Archive for the ‘comic book’ Category

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Comic Strips: Walt Kelly’s Pogo

Walt Kelly Animals Mother Goose

FONTANELLI ON KELLY

Walt KellyWalt KellyOne of the great heavy-hitters in the entire history of cartooning, Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr. was born in Philadelphia on August 25, 1913, although his family relocated to Bridgeport, Connecticut during his second year.

Migrating to California to work on Donald Duck cartoons at Walt Disney Studios in 1935, he stayed until the strike in 1941, long enough to animate on Snow White, Fantasia, Dumbo and The Reluctant Dragon. As good as Kelly’s animation was, (had he stayed on, we’d all doubtless be reading about Disney’s TEN "Old Men") his greatest achievements still lay ahead.

After leaving Disney, Kelly worked for Dell Comics. Here is a story he did for a 1946 Raggedy Ann & Andy comic book (the cover is from a 1948 issue)…

Walt Kelly Animals Mother Goose
Walt Kelly Animals Mother Goose
Walt Kelly Animals Mother Goose
Walt Kelly Animals Mother Goose
Walt Kelly Animals Mother Goose
Walt Kelly Animals Mother Goose
Walt Kelly Animals Mother Goose

During his stints at Dell and the New York Star, Kelly introduced his most memorable creation to the world- in the unassuming form of a philosophical, swamp-dwelling possum named Pogo. The true heir of Herriman’s Krazy Kat and Uncle Remus, Pogo was an American comic strip masterpiece. A flawless blend of slapstick, parody, allegory, political commentary, intellectual whimsy, social satire and Irish poetry- Pogo can be read on several levels at once, and it set a new standard of excellence in newspaper humor strips that has never been equaled.

Kelly has been compared to everyone from James Joyce to Lewis Carroll to T.S. Sullivant. He was named "Cartoonist of the Year" in 1952, and was elected president of the National Cartoonists Society two years later. He was the first strip cartoonist to be invited to contribute originals to the Library of Congress, and published some three dozen books during his lifetime- classics, all.

Walt Kelly Animals Mother Goose

It’s impossible for Gen X-ers weaned on modern tripe like Dilbert and Drabble to imagine the incredible graphic brilliance within the panels of Pogo. I remember literally getting lost in a Kelly Sunday page as a child, staring at the inspirational artwork for hours on end.

More than any other influence, I owe my choice of profession to the master, Walt Kelly. Here’s some cool stuff from my collection. Enjoy!

Mike Fontanelli
Los Angeles, 2007

MIKE’S ORIGINAL KELLY SUNDAY PAGES

Make sure you click on these… They’re amazing!

Walt Kelly Pogo

Walt Kelly Pogo

Walt Kelly Pogo

Take a moment to visit the official Pogo homepage.

ARCHIVAL POGO

Thanks, Mike for allowing us to digitize your original Pogo Sunday pages. For those of you out there who still don’t understand how our archive works, what you see here on this blog is just a small representation of what our archive contains. For instance, we scanned Mike’s Pogo inks at 1200 dots per inch- much larger than you see here on the blog. Each one of the Sunday pages comes out at a filesize of 1.7 gigs. For a sample of how detailed our scans are, click on the image below and compare it to the last panel of the last Sunday page…

Walt Kelly Pogo

You can see the grain in the paper! We scan every image in our collection at this resolution.


Fantagraphics has just embarked on publishing a complete set of Kelly’s “Pogo” dailies and Sunday pages. The first volume is out now and every cartoonist should have a copy in their library. Check it out!

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Newspaper ComicsNewspaper Comics
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Newspaper Comics.

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Comic Books: Whack Comics And The Fine Art Of Parody

Whack Comics

A week or two ago, I was taking part in a discussion on the Cold Hard Flash blog about ripping off other artists’ work. One of the people discussing the subject brought up the concept of parody, but seemed to have no idea what actually constituted parody. The dictionary defines parody like this…

par-o-dy [par-uh-dee] noun, plural -dies, verb, -died, -dy-ing.
1. a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing: his hilarious parody of Hamlet’s soliloquy.

Parody should be self-evident. The Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart said, "I find it difficult to define obscenity, but I know it when I see it." Parody is like that too. But if you’re going to be a cartoonist, you have to be able to do more than just recognize it… you need to be able to control it and utilize it as a tool. If you succeed, you can create something that does much more than just make fun of another work- it can illuminate an otherwise unthought-of truth, making your parody a creative work that stands on its own. If you fail, you risk plagiarism.

pla-gia-rism [pley-juh-riz-uhm, -jee-uh-riz-] -noun
1. the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.

