Craig Yoe’s latest book is a beautiful love letter to the comic book legacy of Otto Messmer/Joe Oriolo’s Felix The Cat. As usual, Yoe has produced an art book that is unto itself a thing of art, a 226 page celebration of Felix’s four-color career. Previously John Canemaker covered the animated films and David Gerstein collected selected Sunday newspaper strips. Here, Yoe focuses on the Dell/Toby/Harvey periodicals created by animators Messmer, Oriolo and Jim Tyer. The book itself is lavishly produced (which is standard for Yoe’s publications) starting with the classy black and white cover – a clever contrast to rainbow-hued Messmer end papers and content to come. It begins with a 35-page introductory text, liberally illustrated with original Messmer/Oriolo art, rare photographs and odd-ball historical material (my favorite is a 1925 Photoplay magazine spread featuring a Ziegfeld Girl teaching Felix the latest dance craze, The Black Bottom). And then the real fun begins: twelve choice Felix stories, originally created between 1946 and 1954.
The Felix comic stories were always quite “trippy” (to use the 60s expression), usually starting off normally then drifting into worlds of giants, oversized talking vegetables, robots, magic carpets and trips into space. The artwork is always imaginative and very cartoony. This is a wonderful tribute to a cartoon super-star’s most neglected – but still significant – work. As far as I’m concerned, Yoe’s Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails is another must-have.
Doug Post of Woodbury University saves everything and recently found this article in a newsletter he used to get as a child. It’s a section of the November 1973 issue of General Motors American Youth magazine. It features an article on teenage filmmakers – and highlights future animator/director Eric Goldberg discussing how he got interested in animation and his afternoon visiting the Disney studio. Eric gave us permission to post the pages below (click thumbnails to enlarge), with this comment:
Okay, you can post it, complete with my use of top pegs (the horror!) and my somewhat less than modest credit crawl (not untrue, however!). Just as a side note, two years after that article appeared, I won the Grand Prize in that contest, and my roommate at the Plaza Hotel in New York (where the ceremonies were held) won First Prize. His name was David Silverman, of later Simpsons fame. We’ve been good friends ever since. We fondly recall the days when he had a “Jew-fro” and I had hair.
(Thanks, Doug Post, Dori Littell-Herrick and Eric Goldberg)
Animation storyman Phil Eastman (1909-1986) worked for Disney, Warner Bros., UPA, even Terrytoons during his career in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. But his biggest claim to fame has to be the series of Beginner Books he wrote and drew beginning in the late 1950s. Sam and The Firefly, Are You My Mother? A Fish Out of Water, and of course Go, Dog, Go! were certainly on my reading list at age 5. They influenced a lot of folks who later went into animation and comic art. I loved those books and still have my original battered copies.
Its purpose is to entertain/inform, and at the same time sell books. There really wasn’t a place where you could see all of his books together, plus we thought a short biography (appropriate for children) and a way to get in touch with his family would be useful. I put together the P.D. caricature on the home page from two self portraits he had done.
Unfortunately we couldn’t include The Cat in The Hat Beginner Book Dictionary “by the Cat himself and P. D. Eastman” on the site because the Dr. Seuss Estate (DSE) – as the owner of the copyright in the forward and owner of trademark rights in the character, would not grant permission for inclusion of this book on the website dedicated to the work of P. D. Eastman.
Also, we couldn’t include A Fish Out Of Water because The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego says it is the copyright holder of Helen Palmer Geisel’s 50% interest and insists that the website show them as such, however, my mother and Geisel are listed as the copyright holders on the US Copyright website and on the copyright page of a recently purchased book. We can’t list the Museum without proof of assignment of the copyright to them.
This website is dedicated to P.D. but, since my books (Fred and Ted Go Camping and Fred and Ted Like To Fly) are sequels to Big Dog… Little Dog, we decided to make them available via a “BD… LD” page. Next summer I will have a new book out, and at that time we will launch a site devoted to my books!
This week Beetle Bailey (8/11) by Mort Walker; Mallard Fillmore (8/9) by Bruce Tinsley; My Cage (8/8) by Ed Powers and Melissa DeJesus; Rubes (8/8) by Leigh Rubin; Strange Brew (8/11) by John Deering; and Reality Check (8/9) by Dave Whammond.
As we mourn the seemingly non-stop multilation of the beloved cartoon characters of our youth, let’s stop to applaud the decision by the fine folks at Quaker Oats, who have just started selling a line of Cap’n Crunch cereals with the original appealing Jay Ward box designs (pictured above right). It’s a limited edition set of Retro Crunch that come with collector cards in each box. They’re out now, I just saw them at the supermarket today. I’m not one to push sugared cereal on anyone, but I admire the guts it took to reverse course and finally do something right. Coincidentally, Mark Evanier just recently posted about the first Cap’n Crunch commercial from 1963.
