Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Saturday I went to see the new CGI Yogi Bear Movie (I didn't see it in 3-D, I find those glasses annoying). I found the movie to be pretty good, funny in places that used classic cartoon slapstick and the bathroom humor kept to a minimum (it seems that new versions of classic cartoon charaters always have to fart, burp or vomit, I guess producers think that is the only way to get laughs out of kids).
The plot of the movie is that Jellystone Park is losing money. It isn't a national park like in the TV series (this took away one of Yogi's classic excuses when caught by Ranger Smith threatening punishment, "I'm a government protected bear!"). So is the adjoining town so the corrupt Mayor wants to sell the rights to Jellystone to a logging company. This will make the Mayor look good in the voters eyes (and voting ballots) because it will get the town out of debt and give the townspeople an extra $1000 bucks.
Meanwhile in Jellystone Yogi is up to his usual picnic basket stealing schemes. In this film Yogi and Boo Boo act like Yogi and Boo Boo and in my opinion, this is what you what from this type of film. Yes it is a little off-putting seeing the two bears with fangs and claws, but going for a somewhat realistic look they still maintain their cartoon characteristics. Justin Timberlake does a great job of voicing Boo Boo, he sounds very close to the original version done by the great voice artist Don Messick. Yogi on the other hand, well I don't remember who wrote this but it sounds like Dan Aykroyd (who voices Yogi in the movie) imitating Rodney Dangerfield imitating Yogi Bear. It doesn't really sound like the original voice provided by Daws Butler, the great voice artist who gave voice to many of the great characters created by Hanna-Barbera.
A young documentary filmmaker named Rachel (played by Anna Farris) comes to the park to study "the two talking, upright standing bears". She becomes smitten with Ranger Smith (played by Tom Cavanagh) when she finds out they share a love of all things in forestry.
Cavanagh plays the ranger as kind of bumbling and clumsy, especially when he is around Rachel. This goes against the personality established in the cartoon series. Of course in the TV show he was always exasperated because of Yogi's actions which he still is in the film.
Mr. Rangers assistant, Ranger Jones (played by T.J. Miller) is an over-eager ex-boy scout who wants to be head ranger and questions everything Smith does. I found this character to be completely annoying and over the top especially when he becomes a pawn of the corrupt Mayor in his plan to take over Jellystone.
The Mayor tells Ranger Smith that the park is in debt and if he dosen't come up with twenty grand, he will take over the park. Ranger Smith comes up with a plan to get the money by throwing a big celebration picnic celebrating Jellystones' 100th Anniversary. The big payoff will be a big fireworks display. The picnic goes great but thanks to the evil Mayor's prodding, he convinces Jones to "step things up" by getting Yogi to perform his water skiing act. This of course turns into a disaster and ruins the picnic. Smith is out and Jones is in, unaware that the park is going to be nothing a forest of stumps. Yogi and Boo Boo find out the evil Mayor's plan and travel to the city to find Ranger Smith to save Jellystone.
The film moves a little slow but none-the-less is entertaining. I thought it could use a lot more picnic stealing gags but it cuts to the main plot pretty quick. (The movie only lasts 80 minutes)
On a scale of 1 to 5 stars (1 being bad, 5 being good) I'd give it a 3. This is the first time in many years of anything being done with Yogi and Boo Boo and I would have to say it was a good movie - not great but good.
By the way before the movie, one of the new Road Runner CGI shorts was played. The plot centered around Wile E. Coyote souping up a Segway Rider to chase the Road Runner which of course continuously backfires on him. I found this short to be very funny. My only problem with it was that it was only three minutes long. Chuck Jones established in his cartoons that their would always be eleven gags per each short which usually lasts seven minutes. And this is the first time the gags were centered around one theme (the Segway). Still it was very funny and I hope to see more in the future.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
On this date back in 1919, Elzie Segar's "Thimble Theatre" made it's debut in the Hearst papers. At first the strip was a parody of silent movie melodramas of the time but soon Segar dropped this concept and gave Olive Oyl and her original boyfriend Harold Ham Gravy individual personalities.
The following January, Segar introduces Olive's brother Castor into the strip and starts to tell ongoing stories along with his "gag-a-day" regular strips.
Of course "Thimble Theatre" would become famous in 1929 when Segar would introduce Popeye the Sailor into the strip during the "Dice Island" storyline. Popeye would go on to conquer newspaper strips, radio, cartoons, TV, etc. and take Olive, Wimpy, Swee'pea, Alice, Eugene, Bluto, the Sea Hag and the rest of the cast of the strip with him.
But Olive Oyl has been there from the start. So Happy Birthday Olive!!!
Friday, December 10, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Above and below are some recent sketches I've done of Hanna-Barbera characters. Above is a sketch of Huck done in the style of Harvey Eisenberg, the artist who first drew Huckleberry Hound and the early H-B stars in Comic Books.
