My Mother Sings!

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Hi Readers, it will soon be Valentine’s Day. For some reason, it reminds me of my mother. I still miss her very much. My brother keeps finding odd bits of memorabilia that Mom saved. The one upstairs is a photo of the KXOK Choristers from radio station KXOK in St. Louis in 1939. My Mom is in the front row, to the left of the microphone. How I would love to hear what those Choristers programs sounded like. I also included a bit of the local radio listings from that day, I’ll bet the Jitterbug Jamboree, the Black and White Revue, “Ernie” Fio Rito’s Orchestra (Ted’s brother?), the Gay Nineties Revue and Frankie “Trombar”‘s Orchestra ( probably Frank Trumbauer) programs were musical gems! Probably no transcription discs were saved, as the only way to record those shows in 1939 was at 78 RPM. Speaking of transcriptions, go to www.archive.org/details/HymnToTheSun to hear a home recording of my mother singing this “Air of the Queen of Shemakha” from the opera Le Coq D’Or by Rimsky-Korsakov. It was recorded on a direct-to-disc Sears Silvertone machine on March 23, 1941 when Mom was 22. She recorded this solo with my Grandfather Fred playing the piano and is my favorite of many discs she cut in the early 1940s at home. The old record is very scratchy, but if you listen carefully (only 3.5 minutes, folks) you can get a sense of just how beautiful her voice really was. I love the Oriental Exoticism of the “Hymn to the Sun”, and Mom really captured the song’s difficult rises and falls in pitch. She hits a very high note towards the end of the side that thrills me! She was so talented, and is still very greatly missed by her sons. Entertain the world, Mom, we love you!

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Just above is the first “Gordo” daily strip, from Nov. 24, 1941, created by Gus Arriola. A collector named Bruce Rosenberger is posting them at www.ilovecomixarchive.com/G/Go. Go there to read almost all the dailies from 1941 and 1942. On Oct. 28th, 1942, Gus stopped the Gordo daily to enter the Army and work for Major Rudolph Ising at the First Motion Picture Unit in Culver City. I’ve been waiting a long time to see these strips. I’m only posting the first one here to whet your appetite as Bruce spent a lot of time and money uploading these. As much as I love the 1950s Gordos that I grew up with, I love these pre-War Gordos even more, because they look so much like the MGM cartoons that Gus Arriola worked on, such as “The Lonesome Stranger”. Check out the book, “Accidental Ambassador Gordo” by Robert C. Harvey and Gus Arriola at your local library. It’s a great chronicle of what should be a much better known strip. Gus Arriola was born in Florence, Arizona, so he was an American citizen, with Mexican parents. The main reason why the early Gordos are not reprinted, is that they are the most stereotyped versions of the characters. Gordo is really fat and lazy, almost a Latino hillbilly, resembling a Dogpatch citizen. Senor Dog and the pig really look like they are from a Hugh Harman cartoon, and the dialog is a lot more “Mexican” sounding than it was later on. Gordo was a romantic from the beginning, about the only thing he could get out of bed for was to catch a sight of a “poorty gorl”, much to the dismay of Pepito, his nephew. There really is no hatred in the stereotyped portrayals of any of these Mexican characters. Arriola was using comic exaggeration to make Gordo and his world funny and accessible to his readers. He used many Spanish words in the dialog and gave a lot of cartoon lessons in Mexican art and culture along with the slapstick romance. I Love Comix archive has hundreds of major and minor comic strips to read, all at no charge, terrific site!

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Felix still is treated like an alley cat by the Dooit family in the strips from 4-13-1936 to 4-18. Butlers grab Felix’s “ears” and tail and finally he is captured by a couple of crooks who think he is a good luck mascot to aid their malicious trade. In the Sunday (4-19), Felix still lives with the Professor, but has to sneak back into the house at night. He tries to help a dog keep warm with a pair of the Prof’s polka-dot pajamas, but the spots come off on the dog’s white coat. Felix has made another enemy.

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Krazy this week (9-30 to 10-5-1940) features the eternal (for four more years anyway) battle of wits between Offissa Pupp and Ignatz over his deeply ingrained brick-tossing habit. Look at those lovingly crafted interiors that Herriman draws in the 10-4 and 10-5 strips. Ignatz and Pupp both live in nice little houses with candlestick telephones and comfy couches. I wonder why Ignatz is noting that it’s leap year in the 10-3 strip? This feels like it belongs on February 29th! That’s Coconino for you.

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The Patricks are from approximately 7-1-1966 to 7-7. The only certain date is the 7-7. In the next post or two, the strips should be back to more reliable dating. Godfrey, Godfrey’s tricycle, Suzy Smith, Elsa and Patrick’s Mother all are in the cast this time. Even though the dates to these strips are lost, the continuity with the tricycle episodes and Suzy’s flowers seems to work.

Last time, Charles Brubaker commented on my Animation Guild interviews. If you want to hear me spout off for a couple of hours about my career in the mosh pits, go here: http://www.animationguild.org/organize/audio/TAGInterview_MarkKausler1.mp3 and here: http://www.animationguild.org/organize/audio/TAGInterview_MarkKausler2.mp3

The interview has a lot of crazy stories about animated cartoons involving me and a few other culprits. The union is recording interviews with a lot of us scallywags including Tim Walker, Robert Alvarez, Kathy Zielinksi, Mark Kirkland, and many more.

And by the way Charles B., I do remember the strip “Conchy” by James Childress. It appeared in THE MENOMONEE FALLS GAZETTE  in the 1970s. The strip ended in 1977 when Childress committed suicide. Both Conchy and Patrick were created by cartoonists who didn’t live too long. I think Patrick is the lesser known of the two. I hope I can do another post again soon, good readers. See you then.

4 Responses to “My Mother Sings!”

  1. Mike says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thoroughly enjoyed the TAG interviews, which made me dig around again for an It’s the Cat download. The pencil test is terrific– any chance you’ll put the final film up on iTunes?

    If you have any potential interest in a speaking gig/retrospective up in Portland with our ASIFA chapter, please give a holler.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  2. Mark says:

    Hi Mike,
    Glad you liked my TAG interview. Thanks also for the kind comment on my pencil test for “It’s ‘The Cat'”. The color version is actually on the Internet, but I won’t say where. Why? Because the transfer isn’t good enough. It’s actually been tried twice and looks terrible. Too dark, doubled frames, dropped frames, glitches. It’s supposedly being “fixed” now, but I won’t hold my breath. It used to be on Cartoon Brew Films, but that’s defunct, and was on another paid site which went belly up as well. The best way to see the color version is, buy a cel and you will get the DVD free! I’m not much of a traveler, so I don’t know about coming to Portland. Some day my next short will be done, then maybe I’ll feel more like promoting it. For now, there seems to be no urgency, but thanks for the offer.
    All best, Mark

  3. Bob Jaques says:

    Great interview. Although not all of the R&S animation went to Korea….

  4. Mark says:

    Hey Bob,
    Yes, you are correct, I misspoke. You did quite a lot of R&S in Canada, and we even animated part of Stimpy’s Invention here in L.A. I’m sure there is a whole lot more about R&S that I don’t know, but I only did a few scenes, so…
    All best, Mark

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