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Cartoonist and storyboard artist Sherm Cohen has updated his fantastic How to Draw Cartoons Facebook page with scans of the rare 1939 book Popeye’s How to Draw Cartoons. The book has some solid common sense advice, including this bit which I liked: “Copy other characters you enjoy following in your newspaper. Don’t worry if they don’t look exactly like them. The important thing is—are you remembering to exaggerate your impression of the character you have in mind?” See the entire book HERE.
Apparently, someone on ebay is selling brand new cylinder records – I assume for those who still have working Edison Amberola phonograph machines. But the big news is that this particular cylinder features a 1931 recording of Bill Murray with Al Dollar & His Ten Cent Band performing a song called Popeye the Sailor Man. This is not the cartoon theme song, but its a fun little ditty performed by Murray, an occasional voice in classic Max Fleischer cartoons (often as Bimbo). So to heck with CDs and mp3 downloads, enjoy this recording as it was never meant to be heard – on cylinder:
Apparently, Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Sym-bionic Titan) impressed Sony Pictures Animation with his directing on Hotel Transylvania. Varietyreported on Monday afternoon that Sony has enlisted him again to direct a 3D CG Popeye feature. Avi and Ari Arad will produce under their Arad Productions banner with Sony.
(Photo of Popeye and Olive Oyl at the Mermaid parade on Coney Island via Lev Radin/Shutterstock)
Blow me down! It looks like Popeye may be on his way back to the big screen, and with animation master Genndy Tartakovsky at the helm:Avi and Ari Arad are producing it for Sony Animation from a script by David Ronn and Jay Scherick.
Tartakovsky’s HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA is soon to open, his first animated feature after his triumphs on DEXTER’S LABORATORY, SAMURAI JACK and CLONE WARS. We’ve been looking forward to getting Tartakovsky’s big screen vision finally on the big screen for a while: he was once attached to an aborted take on Astro Boy. A full length Samurai Jack movie is also in the works.
As for the pugnacious, spinach fueled Popeye, since debuting in E.C. Segar’s triumphant THIMBLE THEATER comic strip (now available in gorgeous hardcovers from Fantagraphics), he went on to become the star of a Fleischer Bros. animation, and a nearly constant cartoon star for nearly 70 years, with recent appearances in South Park and Family Guy. Of course there’s also the extremely goofy but harmless Robert Altman Popeye musical film.
Apropos of absolutely nothing apart from it just made me laugh, cackle and cough, here are some preview pages for issue #4 of IDW’s Popeye miniseries. Released next Wednesday, the creative team for this are Roger Langridge, Tom Neely, Luke McDonnell,and Vince Musacchia.
I spotted this poster on the wall during a visit to Sony Animation last week:
With Hotel Transylvannia number #1 at the US box office, I’m particularly delighted that Genndy Tartakovsky’s next project will be Popeye for Sony Animation and producers Avi and Ari Arad. No one (not even my hero, Gene Deitch) has been able to top the classic Fleischer version of this iconic comic strip hero. I’m betting that Genndy has the vision to be true to the characters comic strip and cartoon roots, yet bring him up to date for modern audiences with all the appeal and action-packed humor the character is famous for.
After that? Samurai Jack? Something new? Who knows? But I trust this guy – and wish him all the luck in the world. Here’s a great little half-hour interview he recently did with Movie City News:
I’m a sucker for ANY Popeye anything, especially if animated to Jack Mercer’s voice. Here’s one of his later TV spots, his voice so identified with the sailor, the character hardly appears (though its a clever way to save money for animation). Note the comic strip “Brutus” twisting Popeye into a knot at the end:
I love Popeye cartoons as much as the next guy – maybe a little more than the next guy – but even I can’t afford the new clothing line now on sale at Bloomingdale’s. The store is promoting its new King Features Collection
featuring designs using Popeye, Beetle Bailey, The Phantom and Hagar the Horrible at its stores this week. Popeye T-Shirts for $40 bucks, a pair of socks (left) is $45 and a Popeye scarf for $145? Blow that down! The department store even took out full page ads in major newspapers yesterday to hype its annual “New York Nights” event, taking place tonight at 6pm in stores in New York (including the Men’s Store on 59th street and Third Avenue in Manhattan) and Los Angeles (in Sherman Oaks, Santa Monica, and at The Beverly Center). “Attendees are invited from 6 to 8 p.m. to see the merchandise, which includes everything from T-shirts and overcoats to sneakers and toys. All of the merch will be available for purchase through the holiday season.” All of it way overpriced! In this economy, I’ll wait for it to trickle down to Target.
King Features has collaborated with rock band Wilco on a comic strip/music video tie-in with Popeye. The sailorman and his crew crossed over in last Sunday’s comic strip (1/22/12 by Frank Caruso and Ned Sonntag) and joined the group in this animated music video (embed below), directed by urban fashion designer Darren Romanelli and animated in Singapore by Peach Blossom Media.