Here are those two "meeses" Pixie and Dixie and their foil Mr. Jinks.
The hero of the old west, Quick Draw McGraw.
And here's Yogi Bear and Boo Boo up to their usual picnic basket filching shenanigans but got more than they bargained for.
Don't worry about Ol' Huck, he'll get out of this with a couple of P.B.&J's.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Happy Birthday to one of the funniest shows ever on television "Rocky and Bullwinkle".
It was on this date in 1959 that "Rocky and his Friends" debuted on ABC and introduced us to a heroic moose and flying squirrel as they fought those rotten no-goodniks Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. The show also featured "Fractured Fairy Tales", Peabody's Improbable History" and segments featuring Bullwinkle, "Mr. Know-It-All" and "Bullwinkle's Corner".
In 1961 the show moved to NBC and was retitled for it's new prime time slot, "The Bullwinkle Show". We got all our old friends plus two new features, "Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties" and Aesop Fables".
In my opinion "Rocky and Bullwinkle" was one of the funniest shows ever written and this classic show has stood the test of time and will endure forever.
"And now, here's something we hope you'll really like!"
I do and it's "Rocky and Bullwinkle"!!!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Happy Birthday to the great voice artist, Daws Butler. Daws had a very prolific career working in radio, movies, comedy records, kids records, puppetry and where his talents are known the best, television.
He also had an acting workshop where he taught his trade to up and coming voice artists. Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson (and many of the shows other characters) is Butler's most famous student.
First working with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera at MGM, Daws joined Bill and Joe at their newly formed animation studio that made cartoons for television. He was the voice of Reddy the Dog on Hanna-Barbera's first syndicate show, Ruff and Reddy.
With the success of this short run children's series, Bill and Joe produced and made the "Huckleberry Hound Show" for prime time TV. Daws was hired to speak for the shows blue-furred hound dog star, Mr. Jinks and Dixie Mouse of "Pixie and Dixie" and that smarter than average bear, Yogi.
Daws worked for Hanna-Barbera for the rest of his career and many other animation studios including The Jay Ward Studios (most famous for Rocky and Bullwinkle), Walter Lantz (Woody Woodpecker) and making comedy records with Stan Freberg.
Above is a sketch I did that I use as a birthday e-card that I send to my friends online. Seems appropriate to use this drawing to wish a Happy Birthday to the man who gave voice to Huck and Yogi.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAWS!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
In honor of the brave men and women who have served in all the branches of America's military, I present Sgt. George Bakers classic comic strip soldier, Sad Sack.
Thank You for keeping us safe and preserving Liberty.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Before Mickey there was Felix! Felix the Cat made his debut on this date (Nov. 9) back in 1919 in the Pat Sullivan Cartoon "Feline Follies".
Felix was the Silent Era's animation star famous for his imaginative adventures using his tail as anything from a gun to a bicycle and more. His famous walk was imitated by kids all over the world and in England a popular song was written about it.
Sullivan came up with the idea for the little black cat but the man who really breathed life into him was animator/director Otto Messmer. Messmer redesigned Felix to be more attractive and easier to animated using circles and "pipes", something other animations studios would soon adopt. Messmer also drew the Felix the Cat Comic Strip and later Comic Books long after the Felix cartoons were being made.
Felix didn't make it into the sound era of shorts but had a very successful career comeback in the early days of television. Felix's show centered on his adventures with his bag of magic tricks that he had to protect from The Professor, an evil scientist.
Felix the Cat is an animation icon and even though he was over shadowed by the introduction of Mickey Mouse, Felix was there first to pave the way!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
From the Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-man Annual #3 1981, Aunt May Parker (our web-headed hero's ever faithful and loving surrogate mother) shares with us readers her Photo Album.
With a little help from Roger Stern, Marie Severin and John Romita, Aunt May shares her courting pictures with Ben Parker, their wedding day and a baby picture of their new born nephew, Peter (above).
Above are pictures of young Peter after he comes to live with his Aunt and Uncle after the untimely death of his parents.
Here we have pictures of Peter's High School Graduation, the ladies in Pete's life, his motorcycle and the day he moves out on his own.
Above are pictures of birthday parties, weddings and other events in the life of one of comics' most popular supporting characters.
Friday, November 5, 2010
In 1987 "Electric Company Magazine" did a feature piece on our favorite Spinach-Eating Sailor. Published for kids, this magazine does a nice piece on Popeye through the years and features strips by Elzie Segar (of course) and also Bill Zaboly. The cover and activity page are by Bud Sagedorf.
I think it's cool that they centered on Popeye's comic strip career and not his animated career as most magazines do.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Above is a abbreviated version of the Origin of Spider-man that appeared in Electric Company magazine. There are no credits so it's anybody's guess who wrote it but that is definitely Sal Buscema's art work, just not sure if he inked himself. I'm going to venture a guess and say it might be inked by Mike Esposito.
