You’ve wandered into the topsy-turvy world of Tulgey Wood, the blog of writer and historian Jim Fanning. Tulgey Wood celebrates artistry and creativity (and sometimes just plain madness): movies, animation, TV, books, comics—and of course Disney, lots and lots of true-blue, through-and-through Disney, including D23 and Disney twenty-three Magazine, and Sketches Magazine and the Walt Disney Collectors Society. Tulgey Wood is so fun, fascinating and full of frolicsome photos and facts, it’s scary. So wander through the wonder of it all, and enjoy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Turkeys 4 America and The Today Show

The Today Show, that long-running staple of NBC’s morning programming, usually presents a good Thanksgiving show (leading as it does into NBC’s coverage of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, hosted by the anchors of The Today Show) and this year’s program was no exception. One reason I enjoy Today’s Turkey Day edition is there’s plenty of coverage of folks helping out those in need. Out of that focus has grown what has become a wonderful tradition: Starting in 1999, Today has interviewed two remarkable children from Boston, MA, Dan and Betsy Nally, every year on Thanksgiving Day. In 1996, Dan and Betsy started a grassroots effort to feed the hungry when they heard on the TV news that the local food bank was short 5000 turkeys for Thanksgiving. Thanks to Today, we have watched these dedicated children grow up (Betsy is now a senior in high school and Dan is a sophomore at Harvard) as each year the siblings talk about their charitable efforts and how people from all over have joined in. The Nallys’ organization is Turkeys 4 America (it was originally called Turkeys R Us but I suspect the kids heard from the legal department of a certain toy store chain). If you want to find out more before we see this inspiring brother and sister next Thanksgiving on Today, you can visit their website.

The Song of Little Hiawatha

From the shores of Gitchee Gummee comes this charming sculpture set of that mighty big hunter, Little Hiawatha, and his bunny buddy. As we conclude Happy Hiawatha Month (otherwise known as November), I hope you’ve enjoyed a look at the many ways this young brave has been a small-but-mighty Disney star over the years, and I hope you like this delightful scene from the Walt Disney Classics Collection, capturing as it does all the appeal of Walt Disney’s classic Silly Symphony. For more information visit

A True Christmas Classic: The First Hallmark Hall of Fame

This Sunday, December 2, the 231st presentation of the Hallmark Hall of Fame will be broadcast on CBS, but (a wonderful website all about television history for which I sometimes write) has just made available an excellent, in-depth report on the inaugural Hall of Fame presentation, Amahl and the Night Visitors. Broadcast live on Christmas Eve 1951, Amahl was the first opera ever to be commissioned for television, and was shown annually for many years. As reported in this marvelously written and astonishingly detailed piece by Mitchell Hadley, Amahl and the Night Visitors tells the story of a lame shepherd boy who encounters three kings in search of a mysterious child. The beautiful and moving opera was composed by Gian Carlo Menotti who created the piece (the most performed opera in history as it is performed seasonally by groups both amateur and professional) after being inspired by the famous Hieronymus Bosch painting of the Magi in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (pictured below on the cover of the original cast album). Don’t miss this outstanding online article about the groundbreaking special that not only launched the long-running Hallmark Hall of Fame but also became TV’s first Christmas tradition. Be sure and read this wonderful piece sometime this December, as it makes for great seasonal—and historic—reading.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Little More Little Hiawatha

Here’s what everyone’s hankering for, another look at Little Hiawatha as he appeared in other media besides animation. The little Indian boy was featured in the Silly Symphonies Sunday comic page, charmingly written by Hubie Karp and drawn by Bob Grant (the artist of Disney's long-running Merry Menagerie daily comic panel), from November 10, 1940 through July 12, 1942, a nice run for the small but mighty star of Walt Disney’s 1937 Silly Symphony cartoon. (Click on the row of panels for a larger version.)

