Saturday, August 29, 2009

Marty Murphy

This one hurts. I just learned that Marty died Wednesday night, August 26, 2009, at his home. What a great guy he was, not to mention what a great cartoonist he was. Here's a sketch he did for me in 1973.

Marty Murphy was a master cartoonist who contributed regularly to Playboy and is probably best known for that work. But to animation fans his credentials are equally impressive.

Marty was a Production Designer on Mister Magoo in 1960, a Layout Artist on Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, Character Designer on Wait Till Your Father Gets Home 1972 - 1974, and Hong Kong Fooey 1974. He was a Storyboard Artist on DuckTales, Garfield and Friends, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, and a whole lot of other stuff which can be found at the IMDb site:

Every once in awhile the cartoonist community suffers a great loss, and this is one of them.

Swan - The Art of George O. Swanson

One of my favorite cartoonists was George O. Swanson, creator of Salesman Sam, High Pressure Pete and, mostly famously, The Flop Family. Salesman Sam began as a daily on September 6, 1921 and a Sunday was added in December, 1922. The Flop Family started on August 29, 1943 (originally titled Dad's Family) and Swan continued to draw the strip until the day before he died, December 1, 1981. Along the way he also did a strip called Officer 6 7/8 and Elza Poppin. He also did some single panel strips called NONSENSE, a few of which are shown here.

The thing I love most about his work is what I think is the absolute essence of great cartooning. The cliches, the symbols, the props, the shapes, the caricatures of members of society, much like the stuff that you see in great strips like Boner's Ark or Sam's Strip by Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, even Frank and Ernest by the late Bob Thaves.

Swanson was born in 1897 and sold his first strip at the age of 24. He had a good 60-year run at producing daily comic strips and surprisingly few people are familiar with his work or career.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beech-Nut Picnic

Oh, this looks like it's going to be a wonderful pot luck picnic. Everybody bring some gum. Put on a suit, tie a name tag to your lapel and let's have some fun.

There'll be a bubble-blowing contest, a gum-toss, dodge-wad, gum wrapper origami, bobbing for gum wads, and at 4 o'clock we'll chews a winner of the gum ball scavenger hunt.

And the Golden Pretzel Goes to...

I love this photograph. That must be Salesman Quimby with the pretzel in his lap. Is that an award or is it the main course? Take a bite and pass it on.

I can only assume this is some sort of awards banquet for the Holsum Bakery. These guys all look like they're rolling in dough.

Heh heh heh.

Tales From The Box In The Closet


Hmmmm. I forgot about this. Found it in storage today. Guess I was developing another story line for Utah Holiday magazine before they killed the first one (see my post from August 24).

Looks like this was going to be a parody of Lost Horizon. This was done on Craftint Duo-Tone paper. I wonder if they even make that anymore.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hanna-Barbera Reunion

On Saturday evening, August 22 the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills hosted a celebration of 70 Years of Cartoons with the Hanna-Barbera Studios. In attendance were many of the original crew who were there at the beginning. I worked at H-B throughout the 70s and got to know many of the "old guys" and a lot of the new who were just starting out. Many of my photos were too fuzzy to include here because I don't like to use flash if I can avoid it. So I culled this batch from the 60 shots I took and wound up with a pretty good cross-section of those who attended.

TOP ROW: The crowd enjoys the exhibit of vintage art, photos and home movies in the lobby. Joanna Romersa shares a laugh with Don Jurwich. Mark Evanier points out the obvious to Scott Shaw.

MIDDLE ROW: Paley Center host Richard and hostess Etty share the spotlight as they greet attendees. Mitch Rochon enjoys a glass of French Grand Cru from 7-11. Two icons of TV, radio and Hanna-Barbera voice talent - Gary Owens and Casey Kasem.

BOTTOM ROW: Jeff Etter and friends check out the shrubbery. Bob Tyler makes a point with Kirk Hanson. Marianne Tucker and Sue (Crossley) Walker pose for a mug shot.

TOP ROW: Robert Alvarez arrives. Bob Singer chats with Don Jurwich. A very color-coordinated Annie Guenther.

MIDDLE ROW: John Tucker, Mark Kirkland, Tim Walker, Bob Foster. John Tucker, Merle Welton, Bonita Versh and Willie Ito reenact the good old days. Joanna Romersa and Don Jurwich fill out the row very nicely.

BOTTOM ROW: The H-B panel prior to the reunion, consisting of Ken Spears, Willie Ito, Butch Hartman, Jerry Eisenberg and moderator Gary Owens take questions from the audience.

