Thursday, March 31, 2011

Little Help?

As previously mentioned, we're doing the signal films for this year's Ottawa Animation Festival.

Like most of our projects we're making it both simpler and far more complicated than it needs to be. 
There will be several episodes.

In one, we're going to do that face thing, in three parts, flipping.  From the kid's books.  I have no idea what it's called.

Above is an example.  The top third is eyes.  The middle is nose.  The bottom is mouth.  These will flip through with other looks making funny faces.

We're going to "crowd source" and see what we get.  We'll use any drawings submitted to asteriskanimation AT gmail DOT com.

Here's the template.

CLARIFICATION: We're just looking for a single drawing of a face in which the three sections align with the above grid. 

Of course, folks are welcome to do multiple faces.  The idea is that we'll take the face and "flip" the parts with others. 

We'll be in your gratitude if you send something.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Post Card Post

These are some postcards Maciek Albrecht made in the early 90s.

As a (less and less) frequent user of the postal service, I have great appreciation for the post card.  The back -the letter side -doesn't have room for too much blabber but the front -the image -is worth, well, a few thousand words.

Maciek is a brilliant guy.  First class film maker and terrific artist.  These cards are a special treat.

He gave me these right around the time I was making little airbrush post cards.  If I find any that aren't too embarrassing I'll post them.

There may have been one or two more in the series, but postcards aren't worth anything if you don't post them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top Cel Vol 2, #6 4/28/1945 - War Coming to Close

Sunday I mentioned WWII cartoon insignia. On page three of this week's Top Cel, it discusses Walter Lantz' recent insignia for a torpedo squadron out of San Diego.


As we keep informing our members in the Famous unit by our after negotiation bulletins, we haven't been able to make much progress.  The company insists in its position of not being able to increase the minimums of any classification, although it would like us to prepare some incentive system for them.  The Unit met on Wednesday, and decided to approach the company with a lager committee in an effort to break the present deadlock in negotiations.  It was decided that if this step did not bring results that a meeting of the  General Membership would be called to decide upon specific action.

At Terry's the contract committee is at work drawing up a proposed contract.

At Famous the company organized a little contest to see which one of the assistants was ready for Animation.  Woody Gelman and Bill Hudson tied for first place.  To break the tie they both developed their scenes further.  They are now awaiting the final results with abated breaths and knives in hand.

The Union without the signature of the Company, appealed the WLB decision denying the raises to C. Vinceguerra and Tony Screazzo.  In so doing we don't have much hopes of achieving what we want, because the sure way to get those raises is by establishing the wage ranges.  However, Terrytoons does not seem interested to go into that at the present time.

When we finished negotiations last year we agreed on a bonus plan with Famous, and before getting the WLB approval, against our advice, the members worked for these bonuses.  Afterward, the Board ruled against the plan, and the Union, with the Employer, asked permission to pay the monies owed to the Employees.  The WLB denied the petition.


The CIO joined forces last week with old and new veteran's organizations to help assure jobs for returning servicemen.  The recent enlarged CIO Veterans Committee met at national CIO headquarters in Washington to speed formation of more national and local union veteran's committees by supplying recommendations and information to CIO affiliates.  Under an agreement made last July by the CIO, VFW and AFL, veterans returning to their old jobs and veterans taking new jobs are credited with seniority month by month according to the time they served their country.

Governor Dewey has signed the Condon bill.  The measure establishes a permanent State Division of Veterans' Affairs in the Executive Department.  Assistance to veterans, of whom more than 230,000 already have been discharged from among the 1,200,000 New York residents in the armed forces, will include counsel, re-orientation, aid in obtaining work in civilian life and special rest and psychiatric care.

Another bill of importance to returned personnel of the armed services got the Executive approval last week.  It provides that no penalties rising from the non-payment of taxes on real property may be levied against person in the military service, even if the tax fell due before commencement of the period of military service.


Lt. George Giroux recieved his air medal andone cluester.  He is now first pilot with assignment to lead crew.

New at Fletcher Smith, Jack Hectov.

Joe Oriolo taking a 30 day vacation.

Saul Kessler dressing very smartly since his sons went into the armed services.

Dun Roman breaking with a swell illustration in current Colliers.

New at Famous Marion Enoch and Patricia Simpson.

Lt. Irvin Spector expeding his furlough in California.

Carlo Vinciguerra is known legally as Carlo Vinci.

Bella Weinberg engaged.

Frank Spaulding now a Corporal.

