One of my artistic heroes is the inimitable Jack Davis. Oh, many have tried to copy him artistically, but no one can come close to the master both artistically AND personally. While Jack’s art style is an island unto itself, his easy-going Southern gentleman personality sparkles as a rarity amongst cartoonists. When you first meet him you just want to be his friend instantly. That moment for me came in 1997 when I first met Jack at a Reuben Awards hosted by the National Cartoonists Society at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.
Many years have past since then, and I am privileged that our first handshake turned into an actual friendship. Back in 2006 when I was president of the Comic Art Professional Society (CAPS), we created an award called The Sergio (designed and named after Sergio Aragonès) to be given annually to a cartoonist whose body of work the cartooning community feels is invaluable and inspiring. Our very first recipient had to be no one other than Jack.
Today happens to be Jack Davis’ 89th birthday, yet somehow his work remains as youthful as the day he started. He is STILL showing us how it is done.
The art I share with you today was my tribute to Jack that appeared in the program book from that Sergio Award banquet. Many cartoonists created little pieces for Jack who not only took home a nice statue, but also a nice portfolio of all the original tribute art.
As a die hard Southerner, it has always been nice that Jack has overlooked the fact that I am a Yankee...unless he actually never realized that.
So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jack Davis! And if you don’t know the work of this great man from MAD Magazine, movie poster illustration, TIME Magazine covers, TV Guide covers, books, advertising art, Wacky Packages, U.S. postage stamps, and just about anything else you can think of, please do yourself a favor and Google his name!
Neighbors. We all have them: big neighbors, little neighbors, happy neighbors, gardening neighbors, elderly neighbors – even crazy cat lady neighbors. The one type of neighbor that many people could say was perhaps the most annoying, the most insanity inducing, the most unbelievably invasive, and the most downright selfish is the NOISY NEIGHBOR!
Noisy neighbors can look just like you and me. They actually seem normal when observed in public. They are livin’ the dream in their SUV like 99.7% of America, they take their kids to school, then to soccer practice, and enjoy time together at restaurants and shopping malls. In fact, they might look just like MY neighbors.
Meet my neighbors who could look just like YOUR neighbors.
However, underneath those quintessential gee whiz exteriors lie the hearts of beasts so inhumane and insensitive to their surroundings, that they look down with pleasure from their worldly perch to derisively sneer at the little people below them. I speak as one of those little people literally from below who has grown weary of the derision over the past year.
The creatures who live above me have far and away been the noisiest neighbors ever to occupy that apartment in the sixteen years this has been my home. From the first day they moved in, it has been an incessant stream of late night hammering, cabinet crashing, chairs scraping, toilet seat smashing, foot stomping, running, jumping, music playing so loud that lyrics can be heard, somersaulting, bass thumping, doors slamming, and I’m pretty sure buffalo herding. I’ve thought about giving them a “Noisiest Neighbor” trophy, but the above descriptive inscription would cost too much to engrave since the trophy shop charges per letter.
I'm convinced that my neighbors' front door is a mystical portal that, when entered, returns their public personas into these more natural forms.
You can always tell when the husband gets home because you can trace exactly where he walks by the sure-footed thuds of what must be steel-toed military boots that are weighted down further with bags of coins tied around his ankles. Their young daughter of possibly seven years old has apparently not yet learned to walk because one can only hear her run wherever she goes in that confined 800 square foot space. (I think she may be training for the summer olympics gymnastics team.) Even when they go out, their cat tears around the joint as if forever teased by a never ceasing laser pointer. The only one who is usually quiet is the wife, unless they are either fighting or making up.
I know what you are thinking. “Boy this guy is super sensitive to noise.” No. I’ve had my share of interesting neighbors. I’ve lived through the screaming Koreans, the drug dealer, the weekend partiers, the smelly pot smokers, a family of four with two little kids who were VERY well behaved and considerate, and even a sweet couple whose lives were forever altered when the husband passed away from cancer in the bedroom above mine, but NEVER before have I had neighbors that awaken me DAILY at any hour of the night with just a foot-stomping and toilet-seat-slamming trip to the bathroom.
Despite the one year plus of frustration that rains from above, something positive has come from the ordeal – three new Monster Month monsters! “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17), right? But perhaps I’ve just taken that out of context a smidge.
Sure it's funny now, but only when you ignore the fact that the noise is real.
Come back again to see what will be freaky on Friday!
