Thursday, December 31, 2009
Since it's New Year's Eve it only seems appropriate to have a party, and not just any party but an office party as only that stylish TV series Mad Men could pull it off. This is the 2007 Christmas card commissioned by actor Rich Sommer (he plays Harry on the show) from artist Dyna Moe. As an extra treat to feast your eyes on between sips of your very dry martini, here's a fascinating interview with Mad Men prop master Scott Buckwald, who crams the show with all sorts of swank 60s swag.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I can't let 2009 draw to a close without posting something about Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty. One of my favorites, this beautiful film celebrates its 50th anniversary this year—that is, the year that's just ending. To celebrate, here's a charming article from the inside cover of the Sleeping Beauty and the Prince comic book issued for the original release of the film. The comic-book story itself is a cut-down version of the story run in the Giant Sleeping Beauty comic released earlier in 1959. The story was drawn by Al Hubbard, as was the front cover. The poster-like back cover is often attributed to Al, but I think it was drawn by Paul Murry. The style is definitely not that of Al's sketchy, illustrative comic art (well-matched to Tom Oreb's angular character designs seen in the film) but rather has the rounded, well-defined "cute" look of Paul's art. Look for more about Sleeping Beauty here at tulgey Wood in 2010.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In these quieter December days following Christmas Day I like to focus on quieter activities such as sleigh rides and getting together with friends, all with a Christmasy feel. This vintage Christmas card from Walt Disney meets all those criteria. Orginally sent out by Walt for Christmas 1933, the card features priceless art of Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and their less-often seen friends Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar (and a lean-and-lank horse, perhaps Tanglefoot?). This reproduction was a gift to D23 Members, just one of the gifts sent out through the year with each issue of D23's Disney twenty-three Magazine. Don't forget, Charter Memberships in D23 are available for only a few more days—after December 31, 2009, there's no way to become a Charter Member in the Official Community for Disney Fans, so you'll want to hop on a one-horse sleigh and dash through the snow to D23 with (jingle) bells on.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
If you are looking for a perfect gift for someone still on your list, or if you have a gift certificate that's still burning a hole in your Christmas stocking, then you can't do any better than check out the great Disney books now available written by Disney historian Jeff Kurtti. The first book I'd like to reccomend is the most recent, and it's one I'm sure you all know about because it's been reccomended by just about everyone. It's of course the just-published The Art of The Princess and the Frog. Not only does it feature a Preface by John Lasseter and a Forward by directors John Musker and Ron Clements (that are quite interesting in themselves), not only is the book crammed with great artwork of every sort used to create the film (well worth the price of the book in itself), but it also features Jeff's as-always expert and eloquent writing, including a mini-history of Disney animation (hand-drawn, that is), taking us through times both glorious and inglorious right up to this new triumph. I just got this rewarding volume (a gift for me, from me) and I can't recommend it more highly. But the book I truly want to urge everyone to add to his or her library is The Art of Walt Disney World. Like Jeff's equally excellent book The Art of Disneyland, the newer Walt Disney World volume was created with the late Bruce Gordon, and overflows with truly rare conceptual drawings, paintings and other assorted artworks, plus detailed behind-the-scenes information. This is an indispensable book that—like any book by Jeff Kurtti— belongs on the shelf of every Disney lover, now and at any season of the year.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Like you, I imagine, Chip and Dale have opened their Christmas gifts, and in this charming cover from Chip 'n' Dale #12 (December 1957), drawn by Chip 'n' Dale master (and king of the cute) Harvey Eisenberg, the two chattering yet cheerful chipmunks have received exactly what they want for each other. A gentle reminder that it's the simple gifts that are best, this delightful Disney art is itself a simple Christmas gift, perfect for this second day of Christmas.
