Archive for the ‘Comic Strips’ Category

Back to the “Old Stuff”

Friday, June 13th, 2008

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Whelp, I didn’t receive any comments on my wife’s “Mangy and the Worm” page. Those who wish to continue to see new or unpublished comics continue, please let me know at molasses@earthlink.net. Last Tuesday night, Jerry Beck did a show of “Pre-Code” (actually pre-code ENFORCEMENT) cartoons at the old Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax in West Hollywood.  I hadn’t been in this picture palace for over 30 years! The current management, “Cinefamily” has re-done her inside and out, with a new marquee (see photos above), new Simplex and Elmo projectors in the booth (including a (gulp) digital projector), new photos on the wall, new popcorn machine, in summary, a nice place to watch old movies in. The theater seats about 100, in brand-new seats with cushions (!) and a couple of soft huge leather couches in front. A Hammond organ and a baby grand piano are on either side of the screen for the real silent movie evenings. The Silent Movie is now a rep house, that’s why we could run sound cartoons last Tues. We ran THE BEER PARADE, SOUTHERN EXPOSURE and BETTY BOOP’S PENTHOUSE in 35mm and several early 1930s cartoons in 16mm as well, such as ROOM RUNNERS, I’LL BE GLAD WHEN YOU’RE DEAD YOU RASCAL YOU, BOOP OOP A DOOP, PLANE DUMB, BIMBO’S INITIATION, SINKIN’ IN THE BATHTUB, YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOIN’ and finishing up with SWING WEDDING in color. There were so many people that they had to do a second show to accommodate the overflow crowd. The “overflows” had to wait more than two hours to see their show. The presentation was good, with good lumens and good sound. The audience reactions were very good, they laughed a lot,  applauded some of their favorite cartoons and didn’t gasp and cry at some of the racial sterotypes and comedy, like some contemporary audiences will do. Maybe the Silent Movie will host another cartoon program sometime featuring (maybe) SILENT CARTOONS! I think a good program could be created showing the influence of silent comedy on the animated cartoon, both silent and sound. Think about that, Jerry! (By the way, that’s J. Beck himself in the photo up there with the projectionist cutting 16mm reels together.) The Silent has come a long way since the hard wooden bleachers and the one old 16mm projector (under-lit) that I remember. It’s wonderful that the Cinefamily people have chosen to renovate the Silent Movie, rather than sell it for Condos. Come out and support them if you’re local!

This week’s comics are L’il Abner from 4/16/1973 to 4/21. Barney Oldgoat dies from too much partying, but reveals to Bullmoose that Pappy Yokum owns a copy of “Corporal Crock” number one! Wait ’til you see the General’s reaction to that! In MARVELOUS MIKE, from 7/23/1956 to 7/28, Mike and Merrie foil the “Adoption Racketeers”. I wonder if there really were such operators in the mid-1950s, anybody know? To finish up, we have the next two pages of “There Auto Be A Law” from Felix #4 by Jim Tyer. The jokes about women drivers seem lifted from Cap. Billy’s Whiz Bang, but the drawings are very funny. I love the splash panel with Kitty’s car chasing dogs, funny chickens and running pedestrians up a telephone pole. This story reminds me of the Popeye cartoon, “Women Hadn’t Oughta Drive”, which I believe Tyer DIDN’T work on. I’m posting early because Cathy and I will be plein air painting a lot next week in San Clemente and I won’t have time to blog. She has a “quick draw” (actually a quick PAINT) to do on Saturday the 14th, for which she is already keyed up. I love the ocean and am looking forward to being with her in the lovely town of San Clemente, near San Juan Capistrano. I’ll be bringing you more material both old and new (?) soon! 

The Return of Mangy

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

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Hi Readers! Cathy and I had a wonderful time on Catalina Island, painting the Casino, the Fish Shack, the Via Casino archway, cruise ships and cabin cruisers. A friendly seagull was attracted to the red oil paint on Cathy’s pallette and tried to eat it! All he got was a beak full of red paint. Jason Situ, the famous Chinese landscape painter was there, he went up on Wrigley Road, looked down on the bay and did some aerial studies. Of course, Walter and Martha McNall were there along with about 10 members of our Thursday Painting group. Weather was great, although Cathy and I nearly froze when an unexpected sea breeze came along one day and caught us without our coats! We hope to come back to Catalina in the fall, you can’t do too many paintings of the island.

