Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Great Zot! - A visit to BC.

A few months back, my pal and Rhymes with Orange cartoonist Hilary Price and I visited the studio of Ed Emberly.

We had such a great time, Hil decided that another field trip was in order.  She set our sites on the studio of the comic strip B.C., the great strip started by Johnny Hart in 1958 and continued today by his grandson, Mason Mastroianni plus The Wizard of Id, a collaboration of Mr. Hart and Brant Parker, now continued by Mason's brother, Mick.

I was in!  I've often mentioned my childhood love of Peanuts, but as a kid I had quite a few BC collections, from the very first book "Hey BC!" on down to the Fawcett collections.  I loved the simplicity of the line work, so a chance to play around in the archives was not to be missed.

It was going to be a long drive to the studio however, so we got some companions to join us on the drive; James Sturm and Michelle Ollie from Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies.

Patti Hart served as hostess, inviting us and other local members of the NCS to poke around the studio and archives.  Included with the local cartoonists was John Marshall, who currently draws Blondie, another strip that I love for it's line and composition. We met Mason, Mick, and Patti's sister, Perri, who does the lettering and color for BC and Wizard of ID.  Lunch was served, a quick boat ride on a very cold pond was had, stories and myths were traded, techniques and technologies discussed, books traded, but most importantly (and exciting for me) we got to rummage around in the archives!

Here are a few shots of what we saw, dating back to 1958:
(click to enlarge images)

Some of the archived dailies and Sundays.

Brant Parker was a young cartoonist when he was asked to judge some highschool student's work and awarded a prize to Johnny Hart. Years later, when BC started, Brant was brought on to do some gag writing. Eventually, Johnny and Brant created Wizard of Id, which Brant drew.

This and the next few strip come from the first years of BC.  I remember this strips from reading and re-reading them in my childhood. Getting to hold them and look at the inking on the orginals was a thrill.

Johnny Hart was a big fan of animator/cartoonist/kids book author VIP. I share that love. VIP was a great minimalist with an aburdist touch.  I think you can see the VIP-i-ness in this drawing.

This strip also shows his admiration for Peanut's Charles Schulz.  A few admiring notes from Sparky were hung up in the studio complex.


Hil and Patti dig through some old Sundays.

This and the following 2 gags were childhood favorites.

So simple.

A funny gag, but the greatness of the strip comes from it's posing. See close-ups below:

The drawings seem quick and effortless, but have great balance.

The characters evolved over time.  Here is a much later strip.

A rare, unfinished pencil.

Some Sunday's with their color charts behind them.
Having fun with Patti

Another unfinished gag.

The early gags were very physical, which I like.

So fun!

Some of Perri's color work.
The whole gang! What a fun visit!

Thanks to Patti and the whole BC team for such a fun day!

Speaking of cartoons, Mark Anderson and Andertoons has begun a subscription service for businesses, newsletters, etc. Mo' info here.