As a cartoonist, you have to know how to use parody properly. Parody is not an excuse for plagiarism. It’s important to add your own caricature and exaggeration to comment on the work you’re parodying. And your exaggeration has to make a point. The easiest way to recognize how to do that is to study and analyze other parodies. Here is an example of a comic that parodies other comics… Whack!

WEIRD CREEPY AWFUL SPOOKY GHASTLY COMICS

This story is a parody of the EC Comics horror line, which included Tales From The Crypt, Vault Of Horror and The Haunt Of Fear. If you aren’t familiar with this genre, you should check out the reprints at Amazon. There is nothing even remotely like them any more.

Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics

STEVE CREVICE

This parody of Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon was created by cartoonist, William Overgard. Overgard was a friend of Caniff’s. Once, when Caniff was hospitalized, Overgard ghosted a whole week of Steve Canyon dalies so Caniff had time to recouperate. This particular copy of Whack belonged to Caniff. It was lent to us by his estate to digitize.

Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics

Before we get to more stories, take a look at this advertisement…

Whack Comics

It’s an an early advertisement for the Joe Kubert School. 3D comics and movies were all the rage then. Television was beginning to cut into ticket sales at theaters, and producers were looking for a technical advantage over TV to give them an edge. But the fad quickly fizzled out. Movie audiences and comic book readers were more interested in the quality of the movies and comics than the number of dimensions. Today, DVDs and digital media downloading are cutting into the traditional media markets. Some producers are beating the drum for 3D again. Let’s hope they realize soon that people are more interested in quality entertainment than formats.

The following story by Joe Kubert and Norman Maurer trumpets their publication of the world’s first 3D comic book, Three Dimension Comics in 1953. Strangely enough, the comic this was published in, Whack wasn’t in 3D!

Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics

PARODY

In my discussion of parody so far, I’ve left something unsaid, hoping someone would pick up on it in the comments. J.J. Hunsecker was the one who finally mentioned it…

I find it kind of ironic that you’re using Whack as an example of parody, since it can also be said to be a ripoff of MAD.

It’s important to understand exactly where the line lies between fairly exploiting an existing concept and plagiarism. Whack doesn’t plagiarise Mad magazine… it simply uses the same basic format- a parody comic book. It doesn’t ripoff Mad magazine any more than Roy Rogers ripped off Gene Autry or Star Wars ripped off Star Trek. They are simply working in the same genre.

MIGHTY MOOSE

Here’s an amusing parody of Paul Terry’s Mighty Mouse. The Super Rodent himself even makes an appearance! This is a "second generation parody". Mighty Mouse himself was a parody of Superman!

Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics

FLUSH JORDAN

Flash Gordon was also a comic inspired by the success of another similar comic. Alex Raymond created the strip to compete with Dick Calkins’ science fiction comic, Buck Rogers. Here, Flash gets "Whacked"… and Bing Crosby is dragged into the mess too!

Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics

Thanks to the Estate of Milton Caniff for allowing us to digitize this great comic book.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Comic BooksComic Books

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Comic Books.
TheoryTheory

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Comic Books: Harvey Kurtzman’s Funny Animal Comic Books

Kurtzman Comic Books

Today, Kent Butterworth stopped by on his lunch break to watch Terry Bears cartoons featuring eye popping Jim Tyer animation. I realized that it’s been a while since I posted any comic book scans from Kent’s great collection of golden age funny animal comics. I’m righting that wrong right now with some great examples by Harvey Kurtzman. Enjoy! (Thanks Kent!)

Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books

Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books

Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books

Animator Michael Sporn has shared a tremendous pile of Kurtzman comic collaborations with Jack Davis. Check them out!

Kurtzman and Davis: Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five / Part Six

RECOMMENDED BOOK

 Harvey Kurtzman: Mad Genius

Harvey Kurtzman had a Midas touch for talent, but was himself an astonishingly talented and influential artist, writer, editor, and satirist. The creator of MAD and Playboy’s “Little Annie Fanny” was called, “One of the most important figures in postwar America” by the New York Times. Kurtzman’s groundbreaking “realistic” war comics of the early ’50s and various satirical publications (MAD, Trump, Humbug, and Help!) had an immense impact on popular culture, inspiring a generation of underground cartoonists. Without Kurtzman, it’s unlikely we’d have had Airplane, SNL, or National Lampoon. This definitive book includes hundreds of never-before-seen illustrations, paintings, pencil sketches, newly discovered lost E.C. Comics layouts, color compositions, illustrated correspondence, and vintage photos from the rich Kurtzman archives

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Comic BooksComic Books

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Comic Books.