Island of the Misfit Aflac Duck

A very authentic and affectionate parody of the classic Rankin-Bass Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been produced for the Aflac insurance company, the one with the impatient duck who continually quacks (in the voice of Gilbert Gottfried) the name of Ben Affleck, uh, I mean the name of the insurance company. Word is that the TV commercial was created by Corky Quakenbush and that’s easy to believe—and not just because of Corky's last name. He was the producer of the famous Mad TV Rudolph parodies. You can see the Aflac commercial here.

Playing Cat and Mouse with Harvey Eisenberg

I mentioned the superb comic book (and animation) artist Harvey Eisenberg the other day so here’s an opportunity to actually read one of his comic stories. Animator John Kricfalusi posted a complete (or nearly complete) Tom and Jerry (and Tuffy) story on his fascinating blog. Stop by and enjoy the work of one of the greats of “funny animal” comic art.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

From The Pages of Sketches Magazine: Walt & Mickey

As promised, in celebration of Mickey’s birthday month of November, here’s another article I wrote about Mickey Mouse from a 1998 issue of Sketches, the Official Magazine of the Walt Disney Collectors Society. This article explores Walt’s deep connection with the Mouse who started it all. Sketches is available only to Members of the Walt Disney Collectors Society. For information about becoming a Society Member, go here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Here’s the wonderful 2002 poster by illustrator Rick Lovell for one of our best Thanksgiving traditions. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off the holiday season (according to Macy’s, at least) with the best Santa Claus around. Macy’s has a lot to live up to if only because of Edmund Gwenn’s Oscar-winning turn as Macy’s Kris Kringle in the classic film Miracle on 34th Street (1947), the parade portions of which were filmed at the previous year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The giant balloons are the highlight of the parade, which are a visual feast for lovers of comics and animation. Pictured here are some of my favorites.

As always (since 1955, anyhow), NBC had the official coverage leaving CBS to catch the parade as it just happens to pass their broadcast facility. The best thing to happen to CBS’s unimpressive coverage in years is Neil Patrick Harris. The Emmy-nominated breakout star of the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother provided color commentary along the parade route. In 2006 Neil proved his mettle by working the crowds, adlibbing brilliantly (interviewing a dog, for example) when very little was going down (except rain), all in the pouring rain. Mr. Harris single handedly rescued that rainy day and CBS’s damp (and limp) coverage. No surprise—ever since he played teenage surgeon Doogie Howser we knew he was a cut-up. (Hah! Comedy!) This year Neil again came through in much better weather, with sly humor combined with a sense of the absurd, as well as a genuine appreciation of the parade. Neil’s dry humor was at times somewhat risqué but he managed to keep it all family-friendly by keeping it between the lines. I’m sure CBS has already signed him up for next Thanksgiving. Neil Patrick Harris is really the only thing keeping the so-called CBS Thanksgiving Day Parade from being a turkey.

A Little More Hiawatha For November

That Silly Symphony star Little Hiawatha became a pretty big comic book star. Here’s one of his cuter comic covers, drawn by Harvey Eisenberg (the great comic artist perhaps best known for his work on the Tom and Jerry comic books) and published in December 1952. Be sure and check back over the next few days, as there will be more Hiawatha before the month is over.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Last Chance for Disney Adventures Magazine

If you see this November issue of Disney Adventures on the newsstand, you might want to grab it. Not only is November almost over but also Disney Adventures itself is definitely over. This is the last issue that will be published as Disney has, for some reason, decided to cancel the magazine. For many years Disney Adventures has been a successful publication. In fact, it has long been the most popular children’s magazine published. Why is Disney choosing to cancel this periodical? I’ll answer that rhetorical question with another one: who knows? Ironically the November 2007 issue marks the magazine's 17th year of publication, and the opening page shows a gallery of covers published since 1990. While you are searching for this final issue, please consider this: Sketches, the Official Magazine of the Walt Disney Collectors Society, is now the only Disney magazine being published. And remember, the only way to subscribe to Sketches is to be a Society Member. For more information go here. (CORRECTION: The redoubtable and indomitable Jeff Kurrti reminds me that both Disney Vacation Club and the Disneyland Annual Passport programs publish magazines for their members.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