Morey Reden back from the West Coast.

Edgar Starr still at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Birthday greetings to Beatrice Sertner, Iris Tomberg, Shirley Harris.


Last April 23 the Supreme Court upheld two decisions of the National Labor Relations Board supporting employee's rights to solicit union membership and distribute literature on company property.

In one case the company had a general rule against "soliciting of any type" well before there was any union activity in the plant.  An employee who persisted in soliciting union membership in the plant by passing out application cards on his own time during the lunch period was discharged for infraction of the general rule.  In the other case two employees were suspended two days each for distributing union literature on their own time on company-owned parking lots in violating of a strictly enforced rule which was adopted prior to the appearance of union activity in the premises.  The NLRB in both cases rules that the employers' actions contravened the law and ordered the employers to put the employees back in their jobs.

The Decorators and the Conference of Studio Unions knew it was sticking its neck out when they struck against the Producers and the IA leadership.  Electricians, Machinists, Set Designers, Painters, Janitors, Carpenters, etc. are still out. The NLRB has ordered all to come to Washington for a hearing, and in the meanwhile David Selnick and Edward Small agreed to recognize the Decorators.  Both lots are strike-free.  Carpenters voted to require each member to picket at least three days each week or pay $1.71 for each day missed.


There is now going on at San Francisco a meeting of Nations that will determine whether The United Nations who have fought so valiantly together in a grim and bloody war can carry over that spirit of cooperation and unity into a peaceful world.

We are all affected personally by what will be decide at this momentous conference.  We have the opportunity in San Francisco to establish the framework of peace among nations, of realizing a stable and prosperous world.

It is important that we acquaint ourselves with the purpose of the Dumbarton Oaks Organization.  They are:

1. To maintain international peace and security; and to that end to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and the suppression of acts of aggression or other breach of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means adjustment or settlement of international disputes which may lead to breach of the peace;

2. To develop friendly relations among nations and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

3. To achieve international cooperation in the solution of international economic, social and other humanitarian problems; and

4. To afford a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the achievement of these common ends.

We must not forget, while considering the problems of the Unity of Nations being dealt with at San Francisco, that if our own country is to be able to play her proper role therein we need to achieve a greater national unity inside America.  This problem of National Unity is, in the first place, the harmonious relationship between trade unions and management.  This can be exemplified by the mutal endorsement of the SEVEN POINT PROGRAM by Eric Johnston of the US Chamber of Commerce, William Green of the AF of L and Philip Murray of the CIO.  This program establishes certain principles designed to create the conditions for peacefully negotiated settlement of all questions arising between labor and management in American Industries, to avoid the threatened rise of large-scale industrial conflicts which might wreck all plans for a peaceful and prosperous world when this present war is won.

All of us in the trade union movement have a grave responsibility to fulfill.  We must become consciously alert and active and see that the San Francisco Conference is a success.  We must become consciously acquaint ourselves with the Dumbarton Oaks and Bretton Woods proposals, send telegrams and letters voicing our approval, and use our Union as an instrument for creating Unity and strength so that President Truman can carry out the heritage President Roosevelt left us to carry on.


Blood donors: Lucy Violante, Dotty WeberBeulah Kirshner, Ruth ForrestLarry Silverman, the only male from Terry's at the blood bank on April 17th.  Bernice Steinberg playing piano in concert at Carnegie Chamber Hall, Friday April 27th.  Here's hoping Connie Rasinski will be feeling like his old jovial self soon.  Blonde Peg Sutton in NY recording for a coming Terry-toon.  We'd received a very interesting letter from Neil Sessa from India.  Do we hear wedding bells?  Urania Kikes left to wait for her Marine Capatin's return, Gerry de Nunzio, former opaquer, doing a fine job in Mr. Terry's office.  At a party given to Don and Helen Tobin we found a group of ex-Disney Service men, among them Paul Kossoff, Ed and Happy Saylor, Reg and Nancy Massie, George Baker, Dan Noonan, Sam Cobean.

Belated birthday wishes are in order to Eddie Donnelly and Jean Maier.  

Doris Ortelli engaged.

Lt. Dick Alexander, in Liberal, Kansas, waiting for his well deserved 30 day furlough.

Carl Fallenberg is officially a civilian now.

Also in the list of recently discharged Marines:  Chadwick, Whitacker and FeyReg Massie won first prize for oils in the Second Service Command Art Exhibition at the Art Students League.  From her the painting will go to the National Gallery in Washington.


