Friday, December 31, 2010
It's a New Year Eve's surprise— Santas Working Overtime, that tireless collector of all things Christmas all over the Internet today recommended the special Sears art of Winnie the Pooh and his whirlwind tour of worldwide Christmas customs. Check out all the other Christmas goodness at Santas Working Overtime, and if you haven't already done so, feast your eyes on Winnie the Pooh's International Christmas starting here.
To ring in 2011 what else would we possibly do but look back to 1942 (or 3)? The classically cute cover (attributed to Carl Buettner) of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories # 28 (January 1943) bid farewell to 1942 and welcomed 1943 as only Unca Donald and his nephews could. Stay tuned for more about Walt Disney's Comics and Stories in the New Year.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Back here I posted a Yogi Bear comic book cover but Yowp—home to all kinds of classic Hanna-Barbera animation treasures—has given us some truly rare gifts: Yuletide themed Sunday comic pages from the Yogi Bear and Flintstones newspaper comic strips from the 1960s and 1970s. These fun and finely drawn comics (click on the above example from December 24, 1967 for a larger view) are rearely reprinted so these are a real Christmas present. Check out these Christmasy comic strips and while you're there, delve into Yowp's pic-a-nic basketful of Hanna-Barbera treats.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Christmas and New York City just seem to go together—witness the festive department store windows, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and of course New Year's Eve in Times Square. No wonder then that The New Yorker has run many Decembers' worth of holiday covers since it was first published in 1925. This year's double issue dated December 20 and 27 2010 brought a double cover One Small Step at a Time by Christoph Niemann designed around Rockefeller Center's famed Atlas sculpture, a New York landmark almost as well known as The New Yorker itself.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
60 years ago today, Christmas Day, the world was introduced to Walt Disney's first television production, a Christmas special on NBC (not ABC, as is sometimes reported) entitled One Hour in Wonderland, co-starring the wonderfully gifted Edger Bergen and his ventriloquist dummies Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. Much has been made of the fact that Walt was friends with Edger Bergen and that friendship being the reason Bergen and his characters appeared on the special (Disney producer/writer Bill Walsh who produced this special had at one time written for Edger Bergen as well) but it was more likely Bergen & McCarthy's association with Coca-Cola that led to their guesting on the show; The Charlie McCarthy Show radio program broadcast on Sunday evenings over CBS starting in October 1949 was sponsored by Coca-Cola, and earlier in 1950, Bergen and his dummies had headlined at least one TV special for Coke. (By the way, the guests on the December 24, 1950 broadcast of The Charlie McCarthy Show were Disney stars Bobby Driscoll and Kathryn Beaumont, who were to appear with Edgar and Charlie the next day on the Disney TV special.) The Coke influence is seen not only in the Coca-Cola announcements at the beginning and end of the special and the commercial break halfway through (Walt insisted there only be one commercial) but in One Hour in Wonderland's main title music, which incorporates Coke's theme song. Although it really didn't have a title (it was usually called The Coca-Cola Theme Song although was sometimes known as "Coca-Cola Signature"), this tune would have been quite familiar to 1950 audiences as Coke had been using the theme since 1930 when it was composed by orchestra leader Leonard Joy. (The song continued on as the theme for the soda's very popular TV program Coke Time starring Eddie Fisher). The colorful detail shown above is from a grand poster, given to Coca-Cola distributors and bottlers. The full poster overflows with Disney art (I agree with those who think it looks like the style of Disney artist Al Dempster who illustrated the Alice in Wonderland Golden Books around this time) and is from the collection of Matt who just published the poster in all its glory on his awesome blog all about Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland. Hurry on over and you'll also see a lot more about that amazing Disney first, Walt's original TV production One Hour in Wonderland, broadcast on Christmas Day 1950.