75 Years of Yuletide Spectacle

This Christmas season, the Radio City Music Hall celebrates 75 years of its Christmas Spectacular this year, and The New York Times recently reported that the 2007 edition salutes the stage show’s rich and festive history with the help of longtime Radio City historian Diane Jaust, who mined 5,000 boxes of Music Hall photos, programs and other memorabilia to help capture the Spirit of Christmas Spectacular Past. For many, including those who have never even been able to attend the show in person, the Christmas Spectacular is a revered holiday tradition, and in a way that’s even more true for cinema aficionados. Once upon a time, the Radio City Music Hall was a major showcase for first-run films and to have a movie booked into “The Showplace of the Nation” was the height of prestige. For many of its 75 years the Christmas Spectacular accompanied a movie “On the Giant Screen!” Some of the classic films to play the Music Hall during the holidays include Babes on Broadway (1941), The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) and A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969). Charlie Brown was one of the most successful runs ever at the Music Hall, and by coincidence the film features a scene at Rockefeller Center, home to the Music Hall. Pictured here are the cover and a spread from the Radio City program, including details of “The Nativity” and drawings of the film’s stars by Charles M. Schulz. Disney films such as Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), Robin Hood (1973), Pete’s Dragon (1977) and (a most appropriate holiday choice) Babes in Toyland (1961) were also holiday attractions along with the Christmas Spectacular "On The Great Stage!" If you somehow can’t get to New York City for the 75th edition of the Christmas Spectacular, you can at least visit the official Radio City Music Hall website for a spectacular gallery of historic photos.

Hot Off the Press—A New Issue of Sketches Magazine

The latest issue of Sketches, the Official Magazine of the Walt Disney Collectors Society has been mailed to Society Members. The first issue of the magazine’s 16th year offers a profile of Johnny Depp, a look at the magic of Merlin and Madam Mim, and the behind-the-scenes story of two classic cartoons, Good Scouts (1938) and Goofy and Wilbur (1939). The cover showcases the just-announced 2008 Of Dreams & Magic Members-Only sculpture of Belle and the Enchanted Rose. Sketches is exclusively available to Members of the Walt Disney Collectors Society. As I create this post, we are at work on the next issue, scheduled to be mailed to Society Members in February, and you won’t want to miss it. Sketches is truly a Disney Magazine for everyone who loves Disney. Go here for information on joining “The Society That Brings Disney Magic Home.”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Post-Thanksgiving Tradition is Preserved

Last year word here in Tinsel Town was that the Hollywood Christmas Parade—an annual tradition since 1931— was to be discontinued because of mounting costs, and in fact the parade was officially canceled as of March. But a last ditch, last minute effort has saved the holiday pageant, and the newly renamed Hollywood Santa Parade will march down Hollywood Boulevard this year after all, as always on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which is of course tomorrow, November 25th. To read the full story (and see historic photos) from the Los Angeles Times, go here. There you will see a reference to the connection between the parade—which used to be known as the Santa Claus Lane Parade—and the famous holiday song, “Here Comes Santa Claus”. Singing cowboy Gene Autry was inspired to create the song while riding his horse Champion Jr. in the 1946 parade and heard the children excitedly shouting, “Here comes Santa Claus!” as they spotted St. Nick. And to paraphrase another Gene Autry Christmas hit, the resulting song went down in history. In fact, 2007 is the 60th anniversary of the "Here Comes Santa Claus" song's debut.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hey Kids! No School Tomorrow!

