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.Â 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.Â 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,Â 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.
Here are some rare stills from Frank Capra’s “Lost Horizon” (1937), directed by Frank Capra.Â That’s Mr. Capra behind the movie camera (right top) and his head cinematographer Joseph Walker is behind the blimped camera on the left.Â 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.Â 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, â€œRacketty Ann and the Lost Worldâ€ reaches itâ€™s fifth and final chapter. My favorite page is number 18, as Racketty Ann confides to her captivated audience, that she â€œmoved the island.â€ I love the lightly inked dinosaurs in the clouds over Racketty Annâ€™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 â€œHow Can You Do That?â€ and â€œCAN she do that?â€ 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 â€œGotta Go! Iâ€™ve got a summit meeting!â€, 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: â€œShe probably moved it to MARS or something.â€, and Virgil (or a friend of his) concludes with â€œShe has friends in HIGH PLACES.â€ In many of her stories, a fantastic premise is gracefully brought back down to normal with a little remark, an understated â€œshaggy racoonâ€ ending. I hope you enjoyed Cathyâ€™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 Griffithâ€™s graphic novel biography of Schlitzie, the famous pinhead, star of MGMâ€™s â€œFreaksâ€. 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-â€œFreaksâ€, â€œCarny (1980)â€, â€œNightmare Alleyâ€; the details of Schlitzieâ€™s life should be especially interesting. There are intense dramatic moments where Schlitzie gets riled up and says â€œYâ€™SEE!â€ repeatedly. He is at his most monstrous at these points in the story, yet vulnerable. The making of â€œFreaksâ€ sequence was of course very involving; pg. 100 was especially good as Bill Griffith provides a translation of Schlitzieâ€™s garbled dialog. Pg. 233 really resonated with me, as Griffith draws Schlitzieâ€™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 â€œfreakâ€. 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 â€œGoodnightâ€ 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 Duranteâ€™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 â€œZippy the Pinheadâ€ comic strip. Note that Robert Crumb rates this book as â€œthe best graphic novel of the yearâ€, 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.Â InÂ the second panel, Cathy uses dinosaur tears as a mother tyrannosaur looks over her ailing progeny still in the shell.Â 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.Â 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.
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!
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.Â 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 ofÂ 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.
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),Â 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.
Here at last are the four concluding pages of “Raccoons On The Moon”, or, as the Windsongs of Jupiter prefer to call it: “The Raccoons Search For The Meaning Of Life”.Â The Windsongs of Jupiter are real sticklers for accuracy, since the Raccoons spent only one page of their story on the Moon, the Windsongs want the story retitled so that “True Truth” will be proclaimed and the Raccoons will be worthy of knowing the Meaning of Life. The Windsongs’ definition of the Meaning of Life on page 19 is a real “Shaggy Raccoon” argument, leaving the masked Space Explorers dumbfounded. Note the mixture of expressions in page 19’s second panel as the Raccoons either stare at the reader, or furtively glance at each other.Â I love Cathy’s timing as page 20 leads off with Virgil saying: “Well, THAT was FUN!” It adds irony to the story’s finish as the Raccoons return to the Moon’s surface.Â I hope you liked Cathy Hill’s Mad Raccoons and that you will look forward to another one of their unpublished stories coming soon to the Catblog.
Felix this time originally appeared in newspapers from 7-10 through 7-16-1933. Felix and Danny conclude their “midget league” baseball season, and Danny’s family go off on a summer vacation without Felix. I love the poignant panels in the 7-14 as Felix contemplates a lonely summer without the family. Danny comes back home to pick up Felix and packs him in a bag to smuggle him in to the boarding house where the family is lodging.Â The Sunday page features Danny and Felix watering an Elephant to earn Circus passes. The Elephant is dry as the Mojave and drinks the landscape to the sandy dregs.Â
Here’s Dudley Fisher’s Myrtle from 4-11 to 4-17-1949. All the dailies are devoted to “Wilbur”, the family’s wacky goldfish. Wilbur doesn’t get along with anybody, not Sampson, Myrtle’s Pop, Slug or the local bird family. The 4-16 has the best Fisher timing of the week, since goldfish are “harder to give away than kittens”, Pop dumps poor Wilbur in the river. A panel later there is a knock at the door, and Wilbur comes bouncing in! The Sunday page is the usual visual feast as the family dusts the household carpet for spring cleaning.
