been for the 10-17-37 broadcast, featuring the Stroud twins. This program still exists! Do a search for it.

I’m not sure of the exact date of this great photo of Mr. Gable, but it is probably pre-World War 2. Clark seems to be very happy in this shot, maybe he enjoyed performing on radio, no make up necessary!

And last but not least this time, a rehearsal shot from the Burns and Allen show of 11-21-46, even though the photo is dated 11-26. This was Clark’s first network radio appearance since his World War 2 service, and he seems happy to be performing again. Sadly, this show has not survived, but maybe a collector has it on a reel to reel tape somewhere. “The Hucksters” was Gable’s second MGM film after his return, and he didn’t like the novel the screenplay was based on, saying “It’s filthy and it isn’t entertainment.” Read more about the picture here.

 

Close Up On The Eggs


Here’s the third part of Cathy Hill’s epic story: Racketty Ann and The Lost World! In pages 9 through 12, Racketty Ann continues her story (I love how the dinosaurs want to listen to her) of her trips to the prehistoric island. The secret is suddenly out when some sailors land on the beach, and the news media descend in pesky profusion. I love page twelve as the videographers are torn between focusing on the dinosaur eggs or framing the tapering limbs of their pretty newscaster (just look at the monitors at the top of the page to see just how torn the videographers were). Cathy loaded these pages with downshots and upshots of the dinosaurs really highlighting their immense bulk; the shading and variety of the line weight helps the effect. The progression from fine lines in the background to heavy lines in the foreground is most evident in page 12. The little paleontologist on page 10 has a Rube Goldberg touch as he rides through the air astride his magnifying glass with his neck nearly snapped in half by a helium balloon.

In Felix from 8-7 to 8-13-1933, Felix and Danny escape a forest fire in the dailies, and Felix battles a ferocious flea in the Sunday page. The tiger scratching Felix in the eleventh panel reminds me of the Warner Bros. Bob Clampett cartoon “An Itch In Time”, where the dog teases the cat into scratching his flea bite, much to the frustration of Elmer Fudd.
The Myrtle strip is from 5-9 to 5-15-1949 this time, Hyacinth the cat is in the second panel of the Sunday page, bored to tears by the family’s elaborations on the old tales “Little Red Riding Hood” and the “Three Little Pigs”.
Herriman’s cat is from 11-16 to 11-27-1943 this time. The early 1940s still influence the gags as Ignatz sings Frank Sinatra’s early hit “All or Nothing At All” in the 11-19. Offissa Pupp’s fascist tendencies emerge in the 11-20, as he squints Nipponese fashion saying: “Divide and Conquer”. Fascist Pupp continues in the 11-24 where he puts Ignatz in jail, declaring “Sin must be locked up, and who but ME to see that it’s done?” It has an “I alone can fix it” overtone, don’t ya think? Authoritarian rule is also parodied in the 11-27, as Ignatz asks Ignatz if he”belliv” s in Free “Spitch” to “Kops”. Offissa Pupp is waiting in the wings to oversee the Degree of “Spitch” he will allow to be “Free in Coconino” in the last panel.
KURT’S CORNER this time features some rare behind the scenes stills of Ronald Colman. This one shows him teaming up with nemesis and radio producer Arch Obeler on a program called “Everything For The Boys” from 1944. Mr. Obeler and Mr. Colman did not get along well, just contrast Colman’s well tailored suit to Obeler’s informal striped shirt and slouch hat. The show was an odd combination of dramatic skits and long distance call-ins from servicemen and women around the world.
Harmon Weizht was the director of the silent feature “Twenty Dollars A Week”, released in 1924, featuring Ronald Colman, George Arliss and Edith Roberts. I like this still which reveals how an insert shot was staged with Edith Roberts’ and Colman’s right hands practicing their signatures in front of an extreme close up lens.
Here’s Ronald Colman celebrating the first anniversary of Twentieth Century Pictures in 1934, when he was making “Clive of India” for Darryl Zanuck. 20th was the collaboration of Zanuck and Joe Schenck who made sound movies for release through United Artists. In 1935, they merged with William Fox’s company to create 20th Century-Fox. Isn’t that a monumental super-colossal birthday cake? I’ll bet that Mr. Colman found the thing a bit pretentious, eh what?
I’m a big radio buff, as was my brother, so mike shots of radio stars thrill me. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to see and hear Mr. Colman playing the part of George Apley on CBS in 1948? Stay tuned to the Catblog for more rare stills from Kurt’s collections. Kurt was especially fond of Sidney Carton in the film “A Tale Of Two Cities” which Colman played against type as an alcoholic reprobate who sacrificed himself on the guillotine in place of Charles Darnay.