I think it's interesting that they leave the death of Uncle Ben out of the story considering how important that plot point is to the story, but I guess for a children's magazine that might be to "disturbing" for it's intended audience. Hopefully this led the kids to read Spider-man's regular comics and there they could learn the great lesson of "With great power there must be great responsibility".
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I'm sad to report that the man who created Rocky and Bullwinkle has passed away. Alex Anderson was working with Jay Ward when they were trying to come up with new ideas for animated series for TV following their success with television's first cartoon show, "Crusader Rabbit". They came up with the concept of "The Frostbite Falls Review", a group of animals running a television station in Canada. Part of the cast was Bullwinkle the French-Canadian Moose and Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Unfortuneitly this show didn't sell.
Anderson also came up with the idea of Dudley Do-Right, the bumbling Canadian Mountie for another series. This idea also failed to sell.
Anderson then parted ways with Jay Ward and went to work in advertising were he spent the rest of his career.
In the late 1950's, Jay Ward teamed up with writer Bill Scott and put together the crew that would create one of TV's best animated shows, "Rocky and his Friends" for ABC. It was here that the world would fall in love with the adventures of the heroic squirrel and his smart goof of a partner, Bullwinkle J. Moose.
In 1961 the show moved to NBC and was retitled "The Bullwinkle Show" and played in prime time. One of the new segments of the show was "Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties" the misadventures of the Royal Canadian Mounted's most infamous officers.
Anderson never worked on these shows but in 1996 won an out-of-court settlement with Jay Ward Productions naming him the creator of Rocky, Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right.
Thank you so much Mister Anderson for coming up with two of my all time favorite cartoon characters, Rocky and Bullwinkle. Even though you didn't work on the show, your "children" were in very capable hands and have gone on to be very popular Pop Culture Icons.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
He helped to create a being from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.
Along with friend and co-creator artist Joe Shuster (above on the left), writer Jerry Siegel created Superman, the World's First Super-Hero.
Siegel was born on this date (October 17) in 1914. Thanks to Siegel and Shuster a new genre of modern age mythological heroes was born.
Siegel and Shuster are heroes in their own right. Heroes to fans around the world who love fantasy and heroes to millions of writers and artists that want to work in the field of Comic Books.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Way back in 1977, I picked up my first copy of the Fantastic Four, but it wasn't a comic book. Marvel Comics was publishing a series of paperback books that reprinted the early adventures of their super-heroes. One Sunday afternoon in the fall of '77, I picked up The Fantastic Four collection, reprinting the first six issues. When I got home from B. Dalton's Bookstore in The Monroeville Mall, I grabbed a lawn chair and started to read in my backyard. My intent was to read just the first couple of stories but as I read them I was thoroughly engrossed in the great storytelling by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. I'd never read anything like this in my entire life! A group of super-heroes who fought amongst themselves as much as they fought their enemies. And they acted like real people. Just because they had powers didn't mean that they didn't have problems. Needless to say I spent the afternoon reading the adventures of Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), The Invisible Girl (Susan Storm), her younger brother The Human Torch (Johnny Storm) and The Thing (Ben Grimm).
In those six reprinted issues I was introduced to the Mole Man, the shape-shifting alien Skulls, the hypnotic Miracle Man, the return of a Golden Age character The Sub-Mariner, the F.F.'s greatest enemy the diabolical Doctor Doom, and in the six issue, the team of Dr. Doom and The Sub-Mariner against The Fantastic Four.
I also read about the F.F.'s headquarters in The Baxter Building (right in the middle of downtown Manhattan!), The Fantasti-Car - the flying vehicle that looked like a bathtub that separated into four parts for each member of the team. There was also their specially designed uniforms that were made of Unstable Molecules, an invention of Reed's that flamed on with the Torch, turned invisible with Susan and stretched with Mr. Fantastic.
After finishing this book, I was a Fantastic Four Fan for life! Over the years I have been able to read all of the stories either through reprints and the regular monthly series. Of all the collaborations Lee and Kirby worked on together to create the Marvel Universe of characters, The Fantastic Four was the best!
Above is a drawing I did of the F.F. based on the art of John Byrne. Byrne worked the the series from issue #232 to issue #293 as writer and artist and had the second best run on the series behind Lee & Kirby's historic run. I didn't get to read those Lee and Kirby stories when they came out but I did with John Byrne and every month I could not wait until the end of the month when the latest issue came out.
I've done a few pieces of art where I have tried to draw like Byrne (I also did the same with Kirby) and above is a sketch I did back in the late 80's.
Below is a drawing I did as an experiment in inking. This drawing of Doctor Doom was penciled by the Great Jack Kirby and printed in the Jack Kirby Collector, a magazine devoted to art and career of the great Comic Book Storyteller.
I inked this sketch using every black pen, marker and technical pen I owned. I used all the different pens to represent the different weight in the lines of the sketch instead of fleshing them out with a brush or crow quill pen. It was something I wanted to try and was happy with the results.