Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Lady and the Tiger Return!

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

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

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

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

Sunday, May 17th, 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

Wednesday, January 22nd, 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

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

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.