Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

David Weidman 1921-2014

By now, most of you will have heard of the passing of David Weidman, who painted backgrounds on Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, did color styling on numerous Fractured Fairy Tales and also painted for Hanna Barbera in the late 60s.  He was even more well-known for his serigraphs from the mid-60s to the 70s, some of which can be seen here.  I profiled David about 3 years ago, which you can see here and if you're interested in reading more about David Weidman, check out his book here.

Unfortunately, he passed away while I was out of town, hence this late posting.  David died peacefully and in the home he built.  His memorial service was yesterday and family members and friends celebrated his life, recounting his sense of humor and unique, iconoclastic approach to life.  He lived a long life, long enough that he was around when his work was rediscovered late in life.  In fact, some of his serigraphs could be seen in episodes of Mad Men, as you can see here

I always found my visits with David to be humorous, stimulating and informative.  My last big visit with him was during research for the Jay Ward book, when we discussed his work for TV Spots, a Ward subcontractor, on Fractured Fairy Tales.  Although that part of his career had been largely overlooked, even by him, he was a font of knowledge about his time there and why he did what he did.  It was as if we had opened up a long forgotten closet and the information just came tumbling out.  Because the shorts he art directed there are so visually arresting, I ended up devoting several pages to his work.  Here's an example below:

It was an honor to have become a friend of David Weidman as well as chronicler of his animation work. Good-bye David, your keen eye for design and your wonderful sense of humor will be missed.

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