Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Histeria's Father Time and the (Big Fat) New Year's Baby.   


Farewell, 2011, we hardly knew ye!  And welcome, 2012!

May the new year be a great one for all of you, and for everyone important in your lives.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Card from Warner Bros. Animation, 1999

Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo, Superman, Taz, Buster Bunny and Babs Bunny (no relation), Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner (related), Michigan J. Frog, Pinky & the Brain, Tweety and Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, Father Time and Big Fat Baby from "Histeria," Batman from "Batman Beyond" and the cast from "Detention" wish you Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's A Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special Logo

Here's the logo for "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special" which first aired on December 6, 1992.   This image was used in trade ads, in newspaper reviews, and in "TV Guide" promotions.   Whoever ordered this artwork must have requested "extra cel-shadows."  That request was granted.   

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas with Laurel & Hardy

To celebrate the season, here are some holiday images from movies made by Laurel & Hardy, who remain among the very top comedy teams in the history of the movies.  




In "Big Business" (silent, 1929),  Stan and Ollie are door-to-door Christmas tree salesmen who run into a very difficult customer in the form of their recurring nemesis, James Finlayson.  
  



While it seems a little strange that Laurel & Hardy are dressed in winter attire in a sunny Southern California landscape filled with palm trees, in the end, what matters is the comedy of perfectly-timed and ever-escalating destruction.  




As a kid, my family owned a super-8 mm copy of this movie -- bought for $8.99 from Blackhawk Films out of Davenport, Iowa.   It's the only movie we owned.  When our projector was functioning, which wasn't often, we'd thread this baby up, turn out the lights, and project it onto a sheet.  Movie night! 




In another classic, "Below Zero" (talkie, 1930), Laurel & Hardy are pan-handling street musicians playing the one song that they know, "In the Good Old Summertime," in the middle of a blizzard.   





This isn't a Christmas movie, per se, but it has a very wintry feel, and brilliant comic timing throughout. 





My Uncle Richie --  Richard McLaughlin, writer and author of the novel "Into the Dangerous World" -- was a film buff who saw almost every film that came out in his many years living in New York City.   He was a big fan of Laurel & Hardy, and once made a comment that I've never forgotten.  

Uncle Richie said:  "It's too bad they never made a short about trimming a Christmas tree.   I always thought that Laurel and Hardy would be able to turn the trimming of a Christmas tree into something hilarious."  




I think Uncle Richie was right.  

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life

For me, "It's A Wonderful Life" is the ultimate Christmas movie.   




But when I was very young, I happened to watch part of it on TV and had no idea what it was or what it was about, and it freaked me out.  From my five-year-old point of view, it seemed to be a scary domestic drama that featured a husband yelling at his wife, the wife crying, the kids weeping ("What's wrong with daddy?"), the mother encouraging them to pray for him, followed by a bar fight, the husband considering suicide, and the mother turning dowdy, apparently losing her mind and being unable to even recognize her increasingly-desperate husband -- Yikes!  A total nightmare!    



So, whenever I got scared by something in the movie, I ran out of the TV room and hid, just like I did when Lou Costello unwittingly sat on the monster's lap in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."  I ran out of the TV room a bunch of times during "It's A Wonderful Life."  No doubt I missed many crucial plot points during my frequent absences.  Finally, too spooked by the increasingly-bizarre story ("You were never born."  What?!?),  I ran out of the TV room and stayed out.  I could watch no longer. 


 

Years later, I sat down and watched "It's a Wonderful Life" from start to finish.  The opening is pretty crucial to understanding the plot, and I had missed that starry set-up when I was young.  I was  happy to learn that the movie was actually about a man who had lost his way and who found redemption through the love of his family, his friends, and thanks to a little heavenly intervention.    (During my previous viewing, I had not only missed the opening, but I had bolted before the happy ending.)  



