Friday, June 20, 2008

Hey Presto!

Friday comic book day.

On another list Dutch cartoonist Wilbert Plijnaar (who has worked for Disney as a story man for the last 15 years or so) alerted me to the fact that John Kricfalusi had a bit on his blog about the remarkable Waly Kelly-like work of Howie Post in the forties. Well, actually the post is about all of Post's career, but he uses three pages of one of Post's Presto Pete stories for DC's Animal Antics in the early forties. And he said he would love to see more.

As it happens Howard Post is on my list of artists I would like to visit sometime in the future. I have samples of all periods of his work, although I have to confess I am not a big fan or collector of his work in Harvey's kiddie titles. But I do have quite long run of his 70's newspaper strip The Drop-Outs, most of his work for Stan Lee in the fifties and when I found out he had imitated Walt Kelly in the early forties I tried to get as much of those books as possible. I just didn't plan on sharing it with you this soon, because I want to create a nice overview of his work and career and that involves quite a lot of scanning.

Still, to accommodate the extremely talented Wilbert Plijnaar (whose business card is so clever and funny that it inspired the titles of Disney/Pixar's animated movie Ratatouille) I have quickly rounded up a Presto Pete story and a couple of other tidbits. I have added John K.'s blog to my blog list, so you can go and see what he has to say about this talented (but in my view ultimately too lazy) artist. If you want to see more of the Presto Pete story he shows, you can go to Pappy's excellent blog to see the full thing. I wouldn't be surprised if the Kricman borrowed his scans from Pappy. It certainly wouldn't be the first time he borrowed something.

The link function on my blogspot desktop doesn't seem to work, so you have to copy and paste.

That by the way, is the first Howard Post Presto Pete story, from Animal Antics #9. Presto Pete did have stories in the earlier issues of that title as well, but with #9 Post took over and made the strip his own. With #10, he immediately got to do the cover, which was unique for this title (and didn't occur after that). I'll be showing the cover and story from #10.

Howard Post had two distinct period in the forties when he worked in this style. The first was in the early part of the decade, when he did Presto Pete for Animal Antics and other series for the two other funny animal books. Then he probably was drafted. I would love to know where he was stationed, so I could try and see if he worked for any of the camp papers in the places he was stationed. Most artists of his generation did. When he returned after the war, he worked for a comic called Wonderland, where he was the star artist, doing the covers and most of the stories. I will show some of those later. He also did another Waly Kelly inspired series for DC. This ran in More Fun #123 to #127. He also drew the covers for most of these book and it is the most visually stunning work of his career. Unfortunately, these books demand quite a high price (mostly because they contain the earlier incarnation of Superboy), so I have not yet been able to get my hand on one yet. I did find the original art for one of these stories in the Heritage Archives. This was from the period, that Heritage usually left out one of the pages of a story, so no one could use their high end scans for a secret printing project. But here it is, five of the six pages of Jimminy.

In the fifties Post returned to his Kelly style once more, when he was asked by Dell to take over Walt Kelly's The Brownies for the Four Color series. He did about three or four of them and they are quite entertaining. Here's the back cover for Four Color #482.

Steve Rowe informs me that these books were in fact done by Mel Crawford and not by Howard Post. Crawford was an interesting cartoonist, who worked for Dell and Western. These days he does paintings and runs a blog of his own, which I have added to the list.


Karswell said...

Man this stuff is great! I read the old post from Pappy's on John K's blog this week too.

More please!

Mike Lynch said...

This is amazing. I don't go to John K's blog and only stop in at Pappy's a couple times a month. Glad I saw this here. Some wonderful work and always interesting insights, Ger. Thanks for this.

Now I better get busy and really ALL of the pages you posted here! Thanks for all the scanning!

Steven Rowe said...

the Brownies strip is by Mel Crawford.
The good news is that there is no Superboy in those issues of More Fun (and I ought to know, I have them all). There is also one more Jimminy story - used as a filler in World's Finest. Jimminy was written by Jack Mendelsohn (hope I spelled that close enough).

Ger Apeldoorn said...

And so you learn some thing every day. Or to things, in this case. I had never heard of Mel Crawford. Did he do all those Brownies? For much of my information I rely on things I have picked up along the way. The 'fact' that Post continued The Brownies after Kelly is something I must have read somewhere more then twenty years ago.

Wait a minute... there is a cartoonist called Crawford in some of my Saturday Evening Post/Collier's collection. He works in a very lively Disney-like style and does a lot of ads as well. I was tempted to ad him to the scan list, just because of the quality of his work. nd because I am compiling a list af Disney/animation artists who went into cartooning and newspaper strips.

Jack Mendelsohn is a very interesting guy and I have planned to show some of his stuff at some point. I don't know very much about him, although he was interviewed here and there. He wrote for Mad, but he also did Mad type articles for 1000 Jokes long before Feldstein introduced them to his version of the magazine.

I should have double-checked the Superboy reference, as I was unsure about it. What is the reason these books are so expensive, Steve?

Steven Rowe said...

Jimminy appeared in More Fun 121-127 looking at last years Overstreet, I see it books at $23, 79 (for a superman stat on a cover, and $38 for an issue the Carter Brothers said was rare back in the 1970s.
I have one in nm shape, which I see is $275 - which is the stupidity of comics collecting in a nutshell...
Mel Crawford is (I believe) still alive - he is best known for his 25 years or so drawing Little Golden Books - i see no mention of comics books on his (several year old) website.