Wednesday, July 29, 2009

VANCE GERRY


I see by the CARTOON BREW that veteran Disney story artist ED GOMBERT has started a blog in honor of the late great VANCE GERRY, an even more veteran Disney story artist.

Vance began at Disney in the early 1950's and worked there thru the early 2000's. He was modest to a fault and somewhat reserved but I was lucky enough to spark a good many visit with him during the later years, as he learned I was interested in many of his favorite artists, including Rockwell Kent and Sam Cobean.

I don't think anyone in my generation got to know him better than Ed Gombert though, who shared Vance's out look on story and even the same office on a number of projects. Do not pass up a chance to check out Vance, early and often.

Thanks Ed!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

DR. MILLER IN WONDERLAND

The Caterpillar
I did not attend SDCC but did the next best thing recently: I watched Jonathan Miller's ALICE IN WONDERLAND.Amir Avni recently posted a passel of Miller tidbits, which sent me on a binge of YouTube searches, as well as revisiting the DVD of BEYOND THE FRINGE, the landmark comedy revue starring Miller, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennet, back in 1960. Along with the 1950's GOON SHOW, BEYOND THE FRINGE is credited with launching the United Kingdom's post modern comedy boom that made shows like MONTY PYTHON and THE MARTY FELDMAN COMEDY MACHINE possible. Now in his 70's Jonathan Miller remains an admirable figure: a comedian, a genuine PhD., a very un-snobby deep thinker and from all appearances a gentleman. Also a brilliant mimic.
Leo McKern as The Duchess
After this glut, I realized I had never seen his mid-sixties film of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, produced for the BBC. Fabled for its oddness, the film is shot in glorious black and white and stars a luminous cast of actors (including Cook and Bennet). I am certainly glad I got around to renting it, but found it not quite what I had hoped, although a proper film version of ALICE seems to elude everyone.

Though he sticks scrupulously to the text of the book for most of the dialog, his goal was to avoid the daffy jollity of most versions and instead to do a meditation on the sadness and boredom of childhood's end and the perverse incoherence of dreams. Perhaps he succeeds on all three counts, but relentless incoherence, boredom and sadness are not entirely easy to watch for very long.

The Doormouse, Hare and Hatter.
Almost everyone plays it very straight and serious (the girl who plays Alice seems to be seething with anger as well), except for two actors. Peter Cook does a typically satirical turn as the Mad Hatter, playing him as a nasal twit prone to prancing like a marionette and generally acting thick. I wish Miller himself had played the character, much as I admire Peter Cook. No human being looks more to me like the illustrations of the Mad Hatter than Jonathan Miller. Oh well. One other actor, John Bird gets some of the few genuine laughs from a turn as 'The Frog Footman". Bird astonished Miller by improvising a few moments of invented dialog that were so funny and correct that he allowed it as one of the few deviations.

John Bird in powdered wig.

In his own quiet way, Bird quite steals the show, which led me to recall him doing the exact same thing in Monty Python's JABBERWOCKY (1977), where he does a brief turn as a long winded king's herald who gets quickly beheaded. Bird made me and my friend Mike Gillett laugh so hard we went back to see the highly uneven film several times just to see him. Mike even did a caricature of him for class at Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

I don't know much else about John Bird, but he does seem to be one of the least celebrated of the UK's many funny people. Undeservedly so too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hal RASMUSSEN/ "AGGIE MACK" part three

One more page of Hal Rasmusson's pin up characters. I don't know who wrote the text, but I am assuming "Walter Foster" did, since he took credit for it. There's tons of great insider info like : "You can use a 170 pen, if you like..." and "By trying you will be surprised what you can do" and other indispensable advice you can take to the grave. Thanks. Really appreciate it Walter. No wonder most kids who bought these books just looked at the pictures...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

AGGIE MACK SAMPLE STRIPS

Here's another page from the book I posted on last time, the correct title for which is : COMIC CHARACTERS by Walter Foster. The other book I incorrectly identified: MODERN CARTOONS had similar art, but I can't seem to find it right now. There are a few other bits and pieces from this book I will try to scan in the future, but the scanner size vs format size makes it a bit time consuming....
(click to enlargenate)
Uncle Phil Rynda tells me that AGGIE was indeed published in the papers and he has seen a number of Sunday strips in another collection. The date on the Christmas splash at the bottom says 1954. She seems to me to be a bit like ARCHIE's female counterpart. She even has a "Jughead" type gal pal in one strip elsewhere in the book.

