Monday, April 19, 2010

Blame It On The Cartoonist

Tuesday Comic Strip Day.

Dave Gerard was not a young men when he started getting succes as a cartoonist. He had been trained in the thirties and it showed in the roundness of his drawing style. Still, here were some elements of the new style that was coming up in the forties, as exemplifed by artists such as Mort Walker and later 1000 Jokes editor Bill Yates. He had a sympathetic big foot style that radiated a sense of fun, which got him published in all the major cartoon outlets. It also got him several newspaper strip and cartoon series through the late forties and fifties. I have shown some of those in the pat and will do so again in the future. None of them became a succes, until he hit the jackpot with Will-Yum, the innocent but never dull adventures of an impulsive boy. A bit of a rascal, but never a menace such as some of the other kids. Maybe it's that coziness which meant Will-Yum never went into the history books, even though it ran for a good ten years from the mid fifties to the mid sixties. In the late fifties, Gerard tried a new and more satirical strip called City Hall. He must have been a bit older by then, but it doesn't show in this strip or in the gags. It has the same brand of satire that you can see in the work of Bob Newhart or the early Second City group - considered risque at the time, but a bit mild now. Still, it is surprising to find in a period when most of us think no intelligent humor was made anywhere. I don't think Gerard wrote this strip himself. On most strips a Donoby is credited and although my first guess was he could have been an assistant to Gerhard, it occured to me later that he could also be the writer and Gerard no more than a hired hand.

City Hall did not have a sunday page, but it may still have been too much for Gerard to continue on his own, so somewhere in 1960 the art was taken over by a young artist called Don Cole. He worked in the 'modern' style of the early sixties, which odly enough does not seem to have been an improvement. Maby Cole just wasn't the artist Gerhard was, or maybe he still had to find his feet as I do have to admit he sort of grows on me towards the end. He seems to be still around and has his own website, which gives us this bio (which doesn't mention City Hall). But since he also tought at the Joe Kubert school, maybe someone who went there can tell us about him. I hope to fid out later if Cole wrote his own strips or if Gerard remained at the helm.

Don Cole: Single, self employed, Cartoonist. Published in many national magazines. Cartoon Caricature Artist, Cartoon Animator, Alvin & "The Chipmunks Great Adventure" movie, plus various TV shows and commercials. Past Graduate and Instructor at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon & Graphic Art, Dover NJ, 3-yr full time accredited art school. Ex-NASA Photographer, Spacecraft Photographer, Cape Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center, during 1960's 10 year race to the moon. Past owner of Don Cole Photo Studio and Color Lab, Cape Canaveral, Fla. and at Searstown Mall, Titusville, FL, during the 1970's. USN Photographer,1957-1961.

It just struck me that it could also be the other way around. That Don Cole is in fact the Donoby writing the strip (as it seems to be an anagram of nobody using the name Don as a start) and that he took over the whole thing when Gerard left... more to ask Don Cole.

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