“There Must Be Some Other Cat” (my next cartoon short) now has a completed film pencil test, up through Sc. 26! Greg Ford has been slaving away at Larry Q’s 35mm film test camera and figured out all my wonky pan mechanics, translating them into his own math. The results look good, now I have the last third of the cartoon in test form spliced together! We should have a completed test with sound ready very soon. I don’t expect any of you readers to get as excited about this as I am, but it’s been quite a long time getting to this point, so pardon my enthusiasm!

A reader of this blog, Milton Gray, animator and cartoon historian, likes my efforts, but is tired of reading all the old comics I reprint here. He wants to see NEW comics! I don’t draw many comics personally, although that could change. My wife, Cathy Hill, drew a comic book for Mu Press called “Mad Raccoons”. It lasted seven issues, many of which are still available through Mu, go to www.mupress.com/catalogpg08.html to see the covers and order them! Cathy did enough material to fill at least one more issue. She has kindly consented to let me publish these pages for the first time here! I’m starting with a one-page story with her cat character, Mangy. Mangy was a real black cat that Cathy rescued from the Sierra Madre wilds. She had a bad case of mange on her back, which we cured with some topical ointment that smelled like barbecue sauce! We both adored her, Mangy became a loving member of the family, she let Cathy carry her around like a  portfolio! The real Mangy is now playing by the Rainbow Bridge, but she lives on in comics. If you wish to comment on Mangy or anything here, write molasses@earthlink.net.

In the old comics this week, (L’il Abner, 4/9 to 4/14/73) Bullmoose hires Barney Oldgoat, the cartoonist who created “Corporal Crock” to re-create the first issue! Barney seems to be another sly slam at Ham Fisher, but that’s just a guess. Mike Fontanelli is enjoying “Corporal Crock”:

…Still laughing over the 1973 “Corporal Crock” strips!  They’re hilarious, thanks for posting them – I’d never seen them before.  LI’L ABNER is the only comic strip that can still make me laugh out loud after all these years. The Bullmoose stories are proof positive that Capp was an equal opportunity satirist – he let both sides have it, with relish!  I wonder why more people don’t remember that, or pretend not to remember it?
  
“Corporal Crock” flies in the face of the many, many Capp detractors who claim ABNER degenerated into a rightwing political screed after 1965.  Capp continues to get a raw deal, almost three decades after his death.  
BTW, I’m currently finishing the last of the Al Capp essays for ASIFA, (there are 12 in all, plus a bibliography/checklist.)  
There’s a late chapter titled “MAD CAPP: Li’l Abner In The Sixties,” in which I reference the Joanie Phoanie continuity, which to my knowledge has never been reprinted before you posted them last month.  Thanks again for that.
  
I make the point that Joan Baez herself forgave Capp decades ago, as she made clear in her memoirs from 1989.  Why can’t Capp’s critics let it go already?  That grudge has got whiskers, for chrissakes!

Make sure you go over to the ASIFA archives website and read Mike’s Capp pages, you’ll be glad you did, www.animationarchive.org/ . By the way, remember to click on the small comic images above, to see them at full size.

Bill Warren wrote that Corporal Crock looks like a caricature of Jack Webb to him. This could be, or maybe the stone face is a characteristic shared by both Webb and Crock. Also this week we have Marvelous Mike from 7/16 to 7/21/56; Mike and Merrie join forces to foil his phony “parents”.

“A Sample Assignment” from Felix #4 concludes and “There Auto Be A Law” commences. I love that spring neck “take” that Jim Tyer used in the last page of “A Sample Assignment”. It reminds me of Bosko’s spring neck in “Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid”, Tyer was using 1920s style cartoon iconography in the 1960s and making it look contemporary! I love how he draws Kitty in the “Auto” story, she has such trim little ankles, and a beauty mark! Come back next week for more ancient panels, and maybe we will have some more unpublished pages from “Mad Raccoons” as well!

Joanie! You Back Again!?