A little known footnote of the Disney theatrical roster, feature- or featurette-length compilations of cartoon shorts were a way to repackage the cartoons and satisfy the demand for Mickey and his pals. Thanksgiving weekend of course means four days of no school so it’s naturally prime time to pack movie theaters full of kiddies. In 1953, when this Thanksgiving cartoonarama were released, the Disney theatrical animated short was on its last legs and the following year Disney entered series television with a regular showcase for his animation. Cartoon compilations like this was another way to showcase classic cartoons while giving theatres the opportunity to tap into the matinee audience, which of course expanded past Saturday afternoon during the Thanksgiving school break. This particular poster offers its own pleasures with that wonderful art—definitely something to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving Day

Hope the preparations for Thanksgiving dinner are going better for you than they are for Donald Duck in this classic 1941 comic book cover for Walt Disney Comics and Stories, drawn by Disney Legend Al Taliaferro, the long-time artist of the Donald Duck newspaper comic strip. 66 years later Disney's flagship comic book is still being published. That's a publishing feat for which Disney appreciators can really give thanks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Munsters on 34th Street

It’s Thanksgiving and of course that means…The Munsters. Here’s the clan from 1313 Mockingbird Lane gathered in this photo with their fleet of kooky Munster kars, including the Munster Koach and the “Drag-u-la” souped-up dragster, both designed by cool-car maven George Barris. Check out this video (thanks to the excellent Check the Cool Wax blog) of Herman Munster and Grandpa from TV’s The Munsters in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from the mid-1960s, riding the Munster Koach (of which there are plenty of detailed close-ups). The Munsters are the focus of this Universal newsreel (The Munsters was a Universal production, get it?) but this vintage footage also features many glimpses of that big parade, including many of the pageant’s trademark giant balloons (including the goofy dragon balloon, Linus the Lionhearted and Donald Duck, making a turn on a very tight corner), parade-goers and Santa Claus. Note the narration is by Ed Herlihy, the narrator of the Universal newsreels, Jack Parr’s announcer on the post-Steve Allen/pre-Johnny Carson Tonight Show and (fitting in with our feasting theme), from 1947 through the early 1980s, the long-time voice of Kraft Foods, including the famous “recipe” TV commercials (“You’ll find all the recipes from tonight’s show in this week’s TV Guide.”).

Enchanted Disney Animation

Today the new Disney live-action/animated film Enchanted opens. It looks to be a good-natured parody of the Disney animated fairy tales with a good cast (the always excellent Amy Adams and Susan Sarandon, plus Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden). The director is Kevin Lima, the talented story artist, animator and director so one has reason to expect this film will be well done. Once it’s actually up on theater screens maybe Disney will stop running that terrible promo which claims that “75 years of Disney animation comes to life”. What was Disney animation before this film came along, dead? Every time Disney does some sort of adaptation of its classic animation (think the live-action version of 101 Dalmatians, not to mention 102 Dalmatians) it claims that “now” Disney animation comes to “life”. Such claims betray not only an ignorance of animation but also a dismissive indifference to the masterful films crafted by Walt and his collaborators as well as those created by present-day animators and animation artists (including Kevin Lima). It’s disturbing that Disney continues to discount the greatness that is its own precious heritage, the heritage without which Enchanted would not be possible.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

From The Pages of Sketches Magazine: It’s Minnie’s Birthday Too

Minnie Mouse is also celebrating the 79th anniversary of her debut as she too made her initial movie screen bow in the cartoon short Steamboat Willie on November 18, 1928. Here’s an article I wrote for Sketches, the Official Magazine of the Walt Disney Collectors Society. Published in the Winter 1998 issue, this article explores the career of Ms. Mouse through the years. If you’d like to receive Sketches in your mailbox four times a year, there’s only one way: You need to be a Member of the Walt Disney Collectors Society. Find out more here. In the meantime, move over, Mickey! It’s Minnie’s turn now.