One of the "Party Planner" items Hallmark has issued over the years has been a variety of centerpieces, some of which have featured Disney or Peanuts or other characters. Though I don't know if this is still happening, for many Christmases Hallmark also published a cardboard Nativity scene, such as the one pictured on the left, circa 1980. Though these cardboard creches were undoubtedly used for parties and as decorations, they were also used by poor households who were unable to afford even the most inexpensive figural Nativity. Though I have seen some elaborate and exquisite Nativity scenes in churches, homes and museums, this humble Hallmark somehow seems most appropriate to celebrate the birth of the Child born into poverty. This post is dedicated to my mother and father who, often at sacrifice for themselves, never failed to help someone in need, whether it was Christmas or not. Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad...and Merry Christmas to all.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Here's a wondrous way to kick off Christmas Eve—a rare and glorious Disney artwork by Russell Schroeder that was published in two cast member newsletters: Disney Newsreel (Walt Disney Studios) and Eyes and Ears (Walt Disney World). I love how it incorporates so many Wonderland characters (and the King). And if you have ever wanted to celebrate Christmas in Wonderland, check out this charming non-Disney comic-book story from 1943.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Starting today @Disney on Twitter is spotlighting Walt Disney's Christmas TV perennial "From All Of Us To All Of You" which originally was broadcast in 1958. @Disney is bringing to you a transcript of and photos (black-and-white, as was the show as originally aired) from Walt's rarely-seen introduction to the TV show. Pictured at right is one of the images you will see on Twitter as well as a color image from the show as found on the Animation Background blog. Be sure and sign up for @ Disney on Twitter so you can follow each day's Disney festivities. In the meantime, don't forget to read my online article all about "From All Of Us To All Of You" over at TV Party.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Yogi Bear's back in the minds of at least a few folks this holiday season as he appears in a new computer-generated movie but many moons ago that smarter-than-the-average bear made Christmas a little merrier by appearing in a holiday-themed comic book. The Christmas-centric Yogi Bear Jellystone Jollies # 11 was cover-dated January 1963 so was on the stands for Christmas 1962. Featuring a festive cover (I like the way the art tells a sequential story rather than just a single gag), this Jellystone jam-packed holiday extravaganza was a incredible 80 pages long (and cost a then pricey 25 cents)! You can read at least one of the interior comic stories at the Magic Carpet Burn blog, so get that Thermos bottle of hot cocoa out from your pic-a-nic basket and have a few sips as you enjoy some more Hanna-BarBEARa Christmas goodness.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Christmas 1965 brought a holiday treat in Merry Christmas with The Hanna-Barbera Organ and Chimes—not so much with the record itself which features Christmas music that doesn't include the characters singing nor even narrating, but in the artwork, which is a Hanna-Barbera Christmas delight. Put on some favorite Yuletide tunes (if you would like to hear the album itself, which is actually very nice if pretty generic, you can visit the Check The Cool Wax blog, where you'll find many other Christmas music goodies) and gaze at its glories. How many of the H-B characters pictured in this album art can you name (the Flintstones don't count)?
Monday, December 13, 2010
For this final installment of the grand Winnie the Pooh artwork for the 1972 Sears Christmas Catalog, we follow Pooh to Mexico for more "BEARin' of the Gifts"—and I hope you agree that this rare Disney art is a true Christmas gift, simple but festive. This is the concluding installment but please go back and enjoy the first five as you celebrate the holidays according to your own Christmas customs and traditions.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Here's Gopher again and the rest of Pooh's true blue friends too to celebrate Christmas in Germany. I seem to remember hearing the art is by Disney Legend Burny Mattinson, who worked on Walt Disney's original Pooh featurettes as well as the all-new Pooh due in 2011. Come back tomorrow for conclusion of this special Pooh art from the Sears Catalog for the 1972 Christmas Season.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Time for a small smackeral of something sweet for Christmas, and that must mean Winnie the Pooh. Feast your eyes on this sweet treat that takes us to Christmas in Sweden. (Click on the image for a larger image.) I like how the artist incorporated some of the smaller characters, such as Piglet ( A Very Small and Timid Animal, indeed) to let the catalog reader know there's more. In Part 1, back here, we even had Gopher, that Disney-created critter who was included in the catalog even though he's not in the book, you know. Stop back tomorrow for another Yuletide sweet treat from Winnie the Pooh.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Today we follow Winnie the Pooh and his friends to Italy for more Christmas celebrations. In the introduction to this sweet-as-hunny artwork, the Sears Christmas Catalog for 1972 stated that the childlike Pooh characters are a perfect match for the wonder of Christmas, and I think you'll agree. Come back for Part 4 tomorrow, and in the meantime click on the image for a larger view.