Monday, March 02, 2015

Pretty Face

Monday Cartoon Day.

Gene Hazelton is best know as one of the designers of the Flagstones, which was the original name for the Hanna Barbera series The Flintstones. He had trained at Disney and worked on several of their early features before leaving the company to go free-lance. I have shown a couple of his cartoons for Collier's, but they were clearly not enough to earn a living. From what I could learn on the internet, he worked as an animation designer for commercials in the fifties. After that he joined Hanna Barbera, where he not only designed the famous caveman family, but also drew for the Sunday and daily newspaper strip versions in the sixties. He also was the second or third artist on the Sunday only Yogi Bear strip in that same decade.

One of his rare solo productions was the newspaper panel Angel Face, drawn in his own style, but bordering on that of Denis the Menace. One of the many Denis knock-off of that period, I have shown a set of samples that had been doing the rounds on the internet. These undated samples were said to have been from 1957 (in their file names) and ever since I saw them I have been looking for more.

Imagine my surprise when I finally came across a longer run of this rare item from November 1954 to July 1955. The art itself does not seem to be any different than the samples from '1957', which begs the question if they could have been misdated. Sadly, my run of is incomplete because 1. the paper itself is not represented completely at newspapers.com and 2. the paper in which I found them (the Ogden Standard-Examiner) did not use all of it's gag panels every day. In fact, it is rare to have more than three in any given week. This also means that none of the dates in the 1957 samples (which do have a month and day notation, just not the year) double those in my run - which means it is entirely possible that the whole 1957 attribution is wrong. if not, the strip ran for at least three years and there are many, many more samples out there.

Now I have to warn you. The gags are never as funny as those in Denis the Menace. And frankly, the gags are not even Denis' best feature. Also, as good an artist as Hazelton is, he is not the graphic genius that hank Ketcham was. Even the worst of Denis' gags can be a graphic miracle, worth studying every time. On the other had, these gags do represent the only solo work by Hazelton we have and he does have a very alluring style.

So I am excited to have found these and I have gone through the trouble to represent all of them for you. Maybe I will finally come across one of the 1957 dates and we'll be able to see if that earlier set is a new one or not. Even though the panels are incomplete, it will take two Mondays to show all of them. Here is the first set.

2 comments:

MARK CHRISTIANSEN said...

Thanks for posting these, Ger, and for shedding some light on what years this comic appeared in newspapers.

The Art of Bob Chambers said...

Hazelton's drawing are amazing. Yes, it's too bad the gags aren't funnier because the art quality is close to Ketcham's. Both were former Disney studio artists so it's not hard to see Disney artists had first class training in that golden era of the studio!