Giving Thanks For The Muppets

You know what this blog needs? More Muppets! And just in time for Thanksgiving here’s one of that puppet troupe’s most charming print appearances. This Thanksgiving-themed photo by John Olson appeared on the November 1979 issue of The Saturday Evening Post as a gentle parody of the famous Norman Rockwell painting “Freedom From Want” originally printed in the pages of the Post in 1943. Hope this portrait of the Muppets “family” gives you a warm family feeling, whoever you will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day with.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

More About Bruce

Jeff Kurtti notified me that Milt Larsen and Joe Hoffman have put together a tribute page to our friend Bruce Gordon. The page (which is really many pages) includes terrific photos, an obit from the Los Angeles Times, a tribute from Jim Hill’s Disney news site and much more. As I reported here Bruce died suddenly earlier this month and needless to say we are all missing him dreadfully, and even as I type these words anything I say seems like an understatement. You’ll note Milt and Joe point out that Bruce was a self-styled curmudgeon but those who knew him well weren't fooled by his act. Bruce was the most giving of friends, generous with his valuable time and extraordinary expertise. Be sure and check out this wonderful tribute to a thoughtful, good-hearted and colorful Imagineer, author, designer, historian and friend. By the way I’m including this Splash Mountain poster in tribute to Bruce and just one of his many globe-spanning Disney Theme Park projects.

Happy Birthday, Mickey

79 years ago today, Mickey Mouse made his screen debut as the star of Steamboat Willie. On the occasion of Mickey’s 60th I wrote the cover story for Cartoon Quarterly, a magazine covering the world of animation and comics created and edited by animation historians Jim Korkis and John Cawley. At Jim’s suggestion I’m posting that article which in addition to covering Disney’s plans for the big 60th anniversary bash also took a look back at celebrations of the past.

Not surprisingly The Walt Disney Company tends to celebrate the major anniversaries of its Chairmouse of the Board in a splashy fashion. In 1998 we ran an article about Mickey in each issue of Sketches, the Official Magazine of the Walt Disney Collectors Society, published that year in honor of the Mouse’s 70th. Throughout the remainder of November I’ll run some of those articles as well as other Mickey-related mania. In the meantime I wonder what Disney will do for Mickey’s 80th in 2008?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Little Hiawatha’s Little Golden Book

Though Walt Disney’s Hiawatha didn’t inspire too much tie-in merchandise at the time the little brave’s Silly Symphony animated cartoon was released in 1937, he did go on to become a popular publications character. Here’s Hiawatha’s Little Golden Book from 1953. For some reason the artist is not credited but this cover is certainly cute in the finest Little Hiawatha tradition. Stop by this blog throughout November for lots more of Little Hiawatha.

The Artistic Flair of Mary Blair

I was unable to stop by the Cartoon Art Museum to see their exhibit of Mary Blair art while I was in the Bay Area but I hope to return and catch it soon. For the uninitiated, Mary Blair is the influential artist, designer and illustrator whose colorful, expressionistic art captured the imagination of Walt Disney. The exhibit, The Art and Flair of Mary Blair (presented through March 18, 2008) features her work for children’s books and advertising, as well as pre-production art she created for Disney animated films, including the pictured piece for Alice in Wonderland (which, you’ll notice, features Tulgey Wood, the madly confusing forest that’s this blog’s namesake and inspiration). You can find out more about the Blair exhibit (and see a photo of Mary plus some of her art) at the blog of curator Andrew Farago.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

From the Peanuts Gallery: Crybaby Boobie

One aspect of the Peanuts comic strip I absolutely love is the varied cast of sharply drawn (in personality as well as pen-and-ink) characters Charles M. Schulz introduced into his magnum opus. From the more obscure side of Schulz’s comic panel “stage” one of my favorites is the constantly complaining tennis player, Crybaby Boobie, introduced into the strip in 1978 at the height of Snoopy’s tennis mania. Even the name of this whiny Wimbledon wannabe makes me laugh, but the fact that Schulz drew her with a perpetually upturned nose and downturned open mouth is a priceless touch. Crybaby Boobie’s unsportsmanlike behavior gives even bad sports a bad name. Could it be that because Charlie Brown was such a “bad” loser, Schulz felt it was only good form to introduce a sore loser in the form of this hilariously histrionic athlete?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

More Hiawatha for November

Little Hiawatha was part of the Silly Symphony series of cartoons so it only seems appropriate the little brave made the cover of this 1955 Silly Symphonies "Giant" comic book. Of the other characters features only Bucky Bug came from an actual Silly Symphony, Bugs in Love (or at least Bucky was inspired by a character from that Silly... or was it the other way around?) Anyhow, Hiawatha finds himself in some mighty big company on this cover drawn by Paul Murry.

