The Ultimate Preston Blair Swipe

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We’ve posted other swipes from Preston Blair before (here, here, here and here) but this one is the mother of them all!

Steve Stanchfield and Mary Dixon spotted this arcade attraction at the Fowlerville Family Fair (in Fowlerville, Michigan) and it blew their minds:

We were greeted first by a great array of sideshow freaks, including a little guy named ‘Poobaa’ who the barker proclaimed as being the last living Muchkin from the Wizard of oz alive (he was 9 at the time). Poor Poobaa was made to swallow fire over and over to a bored looking crowd of locals.

Then, turning the corner, I see THIS. I’ve seen a lot of things before, but this is far, far beyond the normal Blair ripoff; it’s almost an outsider art homage! I took a bunch of pictures (forgive my not quite perfect alignment of the whole thing…). I have more if you want, but I think these tell the story pretty well. This is a walk though carnival attraction. I didn’t go inside, but I bet I would have seen Red in progression, the policeman and maybe even the hippos from Fantasia…

(Click on pictures above and below to see full sized images)
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  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    I guess people must think that Preston Blair’s work is public domain . . .

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    I think that should be called “The Blair Snitch Project”…

  • Bugsmer

    Mathew did an interesting job. At least he was imitating someone great.

  • uncle wayne

    Oh, Wow!! You’re right…it’s more homage than not! I like the “Blair Snitch Project!”

  • Chuck R.

    “I guess people must think that Preston Blair’s work is public domain.”

    Perhaps it is by now. I’m not trying to be glib, but if ripoffs continue in massive amounts and the artist takes no legal action to protect his work, doesn’t he risk losing rights altogether?

    I think we’ve all heard the stories how Matt Groening secretly loved all the Simpsons bootlegs at the height of “Bartmania”, but he had to take legal acton anyway to have any legal rights to the characters. Is there a high school in this country with a bulldog mascot not designed by Blair?

    Anyone out there have any info on Preston Blair and why he seems content to be the most plagiarized artist in history? Is it because his first draft of the same book was rife with art that didn’t legally belong to him? Perhaps he felt he’d be a hypocrite to sue others for the same thing.

  • http://itsthecat.com Mark Kausler

    My God people! Preston Blair is dead! He passed away years ago, it is up to the Walter Foster people (his publishers) to prosecute any copyright violations. After all these years, what does it matter anyway? The fan world spends a lot of valuable time fighting their grandfather’s (and great-grandfather’s) battles. It’s time to fight some of your own. Invent a practical solar battery!

  • Sean D.

    It’s too bad that Matthew didn’t grab the original version of the book that Jerry posted to ASIFA last year. Even as a kid, I hated the design of that Goose. It’s not any more charming when it’s off model.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com Robert

    How do we know they DIDN’T get permission to re-use Blair’s art? I know it’s unlikely, but did anyone bother to inquire with the head freak? Maybe it’s like that Felix Chevrolet sign and Walter Foster gets a lifetime pass to the show.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I can see how hard it might be for that “Mathew” to transfer those illustrations onto a giant metal display, but it would be nice if the designs were as off-model as they look here, but I’m OK with that. Only amused to see it this prominent.

  • amid

    If this doesn’t qualify as great art, then I don’t know what does.

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    Poobaa the midget mentioned on cartoon brew? The same poobaa who tours with the freak show all across the country every year? House of 1000 Corpses Poobaa? Never thought I’d see the day!

    Any on-subject, the funniest thing about this is that whoever painted that, didn’t bother to even change the hair color of the blonde Blair character. Thus making it look like a bunch of clones are running around.

  • http://www.fatkat.ca Gene Fowler

    I wanna live in Fowlerville.

  • Chuck R.

    Mark K., he died in 1994, but the ripoffs started before way before then, and I’ve never heard of anyone: Blair, nor his estate, nor Walter T. Foster publ. take any legal action. There may be a lesson to be learned here for anyone who makes a living creating original art. At least it should be of interest to animation historians.

    I hope you aren’t saying that copyright issues are of no interest on an animation blog. The comments gathered under the Todd Goldman post would indicate otherwise.

  • RR

    >I’m not trying to be glib, but if ripoffs continue in massive amounts >and the artist takes no legal action to protect his work, doesn’t he >risk losing rights altogether?

    No, a copyright is never lost. It is indeed the artist’s responsibility to protect his or her work by going after these violators, but choosing not to do so never puts their original copyright at risk.

    This is a very helpful reference link about other copyright myths for any young artists out there (see #5):

    http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

  • http://onkelchrispy.livejournal.com/ Onkel Chrispy

    Acid-trip-rip-offery at its finest!

  • http://www.morgankelly.blogspot.com morgan k

    I used to work with Carnies, and saw many a ‘swiped cartoon icon’ grace the facade of carnival rides and attractions. And usually drawn in a manner that would cause the original artist to roll over in their grave.

  • George

    The granting of a U.S. copyright still means that it is the copyright holder’s responsibility to protect and defend the copyrighted material. If Walter Foster and Company chose not to defend the Blair illustrations, due to legal costs or whatever, they’ve pretty much lost control of it. That Felix-like, generic ticking cat tail wall clock was an early ripoff of a copyrighted cartoon character, which Pat Sullivan never successfully prosecuted and it’s still out there hauling in profits for people other than its copyright heirs to this day.

  • RR

    “If Walter Foster and Company chose not to defend the Blair illustrations, due to legal costs or whatever, they’ve pretty much lost control of it.”

