Saturday, December 10, 2011

Let the Christmas Stories Begin!

'Tis the Season, my good friends! Let's begin our annual round of Christmas and holiday stories! Right out of the starting block we have a story featuring Bugs and Elmer in "The Traveling Tree" from Four Color No. 1064, December 1959. The pencils here are by the great Tony Strobl, while the inks are handled by Steve Steere (who did a great deal of fine inking from the era but of whom little is known).

And after the story, don't forget to check out the cool ad from the same issue wherein Daisy Manufacturing (air rifles) offers a free film encouraging kids to form "rocket clubs" (in cooperation with the United States Air Force). Ah, the glorious Space Age! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


  1. Great, great stuff, Mykal. Tony's Bugs was always my favorite of the comics versions. It always troubled young me that the Warner's characters in the comics were so different looking than their screen versions. Tony's version captured Bugs' personality pretty well, though. It doesn't hurt that his drawing was SO. FREAKIN'. SOLID! Also, his Elmer's expressions always have this quality of pathetic helplessness that I find hilarious.

    Looking forward to the Christmas stuff. I'd love to see some Harvey stuff (what else is new), or maybe a Sugar and Spike story...

  2. Bill: I agree, Strobl is one of my favs for Four Color Warner stuff. As you say, his draftsmanship was always tops.

    Harvey, you say, eh? Well, I'll say this. You know what a sucker I am for Harvey!

  3. Hooray for Tony Strobl! I mostly remember him for his Disney work with Donald Duck, like "Adventure on Bomb Bird Island" and "The Weighted Crate Mystery". It's a shame no one seems to want to put out books of Tony Strobl's Donald Duck (or Paul Murry's Mickey Mouse, for that matter). Strobl and Murry get overlooked because of Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson, and likely for the same reasons the Felix and Sagendorf Popeye are overlooked...they're fun if you look at them through a kid's eyes rather than an adults.

  4. Debbie: I think you've hit the nail on the head! See like a child! I know more than one person who think for pure draftsmanship, Strobl was the best of the best of the Disney artists. I always loved his work on Buckey Bug. There is one volume of Strobl's work published in Europe, where they are not quite as Barks-centric as we are in the States, by the Norwegian publisher, Edgmont. It was vol. 15 of their Disney Hall of Fame series.

    Personally, my favorite Mickey artist was Italy's Romano Scarpa or (as you've mentioned) Paul Murray. Scarpa in particular combines a more adult storytelling with wonderfully loose art. Don Rosa is staggering, as is (of course) Barks. Jeez, don't get me started!

  5. I have to add, I thinks that Strobl's Duck woork is his weakest. Not terrible, but not as strong as his work with other characters. Something about the proportions of their faces. I forgot about Bucky Bug though, REALLY great stuff!

    Mykal, all your other mentions are faves too. Especially Murry. He had a HUGE influence on me. I especially loved the way he rendered hands and the poses of his Goofy. Scarpa's work is amazing. He's like the Alex Toth of funny animals.

    I have already commented on Barks elsewhere. A league of his own.

    We have to agree to disagree on Rosa, I'm afraid. I can't stand his art. Stiff, unappealing and over-rendered. I appreciate why people like his stories, but his work leaves me cold.

    The above of course, is the sum total of one man's opinion.

  6. Bill: Hey, if we all liked the same stuff, what fun would that be? I can see what you mean about Rosa, but it is the crazy, insane level of detail I find so fascinating. It isn't a style I normally like at all, but with Rosa, it works for me. A Rosa panel is like looking at the insides of a old Swiss watch. Plus, his storytelling is incredible.

    Scarpa to me is one of the greatest funny animal cartoonist in the history of comics.


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