Snoopy TV

Now that Halloween has come (and gone) it's truly the season for Peanuts on TV. We had It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and soon there will be A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, followed by the ultra-classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. Perhaps prophetically, Charles M. Schulz drew a TV-themed cover for this 1958 comic book. Do you suppose Charlie Brown and Snoopy are watching It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Peanuts Lives

Today I visited the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California. For those of you who know of my love for the Peanuts comic strip and my admiration for Mr. Schulz, you know this visit was a wonderful experience for me, as it would be for any one who values Peanuts, art and the comic strip medium. The Schulz Museum is a world-class facility and has much to offer, certainly more than can be experienced in one visit. In the days ahead I plan on sharing with you some of the sights I saw and the information I enjoyed at this beautiful museum.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bruce Gordon

I'm sorry to report my friend Bruce Gordon died suddenly on November 6. An Imagineer, Disney author and historian, skilled designer, popular speaker and a key member of the Walt Disney Family Museum team, Bruce was a giving friend, always happy to share his knowledge and technical expertise. I never felt more complimented or honored than when Bruce would say to me, “You’re one of the good ones.” He wrote, designed and contributed to many Disney books, including one of his best (pictured here), The Art of Disneyland. I posted about the forthcoming Imagineering book written by Jeff Kurtti and designed by Bruce here. As Bruce was a longtime Imagineer this much-anticipated volume will serve as a fitting tribute to him. Bruce, you were one of the good ones. For that and a million other reasons you will be missed.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Follow This Good Scout into 2008

The Walt Disney Collectors Society has just revealed a closely guarded secret: The 2008 Membership Gift Sculpture. It’s Donald Duck, in his first appearance as a Collectors Society Gift Sculpture, merrily marching his way straight out of Walt Disney’s classic Oscar-nominated cartoon, Good Scouts. Join the Walt Disney Collectors Society for 2008 and this good scout will be yours free (with paid membership). Donald’s going to be marching in place until January 1, 2008, however—he’s not available until the new Society Membership year of 2008 starts. There’s still time to join the Walt Disney Collectors Society (your Membership includes a subscription to Sketches Magazine) for 2007—and you get a full year of Society Benefits as long as you join by December 31, 2007. For more details go here.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Masked Avenger Studios

In my last post I mentioned Ruben Procopio, illustrator, Disney animator and sculptor for the Walt Disney Classics Collection and many other lines. Visit Ruben’s blog to see photos from his recent European signing tour for the Classics Collection, and for art, news and background on his many exciting projects. If you love comics and animation, adventure and fun, you’ll love Ruben’s work!

The Light Will Overcome the Darkness

Yesterday, October 31st, was All Hallows Eve, making today, November 1st, All Hallows Day or All Saints Day. In Fantasia, Walt Disney paired “A Night On Bald Mountain” with “Ave Maria” to make a powerful visual-and-musical statement regarding goodness overcoming evil. As seen here, the Walt Disney Classics Collection presents a magnificently malevolent sculpture of Chernabog, the personification of evil. This Numbered Limited Edition of 1000 was sculpted by Ruben Procopio, who has a website you can visit here.

Happy Hiawatha Month!

To help celebrate Thanksgiving (November 22 this year), I’ll be posting this month about Walt Disney’s delightful character Little Hiawatha. Introduced in the charming 1937 Silly Symphony, this little boy “brave” never appeared in another film, but Hiawatha was too intriguing and adorable for Disney to allow him to simply fade away. This is the original theatrical poster on which the cartoon is incorrectly titled Hiawatha. Stop by this blog throughout November for lots more of Little Hiawatha.