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!
A few weeks back I learned that my friends Abi and Harrison Craig were going to be leaving Los Angeles with their family and heading to Kentucky. Harrison has accepted a job working on the Ark Encounter, a Bible-based theme park that is currently in the planning stages. It is being put together by Answers in Genesis, the people known for the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.
You may remember Answers in Genesis here on my blog. Last year I told you about an illustration assignment I did for their publication, Answers Magazine(click HERE to see it again). In fact, I believe it was just recently republished in their special 5th anniversary issue.
Well, Harrison wanted a drawing of his family to commemorate this big change in their lives. His kids have only known California, and they are excited about this grand new adventure that they set out on this week. I thought I’d share with you the drawing in it’s three stages: rough sketch, final inked art, and the full-color final piece.
Working from photographs, I worked out the rough drawing with blue pencil on tracing paper. It went through a couple of alterations as per Harrison’s request, then I made a few spacing and size changes with Photoshop on the computer.
Click on image for a slight enlargement.
You may notice some details like Noah’s ark on the pennant since they are going to work on the Ark Encounter. And if you noticed a chicken in the van, that’s because while the Craigs lived here in L.A., they had a chicken coop providing them with plenty of fresh eggs daily. Originally I had thought to add some chickens chasing the van, but then the idea of leaving palms for pines came to me and seemed like a better idea. So, one chicken made it into the van, although I don’t believe the same could be said about the real life chickens. Well, leastwise not sitting next to the bellies of those boys. (cough cough)
The next step was to print the blue lines out on a piece of 14×11 paper, and using a piece of graphite paper (similar to carbon paper but using pencil lead instead) under the print, I traced the drawing down onto a nice clean sheet of Bristol board. It was on this piece of Bristol that I hand-inked the art using a Pentel brush pen (a most excellent tool I don’t know how I ever lived without) and Prismacolor black tech pens.
Click on image for a slight enlargement.
Then, it was time to color. Scanning the art into the computer, the color was added in Photoshop. I chose to keep things fairly flat, only really shading the skin tones of the people. The grass and van have some gradations, but by focusing the shading on the skin tones, it draws attention to the characters rather than to the environment.
Click on image for a slight enlargement.
Well, there you have it. The A to Cs of a cartoony caricature drawing of one swell family.
For those of you just joining the blog this week, I have been showing you some art each day that I submitted to Disney back in 2002 in an attempt to get on Gnomeo & Juliet as a development artist. I had been working for the Feature Animation division for five years at that point as an in-house instructor of creative computer programs. My background had been as a children’s book illustrator prior to working for them, so I was itchy to get involved once again in creating art.
Today I share with you TWO gag pieces that were more verbal in nature than the others. The first was a quickie just to get out a little Fantasia joke…
Sometimes lawns have ceramic mushrooms decorating them as well. Fantasia's Hop-Low character makes a cameo in this "Made In China" joke.
….and the second piece plays on the fact that these gnomes are also breakable with Grandpa referencing some dog attack from his past…
Talk about a trick knee!
Just in case you can’t read it, the girl is saying, “Mommy! Mommy! We can hear the ocean in Grandpa’s knee!” Grandpa adds, “That there is from the Great Canine Calamity of ’39.”
Come back again tomorrow to see another Gnomeo piece!
We all have them in our lives – a person who is there just to suck every last bit of childlike wonder we have inside. They say things like “You wouldn’t eat THAT would you?” just as you are about to take a bite. “Those haven’t been in style since MC Hammer!” as you are walking around in your favorite pants. Or “You can’t drive BACKWARDS on the freeway!” when you clearly are navigating your vehicle quite well on your own.
All I have to say is, don’t let them bring you down!
There's always a killjoy in every sewer, isn't there? Sheesh.