Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lee Holley's "Ponytail"

Cartoonist, Lee Holley, sold his first cartoon work at the age of 15 and began animating for Warner Bros. at 21. By 1957, he worked for Hank Ketcham, ghosting the Dennis the Menace Sunday funnies. The Ketcham influence is strong here on his most famous creation, Ponytail, which he drew as a daily strip from 1960 straight through into the 1980s. These pages are so wonderfully drawn and, like Ketcham, Holley was a master of detail, the small but imortant gesture, and posture. These two stories and cover come from Poneytail No. 4 (October-December, 1963).


  1. This stuff is REALLY GREAT! It is superb comic strip art.

    But, at least to me, it opens up a topic for discussion… In the 1970s Holley did Warner Bros. / Looney Tunes comic books for Western Publishing.

    What was great for Ponytail (and Dennis the Menace) comic strips was not necessarily great for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck comic books. Holly simply was not up to the previous efforts of Phil DeLara, Tony Strobl, and Pete Alvarado Roger Armstrong, Tom McKimson, etc. on those comics.

    Another example of this was Boner’s Ark’s Frank Johnson being used by Charlton on Huckleberry Hound. As much I enjoyed Boner’s Ark, Johnson was no Harvey Eisenberg, when it came to Huck Hound!

    As your Blog shows, even Jack Bardbury’s “other” funny animal art often surpassed his efforts on Mickey Mouse.

    Are some artists naturally inclined toward one type of art – and not necessarily another?

    Wonder what you all think?

    1. I think that Holley was best suited to his own creation, Poneytail. Disney, with their strict enforcement of the Disney Look, has proven somewhat confining to many artists (or so I've read). Bradbury never seemed confortable with Mickey.

    2. Completely agreed, Mykal!

      But, beyond that, Western Publishing set up a “look” and an expectation regarding its superb product of the ‘40s thru ‘60s by hiring moonlighting or former animators from Disney, Warners, MGM, etc. to draw their comics! That’s what I believe separated them from other “funny” comics.

      Of the names listed throughout my comment, many of them would be familiar to animation fans that have never picked up a comic book!

      In the ‘70s and ‘80s, they lost that “look”, and the product suffered to an irreparable extent. And, when you see the result of a talent like Lee Holley drawing Bugs Bunny, you almost tend to be unfairly critical of that because the “Bugs Bunny type of art” was not necessarily his strength – but marvelous stuff like Ponytail was!

    3. I agree - moonlighting animators produced the bulk of talent that made the 40s and 50s the best era of Kids' Comics. What an incredible wealth of talent seeped over into comics from animation.

  2. The Ponytail comic strip was carried on the newspapers from the whole world via King Features, between 1960 and 1988.

  3. I remember this...of course by the late 1980s Ponytail might have been an anachronism, though if I ran a newspaper I would certainly offer Holley anything for new stories or rather, repeats of the old pre-1970s ones.Steve

  4. Mykal and friends,

    Do you remember of a Ponytail comic strip from 1975, where she and her friends went to the movies to see the film Jaws (directed by Steven Spielberg, with Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss; which also includes the John Williams' outstanding music score), and they've gone out from the movies, impressed with what they saw? I saw this strip in an article about the movie Jaws, on The E! True Hollywood Stories, from the E! (Entertainment Television) channel (in the whole world).

  5. In Italy, Ponytail is known as Pony, la Amica Americana. I saw this detail on the Italian Eureka magazine.

  6. I loved Holley's drawing style. I often thought that it resembled Hank Ketcham; imagine my surprise when you revealed how Holley ghosted for him on Dennis the Menace.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...