For decades, Italian comics historian Alberto Becattini has been researching and writing about American funny animal comics. In this first volume of his two-part opus, Becattini presents the fruits of his labors, the definitive guide for funny animal fans, collectors, and historians alike.
Becattini examines the funny animal phenomenon, starting from its origins in popular and children’s literature, and continuing through its appearances in newspaper comics, comic books, and comic magazines.
All of the more famous characters are included, such as those created at Disney, Lantz, Warner Bros., MGM, and other cartoon studios, as well as the many lesser-known characters that appeared in obscure comic book titles issued by equally obscure comic book publishers.
During the writing process, and while viewing thousands of comic strips and comic pages, Becattini had many discoveries and “epiphanies” that let him shed light on the identities of hitherto uncredited artists and writers. While his aim has been to highlight the talent behind the comics, rather than the stories and characters themselves, he also provides in-depth coverage of virtually every funny animal comic book, illustration, and animated cartoon.
A must-have title for any serious funny animal fan!
Chapter 1: Super-Animals!
Chapter 2: Terry-Toons in Comics Form
Chapter 3: “Red” Rabbit and Friends: Dearfield/Laue
Chapter 4: From Famous to Harvey
Chapter 5: The Hanna-Barbera Bandwagon
Chapter 6: Other Studios, Other Animals
Chapter 7: All Aboard!
Chapter 8: Mid-Century Mirth
Chapter 9: Animals for Adults
Chapter 10: Latter-Twentieth-Century Developments
Here is the second volume of my magnum opus, in which you will find a myriad of funny creatures, many of which perhaps you did not know they existed, so obscure they are and so short their lifespan was. It is precisely writing about these forgotten characters that I had the most fun, as I myself discovered a whole world I little knew about.
True, in the first few chapters you will find some of your favorite characters, as these chapters concentrate on more funny animal comics from celebrated animation studios. Yet I wanted to devote a specific chapter to super-funny animals, as I think that they make up a category of their own. Chapter seven, which I have appropriately titled "All Aboard!", deals with the funny animal strips produced between 1937 and 1964 by as many as 57 different publishers, some well-known (if not for funny animal comics), others virtually unknown and short-lived. You will here discover (as I did) a myriad of unsung anthropomorphic creatures whose adventures may often appear naïve to our savvy eyes, although some of them seem to have kept their charms intact after all these years. Even more importantly, delving into these obscure comic titles will allow you to find out that artists later well-known for their funny-animal feats had first tackled this genre several years before. This is the case with Phil de Lara, a Warner Bros. animator who drew several nice features for such publisher as Harvey and Magazine Enterprises before becoming a prominent artists at Dell/Western/Gold Key. Along the way you will also meet such journeymen artists as Ellis Chambers, who seems to have worked for most funny-animal comic book publishers during the 1940s and early 1950s.
Once again, my main aim has been to highlight the creators rather than the characters, which of course does not mean that you will not find specific and detailed information about the latter ones—those which appeared in comic books, newspaper strips, or both. What is important is that you enjoy this happy ride as much as I did as I wrote about all of these colorful creatures. All aboard!
Born in Florence, Italy, Alberto Becattini is a high-school teacher of English who has been writing about comics, illustration, and animation for over forty years. He has been a contributor to Italian Disney publications since 1992, and has also written for Alter Ego, Comic Book Artist, Comic Book Marketplace, and Walt’s People, among others. An indexer for the Grand Comics Database and the I.N.D.U.C.K.S. project, he has written books about Dan Barry, Milton Caniff, Giovan Battista Carpi, Floyd Gottfredson, Bob Lubbers, Alex Raymond, Romano Scarpa, Alex Toth, Matt Baker, and Dan Barry.