Walter Lantz has completed his 30th insignia for armed force groups... Latest shows Woody Woodpecker riding a Torpedo and will be used by a Torpedo Squadron based at San Diego.

From Film Daily: "Short, Short Story.  Manchester, NH -Maybe a few rationing headaches were relieved by this double billing at the Granite Square Theater here: You can't Ration Love! - 'The Hour before Dawn.'"

Ray Katz, general studio manager for Leon Schlesinger for 15 years and in similar post Warners cartoon plant, severed his connections because of illness.  Katz had been away from his desk for past two months.

Probability that the cartoon "Peace on Earth" with Hugh Harman produced for MGM in 1940 and which was nominated for the Nobel peace prize, will be shown on the program of the United Nations Conference in San Francisco, loomed strongly, when Harman's studio representatives were contacted by the State Department in Washington on the subject.

Within the framework of current "Montague Twentieth Anniversary Campaign", Columbia's sales force has instituted a shorts and serials drive, and May has been selected as "Short Subjects Month."  During the span, personnel of company's 31 branches will concentrate on booking as many shorts and serials as possible.

Home offices of motion pictures companies have been placed in the War Man Power Commission.  The order affects only the home offices and does not involve the exchanges.

Last year was the greatest box office year in the history of motion pictures, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica's 1945 Book of the Year, to be published May 1.  It is estimated in the article that receipts ranged from $1,500,000,000 to nearly $2,000,000,000.


"When you have lived for a long time in close contact with the loss and grief which today pervades the world, any personal sorrow seems to be lost in the general sadness of humanity.  There is only one way to repay the dead who have given their utmost for the cause of liberty and justice.  They died in the hope, that, through their sacrifice, an enduring peace would be built and a more just world would emerge for humanity.

Any man in public life is bound, in the course of the years, to create certain enmities.  But when he is gone, his main objectives and a determination to achieve those objectives themselves."

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt in "My Day", April 17.


A significant increase in the number of students attending Negro institutions of higher education has taken place during the current school year.  In his annual survey Dr. Martin D. Jenkins of Howard University reports that ninety-seven Negro institutions show a total of 35,033 resident undergraduate college students during the fall term of the 1944-45 academic year, an increase of 27 per cent over the same period last year.  Fourteen institutions for Negroes now offer graduate work leading to the master's degree.  Thirteen of these institutions have 565 graduate students in attendance during the fall term 1944-45, and a total of 2,043 students during the entire school year of 1943-44.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Show Open

Spent much of the weekend watching Satoshi Kon's Paranoia Agent.

Not surprisingly, it's a brilliant piece of work. On the level of Twin Peaks or The Decalogue or The Singing Detective in terms of made for TV greatness.

Even the opening is astounding and bears multiple viewings.

The animation itself is simple. It's use and reuse, that's another thing.

I love, in particular, the double exposure of the animation over itself during the character zoom.

The series doesn't have the emotional kick of Paprika or Tokyo Godfathers, the storytelling and intellectual arc may exceed everything else in Satoshi Kon's too small body of work.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Speaking of Cats

There have been a few studies on WW2 bomber mascots, most notable pin up girl nose art.

It would be interesting to see a round up of fire house mascots too.

This Garfield (in a kind of great drawing) is on the fire house on West 4th just off of 6th Avenue.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cat Reprint

At the Veterinarian's a few days ago, I learned that today marks the 11th Anniversary of Murray the Cat's

After that same visit, unfortunately, that Murray has acute kidney failure and may not have much more time with us.

It should go without saying that this makes me unspeakably sad.

I wanted to re-run a post from a few years back which showcases some Murray art.

He's been a remarkable friend.

Murray the Cat was recently hospitalized for week.

He's fine now.

Our friend Abby Denson recently published "Dolltopia" in which a cartoon Murray plays a part.

A former production artist at the studio created this painting of him.

And here's a portrait in felt on a scarf Dame Darcy made for me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

War Between Men and Women

America clearly loves war.

I may be in the minority on that subject, having sated my bloodlust on video games and violent movies many years ago.

I believe, however, that I stand with the majority in my affection for James Thurber.

These are some more frame grabs from 1972's The War Between Men and Women.

This sequence mixes live action with animation.  It's made most effective by shooting on an illustrated set.

And intercutting with full animation.

It makes interacting with the background seamless.

There are some composites (though this may be a rear projection, it's impossible to tell from VHS).

There's an explosion towards the end of the sequence which I like.