Now I watch the film every few years at Christmastime, and have to fight back tears when the townsfolk show up at the end, chip in to pull George's cookies out of the fire, and toast George as "the richest man in town."  Just thinking about it makes me a little misty.  



Just one question:  Why is Uncle Billy ever allowed to handle the Building & Loan's funds?  I mean, really.  The guy is clearly non compos mentis.  He unwittingly handed a huge wad of the Building & Loan's cash to Old Man Potter and then sauntered off as if he didn't have a care in the world.  



I'm thinking that on the first work day after Christmas, at the Bailey Building & Loan, George forces Uncle Billy into an early retirement and a rigorous 12-step program.  



 Now there's an even happier ending! 



 Merry Christmas to all!    



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa Claus by Haddon Sundblom

When I was a kid, one of the things I looked forward to at Christmastime was the annual Coca-Cola advertisement created by the remarkable illustrator Haddon Sundblom.   Clement Moore's 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" may have describe the jolly old elf in detail, and Thomas Nast's 1881 caricature of Saint Nick may have brought the image of Santa into focus, but not until the middle of the 20th century did one artist perfect the image of Santa and make it stick.  That artist was Michigan-native Haddon Sundblom (1899-1976), who created expressive paintings of the magical Mr. Claus for the Coca-Cola Company over a period of 33 years.  Here are three of my favorite Sundblom Santa ads...
 
 
 
 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Miss Information from "Histeria!" -- by Bob Doucette

This stunning portrait of Miss Information was painted by the producer of  the Histeria television series, Bob Doucette.   You can see more of Bob's brilliant artwork at http://bobdoucette.com.  



Miss Information was Histeria's tour guide through history.  The role was performed by the hilarious comedienne and voice over artist Laraine Newman.    If you want to see and hear Laraine in action, you'll find her impressive list of credits at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0628170/ .

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Buster Bunny Cel -- Tiny Toon Adventures

Buster Bunny

One of my favorite cels of Buster.  Can you name the episode?  Do you remember the scene?  Do you know which studio animated this episode?


Acme Looniversity team colors (including their varsity jackets) matched the colors of my home town team, Metuchen High School (Metuchen, New Jersey).  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yakko and Hello Nurse -- Best. Animaniacs. Cel. Ever.

Okay, maybe it's not the best Animaniacs animation cel ever.  But it's definitely one of the prizes of my limited collection.   The cel comes from the unedited version of "King Yakko."  While Yakko, as ruler of Anvilania, cuddled up to Prime Minster Hello Nurse throughout this half hour episode, the close encounter pictured in this particular cel set-up did not make it into the final broadcast version of the show.   



Thanks to Dave Marshall, who co-directed the episode with Alfred Gimeno, for not only saving this cell from the retake dustbin, but for framing it and sending it to me.  It hangs in a prominent location on my office wall.   Let the anvils ring! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Animaniacs and Freakazoid Emmys -- 1996

This ad appeared in the trade papers, including Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, the week after the Emmy ceremonies in May, 1996.   


Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Iggy" by Milt Gross

Of all the oddball characters drawn and created by Milt Gross, Iggy is by far my favorite.
   
In the "Count Screwloose of Tooloose" comic strip (1929-1934), Iggy is the emotionally unstable pooch with a Napoleonic complex who resides at the Nuttycrest Sanitarium along with the other patients, including Count Screwloose.   Iggy is hopelessly devoted to the Count, who is constantly escaping from the asylum, leaving Iggy behind in a state of utter distress and nonstop weeping at the thought of being away from the Count for even a moment.  Outside the walls of Nuttycrest, the Count invariably finds the real world to be much crazier than the nuthatch, and in the final panel of each Sunday strip, we find the Count racing back to Nuttycrest, where Iggy reacts with tears of joy at the return of his beloved pal.   Every time the Count jumps back into the compound, he calls out:  "Iggy, keep an eye on me!"


Milt Gross's drawings of Iggy were always a batch of fast and frantic lines that captured extreme cartoony emotions, filled with goofy expressions, tics, laughter and tears. 

