Once upon a time, way back in 1937… MGM decided to produce its own cartoons and set up a studio on the lot. They ended their arrangement with Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising (and their Happy Harmonies series), bought the rights to popular comic strip The Captain and The Kids, and hired Friz Freleng away from Leon Schlesinger to direct the shorts. A funny thing happened on the way to the big screen – the cartoons were not popular. Here’s an example:

A year later Freleng went back to making Looney Tunes, the studio brought back Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising — and Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera had an opportunity to emerge…

Cut to 75 years later… Mike Van Eaton has come into a cache of Captain and The Kids model sheets and has graciously agreed to let me post them here. As best I can tell, these were all drawn by Charles Thorson. Thorson really got around, designing significant characters for Disney, MGM, Screen Gems, Warner Bros., Fleischer, Terrytoons – even George Pal – in the 30s and 40s before settling into a career in advertising and illustrating children’s books. Now everything you need to know about drawing the Captain and the Kids is here for you to enjoy (click on images below, and thumbnails below that, to enlarge).

Here’s a few more (below). The first two – probably not designed by Thorson – are from the short Old Smokey (1938).

And that’s not all, folks. Van Eaton has obtained a whole bunch MGM model sheets from later productions (Tom & Jerry, Avery, etc.). I’ll be posting them later this week…

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