Yesterday, I had a chance to once again plow into Stuart Shostak’s extensive archive of TV Guide back issues. This time I found two parts of a 1961 interview with Walt Disney, (The Latter Day Aesop), mainly discussing moving his programs from ABC to NBC. Walt wasn’t too happy with ABC back then. Of course, today the studio owns the network. To read the stories, click the image above to see the first part, then click the thumbnails below to read the rest.
Animation fans should be aware of the upcoming compilation CD, The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection. Why? Because most of the music (not all) comes from the animated cartoon legacy of DC characters. The compilation begins with Sammy Timberg’s 1941 theme from Max Fleischer’s Superman cartoons, then moves through the decades. Theme songs from the Filmation cartoons of the 1960s, including The Flash and Green Lantern, plus the most recent Justice League themes, Batman Beyond, Plastic Man, Swamp Thing, various Teen Titans cartoons and Super Friends. Other highlights include music from John Williams, Danny Elfman, and Neil Hefti’s 1966 Batman TV show theme. The CD will be available on September 28th, 2010. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting it.
The Holy Grail for many of us cartoon historian-types are the lost RKO Toby The Pup cartoons. Originally released in 1930 and 1931, twelve cartoons were produced by Charles Mintz and directed by Dick Huemer concurrently with Mintz Krazy Kat cartoons for Columbia. Poor Toby’s films were never released as home movies, nor sold to television, and have been considered lost (and forgotten) for decades. The good news: in recent years several rare prints have resurfaced. Historian David Gerstein has just “restored” a large fragment from The Showman (originally released November 22, 1930) and posted it on You Tube. It was missing a few shots and its front title cards, and the original soundtrack is lost. However, David has reconstructed the opening credits, and synched the cartoon to other period musical scores, most from Mintz composer Joe DeNat. He did a great job with it – and here it is, six minutes of pure 1930s cartoon fun:
As mentioned here last week, this past weekend the fine folks of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, held an event to dedicate a Historical Marker honoring veteran animator and native son Grim Natwick, who passed away twenty years ago at the age of 100. The event was attended by Natwick relatives still living in Wisconsin Rapids. Our friend Maggie Thompson took this picture of the Marker:
I will again be the featured guest on Shokus Internet Radio’s Stu’s Show, broadcasting live on Tuesday August 10th. The show starts at 4:00 p.m. PDT (7:00 p.m. EDT) and runs for two hours. Topics this time will include the just released Looney Tunes Super Stars DVDs, The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes book, the upcoming Looney Tunes TV Show, the Yogi Bear movie and whatever else the listeners want to talk about. You are encouraged to call in with your questions and comments on the station’s toll-free telephone number.
This episode of Stu’s Show will rebroadcast at the same time each day for the next week. Access to the station’s feed is free, with no registration required, and is available either by clicking on the Enter Site button on the home page (www.shokusradio.com), by choosing one of the audio player links on the site’s main page, via iTunes by selecting Radio/Eclectic and then locating the station’s name alphabetically in the list, and now via iPhone by installing the WunderRadio program available from the iTunes online store. Cell phones with Windows Mobile and Internet access can also listen to the station via the new Live 365 Mobile software available at the station’s broadcast facility, www.live365.com .
Animation historian and Oscar winning animator John Canemaker is making several public appearances in San Francisco and Los Angeles to promote his latest (and one of his greatest) book, Two Guys Named Joe: Master Animation Storytellers Joe Grant and Joe Ranft. If you are anywhere near these locations, GO!
First up, Canemaker will present an illustrated lecture at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco on Friday, August 13, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, August 14, at 3 p.m., each lecture followed by a book signing. Seating is limited, so please click here to reserve online now.
Next, John will travel south to sign his book at the Barnes & Noble at the Americana in Glendale, Tuesday, August 17, 7:00 pm. There’s a good chance I’ll be in line myself to get his autograph at this event.
And last, but not least, Canemaker will be at the Happiest Place on Earth – Disneyland in Anaheim (where else?) – on Wednesday, August 18, from 9:00am to 11:00 am in the Disney Gallery on Main Street USA. This should be fun!
This week we start with the final strip of a two week Boris & Natasha storyline in Over the Hedge. It wrapped up on Friday (8/6) with this appearance by Mr. Peabody & Sherman (you can read the whole thing starting here). Following that, we have Cul De Sac (7/31) by Richard Thompson; Ink Pen (8/1) by Phil Dunlap; and Strange Brew (8/7) by John Deering.
(Thank you Jim Lahue, Charles Brubaker, Michael Tuttle and Mark Kausler)
This has already had over 2 million views on You Tube, but I couldn’t ignore it for the Brew. Inspired by Taijin Takeuchi, Olympus Corp. created this viral for the 50th anniversary of their Pen Camera. They shot 60.000 pictures, developed 9,600 prints and shot over 1,800 pictures again. No post production. Cool.