Saturday, October 23, 2010

Alex Anderson R.I.P.

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

The Writer of Steel

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

Fantastic Four Art

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.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Squirrel Month

Believe it or not, October is "Squirrel Awareness Month". I'm not sure what that means but it gives me an excuse to post a newly colored sketch of the world's most famous squirrel, Rocky.

Friday, October 8, 2010


This is what a REAL Vampire Looks like...

...or This...( art by the great Gene Colon)

...Not This!!! And Vampires can't be out in sunshine! They'll burn up, people!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Happy 60th Birthday to Charlie Brown & Peanuts pt1

Today (October 2nd) is the 60th Anniversary of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and all the Peanuts Gang.
In 1950 Charles Schulz debuted his comic strip of little people (kids) that acted more like adults than children. Starting only in seven newspapers, "Peanuts" would go on to be the most successful newspaper strip ever printed.

Above are some of the ads used in newspapers to announce the coming of the new comic strip. As you can see they feature Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Shermy, Violet, Patty and Schroeder. Lucy, Linus and Pigpen would be introduced in the next couple of years and Charlie Brown's sister Sally would be "born" before the end of the decade.
Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin would be introduced in the 1960's and Woodstock would debut in 1970.
The strip ended in February of 2000, the day after Schulz passed away, but is still printed today in reruns in as many newspapers as it did when they were brand new.

Happy 60th Birthday to Charlie Brown & Peanuts pt2

Above is a nice birthday card with a theme that Schulz liked to use, Happiness.

And here are some more ads used to tell the public about the new "Peanuts".

It's Huckleberry Hound Day pt I

Today is the 62nd Anniversary of "The Huckleberry Hound Show".
In honor of this great occasion, above is the original opening titles to the syndicated show. What's interesting about this is that Huck only show's up in a poster behind Cornelius Rooster of Kellogg's Corn Flakes fame, in fact the whole piece features Cornelius!
Why? Back in the early days of television, usually one sponsor brought rights to have their products featured on a particular show. The sponsor then would help the show find a place on one of the networks or (in the case of The Huckleberry Hound Show) in syndication.
When Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were starting out in television, they made a deal with Kellogg's to sponsor their shows and in turn Huck, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw and other H-B stars would be featured on Kellogg's cereal boxes and premium toys that came in the box or you sent away for.
So sit back, fill up a bowl with some Corn Flakes and enjoy the Huckleberry Hound Theme Song.

It's Huckleberry Hound Day pt II

And now the original End Titles to The Huckleberry Hound Show. Here (unlike the opening theme) Huck is featured prominently with the Kellogg's cereal characters.
In the closing titles you can see the stars of the Kellogg's Cereal Family. We have Snap,Crackle and Pop of Rice Krispies; Tony the Tiger and Tony Jr. of Frosted Flakes; Smakey the Seal, the original mascot the Sugar (Honey) Smacks; and Sugar Pops Pete, the original mascot for Sugar Pops Cereal.

Mmmm! Mmm! All this writing about cereal is making me hungry!