Friday, December 25, 2009
To celebrate Christmas Day 2009 here's some Golden Book that's pure gold. Published in 1959, The First Noel: The Birth of Christ from the Gospel According to Saint Luke was illustrated with magnificently stylized art by Alice and Martin Provensen. Here's some of that art (click on each image for a larger view) to illuminate this day, this season. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Here's a Christmas Eve treat from Tom's excellent Batman blog: a clip from the classic Batman 1966 TV series, featuring that colorful and long-lived character actor Andy Devine as Santa Claus. (There's even a Disney connection, as I'm sure you know, as Andy was the voice of Friar Tuck in Disney's Robin Hood, 1973). I've been trying to think of the different character actors who have played Santa Claus on TV and in the movies through the years, without too much luck: there's been Ed Asner, Art Carney (he played Santa at least twice: in the classic Twilight Zone episode "The Night of the Meek" and the all-but-forgotten Muppet special, The Great Santa Claus Switch, from 1970), Fred Astaire, David Huddleston, Hal "Otis Campbell" Smith in the Christmas episode of The Brady Bunch, and of course, as Kris Kringle in the various versions of Miracle on 34th Street, Thomas Mitchell, Sebastian Cabot, Richard Attenborough and (best of all, by far), Edmund Gwenn in the definitive 1947 original. I must say that Andy Devine's brief cameo as Mr. Claus is one of the best, and also—by dint of its appearance on the always-odd (usually in a good way) Batman show—one of the most eccentric. While you're waiting for Santa to visit your home, check out his visit to the inimitable Batman series, originally broadcast ("in Color!") on December 22, 1966.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the Disney enthusiast in your life (besides you, I mean)? D23 has announced a discount gift membership for the holiday season. This is the perfect opprtunity to give someone a Charter Membership (including a subscription to disney twenty-three magazine) while they are still available. "Charter Membership will never be available again once 2009 ends, so this is a perfect holiday gift for a Disney fan," says Steven Clark, head of D23. "Being a Charter Member in D23 is a special designation for Disney fans who have been with us from the very beginning, and we think this is a great last-minute gift for the holidays." Visit the D23 website for more info, and in the meantime enjoy this specially created art about this perfect Disney gift. And while you're at it see if you can spot the special touch on Tweedle Dee, and you'll know why we at D23 refer to this bouncy character as Dee 23!
Monday, December 21, 2009
It should come as no surprise to fans of Bugs Bunny that the fun-loving critter knows how to throw a party, so there's been many a Bugs comic published over the years overflowing with Yuletide festivities. This cover of the Bugs Bunny Christmas Party comic from 1955 (drawn I believe by Paul Murry) portrays Bugs getting in the spirit of the season by sharing a carrot with Tweety—and the merrymakers also include, you will note, Sylvester, unusually close to his usual prey. The lion shall lay down with the lamb (make that the puddy tat and the baby bird), indeed. For more fun from the annually published (from 1950 through 1958, with only 1955 seeing the publication of Bugs Bunny Christmas Party instead) Bugs Bunny's Christmas Funnies, dance on over here to the excellent Big Blog of Kids' Comics (and I hasten to add these great comics are not for kids only). There, blogmaster Mykal has posted not only this delightful Christmas comic story starring Bugs (from Bugs Bunny's Christmas Funnies No. 7 1956) but also other Christmas comics too.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The Winter 2009 issue of disney twenty-three magazine naturally has an in-depth cover story on The Princess and the Frog, Disney's triumphant return to hand-drawn animation. This fourth issue of the Magazine for the Official Community for Disney fans also features a Christmasy article about holiday celebrations by the Walt Disney Archives' Becky Cline and collaborator Graham Allan on holidays at Disneyland Park; a not-to-be missed visit to Walt's (and my) favorite restaurant, the Tam O'Shanter, also written by Becky; an excellent report on Walt Disney's Zorro by Paul F. Anderson (which includes many an awesome photo); and as always the historical column "A Walk With Walt," this time covering the early Silly Symphonies, written by Jim Fanning (that's me). It's still not too late to get a Charter Membership (including a subscription to disney twenty-three) for this first year of D23—head on over here (or here, if you want to buy a Membership as a gift) for more details.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Lest we think Christmas comic books are a thing that only the Ghost of Christmas Past would show us, here's a treat from the Ghost of Christmas Present: three 2009 comic books with a Yuletide theme. First of all from DC there's Batman: The Brave and the Bold # 12 featuring "The Fight Before Christmas," the cover of which (drawn by Eric Jones) manages top be festive and all wham-bang-zow at the same time. Also from DC comes DC Universe Holiday Special '09. This super-sized special features all manner of merry Christmas mayhem in stories starring everyone from Superman and Batman to Flash, Captain Marvel and Huntress, and boasts this wintery-fun cover by Dustin Nguyen. Then from the world of Archie, Betty nobly carries on the tradition of holiday-themed comics as Riverdale's girl-next-door braves the Battle of the Bulging department store bag in the cover (signed by Stan Goldberg and Bob Smith) Betty # 183.