Racketty Ann’s Mystery Flight!


Here are pages 5 through eight of “Racketty Ann and the Lost World”. There’s delightful fantasy here as Racketty Ann and Bla Bla take a ride on the back of a Pteranodon to a mysterious island far out in the ocean. I love the scenes in the nest as Racketty Ann fearlessly gets to know the Pteranodon’s family. Racketty Ann is telling them of her adventures with the condors in Peru, when a Tyrannosaurus Rex strolls by. Racketty Ann and Bla Bla do a big reaction take, but Cathy defuses the drama with a homey touch, the Pteranodon just explains that it’s only Floyd on his way to the tar pits. Just look at that expressive use of white out to show the steamy atmosphere of the island, and the last panel of page eight, with all the weighted lines to show light on the faces of the dinosaurs as they confront Racketty Ann and Bla Bla in the center of the panel. Don’t miss Bla-Bla’s reactions to the dinosaurs, either. They are more comical than Daisy the Pup’s antics in “Blondie”!
In Felix from 7-31 to 8-6-1933, Felix and Danny are lost in the woods, and they build a fire to keep them warm overnight. It looks like a forest fire may be inevitable. In the Sunday page, 8-6-33, Felix wrecks Danny’s bed, declaring: “I’m only a jinx.” But a circus contortionist buys it, since it’s a comfortable fit for his twisted up body.
In Myrtle from 5-2 to 5-8-1949, my favorites are the 5-4, as Myrtle sleeps in the doghouse with Bingo, and picks up enough fleas to be sprayed with a DDT gun by Susie. The 5-7 is also amusing as Hyacinth the cat is tied to a school bell to warn her away from the birds. Hyacinth also is stalking birds in the Sunday 5-8, as Myrtle reads an outdated weather forecast in a two year old newspaper. One of the neighborhood gardeners declares that “…atom bombs got the weather all turned around!”
In the Krazys from 11-1 to 11-13-1943, note the strip from 11-2. It was made famous by Gilbert Seldes, a renowned writer and critic who wrote about the Kat in the book; “The Seven Lively Arts”. This is the strip in which Ignatz declares that “the shades of night are falling” and Krazy catches them, saying “I got ’em, I got ’em”. The gags are a bit more violent in this batch, probably reflecting the Wartime tastes as Offissa Pupp sets Ignatz’s tail on fire in the 11-9 and Krazy threatens a pair of shoes in the last panel of the 7-13.
KURT’S CORNER
In this installment of the ongoing tribute to my late brother, I present some more Clark Gable rarities from his wonderful collection. This time Gable shaves off his famous moustache as he enters the Army in 1942 in an amateur snapshot never published. Gable eventually entered Officer Candidate School in Florida and below you will find the graduation program and a copy of his address to his graduating class (autographed). Note that it reads something like one of the characters he played in the movies: “Gentlemen, I’m not going to say to you ‘get on the beam’. You’re on it. The job is to stay on the beam until–in victory–we get the command; ‘Fall Out’ “. I can hear his voice as I read the text of this speech.
Here’s Gable as a Major in 1944 as he edits his film “Combat America”, at the First Motion Picture Unit in Culver City. He could have met Frank Thomas or Rudy Larriva or any of the animators who were stationed there. He’s probably editing nitrate film here, so no smoking, Clark! Clark had a little trouble in getting in and out of bombers, as he was 6 feet, one, quite a bit taller than his fellow soldiers. He flew five combat missions out of England in 1943, flying in the B-17 Flying Fortresses. He came close to being shot in the head, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. He was one of my brother’s favorite actors. Kurt’s favorite Gable part was Rhett Butler in “Gone With The Wind”.
Remember Folks to click on the images with the right button on your mouse. You will see a menu that says “Display image in another window” or “another tab”, or just “View Image. Click on that and you can make the pictures much larger. Thanks for taking the trouble to read the catblog and enjoy the pictures.