Click on the pictures to see them bigger.

An Old German Mill

Isn't this stunning? The fine print says An Original Etching by A. H. Haig. It's dated 1880 and it seems to have been taken from the kind of art book produced in England around the turn of the century. Click on the image to make it full screen and take a close look at the details. Wonderful.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tales From The Box In The Closet


I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah from 1980 - 1985 and enjoyed a locally produced magazine called Utah Holiday. It was aimed at visitors and was chock full of ads, things to do, places to go, informative articles about life in the area, stuff like that. What it did not have was humor. It had no cartoons.

So one day I met with the editor and pitched the idea of a monthly, last page, continuity strip about the fanciful adventures of a little guy who liked to explore the back country and out of the way places in Utah and had plenty of amusing adventures. The editor liked the idea but wanted to see what I had in mind. Fair enough.

So I wrote up a few scenarios, roughed out some samples, he liked what he saw and gave me the green light to go ahead and illustrate the first adventure.

The four pages you see here are as far as I got before he called and said they had changed their minds and decided not to go with the strip. When I asked if I could be paid for what I had done he said, "Sorry," and that was the end of it.

My favorite idea for a story coming up after this one would revolve around a brownish-orange ogre who lived in a cave at the north end of the Oquirrh Mountains west of Salt Lake City. I was going to call it the Ochre Oquirrh Ogre.

Sigh... another blown opportunity.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I say Peacekeepers only because they're standing outside the entrance of H. G. Allen, Justice of the Peace. They might be in the butcher business because the ME... on the window might say MEAT. But they do look like law enforcement guys. Don't know anything more than that, but it's such a great image I had to put it up. It's completely unretouched, as you'll see when you click on it to blow it up. I'll probably get around to Photoshop fixing it at a later date.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Malibu Creek State Park

These are a few compositional sketches I did during a paint-out at Malibu Creek State Park in Calabasas, CA recently.

There's a lot of great scenery and a lot of good shade for artists who want to avoid exposure to the sun. The scenery runs the gamut from open vistas, froggy marshes, babbling brooks, meadows and dirt roads to ponds, rocks, flowers and trees.

Going on a weekend is highly NOT recommended because of the influx of slobs, noise, music, diapers and beer cans. Weekdays in the late fall and winter are much more civilized.

Day use parking is $10 and might go up to $15 soon, but for the scenery and the chance for a quiet day of painting or sketching, off-season, it's worth it.

Corner Cigar Store

I don't know where this is or exactly when, but ain't it great image? It's from a 3" x 3" negative, which isn't a common size, so I wonder if it's foreign. Click on the picture to enlarge. It looks like Brooklyn to me, but who knows? Do you?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tales From The Box In The Closet


The bottomless storage unit has yielded a few more tarnished gems from my clouded past, but this time I have company. Leave it to my friend Sergio Aragones to top them all with a mind-blowing finale to this series with a ripping good gag at the end.

Artwork for the psychedelic Hippo is the property of Sergio Aragones and is used with the permission of the artist. Muchas gracias, querido amigo.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Origin of Myron Moose

Look what I found in storage today. The first appearance of Myron Moose - December 20, 1968 - at the bottom of a letter I had written to my girlfriend at the time. I had gotten out of the Army a month earlier and was temporarily living in Bill Spicer's basement in Los Angeles. She still lived in New Jersey where I had been stationed at Ft. Monmouth. At the bottom of the letter there was about a 2" space left over so I filled it with this completely improvised comic strip. This is where it all began.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cool Man Cool

Back in 1963 I sat on the floor at the feet of Sweet Emma Barrett and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans, grinning from ear to ear with the utter joy of listening to greatness.

When Pavarotti hits nine High Cs in Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment, I freeze in utter disbelief.

When Renee Fleming sings just about anything.

Watching a wood carver in Chamonix, France, hand-carving a little figurine with the skills of a great craftsman of a lost art.

Devouring any of a number of paintings by Van Gogh.

Watching Alex Toth or Sergio Aragones draw.

These are people who, at some point in their lives, seemed to no longer think about what they are doing, they just ARE what they are doing. Their craftsmanship is so much a part of who they are and what they are that their work simply flows out them full blown onto the paper or into the air like magic.