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Is it Christmas time or Halloween here in Tulgey Wood? Sometimes it's hard to tell. December 18, 1966, saw the premiere of the classic animated TV special Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! A mammoth reason for the special's monster-hit stature was horror-movie great Boris Karloff. A truly gentle gentleman very different from the ghoulish bad guys this talented actor often played on screen, Boris' artful voicing is among his greatest performances. As the special's expressive narrator, Karloff reads Dr. Seuss' timeless rhymes with incomparable flair, while also bringing menace and Christmas-hating nastiness to his perormance of the "sounds of the Grinch." In celebration of this unforgettable vocal performance, here's a link to a spectacular online tribute to Boris Karloff at the excellent Frankensteinia blog. Head on over and thrill (and chill) to a Karloff festival that's perfect for any season.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Today I had the privilege and pleasure of attending a seasonal Walt Disney Archives Presents presentation at the Studio. Given by authors Becky Cline (she of the Walt Disney Archives) and Graham Allan, the excellent show covered holiday celebrations—including of course parades— throughout the years at the Disney Theme Park. Becky and Allen wrote an article about this festive subject in the current issue of Disney twenty-three, the official magazine of D23, but their live presentation was more detailed and jam-packed with photos and even video. (UPDATE: You can see some of the holly-jolly historical photos unearthed by Becky and Graham at the D23 website .) To faintly but festively echo this joyous presentation, here's a look at a Disneyland Park parade from Christmas past, Fantasy on Parade, from the Winter 1968 issue of Disney News.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Great artist and good guy Pete Emslie drew this caricature of Roy E. Disney, who died today, the day after the 43rd anniversary of the passing of Walt Disney, and in the same month that Roy's father, Roy O. Disney, died on December 20, 1971. I think Pete's portrait captures Roy's warmth and humor, two of this good man's many positive attributes. All who love Disney lost a great champion and a good man. Roy saved the company his father and uncle founded at least twice, and in particular championed Disney animation, ensuring not only that art form's survival but its flourishing, right up until the present time. I met Roy several times and was struck, as so many others have also reported, by the humility and down-to-earth quality of this powerful and wealthy man. I worked on a project which involved meeting with Roy, and it was astonishing to see Roy make a sort of "I'm impressed" face as someone else told him about what I had been working on, and I naturally thought how amazing that Roy E. Disney would even take time to notice me. But that was Roy: friendly, interested and engaged, kind and yes, humble. is one of the many who also remarked upon Roy's gracious interest in others. "I first met Roy when I was still an animation student at CalArts," John said in a widely reprinted statement. "Not only did I consider him a personal friend, but he was a great man who believed deeply in the art of animation. I was always impressed that he would make time for someone like me when I was fresh out of college, and he continued to support and encourage me throughout my career." In Bob Iger's statement, Bob said of Roy, "His commitment to the art of animation was unparalleled and will always remain his personal legacy and one of the greatest contributions to Disney’s past, present and future." A true gentleman, Roy, like his father and uncle, is irreplaceable.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
A fascinating artifact from late 1966-early 1967, the Annual Report of Walt Disney Productions for 1966 had to be "enhanced" because, printing schedules being what they are, the Report was completed before Walt's death on December 15 of that year—an obviously cataclysmic and (given the relative short period of Walt's illness) unexpected. Here you can read the letter (click on the images for a larger view), written by Roy O. Disney, that literally covered and figuratively (and sadly) overshadowed that year's Annual Report.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
From December 26, 1971, here's a Pogo Sunday newspaper comic strip that's swamped (pun intended) with a swarm of Okefenokee residents out for a merry day of caroling. Thing is, when this cadre of Christmas-lovin' caroling critters comes together strange and wonderful things start to happen to holiday favorites such as "Deck the Halls." Enjoy this classic comic, complete with Walt Kelly's famed fractured carol "Deck Us All with Boston Charlie." (Click on the strip for a larger view.)