That leads to a graphic conclusion

Thursday, March 24, 2011

6 Cents for Postage

These pressboard plates have mailing labels on the back which call for 6 cents postage.

They're fancy postcards.

If they fit into the 2 ounce first class postage rate (I didn't weigh them), that would put them before 1958.  That's a three year window after the opening of Disney Land.

That feels about right stylistically.  The artwork is loose but still "appealing".  Moreso, in my opinion than the animated versions of these characters.

The brush line makes them feel more like Carl Barks' great drawings than the tight motion picture draughting.

Even how the Goof lays out interrupting the frame line is a nice design touch.

I got this exacerbated Donald for Christina.  Seemed appropriate.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

George Plimpton on Bill Plympton

While reviewing the Bill Plympton book, I pulled an old collection of his caricatures off the shelf.

Medium Rare was published by Holt Rinehart Winston in 1978, several years before he embarked on his full time animation journal. 

The illustration contents are terrific and speak for themselves.  Had Bill decided to stick with caricature he may have given David Levine a run for his money.  Animation, I guess, requires just as many lines but used over a few dozen more drawings.

Young David Levine worked at Terrytoons.  Maybe Plympton's career is like Levine in reverse.

The introduction by George Plimpton is very funny and worth sharing.

I have always envied those who practice the art of cartooning, and are good at it.  The one drawing I ever had published -when I was the editor the Harvard Lampoon and had the power to put my own material -was printed upside down, a state which my staffers, who were probably responsible, assured me was an improvement on the original concept.  Indeed, as I turned the magazine around a few times I was inclined to agree with them -though I did take exception to on of the Lampoon people who preferred the caricature lying on its side.  Since that time I have become only slightly more proficient, as the drawings on the next page might indicate.  In case the reader does not immediately recognize them as U. S. Presidents, I have identified which is which.

The reader will notice my hats.  I have trouble with the tops of heads, so I invariably put hats on them.  I am not bad at hats, sometimes I draw them lying around at the feet of my caricatures (or rather the foot, since I am incapable of drawing a pair legs on anyone en profile).  It will be noticed that I am not all that bad at drawing the balloons to contain the words the cartoonist's characters have in mind to say.  My trouble is with the words to put in the balloons -as is demonstrated by what I my two Presidents saying... their comments lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.

All of this is preamble to an expression of my admiration for the craftsmanship and the wit of Bill Plympton.  He is not only an admirable artist (he has no trouble with his legs at all) but he finds very funny and very perceptive things for his people to say.  How rare it is to find an artist adept at both these requirements of the great caricaturist-cartoonist.  Some are good at finding things for their characters to say, but deliver them through uninspired child-like stick people; others are draughtsmen with skill but little wit.  Plympton, on the other hand, combines artistic skills (some of his caricatures reflect a close study of HonorĂ© Daumier) with a lively sense of his function as an artist-commentator in these parlous times -namely to present his work as a correct to social inertia.

What follows is a selection of Bill's best strips and caricatures since 1975.  Some of them ran originally in The Soho Weekly News, others  in a small-press paperback titled Tube Strips.  Many published here are new -an added fillip for those familiar with Bill's work as they commemorate the pleasure they had first discovering it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Cel Vol 2, #5 4/13/1945 - Not Much About Animation


Negotiations at Famous do not seem to be going very well.  The company's counter proposes not to change the present contract but instead to give only merit increases to about 15 people, and to establish quotas or a bonus plan when ever possible.  Unable to make any head way, you Negotiation Committee has decided to call in the lawyers.

At Famous a misunderstanding about an Assistant that was being paid like a Breakdowner, was settled by the company and our Business Agent by making the adjustment retroactive to March 13 to whatever salary we agree upon in our new contract.

Service Ribbin went like hot cakes, so Pepe has ordered already 50 more copies from the West Coast.

Some members have asked for a break down if Top Cel circulation.  We mailed our last issue to 77 service men overseas and 71 to men stationed with the US (not including Signal Corp Unit here)  Also to 162 civilians, including workers in the West Coast.  Appr. 300 copies were distributed among the studios and the Signal Corp.

The War Labor Board approved the $10 raise for Don Figlozzi, however, Vincinguerra's and Creazzos' were denied.

