Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mirthquake April 17-20

A hundred years ago, there were no movies based no graphic novels. But there were comedy shorts based on comic strips!

The Mirthquake silent/early sound comedy film festival is next weekend in Manchester, NH. I didn't know about it until I got an email from cartoonist Roy Delgado. Thanks, Roy!

There are three days of FREE screenings during the day. The movies they show at night you gotta pay for.

Aside from a rare showing of the films of cartoonist Larry Semon, there will be a series of comedy shorts based on comic strips on Saturday, April 19th:
  • At Your Service (A Hallroom Boys Comedy)[Federated Film Exchanges; 1921] Featuring Sid Smith and Harry McCoy
  • Oh Ma The Rent Taker(?) (A Hallroom Boys Comedy)[C.B.C. Film; 1915] Featuring Sid Smith and Jimmie Adams
  • Danger Ahead (Hairbreadth Harry Series)[Weiss Bros. Artclass Pictures; 1926] Featuring Jack Cooper
  • Mickey's Big Game Hunt (Mickey "Himself" McGuire[Larry Darmour-F.B.O.; 1928] Featuring Mickey Rooney
  • Buster's Nose Dive Buster Brown Series [Stern Brothers-Universal; 1926] Featuring Arthur Trimble and "Tige"

The Hall Room Boys (later retitled Percy & Ferdy) was a comic strip by a Nova Scotian cartoonist living in New York City by the name of H.A. McGill.

Above Hairbreadth Harry graphic from the Barnacle Press Web site, and fine site it is!

Hairbreadth Harry
appeared in 1906, the same year as The Hall Room Boys debut. C.W. Kahles crafted a continuing story full of cliffhangers, a girl who needed rescuing from a bad guy. It was a precursor to the movie serial formats.

Above: Mickey Rooney as Mickey McGuire, in a photo nicked from Leonard Maltin's Journal. That's Billy Barty behind him.

Mickey "Himself" McGuire is a little bully character from Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Folks (1908-1955) comic panel. All seventeen of the Toonerville Trolley films (1920-21) were written my Mr. Fox and were the most successful of the Betzwood Studio. Only 7 of the films survive today.

Toonerville related: There will be a salute to actress Wilna Hervey, (see the above page from Motion Picture Magazine, December 1920) who played "The Powerful Katrinka" on May 3, 2008 at the Science Center Theater, Montgomery County Community College, in Blue Bell, PA. More at the Betzwood Studio page.

Buster Brown, Richard Outcault's upper-crust scamp who would have a raucous multi-panel story where he ruined a tea party or something like that, and then, at the end, would stand solemnly (with his dog Tige) and profess what he had learned (see above). And then of course, there's the merchandising and the shoes and it all made Outcault rich.

Related podcast: Buster Brown's legacy, a 2002 NPR report.

All of these comic strip films are free and open to the public.

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