Back in 2005 I was thrilled to be asked to come on board a new show for Disney called Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I had doodled and painted the mouse just for fun for many years, even subtly sneaking him into the background of boring still life paintings that were required in college. To finally have an opportunity to work on the mouse and his pals every day as a part of my career was a privilege indeed. I put my all into the first two of Mickey‘s five seasons before moving on to other projects.
When I first walked into the party, I thought this was one of the Clubhouse toys, but it was actually a CAKE!
Well, now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company. While the last of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse‘s new episodes are being finished up, production on Clubhouse is ending. Last Wednesday the Disney Channel threw a nice party for those of us that were a part of re-introducing Mickey to a new generation.
However, Mickey is NOT going away! Mickey Mouse Clubhouse will continue to air for some time, as well as new Mickey Mouse short cartoons that are being made in a retro style for the Disney Channel, and I hear rumblings that Disney Feature Animation may be making a big screen Mickey short, too.
For now though, I thought I’d share some pictures with you of the people who were responsible for bringing all that joy to your kids. Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog!
Disney Channel executive Nancy Kanter thanking the troops for a job well done in bringing Mickey back into the consciousness as an entertainer and paving the way for pre-school shows at Disney.
Here I am with Kelly Ward (Putzie from "Grease" who directed the voices for our show and wrote a few episodes) and the great line producer Bradley Bowlen.
Even Mickey and Minnie dropped by for the festivities. (Minnie gave me a smooch when Mickey wasn't looking. I have that affect on large rodents.)
Series music composer Mike Himelstein and director Sherie Pollack have a discussion in the foreground while Disney Channel's Emily Hart, story editor and producer Mark Seidenberg and executive producer Rob LaDuca get ready to be filmed for a little flipbook.
There were two really neat gifts that they gave us at the party, the first were those baseball caps. Stitched onto the back of them in small lettering was “Meeska, Mooska, Mickey Mouse!” which is always said on the show to make the Clubhouse appear. The second cool thing was the custom flipbooks! You stood in front of the white screen seen in the picture above, and they film you for seven seconds. They then instantly printed out little flipbooks of you with a special Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cover on them. It was a really great idea for an animation party!
Writer Tom Hart, story editor and producer Mark Seidenberg, composer Mike Himelstein, and writer Brian Swenlin all looking at Mark's newly minted personal flip book.
Me with Sy Thomas who was really the art director of the series, and one swell guy. Our cubicles were next to each other when I was on the show.
Did I mention it was a bowling party? The Disney Channel rented out an old 8-lane alley in Montrose, CA naturally called Montrose Bowl. The alley looks like it is still in the 1950s, and is a GREAT place for parties of a moderate size! This is where we had our first crew wrap party at the end of season 1!
Bradley Bowlen bowlin'.
Bill Farmer, the voice of Pluto and Goofy, as he gets ready to throw down during a game with me. Bill must have had five or six strikes during our game.
The very talented layout artist (designer of backgrounds) and amazing photographer David Beall who now works on "Family Guy".
The lovely Carmen Cano, one of the coordinators on "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse."
Here with editor Reid Kramer, and executive producer Rob LaDuca who I just found out was an effects artist on "Return of the Jedi" when I recently revisited the film!
Parting shot with the affable and extremely talented voice artist Bill Farmer.
"It's the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! Come inside, it's fun inside!" Let me just say that the song don't lie.
So there you have it, a few shots of some of the crew that brought Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to your television sets. It was a joy to work on, and I hope I have another chance to work with not only members of this crew again, but also with the Mouse himself.
Who is ready for tonight’s final presidential debate? I’ve listened to all the debates thus far and came away with one major observation – both sides have spent much of that airtime attempting to tear down each other without saying much of anything solid about what they can do in the next four years. It has been downright monstrous!
So, in the spirit of the Halloween season, I drew Barak Obama and Mitt Romney as they will likely appear tonight – as raging zombies.
And for those of you Monster Month fans of the past keeping track at home, this counts as the second monster drawing of the month! Hopefully next year I can return to the “one a day” principle.
I wanted to say a few words about the great Stan Freberg today. Do you know who he is? He has been a gold record selling comedian, cartoon voice actor, movie and television actor, radio show host, a puppeteer, an author and a pioneer of using humor in advertising. He even came up with the name “Grammy” for the recording industry’s highest award. And if you are in the Los Angeles area this weekend (August 4-5, 2012), you have a chance to shake his hand and get an autograph. (DETAILS HERE!)
