Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hello, Darling!

In 1952-53, Renzo Cesana, aka The Continental, would ease through the fourth wall of the television set of supposedly bored American nuclear-family housewives and offer them fifteen minutes worth of romance. Twice a week from his studio-set living room, he might suggest a cocktail, some poetry, and...

It's common for strip cartoonists to receive fan mail. Here's two that Mr. Cesana sent. Re the second letter: probably the only time in his life my dad was referred to as "Esq." That Renzo, The Continental to the end!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Irv Spector at Ed Graham Prods: INA -- Jack and the Beanstalk - Animation Layout Pt. 2

Second half of the animation layout for Jack and the Beanstalk

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Irv Spector at Ed Graham Prods: INA -- Jack and the Beanstalk - Animation Layout Pt. 1

Here is the first half of Irv Spector's animation layout for the INA Jack and the Beanstalk sixty-second spot. You can of course compare it to the shooting script posted several days ago. What I have of this is incomplete at certain points, although we will make it to the end next post. I'm not 100% certain that this quick-and-dirty version is the final that animator Herm Cohen worked from. However, it very well may be so, as judging from dates on the correspondence between Spector and Graham, things were moving at a breakneck clip on a minimal freelance staff; they'd yet to even establish a west coast studio. Everything seems to be post haste with the studio, including Linus. In the middle of it all Graham mentions something about a " short on two dogs", and broaches the topic of a “…six-minute pilot for our upcoming half-hour show.”, meaning LINUS of course.

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(Jack is standing upon a pepper shaker)

(2nd half next post)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving From Heckinaw County

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My dad's Sunday comic strip Coogy ran for 3 1/2 years (1951-54) and was syndicated by the NY Herald Tribune. The principle characters (usually) inhabit Native American Arizona, and thereabouts: the eponymous-named Coogy -- from the native U.S. mountain lion cougar -- and Big Mo, a bear who evolved to be more of the main star of the strip. Originally pushed by the Trib as their answer to Walt Kelly's Pogo, today's entry hails from 1953, at a point where he had already begun to move away from a resemblance to the Pogo story style. However, at any given place in the strip's run you might easily pick out Kelly's inking traits.

By the looks of this episode, my dad wasn't getting overly sentimental about the holiday. Still, isn't the beauty of inclusiveness that we might all celebrate in our own manner? Why should the passion of a golf addict be less reverent?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Irv Spector at Ed Graham Productions: Introduction

I intended to post this series in a fine and thorough chronologiocal order, and thought I would have already been into my second post. So much for that idea, there is just too much to scan and organize -- we'd all be waiting awhile. The new plan is this: I will scan often and get it online. All you have to keep in mind is that there are two main parts to my father's involvement with Graham: 1) a series of 5 one-minute commerical spots for INA (Insurance Company of North America) which led to, 2) The Linus the Lionhearted Show. In any given post we will be dealing with one, the other, or both. Simple, right?

The Setup
In the beginning of the 1960s my family was living in NY, when much of the animation business began to migrate from east coast to west. My father made several round trips to Los Angeles to looking for work. Eventually we all moved west. Incredibly, at some point thereafter he actually went back to NY. Somewhere in all of this he meet with Ed Graham Jr., (who I believe was an ex-ad exec) who began his own company for the purpose of producing animated TV commercials (and so was Linus, for that matter!) Graham Prods was working with (not for) the Benton and Bowles Agency. My father already had a sizable number of commericals under his belt in the 1950s, including the first fully-animated 60-second commercial and an award from the NY Art Directors Guild (or something like that.) Graham stayed in his NY office and my dad came back to LA.

For those too ethical to read other people's mail, I've done the dirty work for you. The 3/22/63 letter below lists the five 1-minute spots for INA. Mentioned in a different letter is that my father was to do the animation layouts, animation direction, and background layouts, and assign one different animator for each of the five spots. So far, I have been able to determine the animators for three of them: Rapunzel - Irv Spence; Jack and the Beanstalk -- Herman Cohen; Cinderella -- Dick Thompson (who took over for an ill Tom Ray.) Hopefully the other two will come to light as I dig deeper.

These spots, conceived and scripted by the admen, are billed as "A Very Adult Fable". Below is what I believe to be their shooting script, for Jack and the Beanstalk, as the date on it seems too early in the process to have been done in LA -- although it is possible it had been previously drawn in LA from a written script. Once you view it you will have the concept for the other four. If it reminds you of Jay Ward's Fractured Fairy Tales, you'd be thinking what I'm thinking, ...right down to the Edward Everet Horton narration. I suppose if you're going to rip-off something, rip something excellent! (You know those creatives at agencies.) The cursive handwriting within them is not my father's -- probably Graham or a B&B person.

The following character designs came from an envelope with Tom Ray's name on it:

Linus the Lionhearted Show
From a 6/6/63 letter from Graham to Spector, Graham writes: “...reaching a point where we ought to begin setting up a schedule on this pilot, with particular regard to final delivery date. That show, of course, was Linus the Lionhearted. Obviously, they had discussed it previously. At this point I'll leave you with a few items I already have scanned. Next post will have a lot less text and a lot more eye candy. In the meantime, probably the best general information site I know of for Linus is Ron Kurer’s Toontracker Linus the Lionhearted page. That’s where I go for some of the cold hard facts. I am mainly posting about Irv Spector’s involvement with Ed Graham Prod. Toontracker’s info on the voice talent alone is worth the trip.