The Kat this time is from 9-20 to 10-2-1943. The first batch is mostly odd gags, but the 9-24 and 9-25 refer to Brazil, which was a hot topic during World War Two, what with the Good Neighbor Policy being in effect and all. But what is that creature in the 9-25 with the head of Krazy Kat and the body of a spotted cat? It is a species of Brazilian wildcat called “Oncilla”, “tigrillo” or “tigrinas” depending on which part of the country they come from. They are smaller than a Margay, which is a pretty small wildcat. Garge must have been a student of cats worldwide, both wild and domesticated, to come up with a gag like this one. In the 9-27 to 10-2 batch, the gags are all about plants and flowers, such as a shrinking violet that throws stones at Krazy’s “bean” and a sunflower that rises and sets and says “Bong Swar” to Krazy. But the most obscure reference is to the tomato (or “to-mah-to”) as a “Love Apple”. “Love Apple” is derived from the Italian word for tomato, “pomodoro”, which the French freely translated as “pomme d’amour” or “Love Apple” in English. The “to-mah-to” is a reference to the Fred Astaire 1937 movie “Shall We Dance” and the song “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off” (you say ‘tomato’ and I say ‘tomahto’). Maybe Garge liked that movie and built the 10-2 gag around the song?
KURT’S CORNERÂ Â Â Here’s another little remembrance of my dear brother Kurt, who passed away in January. That’s us in the faded and worn photograph of 1956. Probably taken in the backyard of our family house in Crestwood, Mo. 701 Hutchins Drive. The house is still there today, I wonder if that tree is still there? The Mickey Mouse Club TV show was a never-missed event every weekday afternoon, and we had all the gear, Mickey ears, shirts and Kurt is playing a Mouse Ge-Tar. The photo looks blue because it was faded nearly pink and I flipped the color so you could see it better. You can tell that Kurt had a very irreverent attitude from a very early age. He is obviously “Putting It On” as you can tell by the little sneer on his face and the sassy tilt to his head. Even his fingers have attitude as he strums a guitar that was really a wind-up music box. It seemed the entire neighborhood of kids came in to our living room each afternoon to watch the Mouse Club with us. We must have had one of the few TV sets, and poor Mom had to serve beverages and cookies to the hungry little Mouse Clubbers. We all loved Annette and thought that Jimmy Dodd was like a minister with his little aphorisms in song form. Of course they built Jimmy a REAL Mouse Ge-Tar full size! But my favorite feature of the Club was the old black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons. For some reason they fed in to Kurt’s and my fascination with everything “old” and “antique”. We were fascinated by the very primitive and bottle-nosed Mouse that was in the old cartoons. I guess the Disney Studio wasn’t concerned with the original dotted eyes Mickey appearing alongside the exceedingly cute and almost child like Mouse that headlined the Club TV shows each day. We used to have fights over which of our toys was the oldest, and sometimes even such things as spoons and salt shakers entered into the “antique” debate. Disney dominated our lives in the late 1950s, we both had Davy Crockett hats and Kurt and I were Civil War buffs so “The Great Locomotive Chase” really excited our imaginations. Fess Parker traded in his Crockett hat for an engineer’s cap in that one.
Last time I posted one of Kurt’s “Mickey Mark” cartoon drawings which I believed to be the last one he ever drew. I was wrong, the one reproduced here is really the last, he sent it with the 2018 Christmas card. It’s a celebration of Mickey’s 90th anniversary. I love Kurt’s caption as he refers to the Mouse being a “corporate symbol, a pawn of copyright extension (just look up the Sonny Bono Copyright Act), a union busting rodent (probably a reference to the Disney strike of 1941)”. I don’t know what the little female mouse means by “Sparta-Mouse”, although it might be a misspelling of “Spatha Mouse”, a special computer mouse for gamers. But “you have delusions of grandeur” was a favorite phrase of our Mother, whenever Kurt or I got too ambitious and dreamed too big for her taste. She probably got the phrase “delusions of grandeur” from a psychology book or newspaper article and took it to heart. For some reason, neither Kurt nor I ever forgot that phrase or Mom’s use of it at times when we could have used a word or two of encouragement.Â
I wish I could have talked about Kurt’s last Mickey Mark cartoon with him, but what turned out to be our last telephone conversation was filled with the usual nonsense and Kurt’s sidesplitting and VERY irreverent imitations of Linda, his girlfriend of many years. Kurt really did love her, but he also loved to make fun of her, as he made endless fun of Mom and our Grandma Katie. I can’t begin to tell you how much I would give to hear him do his “fussy female” voice one more time.Â Perhaps there will be more Kurt’s Corner features in our next edition. Many Meows until then.