Stan Freberg as he looked in the 1950s during his Capitol Records comedy days.
Stan Freberg got his start in the entertainment business as a teenager. He literally got off the bus in Hollywood and immediately landed a job doing voices for the classic Warner Bros. cartoons. That’s right, despite all the title cards saying Mel Blanc did all the voices, Stan was right there doing many voices as well along with folks like June Foray, Arthur Q. Bryan and others.
Perhaps Stan’s most iconic Warner Bros. character was Pete Puma, the mountain lion who Bugs Bunny tricked into getting many lumps pounded into his head in several cartoons. Stan also did the hilarious Junyer Bear who was far too big for his diaper. He was also one half (the other half being Mel Blanc) of the mice Hubie & Bertie and half of the Goofy Gophers. The list of other characters is quite long including being the voice of a cat in the first Speedy Gonzales cartoon.
Pete Puma after asking Bugs Bunny for "A lotta lumps".
Junyer Bear who always loves his paw.
The one time Stan got screen credit was when he was the ONLY voice in an entire Warner Bros. cartoon. Friz Freleng directed Stan in The Three Little Bops that was a zoot suited version of the story of the Three Little Pigs. Stan sang the song and voiced every character.
The Three Little Bops
Stan did cartoon vocal work for other studios, too. Disney was one. He sang a song about the Jabberwocky for Alice In Wonderland that Walt ultimately cut from the movie, but he also memorably did the voice of the beaver in Lady and the Tramp. As you recall, the beaver helps get the muzzle off of Lady when she and Tramp come to see him at the zoo. Walt Disney himself directed Stan in that performance.
This beautiful pencil drawing of Stan Freberg's character of the beaver from Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" is on an 8x10 that Stan has available at public appearances.
Out of a pure indulgence of mine, I also want to mention Stan’s role as the Yawning Man in the 1958 movie Tom Thumb. Tom Thumb was a wonderful fantasy movie directed by the great George Pal who loved incorporating stop-motion animation into his movies. He did it the hard way, too. The characters faces would all be sculpted in wood. George had Stan play a small but memorable role of a toy that helps put Tom Thumb (played by Russ Tamblyn from West Side Story) to sleep. Here’s the scene for you to see. I dare you to not yawn during this wonderful vocal performance by Freberg:
I first learned of Stan’s name when I was in high school. I was working at a summer camp on an island in the Delaware River sharing a cabin with several other staff guys. My friend Kevin Wertz had a copy of Freberg’s The United States of America album on a cassette tape that we listened to over and over after our long day’s work. That just might be the funniest album by any comedian I have ever heard, and am thrilled to have my own signed copy on LP framed on the wall in my studio. Later I discovered that Stan had made MANY records, most of which were song parodies of the day. His cover of Harry Bellefonte’s Banana Boat Song put me in stitches. It is no surprise that “Weird” Al Yankovic counts Stan as one of his inspirations.
This is perhaps the best of Stan's hilarious records with Capitol Records.
Another guy inspired by Stan was the late Jim Henson. Stan, along with Daws Butler, were the guys who brought Bob Clampett’s creations of Beany & Cecil to life as a live television puppet show called Time For Beany. Stan was the original Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent as well as Dishonest John. Stan once told me how he showed a young Jim Henson how to make Kermit the Frog seem as though he was smiling.
Stan Freberg with puppets of Dishonest John and Cecil from "Time For Beany."
Freberg’s later career as an advertising man broke new ground for that industry. He broke away from the fake testimonial ads common in the day, and from the ads that made all kinds of promises to make ads that made people laugh. He was wildly successful and we have had funny ads ever since. One of the big accounts Stan had was doing all the TV and radio ads for the movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in which he also had a silent cameo (he’s the sheriff’s deputy sitting in the background of Andy Divine’s scenes), but he also did funny ads for Sunsweet Prunes, Geno’s Pizza and many others.
As you can tell, I love the guy. I could go on and on about his career, but you would be better served if you could find a copy of his out-of-print autobiography titled It Only Hurts When I Laugh so that you can read his funny tales about all of the above and more in his own words. If you come see Stan this weekend at The Hollywood Show in Burbank, you might be lucky enough to score one of the few copies he has left.
That’s right, so if you would like to come see Stan, shake his hand, and get an autograph he is appearing at the Burbank Marriott by the airport along with many other Hollywood celebrities. To see more details about The Hollywood Show and who will be there, CLICK HERE! Stan will have photos of Pete Puma, the beaver and other shots of himself for sale. He has a couple of books, and some record albums and CDs from his own collection that he will be selling, along with a few copies of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2 that has cartoons of Junyer Bear, Pete Puma and The Three Little Bops on it (Stan even provides voice commentary on that set)!