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

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A little lesson in comparative panelology this week, dear readers. Cole Johnson, cartoonist and cartoon scholar has sent some interesting “Phoanie” strips, which we may compare with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch versions I have posted in weeks past. For the episode of 2/1/67, the color version is from the St. Louis paper, and the b/w is from the Washington Post. Note how the Washington Post chose to re-letter and re-center the dialog balloons in the first panel, and permitted the first line to remain. Cole sent the missing episode from 2/3/67, in two different versions, the first from the Los Angeles Times, the second from the Washington Post. The Times edited Joanie’s second panel speech quite a bit, and the Post let the two words “I’m paying..” seep back into the border-less balloon. Perhaps Joanie was saying:”I’m paying them $2.00 an hour..” or something to make her look like an exploiter of the poor. The episode of 2/9/67 which the Post-Dispatch edited with a ham-fist: “..14 songs of scorn…a hymn of hate…”, has been re-arranged by the Washington Post to read: “14 songs of scorn, and a hymn of hate!” I think the Post-Dispatch’s edits are a bit more honest, at least it’s obvious something’s been taken out. In the 2/11/67 strip, the Post-Dispatch let the ghost of a dialog balloon hover above Joanie’s head; meanwhile, the Washington Post took the offending dialog out, balloon and all! It seems that the liberal press was moved by the “Joanie” continuity to alter Capp’s dialog on a market by market basis. Maybe someday we’ll see these strips re-printed from the syndicate proofs. By the way, just look at that beautifully hand-decorated envelope in which Cole sent me the strips. The Spanish couple he drew remind me of an old George Herriman Philadelphia Sunday Press page from Dec. 8th, 1901 called: “A Yankee Romance in Old Madrid”: the first panel.

This week we also have the L’il Abner strips from 4/1/73 to 4/7/73. Capp satirizes fanatical comic book collectors in this story by introducing General Bullmoose’s ideel, Corporal Crock, an embryonic Neocon of the “Great War” period. What Crock does to those “tax the rich” liberals and the “votes for women” crowd makes him dear to the crusty old capitalist’s heart. MARVELOUS MIKE for 7/9/57 to 7/14/57 starts to heat up as Mike’s “real” parents show up to claim him! Mike is very cool under fire and refuses to get upset. Cole Johnson did some research and found that the Washington Post also started to run MARVELOUS MIKE from the beginning, but dropped the strip before May, so the Washington Post won’t be a good source of missing episodes. I’m proud of my home town paper, once they picked up a strip, they stuck with it!

From Felix #4, we have the next two pages from “A Sample Assignment” drawn and written (?) by that master of sweat drops, Jim Tyer. Look at Felix falling down the chute on page two, Tyer stages the fall as an x-ray cross section of the chute. He used the same x-ray staging in the Tom Terrific cartoon: “The Pill of Smartness” as Tom makes himself smaller and smaller to squeeze himself through the tubes in Queen Cleofatra’s tomb. Enjoy all the comics this week, and thanks to readers like Cole Johnson for contributing to my blog and the “science” of panelology!

General Bullmoose, Comic Book Fan?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

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Happy Decoration Day readers! This week, as promised, are the first two chapters of the L’IL ABNER story, “Corporal Crock” which started March 30, 1973. I have scanned the first two strips from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch full page comic section, so I couldn’t close the lid all the way down on top of it, and the scan is a bit light because of that. Next week, we’ll find out more about General Bullmoose’s “ideel”, Corporal Crock.

I have received a few more comments on the “Joanie Phoanie” strips that ran over the past several weeks. Here’s one from Mike Fontanelli, cartoonist and Al Capp Collector:

Thanks again for printing the Joanie Phoanie strips.   I never knew what all the fuss was about, and now that I’ve finally seen them – I still don’t know what all the fuss was about!  
It seems to me the most offensive aspect was the fact that some of the dialog – and at least one whole daily strip – was censored!  As a free speech advocate, that’s a lot more troubling than anything actually in the strips.
It’s my professional opinion that Capp’s vivid portrayal of student protesters and “hippies” were really no more of a caricature than the hillbillies that regularly populated Dogpatch, anyway.  (I also think it’s ironic that Capp called them “wildly indignant” – and they’ve been reacting with wild indignation ever since!)

