Monday, September 27, 2010

FUNNY STUFF No. 72, May-June 1953

DC comics’ funny animal comics (Comic Cavalcade, Animal Antics, Funny Stuff and Funny Folks) are not very well remembered today but during the 1940s and early 1950s, Funny Stuff was a force to be reckoned with. It ran for 10 years and 79 issues.

Today, we will look at the work of two DC funny animal stars, Otto Feuer and Sheldon Mayer.

“Greetings, Fenimore!” is by Otto Feuer, who, along with Rube Grossman, was a major workhorse for DC kids' comics. After years of comic work, Feuer opened up his own animation studio, doing work for Filmation during the 1970s.

Sheldon Mayer drew and wrote comics for DC from the 1930s until the 1970s, when failing eyesight forced his retirement from the drawing table. Laying down his pencil and brush, Mayer still wrote scripts for (among other titles) Weird War Tales and Rudolph. He also created the Black Orchid! “Company Fix Bayonets!” is a very good example of Mayer’s talent for pure funny.

Finally, let's enjoy this ad from the same issue. Why? Because it’s just so plain pretty.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Steve Mellor squishes superheroes!

Marvel Tales Starring Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham, published under Marvel's glorious Star Comics banner, poked fun at Marvel superheroes. Doing many backup stories for Spider Ham was Steve Mellor. I love Mellor’s work, which is funny before you read the funny words. Here are two quick samplings (and a cover) of his unique, semi-liquid style. This first cover and story are from Marvel Tales No. 1, November 1983.

This second story is from Marvel Tales No. 15, May 1987. Mike Mellor (whom I assume is a brother) supplies a very funny script.

© Marvel Comics Group - All Rights Reserved

For much more from Mr. Mellor, please visit the blog wherein I became aware of the artist's work: Shane Glines' Cartoon Retro!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails

Book Review:
Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails
Edited and Designed by Craig Yoe
With Introduction by Don Oriolo
Yoe Books! and IDW Publishing, 2010

Craig Yoe is on a rampage. His mission? To remind comic book lovers of a time when comics were a) pure fun, and b) intended for kids. So far this year Craig has edited classy hardback editions of the work of Milt Gross, Dan DeCarlo, and Dick Briefer; as well as the wonderful Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics (to review or purchase any of the work mentioned in this post, please visit Craig's Amazon store). Indeed, in the often overlooked genre of kids' comics - Mr. Yoe has done yeoman work! (yuk yuk).

Today we'll take a look at Craig's most recent addition to the Yoe Mission: Felix the Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails (Yoe Books! and IDW publishing). First, let's look at the strengths of the book that are immediately apparent right out of the wrapper:

  • The book is beautifully designed, with gorgeous end papers and a very clever black and white cover (no jacket) matching Felix's own colors.
  • The book isn't skimpy. At 224 pages, it's a nice chunk of great Felix comic book stories.
  • Reproduction of the color comic book pages is absolutely superb.
  • Finally, the book is extremely well bound (Smyth sewn binding) using archival-quality paper without being shiny or too hard (no publishing decision so mars comic book reproduction as does the choice of shiny, hard paper). Of all the recent flood of comic book and comic strip reprints, no publisher has made a better choice regarding paper stock than here. The pages in this book really have the look of a comic book - yet on thick, clean-white paper!

The book kicks off with a great introduction from Don Oriolo (Son of Felix animator and Messmer assistant, Joe Oriolo; and current head of Felix the Cat Productions), and an introduction by Craig Yoe with pages of Felix memorabilia. In his intro, Craig captures Felix's fundemental coolness and does a great job untangling the confusing history of the iconic black cat (and does so in less than two pages). He offers some revelations (at least to me) in the process: for instance, I had always assumed that all the Felix comic book work was done by Otto Messmer. Not so. While a solid majority of the work was Messmer, a generous portion was done by Messmer assistants Jim Tyer and Joe Oriolo.

As for the Felix stories reproduced? Well, it's Felix from the late 1940s and early 1950s comic books, meaning you get tons of Messmer's nearly edible, squishy roundness. Bulls and lions look like balloon animals you could sink a finger into knuckle deep. The stories are all the cream - all funny and sharp. For any lover of kids' comics, these pages tap directly into what we love about the genre: Great cartooning in a classic bigfoot style (a style for which Messmer's work is a prototype) over storytelling simply lousy with intelligence and charm.

In short, Felix the Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails is a title that comic book lovers have needed for a long time. It collects the best of Felix (and Messmer) all in one glorious place. That's right. You want it. You need it. You gotta have it!

But don't take only my word for it. My cat, Bad Jerome, is a huge Felix fan and has nothing but raves for Mr. Yoe's latest. As a treat, I have included a picture (below) of Bad Jerome doing his best Felix impersonation. I've seen him absolutely kill at parties with this:

To finish up, let's do a Felix story straight out of Craig's book (a tale orginally from Felix the Cat #53, Toby Press) - a sampling just to whet your appitite:

© Felix The Cat Productions - All Rights Reserved

Please visit Craig Yoe at his web site: Super I.T.C.H (International Team of Comics Historians).

Friday, September 10, 2010

GIGGLE COMICS No 36, December 1946

American Comics Group (ACG) published both Giggle Comics and Ha Ha Comics. Both titles were published monthly between 1943 and 1955. With this whopping one-two punch, a catalogue of classic material was produced which continues to shine brightly. These stories (and great Dan Gordon cover) from a 1946 issue are typical of the monthly brilliance.

Superkatt is Dan Gordon’s best remembered creation and why in the world wouldn’t he be? He is a standard housecat that wears diapers, an oversized bowtie, and a blue baby bonnet as a kind of uniform – and, despite his name and profound delusions of grandeur, is completely without superpowers.

If you love kids’ comics, you love Dan Gordon. It’s really as simple as that. His characters practically jump off the page with dimension and texture. I particularly love Superkatt’s dog pal, Humphrey, and house maid, Petunia (despite her unfortunate dialogue). Also amazing are Gordon’s layouts and lettering.

I believe this next Duke and the Dope story to be the work of Ken Hultgren, primarily a Disney animator that did a ton of comic book work for ACG.

This Potsy the Parrot quickie is the always lively, engaging work of Don Arr (Don R. Christensen).

Gil Turner did this single Sweet William page. I know Turner best for his Disney character work for Dell (L’il Bad Wolf and Bucky Bug). His style here seems a bit looser that his Disney/Dell work – a little more free and fun. I like!

More Gordon before I let you go. This magnificent inside back cover, advertising the ACG comic, Cookie; displays the artists astounding composition and brushwork to the fullest.