Much loved indie band Wilco is back with a new video—their first in 12 years—which doubles as a new Popeye cartoon. Directed by Darren Romanelli and art directed by Frank Caruso, the video recalls the classic Fleischer Bros. animation.
The band has a rather elaborate website for the video, with comics (by Caruso and Ned Sontagg), spinach and more. Plus, animated Nels Cline—you cannot lose.
You gotta be careful in here, kid. You may be wearin’ your stripes, but you ain’t earned your stripes. Go it alone and you’ll make mistakes. You’ll hitch yourself to the wrong post, get saddled up and sold to the highest bidder. Stick by me and you might stand half a chance, but you’re gonna hafta listen.
Oh, that’d be on Tuesdays. Not a bad spread. Pickles. Onions. Standard. You’ll learn the menu. More important is this here yard. How you carry yourself. Who you trust. Take that fella at the bench press for example, the one with the dark beard and forearms thick as your chest. Name’s Bluto. Doin’ a dime for kidnappin’ a woman. That’s right, a sailor man’s wife. Threw her over his shoulder and took her down to the docks. Oh, he’ll rough you up right, but keep a can of spinach in your hip pocket and he’ll think twice. I don’t understand the science, but that there is the formula. Spinach.
Agreed, kid. Coupla sizzlin’ patties will beat a can o’ the green any yesterday or tomorrow, but that’s not what we’re talkin’. We’re talkin’ today and today is about the disco and the disco is about stayin’ alive. Have a look here. Skinny character sporting the lime suit? Question mark on his chest? That don’t mean he’s the information booth. No sir. Say a word to that crafty SOB and he’ll come at you like the Sphinx, all riddles ‘n giggles. Next thing you know you’ll be chummin’ around with a psycho circus clown and runnin’ from some pointy-eared, gravelly voiced vigilante. No. Thank. You. Best to steer clear of that riddler entirely.
Beats me! I wouldn’t know if his riddles are about ground beef or ground cinnamon for that matter, because I don’t talk to the man! Aren’t you listenin’? Better be. Your eyes ain’t gonna tell you what my twenty-seven years behind this barbed wire knows to be true. Another example. You probably look over at that strung-out orange beaky guy and think, “well that’s just some ol’ cuckoo junkie.” You’d be right about that. But that ol’ cuckoo junkie goes by the name of Sonny, and Sonny knows where to score the sweet stuff, if you catch my meaning. Sonny is just cuckoo for it, smuggles it past the guards in cereal boxes. You want a taste, that’s your bird.
I guess he could get you some, but why not wait till Tuesday? Like I said, they fire up that flame-broiler on Tuesdays. Sonny’s got no time to bother with no fast-food. Wisen up, boy, or you’ll end up runnin’ with them Hanna Barberas and let me tell you, that gang’s no Laff-a-Lympics. Sure, some of them hustlas may talk a soft game, soundin’ like Casey Casem or Paul Lynde, but they will be quick to shank a new fish if they even suspect you’re conspirin’ with the ascotted and far-sighted and snack-gobblin’ brand o’ meddlin’ teenagers. Dig? Of course you don’t. I’m not spellin’ it out in ketchup. These are the type of gangstas that dress as ghosts and swamp thangs and go hauntin’ just so they can shut down orphanages! That enough to scare you? Oh and don’t get me started on the Orphans! That’s another gang. A more Dickensian band of bandits you have not seen. If it ain’t your porridge they’re after, it’s your inheritance. You work the chimney sweep detail and you’ll be pits-deep in those mangy lads, singing show-tunes while they pick your pocket. You’re better off
It wouldn’t be a book round-up without one or two from Craig Yoe. His latest compilation is this remarkable 256 page hardcover collecting much of Frank Frazetta’s (Fire & Ice) funny animal comic art of the 1940s. These comics, which emulate Hollywood cartoons of the era with characters like “Hucky Duck” and “Bruno Bear”, show that Frazetta was equally skilled at exaggerated cartoon line art as he was with his later realistic fantasy paintings. The book devotes over 70 pages to these rare “animated” stories, over 60 pages to his remarkable text-page header illustrations (for such tales as Percy The Pufferfish and Abbott the Rabbit), and another 70 to humorous stories drawn in Frazetta’s more realistic style. Yoe recounts Frazetta’s earlier years in his lavishly illustrated (with rare art) opening essay, and Ralph Bakshi contributes his memories in a sincere Introduction. All in all, its a lot of fun!
If you’ve ever admired the art or illustrations of cartoonist Otto Soglow, this book is a must-have. Over 400 pages filled with Little King Sunday strips, including a sampling of his associated characters The Ambassador and Sentinel Louie, with a thorough biographical introduction by Ohio State University comics historian Jared Gardner that includes numerous rare Soglow images, including animation art, advertising pieces and commercial illustrations. A beautiful package, a wonderful collection.