As reported officially in the Brotherhood's bulletin, the proposed amendment to lower the per capita tax from .80 to .60 was defeated.
Number of votes in favor 10,994
Number of votes against   57,224
Majority against               46,340

In order to start the ground work for our coming Terry contract, the Unit elected to following members for the Contract Committee: Animation: Larry Silverman, Carlo Vincinguerra; Breakdown: Muriel Gushe, Steve Gattoni; Inbetweeners: Kay Feriola, Tony Creazzo; Camera: Lester Schudde, Joe Rasinski: Story; Tommy Morrison; Inking: Helen Brombeck, Cecile Niewenhous; Opaquing: Patricia Stockford, Margaret Adrian: Special Effects; Irene Rowland; Checking: Elsa Fumaro; Paint Technician: Frank Crampton.  The Committe will be meeting next Wednesday April 18th at 7:00 PM.

At the last General Membership Meeting the members, realizing that the Bioff-type unionism is a menace to the labor movement and knowing that the action taken by the Screen Set Designers, Illustrators and Decorators, Local 1421 and the Conference of Studio Unions is part of a struggle for honest and democratic unionism against IATSE-Boss Bioff-type unionism in Hollywood, and knowing how the fellows in uniform feel about it, resolved "that we support and sympathize with the action taken by the Screen Set Designers, Illustrators and Decorators, Local 142 and the Conference of Studio Unions in its dispute with the Association of Motion Picture Producers, Inc.  and the leadership of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees."


If there is wisdom in the old saying, "In Time of peace prepare for war", there is far more wisdom today in its reverse.

The problems of peace are here NOW, even if peace itself is still many months in the future, specially in the Pacific.  In less than four weeks, representatives of the United Nations will meet in San Francisco to construct a world organization.  Before Congress are bills to approve the Brenton Woods monetary agreements, essential to achieve full world production and employment in the postwar.

That is why CIO Pres. Murray has asked every one of his Locals to hold meetings during April to discues: "What the Dumbarton Oaks plan means to the people of the world and specially to American workers, the connection of the Brenton Woods monetary agreements with international security and its relation to jobs here in the United States through an expansion of foreign trade."

The American people must exercise their mighty political power to see that the peace is built solidly.  To exercise that power, they must know the issues.  the workers should take the lead in seeing that the issues are understood.


At Terrytoons last week we had a little incident when he Local requested the payment of dues from

three members who were in arrears.  It was unfortunate and in the future, the stewards are being instructed the get everyone paid up each month, and not to let the dues pile up.  We hope to save the situation that way.

At Famous, from now on, the stewards will give a receipt when the member pay his dues, and will keep the membership card to be stamped at the office.  At the first Friday after the 15th of each month, the Business Agent will give the cards to the company for their checking.  Especially in the Paint Dept. it is hoped that the girls will cooperate with the stewards in making the paying only during recess (and not at the last minute) as the collectors don't get any extra time from the company and they have to keep their averages up.  So please give the steward your money with the membership card, and make sure you get your receipt.


LT. DICK ALEXANDER, after finishing 50 missions in the Pacific came home and got married.  Congratulations!  A hint to all available males... PATRICIA STOCKFORD caught the bride's bouquet at a recent wedding.  MOREY REDEN visiting in California.  Sgt. JACK ZANDER a new Father of a baby boy.  NESTA THOMAS in Miami, a new subscriber to "Top Cel".  WILBUR STREECH promoted to Captain a few days ago.  Sgt. GEORGE BAKER returned from a West Coast visit.  PEGGY ADRIAN back after having her tonsils taken out.  EDNA MAY REGAL getting married Saturday at 10:00 AM in the Holy Family Church in New Rochelle.  HONARE SHARRER new worker at Fletcher Smith.  Pvt. IRVING DRESSLER visiting Famous.  Tricycle wanted, old or new: please get in touch with LESTER SCHUDDE at Terry.  JACK MENDELSOHN, S 2/C, now at Bainbridge, MD.  DOROTHY KNEITEL came back from Florida looking like a million.  SAM COBEAN, BEN LEVITOW and AL EUGSTER back after finishing basic at SCPC in Long Island.   VIRGINIA WHITNEY, now at Lt. (j.g.) stationed in San Francisco.  April 17th blood donors include: RUTH ADRIAN, JOAN O'CONNOR, JOYCE DRUCKER, PATRICIA STOCKFORD, PHYLIIS SAGRIN, IRENE ROWLAND.  All are invited.  Are you men going to let the gals get all the credit?


"Wounded veterans in Washington's Walter Reed Hospital" said the latest Time Magazine, "have twisted restlessly under the quips and songs of entertainers.  What they really wanted to hear were plans which the US industry has for their future -after they are discharged."

