Sunday, January 26, 2014

Walt Clinton's Calvin

That funny cartoonist and H-B lover Mark Christiansen has pointed out a just-concluded auction on eBay for several comic strips drawn by Hanna-Barbera layout artist Walt Clinton.

No one seems to know anything about them. “Calvin,” as far as anyone knows, never appeared in any newspaper. Clinton could have been drawing some demos for one of the syndicates. The character designs are pretty familiar looking, aren’t they.

I suspect he lettered these himself. The italicized wail of the cat in the first panel looks really similar to the lettering on model sheets done in the later ‘40s when Clinton was working in Tex Avery’s unit at MGM. And is a coincidence that the family is named “Dibble”?



All of the strips have Clinton’s address of “2756 Angus St. L.A. 34” on them. I suspect they’re from the late ‘50s or early ‘60s.

The funny thing about reading these, I can hear cartoon voice actors in my head: Hal Smith for Bagby, Herb Vigran for Herb and Marian Richman for the wife. Calvin bears a resemblance to George Jetson but I can hear Don Messick instead of George O’Hanlon.

Animation historian John Province points out Clinton was an assistant to Harry Tuthill on the comic The Bungle Family.

Clinton was born October 1, 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri to William C. and Mamie Clinton; his father was a buyer in a shoe factory. He and his first wife Teresa are in the 1938 Los Angeles Directory where his occupation is “artist.” He’s living with Disney illustrator Gustaf Tenggren. The 1940 Census lists Clinton as “animator, motion picture studio,” who made $2,800 in 1939. His first animation credit at Metro was on Wild and Woolfy (1945; the credit was removed in a re-issue). He designed characters for a time in the Avery unit and remained with MGM until the cartoon studio closed in March 1953. By November, he was hired at Five Star Productions, which made animated commercials, as an assistant to the director. Clinton arrived at Hanna-Barbera when it got underway in 1957 and retired in 1969 at age 63. He and Dick Bickenbach were among the layout artists on the “Cattanooga Cats” show; that apparently was his final work for the studio. He re-married in 1972 in July 1972 (his wife’s name was Wilma). Clinton died in Sun City, Arizona on January 15, 1992.

11 comments:

  1. The cat is named Imogene. I can ONLY think of one person that the name would be for:Imogene Coca (and she never did any HB voices...) I heard Alan Reed as Calvin despite the George Jetson resemblance!Steve.

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    1. Imogene Coca is very reminded as Mary (the good fairy), who appeared in some episodes of the 7th season (1970-71) from Bewitched (Ashmont Productions/Columbia Pictures, 1964-72); so also at the role of Aunt Edna at the movie National Lampoon's Vacation (1983, with Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo).

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  2. Too bad this comic strip didn't get anywhere. I think it's a lot funnier and more visually appealing than Blondie.

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  3. Those are very good strips. Agree with Anonymous that they are funny and great visually. Thanks for posting them, Yowp.
    Jack

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    1. Walter Clinton was a full-handed artist. And also master in drawing groups, bunches and crowds.

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  4. This strip is a first for me. Love it. Yowp, I can really hear Hal Smith as Bagby. Of course the various kids on the block would be Daws and Don.

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  5. Imogene Coca also voiced Princess Jane Klockenlocher on THE Rankin-Bass 'Animagic' special THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES (1972).

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  6. Wow! There is sure some Flintstones and Jetsons in here! Amazing stuff, Yowp!

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  7. In fact, wasn’t’ that “ladder gag” used in The Flintstones? Either in “The Swimming Pool”, or some other Fred-and-Barney-Feud episode?

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  8. These were from Walt's studio collection, which I purchased from his wife shortly after his death in 1992. They're examples of the literally dozens of ideas Walt drew up, but never submitted.

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    1. John, thanks for your note. It's a shame more information about Clinton isn't out there. I can't find him from 1920 to 1938.

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