Friday, January 18, 2019

Gene Deitch on the First NBC Peacock Animated Logo in 1957

Gene Deitch, the American illustrator, animator and film director, had a long and amazing career. Based in Prague since 1959, Deitch is known for creating animated cartoons such as Munro, Tom Terrific, and Nudnik, as well as his work on the Popeye and Tom and Jerry series.

And I just saw this, that he posted on his Facebook page. 



Here's Gene, who, at 94 years of age, is going through some old boxes of stuff from his years in show business. He writes:

"Here’s another photo from the boxes full of my past. One of the most fascinating projects I was handed at UPA New York, about 1953, was to devise a peacock logo for NBC, about to launch color television. We tried all kinds of things in the hopeless attempt get really brilliant colors on 35mm Eastmancolor film. One idea I had was to use the colored gels that Broadway theaters used over their stage lights. I went myself to a stage supply company in downtown Manhattan, and picked out a set of the most intensely colored gels. My idea was to shoot the animating peacock with its tail segments animating open, and then, on separate color runs, frame-by-frame projecting the brilliant gels from below up from the bottom, glued to matching cut out animating peacock tail segments. Difficult to explain quickly, but professionals will get the idea. It was typical of the makeshift workarounds we resorted to, in the days long before 'digits' referred to more than just your fingers! Well in the end, the multiple exposures diminished any special brilliance. The example here, the only one I managed to save, was done with normal top lighting. Anyway, you all know that they ended up with a much simplified and better design; the peacock logo is still in use in the CNBC financial offshoot that we see in Europe"




Related:

The New Yorker: In Praise of Gene Deitch

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Thursday Complaint

True story:

Dude I don't know emails me. He's got some new app and wants me to publicize it so … you know … the dude can make some money.

Because, you know, he's hungry for some money. Aren't we all?

Not me and my blog, according to him:

"The reason I am writing is, because bigger blogs are money hungry and won't feature us unless we pay, so I thought I should try my luck with a more personal approach to smaller blogs, like yours."

Smaller, stupider blogs who do not know about money or its many uses need to just buckle down and write a glowing promo for free so this dude can, you know, make money.

Ugh!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Video: Unseen STAR TREK Photos


The late Toronto Star photographer Reg Innell just happened to be on vacation in Los Angeles in July 1966. He liked to peruse the used bookstores there. He was a world traveler, and his tastes ran toward the film, ballet, and the ballet. He didn't watch much television. When he

stepped into a Los Angeles studio 53 years ago to photograph a bunch of unknown Canadians on a TV set, he likely didn’t think much of the assignment he was doing on a lark.

-- from ‘The Man Trap’ was the first Star Trek episode to air — but the Star was there first


Recently, these 53 year old photos from a couple of TV shows resurfaced. And a couple of those unknown Canadians were William Shatner and James Doohan. Innell was there as they shot their sixth episode of the first season. These 35mm slides were mostly unseen, filed away in the Toronto Star archives.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Video: Cartoonist John Callahan Park

YouTube couple Almost Exactly visits a Portland, OR park dedicated to cartoonist John Callahan, who died in 2010.

John Callahan had been paralyzed since the age of 21 due to a car accident. He turned to alcohol, and then, cartooning. His cartoons were called "sick" and "offensive." It didn't bother him at all. To quote his description from his very own Web site:
"There's absolutely nothing funny about a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Unless, of course, that person is John Callahan. For nearly a decade, this irreverent cartoonist has been shocking America with his own special brand of wicked humor. In the world of Callahan, nothing is sacred, nothing is taboo and nothing is funnier!"
This is the first time I've seen the park, with the benches and foliage and the controversial cartoons so casually displayed. Every city should have a park like this, with some thought-provoking cartoons here and there.




The Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center dedicated the John Callahan Garden in October 2017. Nestled within Legacy Good Samaritan Park on Northwest Marshall St., between 21st and 22nd Avenues, the garden was designed in honor of the late cartoonist and patient of Legacy Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon (RIO)

More here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Andre Franquin's "Die Laughing"

Wow. This looks very interesting and the drawings are great. Fantagraphics has a collection of Andre Franquin's editorial cartoon work. Amazing comic art, and this is a very good video preview of the new hardcover.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

From 2006: Golden Age of Comics Panel Discussion: Irwin Hasen, Jerry Robinson, Jules Feiffer and Gerard Jones

I was fortunate to attend this panel discussion with these three seminal comics creators some 13 years ago. They talked about the golden age of comics, and the state of that industry. I think about cartoonists like them, all these years later, as the movie business makes billions from their work-for-hire creations.