Last week Eugene Holman, president of Standard Oil Co. told them his company's plans for them.  Any discharged veteran who wants to go into the filling-station business should apply to Standard.  It is ready to spend $3000 per veteran to build him a filling station.  The cash will be a loan: a man's character will be his collateral.  Holman assured them that there are no strings attached to the offer; they need not sell Standard's products.  "There is nothing charitable about the plan..." said Holman.  "It's good business."

In May, Bulova Watch Company, Inc. will open a school in Queens to train severely wounded veterans as expert watch and clock repairs.  The school expects to graduate 500 men a year, will cost Bulova $500,000.

Ford Motor Company has set aside all jobs in once of its rural plants for disabled veterans.

Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co. has 6,362 veterans with medical discharges on its payrolls.

The Society of American Florists and Ornamental Horticulists believes that its members can employ 16,000 disable veterans for light, quiet work in green houses and showrooms.

The Leatherneck, the Marine magazine published in their January issue a story on the "Veterans' Benefits", a detailed and carefully arranged report of the service men benefits and opportunities under the GI Bill of Rights.  The response was terrific with requests for reprints.  The article has been reprinted in a handy pamphlet form.  The pamphlet is 16 pages, measure 10 x 13 inches and is printed in two colors. "Top Cel" believing all the cartoonists in uniform here or the West Coast would be vitally interested in the same has ordered over 400 to be mailed to all service men here or overseas.  If there are any copies left, we will sell them for five cents to our members here.  Place your order with your steward.

Governor Dewey signed bills doubling the number of State scholarships for war veterans, providing for the bestowal of State citations and emblems upon returning NY State veterans.  The Veterans' Scholarship Bill creates an additional 1,200 for the benefit of veterans who served either in this war or in World War I, each granting $350 a year to the recipient.


In spite of the present Hollywood strike, the motion picture industry contributed to the Red Cross fund $705,537.35. approximately $50,000 more than ever was given in such a campaign.

Arrangements were made by the Hollywood

 strike strategy committee for the 8000 to 9000 men on strike, who have not being able to donate blood through the mobile blood banks in the studios to march in a body to the blood bank at the Western Ave. branch of the American Red Cross and give blood.

The new Local 852 "The Animator" is quite a little paper.  We want to congratulate their editorial committee and we wish this ambitious and striking paper a long life.

Number of film industry people who have donned the uniforms of the Armed Services now has passed 40,000 Hollywood alone has sent more than one third.  From Actors and Extras, 1501 (including 49 stars).  Producers and Exhibitors who have gone into uniform total 48.  The Screen Directors Guild has 132 members and the Screen Writers 230 more.  The cartoonists on both coasts have over 400 and considering that near  half of our artists were girls (now the percentage is higher), the number is probably highest in the industry.

Paramount has extended its releasing deal with George Pal for his "Puppetoons" for another year.

The 30th anniversary of 20th Century Fox was also a double anniversary for Paul Terry, 30 years producing cartoons and 10 years with Fox.

Rumors: That Walt Disney plans to make a "Currier and Ives" feature.

The War Production Board has announced that Producers of educational training and factual films draw a 50% increase in direct allotment of 35mm raw stock for the second quarter of 1945.

Morey and Sutherland have scheduled a series of 16mm films titled "What Do You Want To Be?" depicting in live action and in color, various vocational pursuits for young people.

We read in Variety: "Metro's cartoon Dept. with a special crew of technicians designed and utilized their own original equipment in combining human and cartoon figures in action in "Anchors Aweigh".  Highlight of the human action sequence was Gene Kelly's dance fantasy."

Herb Sorrell, prexy of the Conference of Studio Unions and other strike leaders are off salary  for duration of the studio emergency.  Sorrell adopted the same attitude in 1937 when studio painters were on strike for two months.


Millions of people in the Allied nations -in Europe and in Asia -are in distress.  Governments will feed these victims of disaster until there is employment for them again; but it is from our closets that they must find their clothing.  These are people who have fought side by side with our men on world battlefronts.  The United National Clothing Collection is a joint effort of all voluntary war relief agencies.  Enemy countries will not receive any of the clothing collected in this drive.

Why not bring your spare clothing to the studio -everything wearable, shoes (tied together by pairs) and bedding, and the Local will take care of the rest.

What can you spare that they can wear?


Wage adjustments ordered by the WLB for employees of the the Traffic Div. of the NY Telephone Co. and Long Lines Dept of the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. are to be retroactive to Jan. 10, 1944, the Board just ruled.  The raises are $2 and $3 and involves 20,000 workers.