Here is the fourth episode of Cathy Hill’s Mad Raccoons in “Raccoons On The Moon”. In the last episode, the Raccoons visited Mons Olympus crater on Mars and visited the lonely old lava, bubbling over with attempted jokes. In their search for the Meaning Of Life, Mons was very little help, so the Racc-it ship ventured over to Titan, one of the moons of Saturn and intercepted Halley’s Comet. The Old Dirty Snowball didn’t have any clues to the Meaning Of Life either, he didn’t take Life seriously enough to be helpful. He tosses the Raccoons another clue: the Meaning Of Life is known by the Windsongs of Neptune, on the Singing Plains of Neptune. So we leave the Silver Masked Tenors (Raccoons) on the Singing Plains until the concluding episode, next time. I love the drawing and delicate ink lines as Halley’s comet zooms through space, spats and all, and the Windsongs of Neptune speak in beautifully lettered words, resting on musical staffs. You can imagine the haunting sounds of their speech, as if in an astral echo chamber with John Cage tunes bouncing about.
Here’s Felix from 7-3 to 7-9-1933. Felix is still the mascot of Danny Dooit’s team, the Midget Giants, but the team keeps racking up goose eggs, sometimes in the form of donuts. Felix is convinced he’s a jinx and a flop as a mascot, so he tries to talk Bill the Goat into taking his place. But Bill refuses, saying “All the games are lost, now you want me to be the GOAT!” In the Sunday, Felix blows soap bubbles with Mr. Dooit’s pipe to amuse Danny’s baby brother. Felix barely manages to keep out of Papa’s way as he’s still blowing bubbles in the last panel. This strip could have been the basis for an animated cartoon story, lots of chances for bubble effects.
Myrtle is from 4-4 to 4-10-1949 this time. I like the continuity of the 4-4 through 4-6 dailies as Sampson tries to play his harmonica to amuse Myrtle’s Dad, Freddie. The 4-8 is a good gag with Bingo hitting up the Dog Pound for a snack, but the 4-9 is my favorite gag of the batch, as Myrtle puts on makeup for school and the teacher, Miss Flunkem is so impressed that instead of punishing Myrtle, she runs back to Susie’s house to ask Myrtle’s mom where she got the beautiful shade of lipstick! The Sunday has the usual inventive staging as Freddie tries to rescue Sampson’s kite from the top of a spindly tree. I like the little touch in the second panel as we just barely glimpse the neighbor’s shoe in the upper right corner, clinging to the roof.
Krazy’s dailies this week are from 9-6 to 9-13-1943. Garge was thinking of Kate Smith and her theme song (“When the Moon Comes Over The Mountain”) in the 9-6 to 9-8. I love the drawing of the Moon squeezing under the mountain in the 9-6. Garge gets a little obscure in the 9-10 and 9-11 strips as Ignatz mixes Krazy up with pronouns in the tree top and a little Scotty dog puts a lamp chimney over his pipe (for economy?).Â The 9-13 strip, in which the Kat sings, from the old song “Father, Dear Father Come Home With Me Now”: “The Clog in the Stipple strikes ‘One'” shows Herriman’s technique of scratching into the ink in the last panel, to create the white line of Ignatz’s tail. The 9-14 is pretty obscure as Garge refers to Russian pianists, as Pupp refers to himself as “Jasha Puppsha” and then runs off exclaiming “Ooy, Tchin-Dee!!!”, frightened as Ignatz emerges from the top of the piano. In the 9-16, Krazy seems to speak “Ettskimmo”. In the 9-17 Ignatz plays the bars of his Jail cell like a harp, and in the 9-18, Krazy trips up over sound-alike words as he confuses “Cane” with “Kane”.
KURT KAUSLER R.I.P.Â My readers and friends, it’s very hard to tell you that my younger brother, Kurt, passed away on January 24th, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri in front of his fireplace–his bulldog Gracie at his side. He lived to be 67. His dear girlfriend Linda discovered him there at about 8:30 AM, having left him at his house the previous evening at about 6PM. You can see by the photo above, taken about 1958, that Kurt and I were an odd couple of brothers. We may have been some of the “original geeks”–very fond of history, books, comic books and animated cartoons among many other things. We used to fight each other a lot as kids, inspired (to my Mother’s horror) by the Popeye cartoons shown on the local St. Louis TV program: “Cookie and the Captain”. Most of the fights ended when I sat on poor Kurt, being heavier than he was. Kurt was of a more serious turn of mind than I was. As you can tell from the photo. Look at his natty outfit, and look at my wrinkled, dirty pants with the soiled knees. I probably had Pinky Lee on my mind, with the pork pie hat, and Kurt may have had Clark Gable or Ronald Colman in mind with his neat hat with the little feather.
