Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

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

Monday, November 16, 2020

Back in print!

 After 8 years of being out of print, I'm pleased to announce that my book on the making of the first animated Christmas special is back in print!  But wait, there's more!  This edition is softcover but instead of reprinting the 2009 book, this is a reprint of the 2012 deluxe slipcased 50th anniversary edition, which had 48 more pages than the original and over 200 more images.  This edition has the added bonus of 2 more pages with 6 more rare photos from the song recording session, photos that were uncovered years after the deluxe edition had sold out.  

To sum up, this printing has 180 pages vs the original edition's 128 pages and 439 images vs 232 in the original.  Because of the limited print run of the deluxe version (only 250 copies), very few people have seen the extra material.  If you only own the first printing, you owe it to yourself to get this version, it's the most complete edition ever printed.  Available online only from the usual suspects like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rocky & Bullwinkle in Mexico

Frank Hursh, head of background dept at Gamma
If you grew up with Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, it's a good bet you watched Rocky &
Bullwinkle and all the rest of Jay Ward's series.  For the next few weeks, my Jay Ward blog takes you behind the scenes at the Mexican studio, Gamma Productions, that actually produced those series.  This week, meet the ex-pat American head of the background department, Frank Hursh, and in the ensuing posts see some more rare photos and art from that era. Take a gander here.  And if you need a guidebook for your tour, get one here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bob Inman, 1927-2016

I'm sorry to report that Bob Inman, one of the two main background painters on Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, has passed away.  Bob was one of animation's unsung talents, largely because he spent his career painting for television animation which has never received the kind of recognition theatrical animation has.  He was part of a generation of highly trained artists who were nominally known in the industry as background painters but who might be more properly defined as color stylists, using color boldly and expressively, oftentimes outshining the low quality animation that served as the foreground.

Bob started at Bob Clampett's Snowball Productions, churned out BGs by the dozen for Hank Saperstein's UPA TV productions of Mr. Magoo and Dick Tracy, painted numerous backgrounds in the manner of various French Impressionists for the stylish feature, Gay Purr-ee and served as one of two main color stylists and painters on Christmas Carol

Stylish yet spartan BG from an unknown Magoo TV short
When work at UPA dried up, he followed Christmas Carol producer Lee Orgel over to Cambria for The New Three Stooges and then moved to Chuck Jones' incarnation of the MGM studio, working under Maurice Noble on such productions as Tom & Jerry and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Bob later styled and painted The Pogo Special Birthday Special and reunited with Christmas Carol director Abe Levitow for We're Off to See the Wizard.
Moody BG likely from a Magoo GE comercial
He had brief stints with Jay Ward on the George of the Jungle series and with Abe Levitow on B.C.: The First Thanksgiving.  Later years were spent on seasonal work at Hanna-Barbera along with stints for Bosustow & Associates and freelance for most of the commercial houses in LA.  Bob returned to UPA in 1970 to once again work for Lee Orgel and Abe Levitow on Uncle Sam Magoo, where he was chief color stylist for the special.

Shortly before retiring, he freelanced for Chuck Jones on his stylish TV special, Mowgli's Brothers, below is one of his color keys for the show.  He finally left animation in 1976, tiring of the on again, off again nature of the industry and spent the rest of his time pursuing his passion for fine arts painting.

Bob's unorthodox approach to color in Christmas Carol
While the Saperstein years at UPA were without a doubt a factory system, the painters were left alone to style and paint as they saw fit.  Being able to paint using various techniques and unusual color schemes were the hallmarks of Bob's time at UPA as evidenced by his work on Christmas Carol and The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo.

Right, one of Bob's more painterly backgrounds from the 4 part Robin Hood episode of The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo. Below, a background from the Cyrano De Bergerac episode from the same series. You can read a little more about Bob and see some more of his work here from a profile I did over 5 years ago here on this blog. 

