Funny animal comics don’t get enough respect.
Many incredibly talented artists worked in funny animal comics… some, like Kurtzman and Frazetta, went on to fame in other genres. Yet the only artist working in this field that most people are familiar with is Carl Barks. Uncle Scrooge comics are fine, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. In the 1940s and 50s, there was a wealth of funny animal comics all drawn in completely unique styles. I have to admit that comics aren’t my strong suit, but when I see a comic like this one, I want to know more about the people responsible for them.
Here is Supermouse Comics number 4, drawn by Milt Stein. Little is known about Stein’s career. Tom Sito points out that he was an animator at Famous for a time, and he worked on Tubby the Tuba for Dr. Alexander Shure’s Westbury Long Island Company, the tradtional forerunner of NY Tech’s Computer Animation Program. He committed suicide in 1977. Milton Knight adds, that Stein "animated some very expressive scenes at Terry in the early 40s (the girl mouse puppet in Down With Cats). And in the 60s, he animated the humorous characters on an independent TV pilot that Jerry Beck likes to include in his “Worst” ASIFA shows, titled Cosmic Raymond. I think Stein was one of the most neglected artists of all time; and he drew far more imaginatively than Barks!"
If anyone else with expertise in this area are reading, please post what you know about Stein into the comments field and I’ll add your info to this post too.
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Comic Books.
Posted by admin @ 12:50 pm
It’s especially gratifying when an animation professional stumbles across this blog and immediately grasps what it is we’re doing and how important it is to the art of animation. A while back an old friend of mine, animation director Kent Butterworth (www.attilatheham.com) was doing a web search and stumbled across the Animation Resources website. I hadn’t seen Kent in several years, but he was so excited by what he saw, he jumped in the car and came right over to see what I was up to. I gave him the tour and explained how the database we are building is intended to work, and he was behind the concept 100 percent. A day later he was back, with a stack of books and comics to allow us to digitize.
Kent’s collection is amazing, and the scope is huge. He brought a hard drive full of scans of vintage comic books by dozens of great artists, 40s Colliers magazines with Virgil Partch cartoons, original Sunday pages by Cliff Sterrett, and a book I’ve never seen before… Milt Gross’ Cartoon Tour of New York.
Milt Gross is one of the greatest comic artists who ever lived. His books Nize Baby, He Done Her Wrong and Dunt Esk are classics of ethnic New York humor. His drawing style is direct and funny with absolutely flawless staging, composition and expression. Gross’s Cartoon Tour of New York was published as a program guide for tourists visiting the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and it’s an amazing time capsule into life in the “big apple” in its golden age. If Weegee’s Naked City depicts the front page view of this marvellous time and place, Gross’ Cartoon Tour tells the Funny Pages version.
A lot of this book appears to have been drawn by Milt Gross’ assistant, but there’s still plenty of joy in every panel. Here are scans of the entire book. Enjoy!
Many thanks to Kent Butterworth for sharing this great book with us!
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Newspaper Comics.
Posted by admin @ 12:36 pm
Today, we digitized the illustrations from three more early books by Gustaf Tenggren. Tenggren was a key concept artist on Snow White and Pinocchio, and it’s clear that the Disney artists looked to his work for inspiration in establishing the Disney feature style.
As we scan more books, we are able to find interesting parallels. For instance, it’s interesting to compare Tenggren’s approach to Hawthorne’s “Tanglewood Tales” to Edmund Dulac’s highly stylized version.
And a similar comparison between Tenggren’s approach to a battle scene and the way Kay Nielsen handled the same subject in East of the Sun, West of the Moon.
We can also compare Tenggren’s early “Juan And Juanita” to his treatment of an almost identical subject in a totally different style in the Golden Book, “The Little Trapper”.
We can also see similarities to Tenggren’s contemporary book, “Small Fry And The Winged Horse”.
As our database fills out, more and more interesting comparisons and relationships like this will become apparent. That’s one of the most exciting things about the collection of Animation Resources. The information has always existed, but gathering it all together in one place, and making it searchable will add a level of understanding that has never been possible before. Stay tuned. It will get even better!
Here then, are three more books by the great artist, Gustaf Tenggren…
This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.
Posted by admin @ 12:24 pm