Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

A blog dedicated to the making of the first animated Christmas special, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jane Kean 1923-2013

     By now, I'm sure most have heard of the passing of Jane Kean, best known for playing Trixie against Art Carney's Ed Norton, on the 1960s version of The Honeymooners.  Here at this blog, we know her as the singing voice of Belle, Ebenezer Scrooge's fiance in Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.  She also had a very diverse and accomplished career in live theater and Broadway, which led to her casting in Christmas Carol.
      She published her memoirs about 10 years ago in a slim book titled A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Honeymooners, I Had a Life! in which she recounted her career in show business along with her romantic dalliances with some of the big names of her era.  I had the pleasure of interviewing her for my book as well as sitting with her on panels and signings as we promoted Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special.  The times I spent with her were brief but she was always very classy, engaged and willing to help promote the book.  May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

IT'S HERE!!!!!

At long last, The Art of Jay Ward Productions is here!  The book is jammed with art and photos, 980 to be exact, and fills 352 pages.  It's also heavy, weighing in at over 4 lbs!  Some images from inside the book can be seen at the visual essay I composed for Cartoon Brew, check it out here.  You can order it at

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pre-order The Art of Jay Ward Productions!

Although the book won't make its official debut until November 15th at the CTN Animation Expo, you can now pre-order the book at  Local purchasers can be the first to get their hands on this long-awaited book by pre-ordering the book and picking it up at Renegade Animation's Glendale office, see the book's website for more info.  If you order it before Oct. 15th and use the code EARLYBIRD, you'll save $10 off the publication price.  More page images and order information can be found here

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Art of Jay Ward Productions

Here's a peek at my forthcoming book, The Art of Jay Ward Productions.  The book came in at 352 pages, 980 images, 12 x 9", hardcover with dust jacket, and will make its debut at CTN-X, November 15, 2013 in Burbank, beginning with a Q & A with two of the surviving artists, followed by a book signing.  Retail price is $49.95.

The book is arranged chronologically and each show has its own chapter.  It starts with a brief, early history of the Ward studio, a chapter profiling all the key artists and then the individual shows take over the book: Rocky and Bullwinkle, Fractured Fairy Tales, Peabody and Sherman, Aesop & Son, Dudley Do-right, Fractured Flickers/The Nut House, Hoppity Hooper, Commercials (including both General Mills and Quaker Oats), George of the Jungle, Super Chicken and Tom Slick.  The final chapter profiles many of the unsold series that Jay Ward Productions developed and pitched.

Within each chapter, there are myriad, never-before-seen concept sketches, model sheets, storyboards, backgrounds and even a few cels.  I'll be taking pre-orders in October and will announce it here and on other animation blogs, like Animation Scoop and Cartoon Brew.  Stay tuned to this blog for more updates.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Christmas in July!

For the remainder of July, I will be selling the deluxe 50th anniversary collector's edition of the book at the wholesale price of just $75 including shipping!  if you've been wanting to get this book but couldn't afford it, now's your chance--it will never be cheaper.  Amazon retails it for $150.  I need to make room for the upcoming "The Art of Jay Ward" book so don't miss this incredible deal.  Click here to buy now.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Update on "The Art of Jay Ward Productions" book

I thought I would provide just a little update on my next book, "The Art of Jay Ward Productions" for the few followers of this blog.  The book covers the years from 1958 through 1984, and will include pages of artwork from virtually every show the studio produced as well as lots of never-before-seen art from unsold series.  I'm even hopeful that the cereal companies will grant permission to use images from many of the commercials Ward produced for them over the years, but it's been a slow process so far.
     The book's scheduled release has been pushed back from October 2013 to February 2014 in order to coincide with the release of the Dreamworks feature, Mr. Peabody and Sherman.  While it provides me with a little more breathing room, there is still much to be done.  At this point, I anticipate the book having more pages and artwork than even the limited edition of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.
     The manuscript is now complete and has gone through the editorial pass.  I'm about halfway through rough layout, which has been a time-consuming job simply because I've amassed over 4000 images over the last six months, with more pouring in each month.  I'm still on the lookout for original production art featuring Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-right and Tom Slick to fill out a few blank spots in the book.  I'm open to any other interesting finds so if anyone out there has Jay Ward art hiding in their collections or knows anyone who collects Ward art, please contact me at your earliest convenience.  Although I have many crew photos, I'm also on the lookout for more, so if you know someone who worked for Ward or if you're a family member of someone who worked there, I'd like to hear from you.  Below is a list of people I need photos for:

Jim Hiltz
Norm Gottfredson 
Gerry Ray
Joe Montell
Frank Hursh
Ellie Bogardus
Bill Littlejohn
Herman Cohen
Art Babbitt
Bob Maxfield
Fred Madison
Frank Smith


Saturday, December 22, 2012

The 50th Anniversary Airing of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol on NBC

Having been perhaps the biggest, if not sole, cheerleader for this classic special for the last 5 years, I have to say I can’t help but feel betrayed by what NBC did to it for its 50th anniversary airing.  Based on the interviews I gave to promote the broadcast, a new viewer would certainly look askance at what was presented and wonder if I had all my marbles.  It was perhaps the clumsiest and most heavy-handed editing job I’ve ever seen, providing no introduction to the story and no satisfying conclusion.  Songs were hacked midway through, story points edited out and considering that the current generation is unfamiliar with the character of Mr. Magoo, the lack of any introduction to the character is hard to fathom.  How is a new generation supposed to embrace this classic special?

The seemingly endless barrage of commercials clumsily placed into the special made the narrative almost incomprehensible.  Because the story was so severely hacked up, cutting back from long breaks made it hard to remember where we had left off and how the new scenes related to the previous scenes.  If this had been just one more seasonal presentation of the special, it could perhaps be dismissed but considering that it was the 50th anniversary of the special and the first time it had aired on broadcast television in 45 years, it’s inexcusable.

I think perhaps the saddest part of the whole ‘event’ was the commercials which seemed to mock the very spirit of the story and to show just how far the culture has fallen in the last 50 years.  If Lee Orgel had been worried at the time about whether or not his special was in good taste, he would have been appalled at the taste exhibited in most of the ads interrupting the show.  In fact, the overwhelming feeling from the airing was that the special was interrupting the commercials, which were clearly the point of the broadcast.  Perhaps what the airing helped to demonstrate is the continuing decline of the relevance of broadcast television.  It was certainly no way to celebrate the special.