At some point during the course of the strip -- and by the time Gross arrived at MGM to make a couple of Count Screwloose cartoons --  he had replaced Iggy with a different cartoon pooch named J.R., who didn't have a hundredth of the demented personality of Iggy. 

There have been many great cartoon dogs in the history of  comics, and while Iggy may not be one of the most famous of the group, he is truly one of the funniest and most emotive, quirky and unique canine creations in the realm of comics and cartoons.   

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation

Question:  What part of the animation industry began with Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation


Answer:   Direct-to-home video animated features.  Steven Spielberg presents "Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation" was the first animated feature film released directly to home video by one of the major studios.  It hit the retail stores March 11, 1992.  Disney's first direct-to-video animated feature, The Return of Jafar, came in 1994, as did the first of The Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels.  

I just uncovered my copy of the original promotional poster, which I scanned and posted directly above.  

Below are a few of the gag credits that appeared during the end scroll of  How I Spent My Vacation...



Reason This Movie Went Straight To Home Video
Cuz It's So Darned Good!

Original Running Time:    
8 Hours, 47 Minutes

Hey, What About That Urkel Kid?  
Is He Funny Or What? 

First Theatrical Screening:   
June 8, 1991, Old Orchard Theatre,  Skokie, Illinois

Last Theatrical Screening:  
 (Same As Above)

This Film Has Been Edited 
For Your Protection.

Do Not Back Up 
Severe Tire Damage

Man In Sound Recording Booth Who Pushes That Funny Red Button A Lot 
Link Poonie

Moral of the Story (Pick One):
1. Enjoy Your Vacation.
2. Relish Your Youth.
3. Don't Pick Up Chainsaw-Wielding Hitchhikers.
4. Feature Length Movies Should Not Have 18 Different Plots. 

These End Credits
Are Interminable. 

Top 4 Reasons A Caricature Of David Letterman Is In This Video:
4. We Admire His Comedy Stylings.
3. We Wanted To Use Merv Griffin, But He Threatened To Sue.
2. We Needed Some Filler.
1. We're Brown-Nosing Weasels Who Want Him To Mention Us On His Show.

Other Stuff Done By
Some Guy Named Bob. 

And That's The Final End Credit. 

We Lied.

The Cast
Valhalla ....... As Himself 

Suggested Retail Price
$19.95 Without Rebate

With Rebate 
About A Buck And A Quarter


Monday, October 3, 2011

"Facebook Addiction" by Luke Ruegger

From the September 29th, 2011 edition of the Pepperdine University newspaper The Graphic, here's a visual commentary from my son Luke, who is the editorial cartoonist and art editor for the paper.  

Nice job, Luke!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Top Cat" -- 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago today, Top Cat premiered at 8:30 PM (7:30 Central time) -- in color** --on the ABC Television Network.  

 
** See comments section about "color."


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tiny Toon Adventures' "Class Cut Up": Earl Kress

Here's a Tiny Toons cartoon that shows off a small sample of the big writing talent of Earl Kress -- who was not just an earl but a king of cartoons.  Earl passed away yesterday at the way-too-early age of 60.
 

This segment stars the vocal talents of one of Earl's favorite actors, the legendary Don Messick, who provided voices for Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Pixie, Dixie, Dr. Quest, Bandit and so many other classic Hanna-Barbera characters.

Here, Don performs the role of Hamton J. Pig -- it's a unique voice created by Don for the porcine costar of the Warner Bros. Animation series Steven Spielberg presents Tiny Toon Adventures.


In this episode, directed by Art Leonardi, Hamton is the lone witness to the return of that singing and dancing amphibian, Michigan J. Frog. 

This came before Michigan became the spokes-frog for The WB Network.   And yes, that's June Foray as Granny!  