Oh, and if you drop by, be sure to wish Stan a Happy Birthday! He will be 86 years old on August 7!
This is a great casual shot of Capitol Records stars all together. You might recognize Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye, Nat "King" Cole, Dean Martin and Stan Freberg.
Since about 1997, I have belonged to a professional cartoonist organization called CAPS. It was founded back in the 70s by MAD Magazine stalwart Sergio Aragonès, writer Mark Evanier, and cartoonist Don Rico. I have really loved being a part of this group that meets monthly in Burbank, CA. We get together, have special speakers, and talk shop.
At one point, I started getting involved in the group, even serving as its president for a spell. One duty that I took on was as co-editor of the monthly newsletter. The other editor was Disney Legend Floyd Norman (check out a new book about Floyd HERE). Floyd and I would take turns every other month as it was quite a job putting together what often was a 32 page beast. If you couldn’t get members to write articles, the editor wrote them. If the members couldn’t spell, the editor had to spell. If there were no pictures submitted, the editor had to find some. If no one came through in drawing the cover, yep, the editor did it.
This piece is one of those times I had to come up with a cover idea, likely at the last minute. It was a fun challenge when the need arose, because deadlines would be so tight that it sometimes ended up being like cartoonist improv – whatever came to mind at that moment is what blorted out of your brush.
Boy, in THIS economy, some of those publications are probably funnier than the comic book!
I think this image came to mind because I was always seeing grown men be so business minded to where there was no sight of the kid inside. While the titans of industry would be reading The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, they probably started off reading comic books. Even cartoonists sometimes get caught up in the work of being a cartoonist that they can forget what that feeling of pure joy and escapism a few minutes with a comic book would bring when we were kids. Comic books are likely what got us interested in being cartoonists in the first place!
I came from a world where both business AND comics were an influence, and both came from my own father. Dad was a mortgage banker, but he grew up on comic books. When I was too young to read, he would sit there and read me tales of adventure from his old childhood comic books. His favorite character was Disney’s Uncle Scrooge of course. Scrooge, in stories by the great Carl Barks, became my favorite, too. But Dad didn’t stop there. Every day we would spread out the comics from the newspaper and he would read those to me as well. Peanuts, Nancy, Dennis the Menace, The Family Circus, and Beetle Bailey were all favorites.
I’m positive that my love for cartooning came from those reading sessions with Dad, and he taught me a lot about business, too. I’m glad, because the two go together. A cartoonist often finds himself working as a freelancer.
So, as life moves you forward, never forget the joy of the comics that you enjoyed as a kid. They’ll keep you young.
And to those of you who are cartoonists in the Los Angeles area, CLICK HERE to see what CAPS is all about. April’s monthly meeting just happens to be tonight where they will have a terrific panel (including Sergio Aragonès) talking about Will Eisner – the godfather of the graphic novel.
There’s nothing quite like an ocean breeze, don’t you think?
Can you call it "breaking wind" while it is still under water, or technically only when the bubbles reach the surface?
And with that little joke, ladies and gentlemen, we have truly reached THE END of this year’s MONSTER MONTH selections. Thank you so much for coming each day to see what has kept me amused at my drawing desk!
By the way, if you haven’t noticed, on the homepage of my blog there is a list of categories, one of which is MONSTERS! Feel free to come back anytime and click on that to have quick access to all the monsters on my blog, including the MONSTER MONTH drawings from years past!
Come back to visit regularly! I tend to post something new, monster or non-monster, at least once a week!
It’s one thing for a kid to set up a lemonade stand in her front yard to make a little money, and it’s another thing entirely when she gets some big competition that can swallow her whole. Capitalism at work. It’s a common American tale kind of like what happened to my uncle’s camera shop years ago when a Walmart moved into his little town.
Yes, the monster's tongue seems to do all the talking here. Haven't you seen a tongue wearing a sun-visor before? (Click on image to see it larger.)
By the way, today’s beast is really more of a sketch than anything. Because I drew the whole thing from scratch on a Cintiq tablet on the computer, I was able to quickly dab in some color here and there for your amusement.
NEXT WEEK will be my final full week of monster art for this year! Don’t miss a thing as we approach the grand finale on Halloween!