Holding that foreman in modern mass-production industry are little more than "traffic cops" who have no voice in policy making, a majority of the NLRB has just ruled that supervisory employees are entitled to collective bargaining under the Wagner Act.  Leaders of the automobile industry said the would do "everything in their power" to oppose the unionization of foremen and other supervisory employees.

After being certified by the NLRB as representing extras, stunts, bit part and singing players and after having won an election by a big majority, the new Screen Players Union finds that the NLRB, under terrific pressure from the Actors Guild and the Producers has modified its certification, limiting the bargaining rights of the SPU exclusively to extra work.

After reading PM article on the Hollywood strike we wrote John P. Lewis its Managing Editor, and this is what he answered: "...I confess, it now seems to me that the story was rather superficial --and I wish we'd had one of our labor experts out there to do it.  It is unfortunate that our budget doesn't permit us to have specialists all over the country.  But this case teaches me that in future we ought not to expect staff members to go out the their field unless we give them time enough to dig."

CIO Pres. Philip Murray, AFL Pres. William Green and US Chamber of Commerce Pres. Eric Johnson signed  a "New Charter for Labor and Management" last week, pledging

postwar co-operation for full production and full employment.  The program is designed to: Prevent postwar anti-union activity by some sections of management.  Prevent a drive to the left by some sector of labor.  Remove wartime restriction from labor-industry relations.  Maintain private enterprise.

Not signers of the Charter were the Manufacturers Association or the Railroad Brotherhoods.


Lt. George Giroux quite lonely for a while after certain nasty accident over Leipzig.
Tom Goodson promoted to 1st Lt.
Bernice Bernstein and Sylvia Palansky celebrated their birthday last week.
Gordon Whittier a father again.
Phyllis Prosk in charge of the WAC Medical Dept. at Fort Meade, made a 1st Lt.
Sgt. Cy Young at the animation unit here.
Pfc Harry Arpadi is drawing his own cartoon strips for The Pine Post, an Army paper.  Congratulations, Harry!
New background artist at Famous from Miami, Frank Backer.
Gif Hise met by accident in Chicago Art Institute Henry Syverson who is going to Culver City.
Dan Noonan in New York for a few days.
Pvt. Concetto Auditore is now at the Italian Front.  Good luck Connie!
Sgt. Ralph Somerville sent us their paper "Roundup" with his cartoons and a very nice write up about Sgt Wendell Ehret.
Johnny Gentle took his physical last Wednesday.  He is still with us.
1st Lt. Keith Darling writing us from Paris where he is stationed.
Sgt. Jimmie Clabby ordering some paint brushes from us.
Yvette Schayes transferred to Paint Lab.
Bob (Zeke) de Grasse finally hit the tropics!  He is having a grand time in the Philippines as we expected.
Rose Schoenberg leaving Famous.
Phyllis Shagrin glowing over her recently acquired engagement ring.


In our last issue we reported to you on the background of the Decorators strike in Hollywood.  Whe the Producers and the IATSE refused to recognize the fact that 99% of the Decorators Union wanted to affiliate with the Brotherhood of Painters; when the Producers and IATSE refused to abide by a decision of a WLB mediator; and when the WLB did not enforce its decision, the Decorators had no alternative.  They went out in strike.

Since then those who value the honest unionism that Herb Sorrell and the Decorators represent and feel the urgent need to fight for it, even in war time, have declared themselves, as have those who, for diversal reasons, are against such action.  The Decorators picket lines are now being respected among others by the Painters, Carpenters, Electricians, Machinists, Janitors, Set Designers, etc.

Pres. Walsh (Bioff heir) rushed to New York to get Pres. Hutchinson of the Carpenters to order his men back to work.  Hutchinson refused to interfere in the affairs of the Hollywood Local.  Members of Local 40, IATSE, the one involved in the dispute, now say that they can easily settle their jurisdictional differences if Walsh would let them do their own negotiating.  The "democratic" response of Walsh was to take over Local 40 entirely. (That is Walsh-Bioff unionism the Producers want in Hollywood and the condition Herb Sorrell and the Decorators are on strike against).

The reaction of our members in the service to the strike has been very gratifying.  Even though they are far from Hollywood and busy with more vital tasks, they understand the issues better than some people here seem to.  They remember their long hard struggle to build a union in Hollywood and they remember too, that they had to lick Bioff as well as the Producers.  We have contracted service men overseas, in New York and in Washington, and far they are behind Herb Sorrell 100%.

