Thursday, June 28, 2007

Andy Gump: More Than a Comic Strip

Digging into the depths of obscurity, we find nearly intangible traces of Andy Gump. A well-renowned strip character for years, the series was also an animated cartoon from 1920-1921. Released by Celebrated Players, the series was produced and animated by Wallace Carlson, already a seasoned veteran of The Bray Studios at that point. The cartoons were also animated by David Hand, later known for his Animaland cartoons.
Wait, you've never seen a Gumps cartoon? A home movie clip from a joy ride-related cartoon was included on the video companion to Donald Crafton's Before Mickey, and it seems that one clip has been the only circulating example since the series was last shown in theaters. Out of 55 cartoons produced, that is an atrocious yet common rap sheet for some silent cartoon series.
In the tradition of yours truly, I shall now treat you to some very rare frames from two other Gumps cartoons.

from Andy's Mother-in-Law Pays Him a Visit (1920)

from Andy's Cow (1921)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Grotesque-eries of a Terry Fan

Every now and again, I feel like drawing a little something. Inspired by a Paul Terry Aesop's Fable cartoon in my collection which I recently screened, I decided to draw what you see below.

Remember, it's inspired by the cartoon...I'm afraid the original is not as surreal (darn!) but in a way it is equally violent. I would call this a hybrid of a movie theater poster and glass slide, both or either of which would be generic or specific to a film and would have a blank area for the date of exhibition to be written.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Musings of the So-Called Animation Experts

There comes a time when great minds collide and tackle some of the world's biggest mysteries. Or attempt to, at least. You will now have a rare opportunity to have an insider view of one of these conversations, between myself and noted animation scholar Mike Matei. The topic at hand? (immediate pun to the right not intended) Gloves on cartoon characters.
Intellectual pondering it may be...or perhaps eccentric balderdash, that is for the discerning reader to decide.
Warning: Whilst dealing with the discussed topics at hand, we have decided to honor the beloved Will Hayes in censoring this communication for language and content.
MM (11:24:05 PM): well?
TS (2:24:29 PM): d'oh?
MM (11:25:02 PM): why does mickey mouse wear gloves? !
TS (2:25:58 PM): hmm
MM (11:26:04 PM): answer me mother superior
TS (2:26:25 PM): well, I have a complex theory if you want to hear
MM (11:26:32 PM): YES
TS (2:26:36 PM): okay
TS (2:27:54 PM): Well, mice are not humans, so they do impulsive things without thinking about it. So therefore, he must relieve himself and/or minnie a lot, so being born in his generation that's not cool. Wearing gloves, well, probably made him a little less dirty of a mouse.
TS (2:28:37 PM): impulsivity is also the reason he ATE minnie's head in my video cover.
TS (2:28:41 PM): see, it all makes sense
MM (11:28:59 PM): dude
MM (11:29:10 PM): this is why i love talking to you
MM (11:29:29 PM): because you come up with better answers then the real answer
TS (2:29:41 PM): you can bet on that
MM (11:30:57 PM): do you know the real answer?
TS (2:31:48 PM): I think that's a fact best kept secret from the public
MM (11:31:57 PM): ha
MM (11:32:04 PM): I do know the answer
MM (11:32:13 PM): and you will like it
TS (2:32:16 PM): do tell
MM (11:32:21 PM): and its not a joke
MM (11:32:25 PM): this is fact
TS (2:32:31 PM): spit it out
MM (11:32:42 PM): you know felix the cat?
TS (2:32:48 PM): heard of him
MM (11:32:59 PM): what color is he
TS (2:33:11 PM): er, african american
MM (11:33:18 PM): right
TS (2:33:20 PM): ok
MM (11:33:23 PM): he's black
TS (2:33:34 PM): go on
MM (11:33:56 PM): what happens when felix puts his hands in front of his body
MM (11:33:59 PM): answer
MM (11:34:04 PM): they become lost
MM (11:34:15 PM): because his hands are black
MM (11:34:22 PM): and his body is black
TS (2:34:31 PM): Makes sense...and looks better than drawing white outlines
MM (11:34:42 PM): and there tom
MM (11:34:47 PM): is your answer
MM (11:35:00 PM): that is your lesson for tonight!
TS (2:35:13 PM): the societally correct answer, that is. Old theories die hard (-:<
MM (11:35:30 PM): what does that mean
MM (11:35:41 PM): i want you to explain that statement
TS (2:35:46 PM): it's sophisticated balderdash
MM (11:35:53 PM): NO
MM (11:35:58 PM): you said it
MM (11:36:05 PM): now you explain it
MM (11:36:21 PM): before i end up annoying you about it
TS (2:36:25 PM): Well, think of it this way
TS (2:36:55 PM): All the big animation brass sit in a conference room together, cigarette smoke like a nuclear mushroom cloud...1924.
MM (11:37:06 PM): right
MM (11:37:09 PM): ....
MM (11:37:15 PM): and
TS (2:37:33 PM): Now, perhaps they foresee something like the Hayes code coming into effect, who knows when
TS (2:38:00 PM): the moral faction censoring films, that is
MM (11:38:19 PM): okay..
MM (11:38:25 PM): semi following you
TS (2:40:05 PM): What's to say these experts don't agree on something that might appease these heaven-goers...knowing the Catholic church for instance prohibits self-gratification, something animals do quite frequently, it may make sense to voluntarily censor the hands of animals. Just a theory they might not teach you in film school.
TS (2:41:08 PM): or it could pure balderdash. That is for the discerning enthusiast to decide.
MM (11:41:31 PM): did you come up with this idea?
TS (2:41:53 PM): Walt Disney: "Hey! We'll tell the animators we're putting gloves on the characters because it makes sense in animation terms...blah blah blah"
TS (2:42:00 PM): (I may have )
MM (11:42:38 PM): here is my question
MM (11:44:26 PM): how does putting gloves on the hands of animals censor anything? The character is justs walking down the street for example. Why does he need gloves?
TS (2:44:58 PM): It's like how people used to think a woman with uncovered legs was "dirty".
MM (11:45:10 PM): ahahaa
MM (11:45:24 PM): jesus savior christ
MM (11:45:41 PM): could you do me a HUGE favor
TS (2:46:08 PM): what might that be
MM (11:47:03 PM): PLEASE make a blog on everything we said here. it's just too funny.
And the rest, fellow bloggers, is animation history. Or is it?

Friday, June 1, 2007

TAD's Cat playing INDOOR SPORTS (1920)

Thomas A. Dorgan, a.k.a. TAD, was a San Francisco native who would be described by Jack Dempsey as "the greatest authority on boxing" in the early 20th century. What does a boxing authority have to do with cartoons? Well, TAD took up drawing for therapy after losing some fingers in a factory machine accident. This led to an eclectic cartooning career as the top sports artist for The New York Journal. In-between all this athletic hoopla, Dorgan was well-known for his Indoor Sports series and more importantly a feline character of his appropriately named TAD's Cat.

Like many cartoonists of the time, Dorgan had a run-in with the big screen. According to Denis Gifford's American Animated Films: The Silent Era, 1897-1924, Dorgan's work was featured in 4 animated films for the International Film Service from 1918-1920. The earlier 1918 films were directed by Bill Nolan and Walter Lantz(presumably 18 years old at the time).
This post features INDOOR SPORTS by TAD, animated by Paul D. Robinson and released February 21st, 1920 in International News, a weekly newsreel.
This cartoon is a satire on the typical married man, his wife's nagging and his loathsomeness for the mother-in-law.

Our man of interest has lost his collar button, seemingly something he does quite often.

Wait, I thought women were seen as foolish with money!

Uh-oh...MUST he go to the mother-in-law's?

A final gag...the eruptive nature of marriage.


Now, you may be scratching your head in enjoyment (or was it disbelief) and asking yourself, "Where can I find this forgotten masterpiece?" At my sales site, of course!
Nota bena: It shall move to a visually appealing .com soon...promise!
Just look for Rare Silent Cartoons Vol. 1 on the DVD page.

GAC's Mega-Fun UGLY PD Cover Contest...The Results Are In!

This year marked the 5th anniversary of GAC's UGLY PD COVER CONTEST, a fun event in which participants create their own ugly covers for mock Public Domain video and DVD collections.
Don't just sit there, go look at all the lovable entries!
Clicketh HERE

What a hoot. And what's best is I really enjoyed being one of this year's judges for the contest. Who better than me to judge PD shlock? :-D

Now for some fabulous omissions from the contest...namely, some covers created this year by yours truly.

Contest images courtesy GAC's Jon Cooke