Check it out:  "Class Cut-Up"









Sunday, September 18, 2011

The People Who Made "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs" -- Part Three

Earl Kress

Earl Kress and his wife Denise


Earl Kress was a major contributor to the writing of both Animaniacs and Pinky & the Brain.   Earl wrote or co-wrote many episodes which have become fan-favorites of the Animaniacs series, including the Slappy cartoon “Smell Ya Later” (co-starring Sherri Stoner and Jonathan Winters) and that Christmas gem "Little Drummer Warners" (directed by Lenord Robinson).  Earl was also part of the team that wrote the DVD animated feature “Wakko’s Wish.”



During the 90’s at Warner Bros, Earl also scripted some great segments for Tiny Toon Adventures (“Turtle Hurdle,” “Class Cut-up,” “Day for Knight”) and a handful of Road Rovers episodes.   Earl took home Emmy Awards for his writing on both Pinky and the Brain and  Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain.”  



I’ve known Earl since the early 80’s and have had the pleasure of working with him on a bunch of different animated series over the years, including Pound Puppies and Yogi’s Treasure Hunt during our time together at Hanna-Barbera.

Of course, Earl has worked on many cartoons outside of the Warner Bros./Hanna-Barbera spheres.  At Disney, for instance, he co-wrote the animated feature film “The Fox and the Hound.”

Earl and I grew up during the same era, and we were both big fans of the early Hanna-Barbara series starring Huck and Yogi and Quick Draw.  Earl is one of the world’s leading experts on Hanna-Barbara history and lore, and also studied voice-over acting with the legendary voice of Yogi, Huck and Quick Draw, Daws Butler.  Beyond these studies, Earl and Daws became good friends.    




You can hear some of Earl’s voice work on “Hanna-Barbera’s Pic-A-Nic Basket,” the definitive 3-CD collection of music and sfx from Hanna-Barbera shows of the late 50’s to the 70’s.  Earl not only performs on the album, he also hunted down and preserved many of the rare tracks, and produced the album as well.   

I’ve known Earl for 31 years and I’m proud to call him one of my best friends in this world of cartoons. 


 

Alfred Hitchcock's Forgotten Film

In 1962, the great director Alfred Hitchcock was determined to come up with a film worthy enough to be the successor to his recent horror blockbuster Psycho.  He tried several different themes and titles, ultimately settling on the concept that became the movie entitled The Birds.



But before making that final choice, Hitchcock was close to convincing the powers-that-be at Universal Studios to green-light a similarly-themed film in which the female protagonist is attacked by forces even more unlikely than birds.   Below is one of the prototype posters for that proposed movie.




But alas, The Spoons was not to be.  Thankfully for moviegoers everywhere, Hitchcock sobered up, became obsessed with Tippi Hedren, and went with the birds over the flatware.
  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beware the Corndog

Sad news from Beantown tonight, where a head of lettuce wearing a ketchup fedora was cornered by five bowls of baked beans and then savagely stabbed by eight corndogs.  There was no known motive for the attack.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Animaniacs Temporary Tattoos #12

These are the last two Animaniac Temporary Tattoos for now.  There are eleven more, and as soon as I find them, I'll post them.   


In the image below, Wakko seems to be turning his neck to the breaking point to take a gander at Hello Nurse.  


So, until next time...
                                                         Goodbyyyyyye, Nurse!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Animaniacs Temporary Tattoos #11

I think many of these images came from the Animaniacs style guide issued by Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products.  The animation department rarely had any input or sway at the licensing division.   


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Animaniacs Temporary Tattoos #10

This one of Dot reminds me of a grade-school Valentine's Day card.   

As for Pinky, he looks like he has been pondering the mysteries of the universe and has come up with an enigma inside a burrito.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Animaniacs Temporary Tattoos #8

A double dose of Dot...one with a 'doo from another era.   I think disco had been finished for at least a decade before these temporary tatoos were marketed.   

Along with the two Dots:  Skippy's review of "Cowboys & Aliens."