Sunday, September 14, 2008

Re Spect

Sunday Leftover Day.

Last Tuesday I posted all three Sundays of Irv Spector's Coogy I have. Next Tuesday I'll be moving on to 1952. Paul Spector sent me a scan of the original for one of the three 1951 Sundays. He says it is part of a five part story about Coogy's 'split personality', not counting the three that are used in the run up to this story. So even early on Coogy reached an intellectual weirdness Pogo never even tried. In the original we can see that the last gag about Keats was probably added later on.

A couple of month ago Allan Holtz gave us this press release for Coogy, which affirms my idea that the strip started as a single tier before moving on to full Sunday syndication and reveals a starting date of December 1951 for the 'flller' version and May 27 for the full syndicated Sunday version. This means the split personality story was the first actual storyline and if Paul has the originals for that he has the originals of the first syndicated Sundays.

'Coogy' Sunday Page Due from Herald Tribune

Cartoonist Irving Spector crossed the country 13 times in three years awhile back and there by became infatuated with the desert in New Mexico and Arizona. "I remember everything in vivid detail," he says. "I can draw it without seeing it."

That helps explain the locale of his Sunday page, due May 27 from the New York Herald-Tribune Syndicate. The characters apparently stem from 20 years of animated cartooning and the result: "In animation, you get so you consider that animals are people."

Mr. Specter's career goes back almost, but not quite, to the age of 14. At 14, he tucked some of his drawings under his arm, hied from his home in Los Angeles to the Walt Disney studio, in Hollywood—only to learn that Mr. Disney was "out." He came back that night though and noticing a light on at the back, gathered his courage and walked right into a story conference attended by, among others, Walt Disney.

"They all seemed amused and Mr. Disney was kind." says Mr. Spector. "He told me there'd be a place for me at Disney's when I finished school."

As a matter of fact, the cartoonist (who has recently taught motion picture cartooning at the College of the City of New York) didn't finish school. He left with half a year still to go at the age of 16, got a job with Universal Studios. A year and a half later he went to Disney's as an assistant. and, at 20, he became an animator for Columbia Studios.

As a writer later for Warner Bros., he helped in the development of the "Bugs Bunny" type of humor (zany, wacky humor as opposed to sweet, cute animals, he explains.)

Mr. Spector's animals, none of which struck us as sweet, include the title character, which has rather faint resemblance to a cougar and serves mainly as the interlocutor of the piece. Others are Big Moe, a bear; a tortoise; and Arresting Sam, a deputized dog.

The cartoonist, who is now connected with Famous Studios as a writer, started the strip as a small-sized Sunday filler in December.

Since Alan put this piece of text up, Paul has indicated there might be some factual misrepresentation sin this piece. I asked him to elaborate and he sent me some correction. He has written them down so clearly, that I am quoting him verbatim:

Re Disney: I've heard the Disney story quite a few times growing up, but never that way. My father was 16-years old when suspended from high school for arguing with his art teacher about the correct way to draw a picture he was working on. He then went to Disney, who told him to "...finish school and there would always be...", but instead just walked over to Universal Studios, snagging a job under Walter Lantz who had a deal to produce their cartoons. This mention of working for Disney occasionally pops up, and maybe it's true, but until some real concrete proof turns up it's hard to claim.

Re Columbia Studios: This was actually for Charles Mintz Studios (Krazy Kat) who at that time had a deal with Columbia.

Re Warner Bros: A more glaring example of a copywriter's exaggeration. The era is middle 1930's and was actually Leon Schlesinger studios, who managed production of cartoons for Warner's, and who did not even sell the studio to Warner's until circa mid-1940s. My father would have been an animator there, not a writer. About Bugs Bunny: it takes a lot of very talented people to make a great and enduring cartoon character, and although my father was at Schlesinger's doing the "wacky animal development" thing, the writer of this puff piece seems to draw too linear a direction than is warranted from my father to Bugs. He was already at Fleischer Studios before Bugs hit his stride. It'd be a great claim, but c'mon!

Friday, I posted a cover and story of Teepee Tim. Though the story certainly isn't by Spector, the cover may be. It drew a comment by Kent Butterworth, an animation producer and director of some fame. On his blog, he has put the scans of another story that he used to think was by Harvey Kurtzman, but now believes it may be by Spector as well. Unfortunately, I don't agree. I think is it by a third newcomer that Stan Lee introduced to Timely in 1945. Like Kurtzman and Spector he introduced his own character. Like Spector he was gone by the end of the year. Buzzy (and other strips by this remarkable artist) are all over those 1945 Timely funny animal books. The style of this artist is pretty weird and easy to spot. His inking line is very different from that of Spector or Kurtzman. It can even be a little thin at times. And the jaws of his characters (especially the dog-like heavy that features in most stories) are unlike anything I have ever seen. I was waiting with scanning and posting until I had found out more about this artist and who it might be, but if you want to have an advance look, go to Kent's blog and see for yourself. I have added a link.

Kent also is a fan of the work of Howie Post, whose stuff can be pretty similar. I will at some point try and show some of his work from the forties and mid-fifties, but here is a little something from his best Kelly imitation period.

No comments: