Category Archives: Cartooning

A Walt Disney Adventure in Art

It’s my opinion that Walt Disney is, so far and by far, the greatest CEO of all time. He wasn’t perfect and, yes, I know about the strike and his testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and, no, I don’t believe the exaggerated “dark side of Disney” allegations. The breadth of Disney’s accomplishments remains unmatched, and I feel that no other entrepreneur before or since has achieved his level independence, originality, and creativity.

Disney was supposedly uncomfortable being the host of his own TV series, but you wouldn’t know it from watching him explain how artists need to each develop their own style in order to be proficient at collaborating on creating art the Disney way. It’s interesting that Marc Davis’ rendering of the tree is the most conventional of the four paintings. Davis was primarily an animator, not a background artist.

Snoop-y Dog 2015

Christmas 2014

Santa came through once again with the latest box set of “The Complete Peanuts”. It’s been ten years since Fantagraphics began publishing the collection, and they’re now up through 1994, which means the next two-volume set will leave only 1999 and the nine strips from 2000 to be done. Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the final daily “Peanuts” installment.

"Peanuts" - January 3, 2000

“Peanuts” – January 3, 2000

Next Christmas will see the premiere of the first “Peanuts” animated feature in many years. It’s spear-headed (not block-headed!) by Craig Schulz, and I think the final look of the computer animation is very appealing. Here’s hoping the movie will do well in theaters and on video, so that the Peanuts gang — a perennial favorite in TV rerun ratings — will gather new generations of fans and continue to be popular when the characters are 100 years old, in 2050.

Rudolph the catalog reindeer

Who remembers that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created by Montgomery Ward, the now-defunct retailer/catalog competitor of the almost defunct Sears? Here is the first animated appearance of Rudolph, directed by Max Fleischer and beautifully restored, with its original music, and presented by the Library of Congress. Santa has the barrel-chested build of Popeye’s nemesis Bluto!

P.S. The LoC took the video down a day after posting it and I don’t know why. There is no possibility of a copyright issue, so I will assume the problem is technical.

P.P.S. I asked why the video was down, and as I had assumed…

Server problems! It’s back up now.

Mike Mashon

Head, Moving Image Section
Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation

P.P.P.S. A notorious, nit-picking Internet troll going by the handle “Denro,” but who is, in fact, Dennis F. Rogers of Massachusetts, has requested — nay, demanded — that the first sentence of this post be changed as follows.

“Who remembers that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created by Robert L. May for Montgomery Ward, the now-defunct retailer/catalog competitor of the almost defunct Sears?”

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered

Starting this coming Tuesday, the PBS series American Masters is presenting “Bing Crosby Rediscovered”. Don’t miss it!

I was 22 when Crosby suddenly collapsed after playing golf in Spain on October 14, 1977. Bing sure seemed old to me at the time, but he was only 74. To put that into perspective, Ringo Starr is 74.

The day after Bing died, Denro and I were at the Boston Newcon comic book convention, interviewing the one and only Joe Sinnott, who was, at the time, starting work on inking the Silver Surfer graphic novel by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, released in 1978. Dennis asked Joe, addressing him as Mr. Sinnott, “What do you for enjoyment? To get away from comics?” Here is what Joe said, as recorded by me on October 15, 1977.

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We knew that Bing had died, so I wasn’t completely clueless and, yet, being the callow youth that I was, stupidly I asked, “So how do you feel about it?” Duh! The next day, October 16, would be Joe’s 51st birthday and, my goodness, how young he sounds in that recording.

I don’t know yet how much the American Masters documentary will ac-cen-tu-ate the positive. Gary Crosby’s memoir damaged Bing’s reputation as a father, but the multi-talented, multi-media Crosby remains an undeniably significant and pioneering figure in entertainment history. As I have pointed out in the past, Crosby was the first to see and exploit the potential of magnetic tape recording. A few months ago, someone working on the American Masters documentary spotted my posts and requested a photo for “Bing Crosby Rediscovered”, which I gladly provided. I can’t say for certain if the picture is in the final edit, but if you see it you’ll know where it came from.

Jack Mullin, Frank Healey, Wayne Johnson, Bing Crosby

Jack Mullin, Frank Healey, Wayne Johnson, Bing Crosby

Get me to the church on time!

For the first time in decades, this non-practicing Lutheran has attended a Catholic Church. Joe Sinnott’s son Mark told me we’d better not be late for Sunday morning Mass or Joe would give me heck. So I made sure we were there on time! Joe and Mark are in the area for the Super MegaFest Comic-Con in Framingham, MA, and I’ll be heading back there shortly.

A contemporary of Joe’s, the artist Ramona Fradon, is traveling with them. Ramona had a long and notable run drawing Aquaman for DC Comics, and I am a big fan of her work on “Super Friends”. Ramona was later hired to draw the comic strip “Brenda Starr”, which she did for fifteen years.

Speaking of Catholicism, if you’re a Silver Age fanboy you know that Joe inked Jack Kirby’s pencil art for Fantastic Four #5, the story that introduced the quartet’s most infamous villain, Doctor Doom. Get out a reprint FF #6 (I assume if you have an original comic it’s sealed) and take a look at page #2. Most of that single page was inked by Joe, but everything else in the book was inked by Dick Ayers. Why? Because Treasure Chest, a publisher of comic books that were distributed to Catholic parochial schools, made Joe an offer he couldn’t refuse, to illustrate the life story of Pope John XXIII.


The story was released in serial form and now, for the first time, all of the installments are being collected in a single volume, scanned from the original art in Joe’s archives. This project, which means so much to Joe, is thanks to the hard work of Mr. James Tournas, otherwise known as Jimmy T., who ran a successful Kickstarter project to get the money together. See that $1500 pledge down on the right? I wonder who contributed that princely sum? ;-) There are 25 paperback artist’s proofs that were printed locally in Boston, and I’m looking at one of them right now. The final print run of 500 10″x15″ hardcover copies should arrive on (literally) a slow boat from China the first week of December.

Joe also has all of his original art to the story of the Beatles, authorized by Brian Epstein’s NEMS Enterprises and published in 1964 by Dell Comics.


It would have been great if a similar deluxe hardcover edition of the Beatles book were done, but a certain someone, through Apple Records, nixed it. “Saint” Paul said no, and so the decision was made for the Pope John book. A higher power than the Beatles must have been at work!