Here is my friend Sam Cornell’s obituary from the Pegboard, the Animation Guild’s newsletter:
Sam Cornell d. 5/01/2021 – Industry veteran Sam Cornell is
known for his varied work on Twilight Zone: The Movie, The
Rugrats Movie, The Wuzzles, and Shinbone Alley. His many roles
included Storyboard Artist, Layout Artist, and Title Designer. He
also directed numerous commercials with classic characters such
as Tony the Tiger and the Keebler Elves.
I guess that’s a little start on a career summary, but it misses the real Sam. I think Sam would like to be remembered as an excellent cartoonist, a really fun and cordial kind of guy and a husband and father, which I assume that he was. Sam was a dark haired slightly beefy guy with a big dark mustache. He had dark eyes that sometimes sparkled merrily. Sadly it’s been so many years since I’ve seen any of his family that I can hardly remember them. I remember that one of Sam’s children was in the “Indian Guides”, sort of an alt-world Boy Scouts, and that Sam was a senior Guide. We love George Herriman around the old Catblog, and Sam was the first animated cartoonist I met in So. Cal. who also loved Garge and of course early Disney design. If you look to the top of the post, you will see one of Sam’s layouts from the “Archy Declares War” sequence in the feature cartoon, “Shinbone Alley”, directed by John Wilson. Sam loved to talk old cartoons and cartoon history and gave me a lot of ideas for study. He was one of the first adults I met who made it OK to really enjoy old cartoons and really appreciate what made the drawings good and appealing. Look at the control he had with Pentel felt pens, he could get a good approximation of steel point inking and could draw Krazy and Ignatz in his own way, while paying tribute to Herriman at the same time. Frank Andrina was the animator on the “Archy Declares War” sequence, and I wound up doing inbetweens for him. Frank knew how MUCH I wanted to animate a professional scene, and he gave me one of my first chances to do so. Just below Sam’s layout you will see a cel set-up from that first scene, a marching army of bugs led by General Roach himself. Sam designed these characters as well. Frank animated all the scenes in this part of “Shinbone Alley” in felt tip pen, and all us inbetweeners had to follow him up with pen drawings as well. These were then Xeroxed on to cels. In the old days, good inkers would have been relied on to get the Herriman “line”, but by 1969, animators and assistants were responsible for the final line quality that reached the screen.
A few years later, Sam Cornell and fellow Chouinardian Gary Katona, formed a little company called Pacific Motion Pictures. I was hired on as a staff animator, I even had a business card! Randy Akers, who was a good friend of Gary’s was an art director for the little company. One of the most fun TV commercials we made was for Popeye Video Games. We styled the characters a bit like Segar, a bit like Bela Zaboly and a little bit like Fleischer. Randy actually constructed real sets for the spot, which were photographed on a sound stage. The idea was to emulate the Fleischer “Stereoptical Process” 3-D backgrounds without actually sculpting and building the miniature sets. In the finished commercial, you can hardly see the sets with their glass brick and translucent counter tops for the animated characters exposed over the live action “plates”. I remember that Randy was kind of upset that my ugly animation was blocking his beautiful sets. In the layout for Sc two (see above), you can see how much room I gave Popeye and Bluto/Brutus and just how much they covered Randy’s set, which I traced in red from the photostat. I think Sam liked the look I gave Popeye, Olive and Bluto/Brutus. At the time it seemed so futuristic to have old Popeye playing the new thing called a “Video Game” of himself. Now it seems quaint as the Popeye video game looks very early 1980s. Sam also directed at FilmFair studio in the San Fernando Valley, run by former animator Gus Jekel. A lot of talented people worked there, including Bob Kurtz, who had his own little subdivision of FilmFair called “Festival Films”. Sam supervised the more traditional animated commercials, such as Charlie the StarKist tuna, and Ernie Keebler from the cookie family. A lot of old timers hung around FilmFair picking up work, I met Rudy Zamora Sr., who dated back to the silent Felix the Cat cartoons and the Fleischer cartoons in New York. Rudy didn’t look his age at all, he still had very black hair and a lot of energy. One of Sam’s favorite animators was Stan Walsh, who was one of the original partners in Quartet Films, along with Mike Lah and Art Babbitt. Stan was a rock solid traditional animator who did beautiful stuff on Charlie Tuna. In the 1970s and 80s, traditional animators were called “Mouldy Fig” and “Centerline Animators”. If you didn’t draw like Heinz Edelman (the top designer on “Yellow Submarine”) you were relegated to the sidelines. People like Stan Walsh were just taken for granted, along with people like Hicks Lokey and Amby Paliwoda. These guys could really draw volumetrically and could turn and twist a character in any direction, which came in handy for characters like Tony Tiger, Ernie Keebler and Charlie Tuna. Sam admired cartoonists who drew “funny” and well. Here’s a link to the ONLY radio interview ever done with Sam: HERE. In this interview, Sam talks about his involvement with the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 and the creation of the Unisphere with Harper Goff, a Disney Imagineer. Harper said that Sam drew with a “Funny Pencil”, and that really sums up Sam’s approach to drawing. He just couldn’t help being a clown with cartooning. We worked on quite a few things, notably an animated sequence for the “It’s A Good Life” seqiemce of theTwilight Zone movie, designed by Sally Cruikshank. Ethel, played by Nancy Cartwright (who eventually became the voice of Bart Simpson and a multi-millionaire) is wished in to Cartoonland by Anthony, played by Jeremy Licht, where Ethel is eaten up by a Sally Cruikshank monster. The main flaw in the sequence is that Ethel’s demise is not gory enough. We had fun making our part of the sequence, but had a hard time balancing the flatness of Sally’s designs with the dimensional look required to work with a live actor (Nancy). I also animated part of the title sequence for the “New Woody Woodpecker Show”, in which Woody was being chased by Wally Walrus. At first Sam thought the animation was too “fast”, but changed his mind when all the inbetweens were done and the cels were painted. I really enjoyed animating one of my favorite characters, Woody. I applied several times for work at the Lantz studio in the early 1970s, only to be told that “You’re gonna have to wait until some of these guys DIE before we’d ever hire YOU!” Sam gave me the chance to at last do one scene with the red headed rascal.
Sam did take a drink or two occasionally, and I think he may have been a smoker, judging by the slightly wheezy tone of his voice. The girls liked Sam a lot, he had a knack of making them laugh and complimenting them at the same time. Sam unfortunately was in a terrible car accident, in which he ran his convertible off the highway and right under a roadside billboard, as I recall. He broke nearly every bone in his body, and I visited him in the hospital. I think he tried to laugh a little, but it was too painful for him. He walked with a cane for the rest of his life, but bounced back almost as jovial and convivial as he was before the accident.
The last time I heard from him was just about three years ago. Sam was in a care facility in Ojai where his family had placed him and he called me on the phone one Sunday afternoon. He was very cordial and complimentary to me about my animation for him over the years. He wouldn’t say just what ailment was keeping him in the facility, but he did say he liked the place. I really enjoyed hearing from him. About a year later, my wife and I were in Ojai for a film festival and tried to find the care facility where Sam had called me from, but he had been moved somewhere else by then. I don’t know what was the actual cause of Sam’s demise, perhaps it was complications from his car accident injuries. It’s not pleasant to dwell on what he died from, it’s a lot more fun to remember Sam the Funny Cartoonist!
You can see from some of the images I’ve collected here, that Sam tried to make every assignment from him as much fun as he could. The little drawings and notes really made me want to get in to animating the scenes. I especially like the self-portrait that Sam put on an envelope that contained “Approx. 35 Feet inside here for Mark!” Note the cocktail glass and the severed foot alongside Sam’s portrait. Sam drew himself with Mickey ears because he liked the Mouse and did direction and layout for several commercials featuring Mickey and the Disney characters. If you listen to the radio interview, Sam outlines some of these commercials combining live action and animation. That envelope held the layouts to the last animation I did for Sam, a Keebler commercial with a runaway “Magic Oven” pursued by a Keebler elf, as you can see on one of the ruffs I did for the spot.