Kurt ended life as a scholar, treasured by the family of James Hilton. The Hiltons told Kurt that he knew more about the famous author of Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips, than they did. Kurt spent years tracking down James Hilton’s early novels and arranging for them to be reprinted, and dug out just about every newspaper and magazine article Mr. Hilton ever wrote from library collections all over the USA and England. Even though Kurt was about three years younger than I, he was YEARS older in maturity, often giving me “fatherly” advice. He LOOKED older too, due to a case of childhood polio–which warped his spine just enough to put a small hump on his back. He often referred to himself as “Quasi”, and walked with a cane for years.
The little drawing below is one of Kurt’s. He did a long series of these, featuring his patented stick figure mouse characters. This was one of the last, drawn on a Christmas card envelope in 2017. The text reads: “You’re Kidding! There’s a model sheet? For US? Who else draws like this, Munro Leaf? And how come that idiot hunchback makes us look different every year? I DEMAND ANSWERS!…and an opposable thumb would Be Nice….” I think I drew a model sheet of “Mickey Mark” and wife for Kurt, sadly I don’t have a copy. (“Mickey Mark” was the name of the stick figure character and one of Kurt’s nicknames for me.)Â I also did a gag bookplate for him in 2017, featuring his stick figure mouse and Freddy the Pig, who was one of Kurt’s favorite children’s book characters (reproduced below). “Munro Leaf” was another children’s book author, who illustrated his books with simple matchstick drawings of children. “Manners Can Be Fun” and “Safety Can Be Fun” by Mr. Leaf are still in print; he also wrote the famous “Ferdinand the Bull” story which he DIDN’T illustrate. Kurt loved to make fun of himself, so he calls himself “an idiot hunchback” who couldn’t draw his mice the same way twice. His comment “an opposable thumb would Be Nice…” is a slyly humorous admission that he couldn’t draw HANDS.
Â Â Â Kurt was a very big part of my life. I already miss him more than I can ever convey, we shared so many likes and experiences. I will try to tell more anecdotes about Kurt in future posts, in the hope that the memories won’t completely disappear. Kurt was a “rock star” of a writer, as Linda Kraft (Kurt’s girlfriend) observed. He wrote beautiful English and did many articles about his heroes, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Colman, Clark Gable and especially James Hilton. In spite of many health challenges, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, polio, cancer of the neck and heart disease which required the installation of a defibrillator, Kurt kept as active as he could; doing yard work, and walking his bulldogs for miles. Rest in Peace my brother, I’m thinking of you and love you. There will be more stories about Kurt later, as the Catblog meows along.
(Remember, to see the pictures larger, right click on an image and click “Open in New Window”.Â The images will appear in a different window, and by clicking on the image in the new window, you will see them larger.)
In honor of the recent landing of NASA’s InSight Lander on the Elysium Planitia on the planet Mars, the Catblog presents chapter three of “Raccoons on the Moon” as the Racc-it ship flies to Mons Olympus on Mars. Mons Olympus is a strange old man as Cathy Hill imagines him, who seems to have Alzheimer’s disease, and longs to hear a good joke that he won’t remember. I love Cathy’s beautiful inking on these pages, every pen line seems to echo the extreme heat inside the volcano, and also the depth of the crater. There is a strong directional feeling to all the shading and cross-hatching. I love the panels on page two, as Cathy uses foreshortening and perspective to show the raccoons’ descent into the heart of Mons Olympus. Mons has a humorous response to Virgil the Raccoon’s question: “What about the meaning of life, Mr. Mons?” To which Mons replies “How does it go? Just give me the first part….” I’ll have to find out about the joke about “Uncle Erf and the Rubber Tree” for next time, as the Mad Raccoons journey further into the solar system to find the meaning of life.