If you collect any and all things related to classic E.C.’s original Mad comics – here is the missing link! This 192-page trade paperback is the last word on the bakers dozen of Mad knock-offs produced by Marvel (Atlas), Charlton, St. John, Harvey Comics and others in 1953-54 pre-comics code era. Editor John Benson compiles the best of these humor comics – with art by Jack Kirby, Norman Maurer, Howard Nostrand, Dan DeCarlo and others – and writes an informative and lavishly illustrated essay on the history of these books and their creators. Hilarious fun, The Sincerest Form of Parody is sincerely great.
My first submission for the Autumn Society's Golden Age Show. The show will feature heroes from the golden age of comics and animation, illustrated by the society's members. I've always been a huge Popeye fan since my grandfather was also a sailor. So growing up I always related both to each other.
Jersey Shore goes global (airing in more than 30 countries this week. Will the "Shore" lifestyle [aka "guido" stereotypes] translate? Also MTV and VH1 ink a deal with Foursquare encouraging fans to join and "friend" their favorite cast member, the... Read the rest of this post
I was hanging out with my friends Will Ryan and Tom Knott this morning and we dropped into one of my favorite places on Melrose Avenue, Off The Wall Antiques. Amongst the coolness on display there was this large object hanging from the ceiling, a Popeye Painted Wood Carousel Figure. Kids were meant to ride on his back. The proprietor told us this was part of a set with Felix The Cat and a Mickey Mouse-like figure. It’s a very cool piece, though it’s priced way above my station… Check the Off The Wall Antiques site for more photos taken at other angles. May the right Popeye collector buy it!
The killer ebay find of the week: a rare 1939 publicity photo (click thumbnail below left to enlarge) of voice actors Jack Mercer (Popeye) and Margie Hines (Olive Oyl), announcing their marraige in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The caption on back (below right) says the couple ate a “wedding breakfast of Spinach!”
The caption also indicates this particular photo was taken “at the Fleischer Studio in Long Island City”, and the couple were “ready to begin work on a new release”. I assume the Fleischer’s used a Paramount sound stage in Long Island City to record tracks… but if that’s so, why didn’t Mae Questel continue doing Olive during the Miami years?
If you’re interested and got the dough, click here. The bidding starts at $99. and the auction closes at 5:48pm. Good luck!
Haven’t posted a book review in a while, and I’m pleased to report I have several new acquisitions that are well-worth knowing about.
First up, another great Craig Yoe IDW hard-cover comics compilation that I’d be raving about even if I didn’t write a brief introduction for it or have my picture in it. Popeye, The Great Comic Book Tales is a perfect companion to the excellent Segar Popeye volumes presently available. This book takes a look at the other great Popeye cartoonist, E.C. Segar’s successor, Bud Sagendorf. These are selected comic book stories from 1948 through 1957 and they are what I personally consider Popeye in his prime. This may be because I grew up reading this Popeye, so I have a particularly soft spot for Sagendorf’s version – which comes off as a combination of Segar, Fleischer, Famous Studios and a unique brand of lunacy that was Sagendorf’s own; the fact that he terrific cartoonist and hilarious storyteller only adds the fun. Stories include Popeye’s battles with Jetoe (“The Champeen Fighter of the Planet Marz!”), The Sea Hag and the “Misermites”; The time he ate “Shrink Weed” and washes with “Spinach Soap”… and years ahead of Seinfeld, Sagendorf places Popeye in a story about “Nothing”! As usual Yoe starts off with 15 pages of unique one-eye sailor man introductory matter which includes rare press material and photographs – and the book itself is a beautiful production, a pleasure to look at, hold and display. It’s really good – and has my highest endorsement. Get it today!
I am a huge fan of this year’s Oscar-winning short, The Lost Thing. Scholastic has just released Shaun Tan’s original short story from which the film was based on, along with two other tales illustrated by Tan (originally published separately in Australia between 1998 and 2001) in a wonderful new hardcover book. A girl finds a bright spot in a dark world; a boy leads a strange, lost creature home; and a group of peaceful creatures lose their home to cruel invaders. Three brilliantly visual fantasy tales, and a book that is itself a dazzling work of art. See for yourself – here’s a sample spread. The book is called Lost & Found and its a genuine winner.
A funny thing happened on TCM last night. A scheduled broadcast of Popeye The Sailor Meets Ali Baba and his Forty Theieves (1937) didn’t happen. An introduction discussing the racist aspects of the Arab caricatures in the cartoon preceded the scheduled showing with TCM host Robert Osborne and “Media Critic and Author” Dr. Jack Shaheen. “This cartoon probably did more to denigrate Arabs than any cartoon ever”, claimed Shaheen who, to be fair, went on to praise the Fleischer animation. “This one was particularly offensive in the manner in which Arabs are portrayed.”
Following this introduction (embed above) the channel ran 15 minutes of promotional filler, then a two-reel MGM Dogville comedy, Love Tails Of Morocco – which, despite its Middle Eastern title, had nothing to do with the Arab-based theme of the evening.
So what happend? Did TCM get cold feet and have second thoughts about the Popeye short? Did the Hearst Corporation request TCM pull the film? We don’t know – but here is the film, courtesy of You Tube, that didn’t run last night: