Johnny Hart 1931-2007
April 9th, 2007

I received word today about the death of the great cartoonist Johnny Hart. John was the creator of the comic strip B.C. and has been drawing it since 1958. He died of a stroke at his drawing table, the way most cartoonists would prefer to go. Johnny Hart was one of the most influential comic strip artists of our time, and he will be missed.
Adieu, John!

reprinted with permission

April 9th 2007, Monday
April 9th, 2007

Latte Liberals-
Daniel Gross, in the NY Times yesterday, reported that the NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board, has cited Starbucks for committing 30 illegal union-busting acts in the NY area alone. Whole Foods, another chain that boasts about its political correctness and green record, is also hostile to their workers' desire to organize. Whole Food Chairman John Mackey told Fortune Magazine in 2003 that unions were "highly unethical and self interested." So I guess in today's world you can look like you are progessive and want to save the whales and help Al Gore, while your business practices are something Henry Ford would smile at.
Birthdays: Vladimir Ulyanov called Nikolai Lenin, Paul Robeson, Jean Paul Belmondo, Dennis Quaid, Ward Bond, Seve Balesteros, Carl Perkins, Michael Learned, Tom Lehrer, Paula Poundstone, Cynthia Nixon, Hugh Hefner is 81,Jenna Jameson is 33, Elle Fanning is 9

In Ancient Egypt this was the festival of Sham al Nassim, or Smell the Breeze Day. Horumheb, Im Hotep and their bros would get together to drink a lot of barley beer, eat green onions, bitter herbs, and eat a pickled half rotten fish called Fessik. Egyptians thought eating this stuff would fend off diseases carried by desert sand storms. Tradition says that it was during this festival that Moses and the Hebrews left Egypt to begin the Exodus.

1553- French writer Francois Rabelais died. His last words were: ” I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”

1747- Famed British actor David Garrick signed a contract to take over the management of London’s Drury Lane Theatre.

1778- In Paris the philosopher Voltaire is initiated into the Masonic Order of the Nine Sisters on the arm of his friend, Benjamin Franklin.

1859- Mark Twain received his Mississippi riverboat pilot’s license.

1914- The first all color film” The World, The Flesh and the Devil” premiered in London.

1948- Variety columnist Ben Mortimer had been needling Frank Sinatra for his advocacy of liberal causes. He accused Old Blue Eyes of draft-dodging and hinted maybe he had pro-Communist sympathies. This day Sinatra responded by meeting Mortimer in front of Ciro's restaurant on Sunset Blvd and punched his lights out.

1953- The first issue of the T.V. Guide.

1991- The last Horn & Hardardt Automat was closed on 42nd St in Manhattan. Philadelphia restauranters Joseph Horn and William Hardart saw German experiments in mass marketautomated restaurants and imported the equipment to start one in Philadelphia in 1902.

2004- Archaeologists in Cyprus discover a 9,000 year old grave of a New Stone Age man. In his arms is the remains of a kitten. This is the oldest evidence of man domesticating cats. So rest in peace- Gronk and Fluffy.

April 8, 2007 Easter Sunday
April 8th, 2007

Birthdays: Gautama Buddha –as comemorated by Japanese custom-Kambutsue, Ponce De Leon, Mary Pickford, Yip Harburg - who wrote the lyrics to Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Betty Ford, Sonja Henje, Jacques Brel, Julian Lennon, Carmen McCrae, Shecky Green, Douglas Trumbull, Robin Wright-Penn, Patricia Arquette

HAPPY EASTER, Commemorating the time when Jesus Christ was crucified and after three days rose from the dead. For those of you who've always wondered why Easter moves around so much when the other holidays stay put, the Medieval Church wanted the festival of Jesus moved from any connection with the Jewish Passover. So Church doctors decided the Easter feast would be the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox-Spring. Makes sense to me..? The Resurrection story has roots in other cultures- Osiris in Egypt, Dionysius and Orpheus in Greece and Odin in Scandinavia all had death and resurrection myths about them.
Easter is named for Oster or Aster, German goddess of the East Wind, whose sacrifice was painted eggs laid at her altar. In 63 AD, Baodicea, The British warrior queen who battled the Roman legions of Nero, had on her flags the Great Moon-Hare, who was the servant of Oster. In 1680, a German writer named Georg Franck published a story of a fantastic rabbit who laid magic eggs and hid them for lucky children to find. How this all got mixed up with Ressurection of Jesus, you gotta ask Mel Gibson.

64AD est. – A painted advertisement found on a wall in Roman Pompeii stated the following: “ TWENTY PAIRS OF GLADIATORS sponsored by Decimus Lucretius Satrius Valens, lifetime priest of Nero Caesar and TEN PAIRS OF GLADIATORS sponsored by Decimus Lucretius Valens Minor (his son) will fight on April 8th –12th, There will also be a suitable WILD ANIMAL HUNT , THE AWNING will be opened. “
Ticketmaster, Visa, Mastercard accepted.

1476-In Florence Leonardo da Vinci is accused of sodomy with his 17 year old male model. He was acquitted in a preliminary hearing, but in his sketchbook he designed a lockbusting tool, just in case.

1876- Amiliare Ponchielli’s opera La Gioconda debuted. The ballet portion is famous as the Dance of the Hours.

1879- Milk first sold in glass bottles.

1911-Vitagraph releases Winsor McCay's short cartoon "Little Nemo" theatrically.

1933-The WPA- Works Progress Administration-later renamed the Works Projects Administration founded. It was the Franklin Roosevelt Administration’s massive jobs program to heal the Depression by putting unemployed people back to work doing public works. They built bridges, dams, roads, federal buildings .The WPA arts projects employed artists like Grant Wood, Berenice Abbott and Frank Stella and put on plays with Orson Welles and John Houseman. There was even a WPA Symphony Orchestra, employing out of work classical musicians, including two old Russian immigrants who knew Tschaikowsky.

1973- Famed artist Pablo Picasso died at 91. His last words were 'Drink to me'. On his night table was a comic book drawn by former Disney animator Vip Partch. Picasso along with Churchill are the Epicurean poster boys- symbols for those of us who want to eat, drink alcohol, smoke, make babies at 81 and die in your 90's.

1986- Actor Clint Eastwood was elected mayor of the town of Carmel, California.

1994- Grunge rocker Kurt Kobain’s body was discovered by a security system electrician three days after he committed suicide with a shotgun. Whew, somebody open a window!

April 7, 2007 sat
April 7th, 2007

For years now I've been saying there should be a good book on storyboarding. I starting writing one myself. But it's nice to see a professional artist and teacher of the calibre of Nancy Beiman has done the job justice. She covers a lot of the basics of storyboarding, character design and presentation. Her interviews with past greats T.Hee, Kendall O'Connor and Ken Anderson are worth the price alone. Go over to Amazon and check it out.
Nancy will be in LA thursday nite the 19th signing copies at the Van Eaton Galleries with other animation authors.
Birthdays St. Francis Xavier, William Wordsworth, Mongo Santamaria, Crazy Joe Gallo, Francis Ford Coppola, Walter Winchell, David Frost, Percy Faith, Daniel Ellsberg, Jerry Brown, Alan Pakula, Billie Holiday, Ravi Shankar, Irene Castle, Wayne Rogers, Olikirk Christenson-the inventor of Lego toys,Russell Crowe is 43, Jacky Chan is 53

1891- Showman P.T. Barnum died of old age. The last words of the man who invented kiddie matinees, the Greatest Show on Earth and coined the word “Jumbo” were "How were the box office receipts today?"

1927- An audience at the Bell Laboratory watched a three inch television screen broadcast an image of US Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover with sound.

1927- Abel Gances classic film Napoleon premiered at the Paris Opera. Gances active camera and wild editing were years ahead of their time, climaxed by a triptych of large images on three movie screens linked by synchronized projectors. One American man in the audience was inspired to invent the Panavision lens, used by many modern movies today.

1939-"The Ugly Duckling" the last Disney Silly Symphony short cartoon.

1949-Musical "South Pacific" debuts. Some Enchanted Evening…

1970- The film Midnight Cowboy with Dustin Hoffman and John Voight won the Best Picture Oscar. The first x-rated film to do so.

1990- The Cincinnatti Contemporary Art Center opened a show of the photographs of Robert Maplethorpe that the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC cancelled. Maplethorpes explicit depictions of gay and s/m lifestyles shocked neoconservative critics of government national endowments for the arts. A media debate on whether government should subsidize or censor art raged and Dennis Barry the museum director was tried for obscenity. His acquittal was seen as a victory for free expression but the argument cast a pall on future funding of controversial art.

1998- Pop star George Michael was busted after exposing himself for gay sex to an undercover policeman in a public park men’s room in Beverly Hills.

1998- Lead singer for the Plamatics, Wendy O.Williams, committed suicide with a shotgun. The outrageously mohawked punk rocker was known for stunts on stage like destroying her amplifiers with a chainsaw, skydiving in the nude, autoeroticism with a sledgehammer and crashing a flaming public school bus into a wall of television sets.

2155- According to the show Babylon 5 today marked the first contact between humans and the Cenauri Alliance.

April 6, 2007 Good Friday
April 6th, 2007

When I started in animation, the only way you could hope to study some great animation was by sharing pirated xeroxes from stuff in the Disney morgue. Now all this cool stuff is available on the The ASIFA Animation virtual Archives. The estates of Les Clark, Mike Lah, Herb Klynn, Grim Natwick, John K. and many more have donated priceless art.

This week the Archives scored a new coup when the estate of famed cartoonist Milt Caniff donated a thick stack of Terry and the Pirates dailies. They feature Caniff's superb inking, research and the kind of detail you just can't get into comic strips now.

Last month the Archives recorded it's largest number of hits yet, over 160,000. This moves it into Pam Anderson type numbers. Big Congrats to Steve Worth and all the volunteers.
Check it out.

Birthdays: Raphael of Urbino, Sacajawea, Ram Dass, Butch Cassidy, Gustav Moreau, Lowell Thomas, Merle Haggard, Billy Dee Williams, George Reeves, Michelle Phillips, Andre Previn, Barry Levinson, Roy Thinnes, Zak Braff is 34, John Ratzenberger
1520- Renaissance artist RAPHAEL died at 37 on his birthday. Vasari wrote of the great artist: " He pursued pleasures and love affairs without moderation. On one occasion he went to excess, and returned home with a violent fever whereof he died soon after." Michelangelo, Leonardo and Titian lived to great old age. Raphael dying at 35 was considered a tragedy, burning out from overwork.

1906-THE FIRST ANIMATED FILM- Cartoonist James Stuart Blackton created sensation when Edison filmed him doing sequential drawings and they seemed to come alive. The film was The Humorous Phases of Funny Faces. Blackton made a fortune, lost it and was hit by a bus in 1941. But his animated antics paved the way for Mickey, Bugs, Bart, Gollum and Laura Croft.

1931- The Little Orphan Annie radio show premiered. Remember kids to drink your Ovaltine and get out your de-coder rings.

1933- the Screen Writer's Guild, later the WGA, formed. It took about seven years for them to unionize screenwriting in Hollywood. Jack Warner called them : "Communists, Radical Bastards and Soap Box Sons of B*tches !" David O. Selznik, who prided himself on running a writer-friendly studio, when told of the Guild's formation told them: "What? You put a picket line in front of my studio and I'll mount a machine gun on the roof and mow you all down !!" Despite these protestations the Guild today represents all Hollywood writers.

1951- Happy Birthday AstroBoy! According to the 1951 comic book by Osamu Tezuka, today Professor Elephant completed the little boy with the suction cup feet and pointed hairdo. Originally called Tetsuwan Atomo, he was named Astro Boy when Mushi Prod released the animated version theatrically in 1961.

Remember when machine guns came out of his butt cheeks?

1956- Elvis Presley signed his first movie deal with Paramount Pictures.

1974- ABBA, a new disco phenomenon from Sweden is introduced to the world when they win a Eurovision song contest. Mama Mia!