Starting Raccketty Ann and the Lost World!


Here they are! Cathy Hill’s Mad Raccoons in “Raccketty Ann and the Lost World”! Raccketty Ann is loosely based on Raggedy Ann, a character from old children’s books who was made into charming rag dolls the world over. Raccketty Ann is a real adventurer, she is fearless and remarkably adaptive to nearly any situation, dangerous or not. Her constant companion is “Bla-Bla” a long-suffering canine of indeterminate breed, who loves Raccketty Ann more than any other raccoon. Raccketty Ann’s stories in the community of raccoons were depicted in previously published issues of Mad Raccoons, published by MU Press. The raccoons look up to Raccketty Ann and hang on every word as she regales their imaginations with her tales of travel. In this episode she encounters a Preranodon, wait until you see the other prehistoric creatures she meets!
Felix is from 7-24 to 7-30-1933. Felix is forced to sleep outside by the hard-hearted farmer, and Danny tries to help find Felix a softer bed. The 7-24 strip recalls the story of “Babes In The Woods” as Felix leaves a trail of corn to mark Danny’s way through the woods. The Sunday has Felix trying to crash his way in to the circus, only to be slammed around by athletic trained mice who all look like Messmer’s “Skiddoo” the mouse.

Here’s Myrtle from 4-25 to 4-31-1949. I like the 4-29 and 4-30 dailies as Myrtle’s skirt and sweater are criticized by her mother, and Dad Freddie breaks Mom’s hand mirror as he spanks Myrtle with it. The Sunday page depicts the pioneering days of home TV sets as the neighbors put up makeshift antennas as status symbols even though they don’t yet have the sets to go with them!

Krazy is from 10-18 to 10-30-1943 this time. World War 2 enters the strip in a subtle way in the 10-21. Herriman was in a mood to cross-hatch in the 10-27 through 10-30 strips. The 10-27 takes on a mysterious feel in the last panel, due to the shading, giving the feel of twilight blanketing Krazy as she peacefully dozes under the gaze of Ignatz and Offissa Pupp. Krazy sings a hit song from “Oklahoma”, a hit musical of the early 1940s, as Ignatz hurls a brick at his head. Clocks play a big part in the 10-29 and 10-30 strips, a grandfather clock in the 10-29 and alarm clocks in the 10-30 as Krazy is once again wrapped in cross-hatched twilight in the last panel.

KURT’S CORNER In the corner this time are a collection of very rare stills from my brother’s Clark Gable collection. There are from November of 1937, when Clark was married to Carole Lombard. Gable loved horses and this was probably photographed on his ranch. I like the way he captioned the pictures as a film “Short”, labeling himself as a “Villain” and the Calf and Horse as the “Heroes”. I don’t know who Walt Cady was, who took the pictures. Maybe that’s Mr. Cady helping to brand the calf in the last photo. I have no idea how Kurt came by these rare pieces of Gableana, but aren’t they just fresh off the ranch? Look for more rare photos soon, as my tribute to my sadly missed brother continues.

Cathy Hill’s Racketty-Ann and The Lost World Previews!


Hold on to your seats Folks! More spectacular, funny and heart-warming (not to mention timely) than Galaxy’s Edge! It’s Cathy Hill’s Mad Raccoons in “Racketty-Ann and The Lost World” stealing their way in to the old Catblog in our next post!

As a bonus, here are some of Cathy’s serio-comic dinosaurs in two pages of a book project that wasn’t completed, but you can see for the first time right here. If you like these and want to see more, drop us a line. Thanks for reading the Catblog!

Coming! Raccoons! Soon!


This peculiar Raccoon (Mad variety) was beautifully drawn by Cathy Hill in 1997 to start a sort of “Weird Science” EC vibe in potential “Mad Raccoons” comics. Next post we will start the heretofore unpublished tale “Racketty-Ann and the Lost World”. It’s definitely weird, monstrous and strangely sweet. Watch for it next time!

Felix is from 7-17 to 7-23-1933 this time. Felix is on the farm in the dailies, including Messmer’s trademark cows in the 7-17, which were usually the symbol of sustenance for Felix. The Room and BOARD gag is pretty choice in the 7-18. I like the touch of pathos in the 7-23 Sunday as Felix tears up at Danny’s lack of funds to buy circus passes in the second panel.