To give you an idea of Sam’s “funny Pentel”, I’ve included a couple of his drawings from a Super Sugar Crisp commercial he directed with Sugar Bear and a couple of vultures in the cast. I love the lively effects he achieved with marker and white out to make Sugar Bear look “Super”, and the wild action implied as Sugar Bear faces the vultures. I also like the little cheek he drew on the Bear’s face, a real MGM cartoon/Harvey Eisenberg touch.Sam’s drawings were inspiring to work with, even though I had to re-interpret the characters to put them on model. I always kept Sam’s drawings pinned up on the desk to boost my enthusiasm. They bristled with energy!
It’s not easy to say goodbye to such a great friend and employer who valued my work. Sam’s “funny pencil” turned out hundreds of amusing sketches over the years. He even sent out funny Christmas cards, one of which featured a turbaned character in a Moroccan desert pushing a cart that was labelled: “Cheeses of Nazareth”. Sam was so well thought of at Jay Ward’s studio that there was an old animation table in the basement with a placard reading: “The Sam Cornell Memorial Desk”. Maybe that desk is still there, along with the memories and funny drawings that Sam left in it. I learned from the Union newspaper, “The Pegboard”, that Sam had passed away. I’m sure you can imagine dear reader, just what a sad discovery that was. So Long Sam!
Here’s a short list of work that Sam kept on his resume:
live -action/animation: Integration of live actors with animated characters.Director ; Hawaiian Punch; Jerseymaid Milk; Tony Tiger; Capt. Crunch; Quisp; Quake; Froot Loops Etc.Etc Storyboard;Jay Ward studios. George of the Jungle;etc
writing: :30 commercials Ogilvy and Mather, L.A. Main Titles design/direction Walt Disney T.V. Animation and Universal Cartoons. Director for Keebler commercials from 1962 through 2005 ( While at Duck Soup Studio in Santa Monica A VERY INTELLIGENT AND BEAUTIFUL MELISSA TIMME helped me in producing a series of commercials.)
Toy design, Mattel Toys.
Model maker;Seattle World’s Fair and New York World’s Fair
( anybody remember: “Hey, how ’bout a nice Hawaiian Punch?” “Sure.” POW!
“Now Listen, Mabel”, a little-known Herriman strip from 1919, continues with the episodes from 8-4 to 8-16-1919. Note that Garge favors gags about twins and the confusion they cause Mabel and Jimmie, especially in the 8-9 (dogs) and 8-16-1919 (big and little guys). Herriman’s inking and control of blacks in the strip is certainly on a more complex order than the Krazy Kat strips. But “Now Listen, Mabel” was not destined to last very long. Stay with the Catblog for more!
Here’s Felix back again after a long break. The strips are from 9-25 to 10-1-1933 and 10-2 to 10-8-1933. Danny Dooit wants to sell Felix’s services as a mascot to a couple of fighters in the 9-28 and 9-29 strips. Otto Messmer’s fight scenes are nearly as full of “sock” as Segar’s Thimble Theatre comics. In the 10-2 to 10-7 dailies, Felix tries to be a mascot for Olaf the Plumber. He wins Olaf’s friendship by chasing a mouse away from the plumbing. I like the speed lines and quick crash in to a sandwich board in the Sunday page from 10-8. Otto’s composition in the last panel as the sandwich board turns in to an airplane with Felix aboard has a lot of depth. How about those funny Felix faces in the “Felix Movies” toppers? Remember, just click on the strips to enlarge them. Enjoy the comics, and I’ll be back soon. Feel free to comment!
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.
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 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.
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.
4-8-44: 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!
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.
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 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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.