Walter Lantz Christmas Cards

Animation collector Martin Almeyra sent me another intriguing set of historical pieces from his archives to share with our readers: several annual Christmas cards from the staff of Walter Lantz Productions to Walt and his wife Gracie (the voice of Woody Woodpecker). Click thumbnails below to enlarge. The first one (below left) is undated but note the signatures of directors Alex Lovy, Paul Smith, and musician Clarence Wheeler. Not sure who drew the humorous image. The one from 1964 (center) shows how far the staff has shrunk, and is signed (among others) by animators Cal Howard and Les Kline. By 1971 (below right), the artwork matches the quality of the films… but is interesting nonetheless.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Quite nifty!

  • What’s interesting is it appears Lantz had a composer and an arranger for while. The middle card has both Wheeler and Greene and the one on the left appears to have Gene Poddany’s signature as well as Wheeler.
    Jim Escalante’s name is on the first one. Was he in-betweening?

  • The first one is definitely lettered, and at least partly drawn by Gil Turner, whose signature is second from top in the leftmost column.
    Turner was the leading writer/artist of Disney’s Big Bad Wolf in the comic books from 1947-1957—and the lettering and design work here resembles those stories beyond any doubt.

    • Must you relate everything to Disney, Nerdstein?

      I like that Maxie is swishing a martini (the card looks like an Al Coe drawing). I’d need to get loaded if I was working on Lantz shorts in ’71 too.

    • Tom Turner

      That’s my father’s signature alright. The lettering is definitely his, and I believe the drawing is too. I can’t imagine why it would be a shared enterprize.

  • It’s interesting to see how the number of staff members shrunk over the years.

    Great stuff, nonetheless.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Certainly has that tight-nit small town family owned & operated biz-type thing going there!

  • uncle wayne

    Now thissssssssss is what i luv best about this heavenly site!

  • Martin Juneau

    It’s again a other of great treasures to share. The Woody and Chilly Willy greetings cards is very cute at my opinion. The Stone Age card is also wonderful!

  • Hans Grotz

    I’m (almost)sure the artist is Al Coe.

  • Stu

    The Lantz studio stayed a small operation, arguably a better path than the one Hanna-Barbera took.

  • Bob Miller worked for Lantz in ’71? I must say, he’s aging gracefully…

  • Mary Ann Hunter

    Wow! The Woody Woodpecker and Penguin card looks like the cards my uncle Al Coe sent to me and my daughter for birthdays and Christmas back in the 70’s and 80’s.