Speaking of censored strips, Mike, here are some enlightening words from eminent cartoon authority, Cole Johnson:

The missing dialogue in the 2-1-67 strip, as it appeared in the Washington Post : Joannie’s assistant says: “Why not keep the kid, Joannie baby? You’re supposed to love little people!” Joannie’s word balloon, much larger in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is shrunk down around “Oh, well, I’ll send him to school!!” in the WP. The missing 2-3-67 episode has fly-encircled Joannie with Honest Abe in her mansion, declaring what a wonderful, warm-hearted mother she’ll be to…what’s your name again, kid? Then she tells Abe how you can tell the servants to do anything you want, and a delighted Abe joyously jumps in the air at the prospect.In addition, the 2-9-67 strip ran in the Washington Post with the same “remaining” words as in the chiseled-up first balloon, only this time, they have been rearranged into a smaller and tighter balloon you’d never imagine to have been tampered with. The 2-11-67 strip also had no balloon at all from Joannie Phoanie. Since the WP ran their strips in the conventional B/W, there is nothing to imagine there would be a comment by her, but the Post-Dispatch had a color background which clearly shows the “ghost” of a balloon. I’ll try to get some copies of these for you! The Washington Post could certainly match the Post-Dispatch for left-wing aspects, and raise it. I wonder if this delightful sequence ran differently in a conservative paper, like the fondly remembered Philadelphia Bulletin?

(Mark here) It seems the Washington Post and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were sister papers in their attitude towards editing (censoring) L’IL ABNER. They even re-lettered and re-arranged the balloons to suit their individual editors’s tastes. Cole may send the missing strip, 2-3-67, along soon. When he does, I will post it here. Maybe Cole has some of the missing MARVELOUS MIKE strips as well; MIKE also ran in the Washington Post.Also this week, MARVELOUS MIKE winds up the “Baby Baker” storyline (from 7/2/56 to 7/7/56 with July 4th missing) and starts the Crumps off on a cruise with the money they’ve won. The Jim Tyer Felix Dell pages this week are from “A Sample Assignment” continuing Felix’s search for Kitty’s fabric sample at the department store. All the comics I reprint here generally fall into the “humouous (or ‘hoomerous’) continuity” type of strip. They are not necessarily telling a joke every day, but amuse because they LOOK funny. They tell a story that may actually be serious underneath the clown make-up. MARVELOUS MIKE is certainly an example of that “sad clown” syndrome, sometimes Mike is very emotionally moved at his adopted parents’s problems. He is very serious and efficient at almost everything he does, the humor mostly comes from Cliff Crump’s Dagwood-like clumsiness. Cathy and I painted a flower garden in Sierra Madre, CA. last week with our painting group and ran into our friend William Wray on the main street, Sierra Madre Blvd. Bill is an imaginative plein air oil painter and lives in Sierra Madre, his comment to us: “What are you guys doing in my town?” Go to his website www.williamwray.com and look at his book “Dirty Beauty”, it’s full of Bill’s contemporary “ashcan school” oil paintings of the Los Angeles urban landscape. Thanks for all the great comments on the “Joanie” stories, see you next time with more Bullmoose, Mike and Felix.

The Last of Joanie

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

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Hello again, here are the final episodes of the “Joanie Phoanie” storyline in L’il Abner. This week’s  episodes are from 2/6/67 to the following Monday, 2/13/67. Honest Abe really deserves his spanking this time! You will note that the Post-Dispatch censored the dialog on 2/9, and Joanie’s dialog balloon on 2/11 is completely blank! A few of Joan’s contemporaries sneak into the strip, Bob Dylan on 2/8, Abbie Hoffman on 2/11 and could the man with the dark beard in the first panel of 2/13 be Allen Ginsberg? Next week I will start reprinting an Abner story from 1973.

Also this week we have Marvelous Mike from 6/25/57 to 6/30. Cliff Crump as usual don’t get no respect! Mike bakes great biscuits and all Mr. Kimball does is yell at Cliff about them. I would call this story “The Baby Baker”.  The next two pages of “A Sample Assignment” from Felix #4 by Jim Tyer brings up the post-ier. Note Tyer’s patented sweat drops on pg. 2, in the close-up of nervous Felix. It’s hotter n’ blazes in Glendale this weekend, I’m staying inside and blogging. Remember if you have any comments write to me at molasses@earthlink.net. I will assume that your letters are for publication unless you tell me the remarks are private. Bill Warren was a little upset over Mike Fontanelli’s comments on his comments. He thought that Mike got a little too personal. I erred in reprinting Bill’s letter verbatim, he thought his remarks were private. My apologies to Mr. Warren. See you next time.