Friday, December 11, 2009
Today sees the "wide" release of Disney's newest animated feature (and—rejoice!—return to hand-drawn animation) The Princess and the Frog. To celebrate, how about a look back at another version of the story? It's Jim Henson's Muppets in their own version of The Frog Prince, a TV special that was originally broadcast in 1971. Pictured here is the LP album cover. One of the most fascinating "frog" facts about this special is that for the first time Kermit was identified as a frog—before that Kermit was a character of unidentified origin. This special also introduced another frog, Robin the Brave, who joined the permanent Muppet cast as Kermit's nephew. Need a more tangible Disney connection than the story-origin relation to The Princess and the Frog? Well, Disney now owns the Muppets and theoretically owns The Frog Prince as well as of course the new Princess and the Frog, thus pretty much cornering the market for princesses, princes and frogs.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Archie isn't the only character who loves mistletoe. Donald Duck is also hopeful for a smooch (and not necessarily from Daisy) as he poses under the habitual holiday plant on this classic Christmas cover from Mickey Mouse Magazine (January 1940), today's Christmas treat.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Yesterday we had Archie and his friends caroling so today is Mickey's turn. This cheerful art, gracing the cover of the February 1999 issue of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories (No. 633), features a charmingly old-fashioned engraving-style illustration of Mickey and close pals Minnie and Donald Christmas caroling in a beguiling woodland setting. Pluto joins in with a howling-good harmony, we can assume, and Dopey since he don't sing none looks on happily as he holds the glowing lantern for our vocalizing merrymakers. Oddly little is known about this art—it's not from one of the famous Disney Studio Christmas cards so it was apparently some of sort of publicity art, and appears to be from circa 1939 (Dopey was at the height of his popularity, and the look of the Three Little Pigs/Wolves indicate their style as seen in 1939's The Practical Pig). The art is attributed to justly acclaimed Disney publicity artist Hank Porter. It's one of my favorites piece of Disney (and holiday) art, as it certainly gives you that Christmas glow just by looking at it. You can almost hear these cute carolers outside your own door...
Monday, December 7, 2009
That all-American teen Archie knows how to celebrate Christmas, as evidenced from the vast number of holiday-themed Archie comics published through the decades. From an earlier era, here's a great cover of that evergreen holiday title Archie's Christmas Stocking (#6 from 1959), in which Master Andrews, pal Jughead and gals Veronica and Betty are ready for holiday hilarity decked out in Dickens-style carolers garb—and just look at the typically scampish expression on the face of the conceited and ever-crafty Reggie! Archie still gets up to holiday hijinks every year as seen here in the 2009 issue of the Archie's Holiday Fun Digest (#9). Bets and Ronnie stop sparring over Archie long enough to decorate the Christmas tree, and in a time-honored comic book-cover tradition, the various characters are seen in the surface of the shiny ornaments Archie's gals hang on the evergreen. (Click on the covers for a larger view.)
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Today, December 6, is St. Nicholas Day, and that means another visit to Holland, the land of Hans Brinker. Hans is the inspiration for one of the most delightful and popular presentations of TV's Hallmark Hall of Fame. In addition to sterling talent already mentioned here, the spectacular Hallmark Hall of Fame production also featured a teleplay by Sally Meet Me in St. Louis Benson and musical arrangements by the great Irwin Kostal (Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks), for it's from a bygone era when network TV featured musicals created especially for the medium. Incredibly, in a musical theatre (TV division) worthy of St. Nicholas himself, the long-forgotten songs by Hugh Martin (also of Meet Me in St. Louis film fame) have been released on a CD (including a 16-page booklet about the Hall of Fame production), which you can discover here.
If you live near Santa Monica, you might want to hop on a one-horse sleigh (or at least hitch a ride on a surfboard) because the animated classic Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol will be screened on Saturday December 19, 2009—and that means you can experience in an even better way than those TV viewers who originally saw it in living color on NBC in 1962—with an audience and in high-definition. Several members of the cast and creative team will be on hand for a panel discussion on the creation of this landmark Christmas special, as will artist, director and animation historian Darrell Van Citters, the author of the brand-new and brilliant book, Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special, which I wrote about here. If you are anywhere in Southern California you will want to be part of this festive event—but please be aware, you'll have to bring your own razzleberry jelly.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Today is the birthday of Walt Disney, who was born in 1901. Certainly one of the best and most appropriate tributes ever paid to Walt is the affecting bronze sculpture Partners, sculpted by the great Imagineer Blaine Gibson. Originally dedicated on November 18, 1993 at Disneyland® Park in honor of Mickey's 65th anniversary, the statue was re-dedicated on what would have been Walt's 100th birthday, December 5, 2001, and Tulgey Wood features it here today in honor of the man and his day.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Robin the Boy Wonder was created in 1940 for a variety of reasons but chief among them was the need for someone Batman could rescue on a regular basis, and as such, Dick Grayson (who, as everyone but the Joker, the Penguin and any enemy of the Caped Crusader knows, is really Robin) tends to get into a lot of tight spots—even when decorating a Christmas tree, as on this classic Batman cover from February-March 1946 (#33), drawn by major Batman artist Dick Sprang. Hopefully Batman raced to the rescue, as usual. (And if you are a Batman fan, be sure and visit Tom's super Batman Bat-Bog—it's a Bat Cave-full of photos, art, collectables and more, with an emphasis on (but not limited to) the classic 1966 TV series).
