Saturday, May 09, 2009

Fit For A Dog

Saturday Late Arrival.

Sam Cobean was a very funny cartoonist, who worked at the New York branch of the Signal Corps film unit. I am not quite sure how many Signal Corps units there were and how the duties between the movie, print and cartoon branches were devided. If anyone knows of a good book in the Signal Corps, I'd love to know it. But since Fank Capra and other Hollywood stars worked in the movie department, the other branches are usually skipped over in most histories. Too bad, because some prett good and well known comic, cartoon and newspaper artists worked there and sometimes they struck up friendships for the rest of their lives. We know Stan Lee worked at the 'Hollywood' branch and I have a sneaky suspicion that Harvey Kurtzman may have worked there too (although there is no other evidence than the fact that there is a gap in his army history where it would fit and the fact that he seems to have known some of the people who worked there). Was there also an ourfit based in New York using Famous/Paramount studio's? Or were there only two, the 'western' one in Hollywood and the 'Eastern' one in Florida? And was there contact between the two? Did they see each other's work? At least Sam Cobean worked in one of them with Irv Spector, who left a lot of photo's and special art from tht period to his son. You can look around for it on the web, but a good place to start would be Paul Spector's own site about his fathers work and career. In the meantime, here are three ads Cobean did after the war for Ken-L Rations. He turned to cartooning and became quite a famous and well-selling cartoonist before dying at a far too young age in the early fifties. But I bet you have never seen these. I found one in my own collection and recognized the style from the cartoons Paul Spector had shown. I looked up two more on Newspaperarchive and was pleased to se that one of those was signed.

June 1 1947:

March 21 1948:

Oct 1948:


p spector said...

Someone really should do a book about the Siganal Corp. There's a lot of information that could be mined from it, and not solely animation.

In my own specualtion, as a general rule, to me it seems that the east coast unit was mostly doing training films and brouchures/pamphlets. A lot of it was live action as well. It was located in Astoria, Queens, an old film studio that was reconfigured. My dad was there. One piece he worked on was the animation for an instructional film for SONAR, which was Top Secret at that time -- armed security at the door and all that. Cobean was there too, illustrating. I'm not sure exactly how the army decided who would go where, but obviously some of their reasoning had to with who was working where -- geographically before the war-- at the time. Even so, Fleischer/Famous was in Miami at the time. Oddly, my father had to drive back to Los Angeles to push up his enlistment -- that's where he was originally registered. At some point closer to the end of the war a lot of the animation unit was moved to offices in New York City.

The west coast Sig Co animation studio seemed to be more involved with the more cartoony animation propaganda.

There were other other units around the country. Even Dayton, OH, where Bob Givens, a superfine Warner artist, was stationed. I'm not sure what was happening there. Also, at some point my father was farmed out down to a base in the Carolinas to work on some project.

The army, bah! who can figure their reasoning?

Ger Apeldoorn said...


I would love to write such a book, but wouldn't know where to begin to get the information needed. I haven't even been able to find registers of who was assigned to the Signal Corps and if so, when. I am glad to see that the East Coast Devision was in te Astoria Studio's. That makes it possible other cartoonists such as Harvey Kurtzman were there as well. Kurtzman was stationed in Sutton, North Carolina in the summer of 1944 and in Paris, Texas in the summer of 1945, but where he was in between or if he was even sationed in Paris or sent there on assignment, I don't kow. What I do know is that in that year he developed his cartoon style, so he must have been working somewhere and probably doing stuff in print form. It has always mistyfied me how he knew your father and how your father got to Stan Lee, so I am imagining some connection there. But I have not even a shred of evidence to prove of disprove that.