I remember Irwin Hasen telling everyone in the audience that he was, as a teenager drawing DC Comics covers, looking to "make it big" in syndication. Comic books were trash. A stepping stone to a lucrative syndicated comic strip deal. He never dreamed anyone ever would interested in his recollections of his early years working in the the throwaway comic book industry.

Here's my short blog piece from 2006:

---

A short comment about a lovely event. My thanks to Stan Goldberg, a guy who started out at Timely Comics (now Marvel) as a teenage assistant to Carl Burgos, for inviting me along.

Last night, The Jewish Museum held a 90 minute panel discussion about the Golden Age of comic books (1938-50). This is in conjunction with its Masters of Comic Art show. (NY Times review here.) Author Gerard Jones (MEN OF TOMORROW) hosted the evening, and gave some historical background about the time.



He introduced the participants in order of age. First was Irwin Hasen, born in 1918. Irwin read from a hand lettered script; a statement of his early life. Irwin wanted to be a sports cartoonist, like his idol Willard Mullin (more about Mullin's work here). He wound up working for a couple of newspapers in NYC, and became, in the Golden Age, one of DC Comics' most prominent cover artists. He is best remembered for Dondi, co-created by Gus Edson.




Jerry Robinson worked as an assistant to Batman creator Bob Kane. Jerry created The Joker, and contributed to the character of Robin. Jerry's had an extensive career. He's President of the Cartoonists and Writers Syndicate, and is the author of a seminal book THE COMICS, a history of the comic strip. THE COMICS had a big impact on me, and has been reprinted in a revised paperback from Dark Horse Publishing. And there's a lot more, if you peek at his NCS autobio above.



Jules Feiffer, whose first pro job was working for his idol Will Eisner on "The Spirit," is best known as a political and social cartoonist, as well as a playwright, screenwriter and author. The day of the panel discussion, he had a cartoon in the NY Times. His 1965 book THE GREAT COMIC BOOK HEROES "was the beginning of serious scholarship of the comic book," said Mr. Jones.

Irwin Hasen talked about his first sale, to a socialist paper, in the 1930s. "This was before those kind of organizations had a bad connotation." When he finished his drawing and asked the editor for payment, the editor sent him to the publisher. When Irwin asked the publisher to be paid, the guy eyed him, and asked, "PAYMENT?! Don't you believe in the cause, Comrade?" Irwin got a nickel subway fare out of the guy. But, he confessed, he didn't care. He was published!

Jerry talked about fighting for Siegel and Shuster, the creators of Superman, who were destitute in the early 1970s. (Jerry Robinson and Joe Shuster worked at side by side drawing boards at DC Comics, and were friends. They would go on double dates, said Robinson, and tried their best to impress girls with their superhero connections.)

It was great to hear the story directly from Jerry Robinson, the guy who, with some help from Neal Adams, got some justice for the creators of one of the most lucrative properties of the 20th century. Jones' book MEN OF TOMORROW tells the story in detail. Mark Evanier has a short review here.

Jules Feiffer was asked if there was any idea that what they were creating would one day have lasting value and be considered art. And Feiffer said, no. Eisner felt the work was throwaway and not meant to last. And Hasen added that comic books were a stepping stone to better things, like getting syndicated.

This is just a fraction of what was said on a chilly evening in The Jewish Museum auditorium that night.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Happy Birthday, Chic Young

The original "Blondie" cartoonist was born in 1901 on this day. He was born in Chicago, and went to William McKinley High in St. Louis where he got the nickname "Chicken Young." The nickname stuck. His older brother Lyman drew the King Features comic strip "Tim Tyler's Luck." He encouraged Chic to draw.



Here is an old magazine ad for US Savings Bonds showing Chic Young's drawing process for a BLONDIE daily comic strip. My pal Leif Peng came across this while scanning magazines for his terrific Today's Inspiration blog. Here's Leif:
Found this while scanning something for Today's Inspiration. Thought you might like it for your blog...

Supposedly a Chic Young 'step-by-step'... but if it really is, then Young must have been a frigging Zen Master Cartoonist, because there's no sign of any real construction, its just a sort of "coming into focus" process, unlike anything I've ever seen!

More likely, he did the strip the usual way, then, for the sake of this ad concept, did a two stage "deconstruction" to reverse the process down to something that looked like a rough sketch but less messy than the real rough sketch. What do you think?
I agree with Leif. It all looks pretty slicked up and doesn't have the necessary construction lines. It appears like dear ol' Blondie just pops into focus out Mr. Young's amazing cartoonist brain!