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Here's Part 2 of that splendid Winnie the Pooh art created especially for the 1972 Christmas catalog. Sears was the first Disney licensee to create Pooh merchandise, and their agreement with Disney was exclusive for many years. Sears occasionally ran Pooh art but it was usually just a spot illustration here and there. To my knowledge, Sears never before or after published anything as spectacular as this Pooh Christmas art. Part 2 covers Christmas in Spain, so enjoy, and remember to click on the image for a larger view.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Back in July I promised more about that very special Christmas art featuring Winnie the Pooh, and starting today, I will post it all for Christmas. This rarely-seen Disney artwork was created for the Sears catalog for "the 1972 Christmas Season," and is a holiday delight as I'm sure you will agree. Here's part 1, all about Christmas in Holland. Be sure and click on the image for a larger view... and be sure and check back for the next five days so you can feast your eyes on all six Pooh views of Christmas customs and traditions 'round the world.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Disney has officially started tweeting from its Twitter account, @Disney, yesterday, December 5, 2010, in celebration of Walt Disney's birthday. And that's appropriate because the tweets are to be very Walt-centric. Disney's tweets are planned to include links to, art, video clips and photos. Disney started its tweets with a look at Walt and his Tomorrowland (ready for a rare color image of Walt playfully interacting with GARCO the robot?), and soon will segue to Christmas. If you hook up with only one Twitter account, make sure you sign up with Disney's. To celebrate @Disney on Twitter, here (above) is a detail from a piece of Retta Scott Worcester's exquisite art for the 1950 Cinderella Big Golden Book, immortalizing the second Disney princess's bluebird friends. After all, a bluebird is the symbol of Twitter, promising tweets that offer the sweet treat that only Disney can deliver.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
To honor Walt Disney on this, the 109th anniversary of his birth, here's a rarely-seen 1964 photo from the Los Angeles Times of Walt visiting an early version of the California Institute of Arts (CalArts), the famed arts school founded by Walt. 1964 was also the year Walt threw the Hollywood premiere of Mary Poppins on August 27, 1964, as a benefit for the burgeoning school, at which Walt screened a short film entitled The CalArts Story. In 1966, Walt had this to say on the subject of the Disney Studio producing "art": "An artist who consciously goes about producing art can become inhibited. It's always easier to talk about art, or to strike a beatnik pose, then it is to create. My artists are asked to 'let go'. We encourage a free-flow of ideas. It is always interesting to me how many people can vividly recall a sequence from a favorite Disney film—they can even tell you the colors! This may be nostalgia, or it could be that these films and their creative ideas are becoming a part of art history."
Friday, December 3, 2010
Christmastime is "Nutcracker" time so here's some unique Disney art from a 1963 release of "The Nutcracker Suite" as conducted by Stokowski and performed by his 100 Men, the Philadelphia Orchestra from Fantasia (1940). Back here I said I'd announce some Fantasia writing I'd been working and now, in honor of both the 70th anniversary of Fantasia (it debuted on November 13, 1940) and also its release on Disney Blu-ray, "15 Fascinating Facts about Fantasia" is now live on the D23 website. Be sure and visit D23 (it's free) and read all about Walt Disney's Fantasia in this article written by Jim Fanning.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
As always, we can turn to America's Favorite Teenager for some good old fashioned Christmas fun...and by that, we mean slapstick. Entangled in wrapping and ribbon (maybe he tripped over the ubiquitous and ugly UPC code), Archie effortlessly steals the scene even when he's on the cover of Betty and Veronica's title. (Actually, Jughead is really the one who's the scene stealer by underplaying it.) At least Veronica gets the punchline, which proves you can always rely on Archie and his Pals and Gals for some timeless Yuletide yocks. This cover is from Betty and Veronica Christmas Spectacular (Archie Giant Series # 489) December 1979, and was penciled by Dan DeCarlo and inled by Jim DeCarlo. There will be more Archie fun later this month so check back and see if you agree with Veronica as she says (and Betty obviously concurs),that nobody gets as wrapped up in Christmas as Archie.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Let's kick the month of Christmas off with a holiday-themed comic-book cover showdown between some master mischief-makers. Both Dennis the Menace and Donald Duck (and his nephews) regularly celebrated Christmas in their comic books, so perhaps it was just a matter of time before they ended up sharing a seasonal situation, as in Dennis the Menace Bonus Magazine Christmas Special #87 1970 (drawn perhaps by Ron Ferdinand) Walt Disney's Comics and Stories # 207 October 1957 (drawn by Paul Murry). Rather than call this a swipe, let's assume that it's a case of great minds thinking alike.