I don't think i ever noticed until I enlarged this page that there seems to be a naked lower extremity protruding from the snow in the Christmas Ski Party panel (left of center in the panel). Pretty pervy for Christmas!!! (Walter Foster NSFW? WTF?!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

HAL RASMUSSEN/ "AGGIE MACK"

These images come from one of the old 'Walter Foster' how to cartoon books I had as a kid. The cartoonist was named Hal Rasmussen, and he drew a teen age comic about a bobby soxer girl named AGGIE MACK.
The comic seems to date back to the late 1940's which seemed like antiquity to me as a kid in the early 1970's. Because of that, I assumed that such books would be in print forever.

They nearly were--this is an edition I must have bought in the 1980's or later, although I don't think the book is in print any more. If it is, it is likely to be revamped almost beyond recognition. The figures are very deft--Disney-esque Fred Moore types, and like most art of that era, it shows a lot of skill.

The whole book (which is short) contains only a few more pages by this artist, but I will scan what I can over the next few days.
AGGIE MACK seems to have lasted a long while but it must have been relatively obscure. I never heard of it outside of this book, until I noticed several anthologies of it for sale on AMAZON FRANCE. She seems to be very well remembered in France, although the later version I saw there a while back looked like it was done by another artist than this one.

Monday, July 13, 2009

MAGOO & RETRO

Darrell Van Citters' definitive book on MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL is now available and can be ordered thru the book's website and also at ComiCon in San Diego coming up soon.

By all accounts this book is a dream come true for fans of the show, which was the first original prime time animated Christmas special, and features original songs by Jule Styne and was directed by Abe Levitow, one of Chuck Jones' lead animators. Magoo portrays himself, playing Scrooge in a Broadway stage version of Dicken's classic, populated by original characters from the story and featuring voices by Morey Amsterdam and the always wonderful Paul Frees. The illustrations I have seen from the book are first rate, depicting behind the scenes photos and production artwork. Notably, the color of the film stills and artwork does justice to the piece that no currently available home-video release does. Copies autographed by various surviving participants are available in limited quantities, so if you love this film you will want to snap this up.

* * * * *

I recently renewed my subscription to Shane Glines' CARTOON RETRO, something I have happily done for 5 years running now. Updated every weekday, CR is a mandatory blast of inspiration and well worth the annual $50 expense, even in these challenging times. The site is a treasure trove of brilliant imagery past and present, original and printed, featuring art well known and lesser well known (to me anyway) by cartoon and illustration virtuosos around the world and over the century. The exclusive extras include Shane's own original sketches and paintings, as well as a blog of additional goodies. If you can put the 50 fish together and haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for? You won't be sorry!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

LUPINESQUE III

Last of the "Monkey Punch" inspired doodles.
I actually haven't looked at any of the actual comics in a long time, I just sort of drew on my general memories of them to do all these drawings. Obviously, none of these characters are in the comics. There are other influences in these drawings too, but for the sake of simplicity, Lupin III was mainly what I was thinking about.Reference usually just intimidates me. Same tends to be true for live models, I love to do a quick gesture and then re draw it later from memory.I lose cohesion when I look too long and too hard at anything. It's good to do analysis of things you are drawing (or are going to draw) but for me I can't analyze and draw at the same time very well. Too much left brain kicks in.That's author/activisit Howard Zinn up on the left top. I was watching a documentary on him while I did these and he stuck in there somehow. I did a number of drawings of him, a few hits and a great many misses. This was one of the misses.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lupinesque



A few years ago, my friend Tom Owens turned me on to Monkey Punch's original LUPIN III comics, done in the late sixties. I had seen some of the LUPIN anime, (s'okay but not up my alley), but the comics blew my mind--admittedly influenced by Sergio Aaragones and (my deduction) Mort Drucker, the artwork is loose, dynamic, wildly expressive and the stories are crazy tales of disguises, near misses, bloody assassinations and sex. These comics are really something out of the ordinary.

These two very tame drawings show me trying to channel some of that style, but mainly in proportions only. You have to see Monkey Punch to believe him.