Myrtle originally appeared 4-18 to 4-24-49. The dailies really explore Myrtle’s Tomboy side, especially when she loses her braids in the 4-20 and starts to look like a boy. In the 4-21, the boys of the Eager Beaver Patrol all don phony braids to make Myrtle feel included. I love the subtle Fisher touch in the 4-19 as Myrtle pounds the floor in frustration accompanied by her look-alike doll doing the same thing. Myrtle is finally allowed to join the Boy Scout patrol after she pitches a no-hit baseball game for the 3rd Grade team. In the Sunday, Hyacinth the cat makes a rare appearance on top of a fence as Minnie and Slug announce their engagement: Minnie got a job!

Krazy ran in Hearst and other papers from 10-4 to 10-16-1943.  Herriman makes a very soft-spoken comment on WW2 in the 10-5 as Krazy declares war on “no budda”. Thanks to Gerd Heinlein, we have one of Garge’s rare elephant strips in the 10-7. I love the drawings of the absent-minded pachyderm as they change proportions and size in each panel. The last panel with the elephant in front of a row of cat-tails is worthy of  framing by itself. The 10-18 is one of those incredibly corny puns that Herriman somehow turned into a quiet moment of “Kat” reflection. There’s also a touch of magic in the 10-14 strip as Krazy silently follows a firefly in the Coconino desert only to see it collapse into ashes on the sand.

KURT’S CORNER

My dear brother was a consummant collector of movie stills and memorabilia. He took over the Ronald Colman collection of the late George E. Schatz of Illinois and augmented it with beautiful original and rare material that he collected over more than 40 years. He also collected on Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Vivien Leigh and many other actors. His huge collection was carefully tucked into loose-leaf three-ring binders, each one immense and thick. Every still was in special plastic punched sheets that make it easy to remove and replace the stills from each binder. Here are three very rare stills from the Colman files:

The lovely Benita Hume around 1926. She was doing a bit of acting in British cinema such as “The Happy Ending” (1925) in which she played “Miss Moon” and “The Lady Of The Lake”(1928) which gave her the title role. She became Mr. Colman’s second wife and co-starred with him on the Jack Benny Program and The Halls of Ivy on radio. In the Halls of Ivy, her character Victoria often does a bit of music hall singing and tap dancing. The Halls of Ivy ran from 1950 to 1952 and was written by Don Quinn who wrote for Jim and Marian Jordan and created the character of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve on the old Fibber Magee and Molly radio show. The Halls of Ivy was very classy and incredibly gentle comedy, the theme song sounds a bit reverent, like the “Whiffenpoof Song”.

Here’s a rare still of Benita and Ronald Colman rehearsing with the radio maestro and Angel of Comedy, Jack Benny in April of 1948. Jack loved being the object of the Colman’s scorn, he constantly irritated them by borrowing every tool and kitchen appliance they had. Jack lived next door to the Colmans in “radio land”, and even borrowed Colman’s Oscar which R.C. won for “A Double Life” in 1947. Jack promptly was robbed of the Oscar on his way home with it by a gangster played by Eddie Marr (info provided by Don Yowp).

It’s hard to recognize Mr. Colman in 1921, when he first came to the United States from his native England to tour in the stage play “The Dauntless Three” and hadn’t yet grown his trademark mustache. He eventually used a grease paint mustache for early silent film parts, such as “The White Sister’ (1923),  before he grew his own. Ronald Colman’s speaking voice was just about my brother’s favorite sound in the world. Kurt prized wisdom and gentleness in actors and writers, such as Colman and James Hilton. The great Frank Capra picture “Lost Horizon” combined Colman and Hilton in one of my brother’s all-time favorite movies. Kurt’s incredible collection of stills is with me now, but will soon join the archives of the Margaret Herrick library at the Motion Picture Academy. Kurt and I often discussed his collection’s eventual “home” and soon they will be going there. Over the next several posts, Kurt’s Corner will feature more rare and unusual bits of cinematic curios. I hope you will look at them and celebrate the love of movies that was such a major part of my brother’s life and dear to his heart.

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