    This is not true. Deciding not to defend your copyright, due to legal cost or simply being unaware of the violations, does NOT mean you “lose” your copyright. This is urban legend. Please see my link, above. Copyright will always reside with the original owner, whether they decide to actively defend it or not.

  • http://geritopiablogspot.com GeeVee

    And in future generations, people will copy the copies of Blair’s work and so-on until they mutate into sacred religious icons: The Temple of the Skipping Squirrel.

  • Bill Field

    This is a really odd, yet wonderfully beautifully colored– Steve has as good an eye for these toons as he does lost cartoons for his great dvd series– I remember carny rides being darker and scarier looking as a child, this is awesomely colorful and inviting. The nature of Blair’s book and the fact that most every working cartoonist learned the basics and poses from this book, it’s just generic enough to be easily altered, and anytime I’ve seen evidence of using the book as a guide- it is changed by the artist to look more unique and stylized.

  • http://hannywanny.blogspot.com/ Hannah

    This was in Fowlerville!?? Hmmph, I’m not proud that my own state is home to the mother of all Preston Blair rips…

    those kind of rides always did give me headaches.

  • Hooper

    Well, for another thing, that Barker lies when he says ‘Pooba’ is the last surviving Munchkin. Jerry Maren, of the Lollipop Guild (NOT ‘Lollipop KIDS’) is still very much alive, to name just one.

  • Chuck R.

    RR:
    I’m with George on this one. Technically, Brad (link above) is right, that every artwork is automatically “copyrighted” by it’s author upon creation, whether it has a notice or not. but….
    In practice it’s nearly impossible to defend the work in court if you haven’t taken legal precautions (starting with registration at the US Copyright office.)

    I think in this instance, Preston Blair would always own the “copyright” of those drawings (until he transferred them to Walter T. Foster or someone else) but after so much widespread misuse he would be virtually unable to sue for damages or control the use of the artwork. What’s the point of owning your art if you don’t control it?

    Look again, The website you’ve cited is giving fair warnings to anyone who might infringe on an existing copyright. If he were giving advice to protect an artist from infringement, I’m sure he’d go a lot further in advocating formal legal protection.

  • http://spritzer93436.tripod.com/ Art Binninger

    Please, please someone put up a Blair Snitch Project site where images of all these Preston Blair swipes can live. Allen Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA has also used Blair’s bulldog as its mascot so I’m going to ambush one of the players and get a digital pic of his shirt. I’ll carry a mallet and a stick of dynamite if he gives me any trouble.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > This is a really odd, yet wonderfully beautifully colored– Steve has as good an eye for these toons as he does lost cartoons for his great dvd series– I remember carny rides being darker and scarier looking as a child, this is awesomely colorful and inviting.

    Heh, being reminded of one for a haunted house-type attraction that was held in a high school althetic club-funed carnival that had a scene depicting a hot chick getting stabbed in the chest on it’s display. To an unsuspecting 6 year old that entered that, I was emotionally disturbed. :-)

    > This was in Fowlerville!?? Hmmph, I’m not proud that my own state is home to the mother of all Preston Blair rips…

    Makes me feel somewhat relieved after having posted a few years back on what the Ohio Lottery Commision thought would go well for one of it’s scratch ‘n win tickets. Their latest design is a far better improvement!
    http://www.ohiolottery.com/games/instants/GameDetails.aspx?Id=545

  • Benjamin De Schrijver

    I don’t see how you would lose control over your copyrights, even though you keep your legal rights. Seems to me it’s kind of a decision you make to not sue the little guy. But if someday, those characters are being plagiarized in a TV-show or a succesful comic or something, I’m pretty sure they’ll sue.

  • http://markmcdermott.com Mark McDermott

    Yep, I saw the exact same mini-funhouse this month at my home town of Schaller, Iowa’s Popcorn Days carnival. Only this one was called “Monkey House” was was painted with some rather piss-poor looking gorillas and monkeys. Not cartoon ripoff primate, just bad renderings. Even carny art isn’t what it used to be.

  • Paul

    I sent Amid a swipe a while back that hasn’t shown up here yet. It was on a bag of animal crackers in the hispanic foods aisle of my local Target.

  • red pill junkie

    KUDOS on the “Blair Snitch Project” name!! ;-)

  • Chuck R.

    Amid says: If this doesn’t qualify as great art, then I don’t know what does.

    Paul says: I sent Amid a swipe a while back that hasn’t shown up here yet. It was on a bag of animal crackers in the hispanic foods aisle of my local Target.

    Could Amid and the Blairgairist be one and the same?

  • http://chrisbattleillustration.blogspot.com/ Chris Battle

    If Frank Kozik can do it for all the years he did, so can this guy.

  • http://scuzzbopper.blogspot.com/ Ken Priebe

    Steve & Mary’s discovery has inspired me to finally post a Preston Blair swipe of a different sort, which my wife had taped off TV many years ago.

    Check this out:
    http://scuzzbopper.blogspot.com/2007/07/killer-tomatoes-preston-blair-swipe.html

  • Steve S

    That’s a great one! Not only do we get a couple walk cycles, we get an anime/ kideo Video looking girl doing Red’s moves! what coudl be better than that?

  • Michael D.

    Most of those paintings are swiped from How To Draw Animated Cartoons, sold alongside clip art books and such at craft and hobby stores. Is it really that surprising that a carnival artist would see it as fair game?