Last night, in a remote corner of Glendale, CA, in a truly non-descript building that's been converted to a video production facility, I had the distinct privilege of sitting in on a live internet concert featuring Grant Geissman and his Cool Man Cool band. If you've ever had the chance to experience a performance that brings tears to your eyes you'll have an idea of how good this intimate little concert was. There was barely enough room for the 5-piece band and about 20 guests, a couple of cameramen and a handful of technicians, all packed into a 15' x 20' room.

One of Geissman's closing numbers, Cuba Libre, had me laughing and teary-eyed at the same time. Nobody's fingers can possibly move that fast and, witnessing it from five feet away, I still can't believe what I saw and will never understand how it's done. Magic. He seemed to be hitting 20 - 30 notes per second at some points, his fingers flying up and down the neck of his guitar like the wings of a hummingbird.

Back that up with a few phenomenal players behind him and you're talking about a world-class jazz band.

Emilio Palame on piano, Trey Henry on bass and tuba, Ray Brinker on drums and Brian Scanlon on woodwinds and flute.

Palame is a mighty fine piano player who seems to thoroughly enjoy playing and seems to have a limitless ability to play anything well. He also has fast fingers that tap danced all over the keyboard like they were red hot.

Hidden in the corner on drums, Brinker deserved more of a spotlight, or at least one good solo. Amazing, complex rhythms and subtleties punctuated his fantastic work.

Sitting in on two numbers were Van Dyke Parks on accordion and Grant's music mentor Jerry Hahn on guitar.

It was a wonderful two-hour experience that defies description. Check the schedule for opportunities to view this Network Concert at:

If you can't find it or see it, the next best thing would be to go out and get the Grant Geissman Cool Man Cool CD.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Myron Moose - Live Action

Shortly after the first appearance of Myron Moose Funnies in 1970 I made this Myron Moose head using an old army gas mask, a mailing tube, two ink-and-paint gloves stuffed with tissue, a huge chunk of foam rubber painstakingly carved down to a moose nose, and a lot of masking tape to hold it all together.

That's all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Miniature Photographs

Let's look at some more goodies from the Vintage Postcards and Paper Collectibles shows.

Packets of miniature souvenir photos like this were pretty popular in the 20s, 30s, and 40s and usually contained 10 - 20 real photographs, measuring 1.5" x 2.25" like this one. Some larger ones measured up to 3" x 5".

These packets are a pretty good quick reference if you're searching for images of a specific place, except they're usually not contemporary images.

Since they are real photos, the resolution is pretty good, considering their size.

Here's a 1.5" x 2.25" image blown up to 4" x 5". Click on the image to make it bigger.


Old Postcards

A few years ago I discovered Vintage Postcard and Paper Collectibles shows. First time I went I went nuts. I never realized there were so many wonderful images and so much history to be found on old postcards. Here's a taste. Click on the image to make it bigger.

Don't know the date but isn't this old photo postcard of Amsterdam just great?

Can't find a date on this old photo postcard of Hamburg, either, but I sure love those rubbery old buildings that look all warped and crotchety.

One of these postcards has a hand written note on the back dated 1926. I think these photos pre-date that but there are no further clues. The front of the first card reads: Alt. Cassel, Haus in der Klosterstrasse. The second one is Frankfurt. The third is Strasbourg. Wonderful architecture.

Both of these are Hildesheim, dated 1905 and 1906. Magnificent creatures. They just don't build 'em like that anymore.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tales From The Box In The Closet

Hamilton Comics

Back in 1991 my good friend Bruce Hamilton published some new horror magazines with titles like GraveTales, Maggots, and Dread of Night under his own imprint, Hamilton Comics. I had once pitched the idea of a humor magazine to him, he liked the idea, but opted instead to go with horror titles. I submitted a story to him for one of those magazines, he liked it and said he would buy it if I would do the final art. Well, I don't think I do the kind of art I think it needed, so it never got illustrated, never got published and I never got paid. But here's the script that I submitted.

This material is Copyright Robert M. Foster 2009 and is posted here for the edification of comics fans and students of comic art.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Boardwalk, Atlantic City

I love old black and white photographs and here's a reason why -

This is the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey around 1925 - 1926, judging by the costumes. It was scanned from a film negative that measures 3.25 x 5.5 with a small margin around the edges. Touch up took about 1/2 hour because this was very clean to begin with. The building on the corner is Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy store at Arkansas Avenue and the Boardwalk. On the front of the building you can make out Steel Pier Block, which means this was very near the famous Steel Pier. Joseph Fralinger opened his store in 1885. Click on the image for a larger image. For more information on Joseph Fralinger, visit Wikipedia at