Felix is from 6-26 to 7-2-1933 for this post. He continues to best the other animals in the competition to be the mascot of Danny Dooit’s baseball team. I love Otto’s rabbit and goat in the 6-27 and 6-28. The joke in the 7-1 is about the card game of bridge, in which the players sometimes kick each other under the table to signal how to bid, or how to make a play, hence the shin guards that Danny’s father appropriates for the purpose. The Sunday page features a helpful Felix, as the brainy cat helps Danny with an addition problem in school.
Myrtle is from 3-28 to 4-3-1949. Dudley Fisher’s control of poses and rhythm in his through lines comes across in the 3-30 as Myrtle in a back view says “…I’m exotic!”, and in the 4-1 as she casually drops the telephone while luxuriating on the couch, as she tells Sampson, “No, I’m Busy!” Myrtle sometimes seems feminine beyond her years in strips like these. The Sunday page features Hyacinth the cat, curious about the contents of a purse that Myrtle has found on her family’s sidewalk. One of the neighbors comments about it: “There might be a little kitten in that bag! People do all sorts of things to get rid of little kittens!” Sad, but all too true. Don’t ever read Woody Guthrie’s “Bound For Glory” if you’re a cat lover, what they do to kittens in that book is a scandal to the catbirds.
Lots of puns and Kat Langwitch wordplay in the Krazy Kats from 8-23 to 9-4-1943. I like the 8-28, as Ignatz plants a candle under the Kat’s chair and Mrs. Kwakk-Wakk comments “Hot Foot” and Krazy answers “Sez You”. Herriman seldom uses exclamation points or periods in his word balloons, which gives a mysterious, hollow sound to the dialog. Offisa Pupp’s comment in the 8-31 about Ignatz: “Unbless his sour little soul…” has a poetic ring to it, and there is a Lewis Carroll feel to the Toad Stool joke in the 9-1.
For more on George Herriman, clickÂ HERE.
Have a wondrous Holiday Season, and the old Catblog will be back soon with the next installment of “Raccoons on the Moon”!
Cathy Hill’s Mad Raccoons are back in Chapter two of “Raccoons On The Moon”, which I have titled: “The Lisping Asteroid”.Â In paying an inadvertent visit to the asteroid’s surface in their Racc-it Ship, the masked space voyagers find that the asteroid is alive! Not only alive, but possessed of a long tongue which the Raccoons stand upon, causing the Asteroid to speak with an impediment.Â The asteroid directs them to visit Olympus Mons on Mars to discover the meaning of life. The next chapter should tell us more. Cathy’s drawing of the asteroid’s face is full of character, cragginess and attitude. I love the many carefully placed ink lines she used to bring the space rock to life.
Felix, from 6-19 to 6-25, 1933, finds him in a joyous mood, as school is out and he can play with his best friend, Danny Dooit all day! Felix tries to play in Danny’s neighborhood baseball team, the “Midget Giants” but one of the boys tries to swat him with a bat. Danny suggests him for the team mascot, but the rest of the team all have favorite animals up for the job. So Felix makes a democracy out of it. In the Sunday, Felix hides from the family dog by smearing his body with shaving soap and disguising himself as a French poodle. By the way, if you want to see the strips larger, just right-click the picture and select, “Open Link in New Window”, and it will pop up. I would assume you can do something similar in Mac.
Myrtle, from 3-21 to 3-27-1949, is loaded with interesting ideas. Two favorites are the 3-22, as Myrtle is punished for talking to herself, only to find that her Mom is guilty of the same habit. The 3-25 has a touch of fantasy, as Bingo the dog tries to quiet Myrtle’s look-alike doll, who falls out of bed and comes to life, yelling “Waw!”. The Sunday page from 3-27 has a rare appearance by Hyacinth, the cat, as she sharpens her claws on the porch pillars as the rest of the cast try to hang a swing in a tree that hasn’t quite been planted yet.
Krazy is from 8-9 to 8-21-1943 and spends the first week on Brick gags and most of the second week doing variations on the old saying, “A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss”, which I believe was a moral in an Aesop fable. Two favorites are the 8-11, featuring one of Garge’s beloved Scotty dogs barking at the moon, and getting an attitudinal tongue stuck out at him from the astral stone. Somewhat similar in idea to the “Lisping Asteroid” above, eh? Garge slips us a little in-joke with the 8-21 strip. Krazy mixes up the words “comic” and “comet”, and turns the argument on its head by declaring that a “comic” is a Star with a Tail, meaning his/her self! She leaves Ignatz talking to his brick, calling it a “Dull, Unhumorous Dodo.” Now remember to open the strips in another window, and we’ll open the blinds for you again next time.