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Yesterday I posted about Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, the 1962 spectacular that was TV's first prime-time animated special. Things get even better today, for here's a wonderful Christmas gift for all appreciators of animated artistry: Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special. A work of art unto itself, this magnificent tome was researched, published and written by the ever-dapper Darrell Van Citters. This newly-published book is really the news of the holiday season, for it gloriously celebrates an unfortunately underrated animated jewel. An authentic Christmas Carol confection of production art, designs, storyboard drawings and background paintings, and rare historical photos, this making-of volume was beautifully designed by Amy Inouye under Darrell's stewardship. Included in the wonderfully written text are newly uncovered details such as the recording sessions (incredibly, there were only two), full biographies of the voice talent including Jim Backus, the story behind the Broadway-worthy songs and score, the selling of the show to NBC and sponsor Timex (and the show's initial backer, Kellogg's) —and if you're wondering why the book is written with an insider's understanding of animation production, that's because Darrell is an acclaimed animator and director himself, as well as being a heavy-duty animation historian. I received my copy of this overstuffed Yuletide pudding a few days ago, and I can't stop reading and re-reading it and looking at the colorful and fascinating artwork—but if you don't want to take my word for it, check out the back cover of the dust jacket, where animation powerhouses John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker, Chris Buck, and Michael Giaimo (who Darrell credits with being the one behind the book's creation) all heartily endorse Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special. Be sure and visit the book's website for a closer glimpse of this holiday treat—you'll want to order a copy for yourself and for everyone on your gift list.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol debuted on NBC on December 18, 1962. The very first animated special, this cartoon spectacular spawned a slew of other holiday specials (A Charlie Brown Christmas and Dr. Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas! were still in the future). As NBC was in the midst of heavily promoting color TV we can imagine that the peacock network jumped at the chance to showcase this colorful retelling of the classic holiday tale. (Remember the Christmas episode of 1960s-set The Wonder Years in which Kevin Arnold [Fred Savage] was longing for his family to purchase a color TV specifically so he could watch a rebroadcast of Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol in living color?) The special—it truly was special, one of the best adaptations of the Dickens novel ever produced, before or since, with Broadway-caliber songs by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill (with Walter Scharf orchestrations)—was a smash and its proud sponsor Timex eagerly presented the show for the next few Decembers. Here is the ad and the "Close-Up" from TV Guide covering the orginal 1962 colorcast. A quick look at the credits reveals not only animation perennial Paul Frees (then at the peak of his form as Ludwig Von Drake on Walt Disney's Wonderful of Color, also on color conscious NBC) as Mr. Fezziwig and several other characters, but also Royal Dano, soon to be the voice of Walt Disney's Mr. Lincoln at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, as the voice of Marley's Ghost. Be sure and drop by Tulgey Wood tomorrow for another holiday treat all about Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
It's December, so to get our seasonal celebration off to a good start here at Tulgey Wood, here comes that ducky holiday bird Donald Duck on the cover of Walt Disney's Christmas Parade (September 1989). In this wonderful art—evocative of crisp snow, icy air, a crystal clear sky with sparkling stars—by Disney comic-book and animation master artist Daan Jippes, Donald knows a tree is the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit—even if the tree contains an unexpected guest. This very Christmasy cover is obviously inspired by Carl Barks' 1948 comic book classic "Christmas on Bear Mountain," though that story does not appear in this particular comic book. Stop by Tulgey Wood all through the Christmas season for all kinds of Yuletide treats, and a few seasonal surprises too.