Bob, like so many of his contemporaries in TV animation (David Weidman, Gloria Wood, Jack Heiter and Sam Clayberger among many others) has remained "in the background" of animation history.  I was fortunate to have met and interviewed Bob Inman and, because he saved so many examples of his work, highlight his legacy for future generations.  Thanks for the memories, Bob.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

What's new on the Jay Ward blog

This has nothing whatsoever to do with Mr. Magoo or Christmas but if you're a fan of Jay Ward you might want to check out the latest post at where I show very rare images from the original Dudley Do-right pilot produced in 1948, 13 years before he first appeared on The Bullwinkle Show.  The above image is NOT from the pilot but drawn by UPA and Ward director, Pete Burness. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The making of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

Welcome to my 100th post on this blog!  It's been 6 years since I published the first edition of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Special, which recounted the virtually lost story of two Broadway songwriters, Styne and Merrill, and the once cutting-edge animation studio, UPA, both of whom had an outsized impact on all future animated Christmas specials.  The book that no publisher would take on went through two sold-out printings and an out-of-print special commemorative 50th anniversary edition because I decided the story was compelling enough to publish it myself.

I'm sorry to say that the limited print runs have ensured that any edition of the book you can find from third party vendors will now likely be both rare and pricey.  However, if you're looking for a special Christmas gift or just want to get the book before it's gone forever, I recently discovered a few treasures in storage so here's your last chance.  This is a list of the final remaining inventory:

First printing of the book, signed by the author and 9 of the original cast and crew, #50 of 50: Marie Matthews, Laura Olsher, Jane Kean, Bob Singer, Gloria Wood, David Weidman, Bob Inman, Marty Murphy and Anne Guenther.  $199

50th Anniversary Collector's Edition, signed by the author,  #204 of 250, #248 of 250.  This edition was revised and expanded from the first edition with 48 new pages and over 200 more images.  Includes a separate Blu-ray/DVD with bonus material, which features the lost Overture and one of the song demos played and sung by Styne and Merrill.  $175 each. 

If you'd like to purchase any of the above items, send me an email at  First come, first served.

To all my readers over the years, have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Activities on the Art of Jay Ward blog

As you may have noticed, updates on this blog are few and far between.  As new information or artwork comes in, I will post on this blog but in the meantime, check out my sister blog, where I continue to post new info and art on the Jay Ward studio.  Lately, I've been posting regularly on Bill Scott's gag cartoons on life at Ward's and will continue to do so for the next few weeks.  Bill Scott, Jay's partner and head writer, producer and all around voice artist (Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-right, Super Chicken, George of the Jungle, etc) came up through the animation ranks and, as a cartoonist armed with biting wit, made humorous observations on their difficulties with ad agencies, networks, their status in the industry, and even each other.

This week, a series on ad agency shenanigans:

Check out this and previous postings at  And if you haven't bought the book, The Art of Jay Ward Productions, a limited number of copies are available HERE for half off the cover price of $49.95.  For those of you without calculators, that means just $25.  Christmas is coming, I'm just saying...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Gerard Baldwin, a life in animation

Readers of either of my books, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special or The Art of Jay Ward Productions will instantly recognize the name Gerard Baldwin.  Baldwin was responsible for directing and animating the highly memorable, show-stopping sequence featuring the Despicables in Christmas Carol.   For Jay Ward, he directed and animated many of the best episodes of Fractured Fairy Tales, Aesop & Son and Dudley Do-right at Jay Ward as well as animating several pilots such as Hoppity Hooper, Super Chicken and George of the Jungle.  Baldwin had a flair for turning the limitations of low-budget animation into assets while squeezing out the highest possible entertainment value.

Now, you can learn a little bit more about the master himself in his new book, From Mister Magoo to Papa Smurf, A Memoir by Gerard Baldwin, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Beginning at his beginning, Baldwin recounts growing up in New York, his decision to become an artist and his sideways move into the medium that would define his career, animation.  You'll read about his early days as an inbetweener at UPA, his military service, his return to UPA and his rise as an animator and director in the TV animation industry, culminating in becoming a producer on Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs.  Between his stories from the animation trenches and his wry observations, there are a number of charming drawings illustrating anecdotes from his life.

During it's baby boomer heyday, television animation was usually looked down upon, especially by those in the industry.  Consequently, very few animators and directors from that era put their experiences and thoughts down on paper; this is rare insight into the art and commerce of 1960s animated cartoons that is of interest to not only those that grew up with the cartoons but for anyone who follows pop culture.  You can buy it here.