This is a beautiful book I just saw up for bid over at Heritage Auctions, published in 1940. I'm sure it's entirely wishful thinking on my part, but I have this crazy idea that the cover could maybe have been illustrated by . . . wait for it . . . Walt Kelly.
It's just the kind of parade of characters he would do; he worked on Fantasia, the film, especially that roly-poly god of the grape there in the middle; the cherubs and fauns are somewhat of his style—and what isn't in his style (such as the Fred Moore centaurette) may just have been his emulating the rest of the film's characters; and Kelly has made mention that he was an illustrator-for-hire before doing comic books. It was published by Simon and Shuster, Kelly's publisher for all his "three foot shelf of books".
Aaa, if you know differently, please let me know. It's really a nice cover, isn't it?
Over at The Pictorial Arts 'blog we are delving into concept sketches for Fantasia. It just so happens that was one of Kelly's gigs when he was at the Disney Studio. And it just so happens that here is some of his work, delineating the Bacchus character model from the Pastoral Symphony sequence.
It's interesting to read the notes on the model sheet.
Most Walt Kelly fans know that he spent some time, early in his career, working at the Disney Studio in California as a storyboarder and such. His efforts there are fairly rare to find, but this batch gives an idea as to what he was up to. These pieces are for Minnehaha, about 1940, a film that didn't reach completion. The forest encampment panorama, directly below, is almost Okefenokeean in scope and flavor. Some artists are just born to go in certain directions.
Above: for heaven's sake, click on it, download it, blow it up!
Kelly's Donald Duck stuff was almost always lively and quirky, very recognizable as his work.
Imagine that—if you kept the comics in just sort of good shape, a one dollar investment for a one year subscription, back in 1944, would be worth at least $5,000 today. Who knew?
Below, the subscription form, with art by Kelly.
And below, the story Kelly illustrated for this issue, breaking the pretense that these guys were anything but movie stars. Not a brilliant story, but awful fun, knowing the future of the guy who drew it.
Of course we're not forgetting that Walt Kelly was one of Walt Disney's best, producing many many comics and covers in the 40s.
In 1944 the Disney Studio re-released the feature film Snow White for the first time since it's December 1937 premiere, so to raise some liquid cash during the lean times of WWII.
Part of the studio's promotional campaign for the movie was to tie into its comic book demographics and much of the assignment came to Walt Kelly's drawing board, and aren't we glad it did.
The above scan is from a comic that my mother received as part of her subscription of 1944. I think it's kinda sweet that my mom was subscribing when she was 20 years old. You can see the subscription crease on the cover, as they were mailed uncovered and folded in half.
Below is a Heritage Auction scan of the original drawing. I think it's quite informative to see that the original ink drawing can be pretty sparse, knowing that the coloration will bring it to life.
Above is another scan from my mother's subscription that somehow didn't get creased, and below from Heritage Auctions.
It's not a Sunday without a Kelly Sunday strip, and I've tried to make sure we have one every week. This week I needed to have a stand alone (not part of any arc) and this little number fit the bill. Reading it you would think the following week would be a continuation, but no-sir, trust me, this IS a stand-alone.
Well, this'n doesn't really have anything to do with the Fort Mudge Memorial Dump arc, but I include it . . . well . . . because it's gotta go somewhere, so why not here where at least the date is successive to the others.
It was a rare event indeed that completely recognizable personages wandered into the swamp. There was a fear that the person might die or suffer a personal tragedy in the period between drawing the strip and publication, usually a period of 6 to 8 weeks in Kelly's case. A lot can happen during that time. But on this Sunday, Eugene McCarthy rode in on a horse of a different color, looking Quixotic and even like a vision from Alice's wonderland. He was a survivor of the New Hampshire primary.
In that Democratic primary McCarthy was challenging the incumbent President Johnson for the nomination, a long shot as seen by most. But the Vietnam War was taking its toll on Johnson—and McCarthy was running as a peace candidate (notice the doves of peace swarming around our fair knight). McCarthy DID survive, doing quite well, and was ready to move on.
Less than 2 weeks after this strip saw print, President Johnson stunningly announced that he would not seek the nomination. I remember exactly where I was, as a kid, when I listened to that live radio speech, when Johnson started out with that "Muh fellow Amuricans...Uh come to you tonight with a heavy heart..."
And the way was clear for McCarthy, oh but for that other shining knight, Bobby Kennedy.
Walt Kelly and Charles Schulz were mutual admirers, and Kelly many times honored Schulz and Peanuts in the Pogo strip. It may be that it's a total coincidence, but Kelly's Troop 6 7/8 looks a lot like Schulz's Beagle Scouts. I don't have the Peanuts books in my collection, so I don't know which came first, Schulz or Kelly—the bird or the egg, so to speak. I'm just guessing that Kelly was first.
Glühwürmchen means firefly, and was the main song from Lincke's 1902 operetta 'Lysistrata'. Kelly seemed to be in the mood to appropriate musical terms for the sheer fun of the their pronunciation. And for some reason misspelled Tempo di Gavotta.
Notice how the background colors give this Sunday some umph, some atmospheric solidity.
Children from that time are now grandparents of children living in a somewhat different world than theirs. Many of us have indeed grown and grown together, wishing the same for our children's children.
My name is Thom Buchanan.
I'm an artist and photographer.
People are my favorite subjects to portray in art and photos. My wife (and studio partner) has called that my 'people skills', as I've been passionately creating portrait studies for many years.
I refer to myself as a pictorialist, a combination of image-making and journalist. Images are my life.
I AM POSTING THESE IMAGES WITH THE NOTION THAT I AM DOING SO WITH A NON-PROFIT AND EDUCATIONAL 'FAIR USE' MOTIVE, REGARDING RESPECTIVE COPYRIGHTS. ANYONE DOWNLOADING AND USING THESE IMAGES FOR ANY COMMERCIAL USE WOULD BE IN VIOLATION OF RESPECTIVE COPYRIGHTS, AND DOES NOT HAVE MY APPROVAL FOR SUCH USE. PLEASE SHARE IN EDUCATION AND DON'T TRY TO MAKE MONEY FROM IT WITHOUT PROPER AUTHORITY.