They want to make sure that when they return from war they will have a voice in their union affairs and not be dictated to by gangster leaders.  The force they want to see ruling in Hollywood is not Herb Sorrell, or the Conference of Studio Unions or the IATSE, but the workers themselves, the General Membership and anyone they democratically choose.


Talking about the conference The New Yorker in its current issue says: "One thing we can be glad of is that the conference is to be held in this country.  The United States is regarded by people everywhere as a dream come true, a sort of world state in miniature.  Here dwell the world's emigrants under one law, and the law is: 'Thou shalt not push thy neighbor around'.  By some curious divinity which in him lies, Man, has turned out more good than bad, more right than wrong, more kind than cruel, more sinned against than sinning.  This is the world's hope and its chance.  The Senator is right -when you have fluidity and justice, the people get on all right."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Commercial Break

Here's an ad we just finished for

Turns out we're already a client (they purchased a little while back and they're our web registry).

Fly Communications was the agency.  They were great to work with.  Very open to our ideas and responsive with their own.  Terrific agency.

At Asterisk, Doug Compton was the animator with additional animation and assistant work by Christina Capozzi Riley and some additional inbetweening by Liesje Kraai.

Robbie Ledoux and JZ Barrell of Hudson Sound Lab did the music.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Color Blast From The Past

I remember running out of middle green paint one Friday morning around 1997.

Chances are Cartoon Colour wouldn't be able to make the shipment for the weekend crew (cel painting -especially on commercials was often a seven day a week affair).

By that time New York Central Art Supply was the only place  you could get the stuff locally.  Pearl Paint still carried black and maybe white.  F&B Ceco carried some other supplies like acetates but even those were in short supply.

So it was a little shocking to see this in Blick on Bond Street.

Maybe they think it's still 1998, it would have been in relatively high demand with Buzzco, Curious Pictures and Michael Sporn Animation all within a few blocks at the time -not to mention NYU's always interesting film animation program.

I wonder how much they Cel Vinyl they sell today and who's buying.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Odds and Sods.

I have a review of Independently Animated: Bill Plympton up for The Comics Journal.


It's an excellent book.  Very well produced and very personable.  It fills a gap in the animation library.


Anthology Film Archives has program this afternoon which includes Leger's Ballet Mechanique and other short experiments from the 1920s.

These bits of history may not be exciting in the same ways they were 90 years ago, but they're still exhilarating.


The Tribeca Film Festival has announced it's slate.

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life will be premiering there.  We've done several short segments in the style of Al Hirschfeld for the film.

They also announced their program of animated shorts. (CLICK HERE)

I'm unfamiliar with all of the films and all of the filmmakers in the program.  It's good that such a high profile festival isn't bound to play the old standards.

Here's the list:
The Beaufort Diaries by Drew Jordan and Alex Petrowsky 
Not Over Easy by Jordan Canning
Year Zero by Richard Cunningham III 
Preferably Blue by Alan Dickson
Just That Sort of a Day by Abhay Kumar (looking like India's much anticipated answer to Don Hertzfelt from the promo still)
A Lost and Found Box of Human Sensation by Martin Wallner and Stefan Leuchtenberg
Harmonium Mountain by Clifford Ross

Friday, March 18, 2011

Minus One For Clapping

Like many longish-timers in New York animation, I have an on/off relationship to ASIFA. 

Over the past two weeks they've been screening entries for their upcoming awards show.  It's always a mixed bag, there's not much anyone can do about the quality of entries.  Except, of course, to enter films of decidedly high (or low) quality to tip the balance.

The Independent shorts are typically the highlight.  For whatever reason, this year they were the weakest program.

My favorite from that evening was Morgan Miller's Vacuum Attraction.

It's kind of crude and more than a little lewd, but the characters are well defined and the creative vision is precise.

Two things that attract me to ASIFA are its history and its and outreach.  The student films can be exciting and innovative.  Young artists provide fresh blood for untalented creative vampires like me.

I missed a small chunk of the student films.  I see Kelsey Stark's film was in the first few (I've seen it a few times, and it would probably rank in the top of all films shown).

Two other standouts were Jacob Kafka's Giraffe-stronaut

And an unexpectedly great, somewhat unfinished film by Kevin Dossantos titled My 1st Invention. It matches up with Morgan Miller's in some ways, but it's much cuter. No sign of it online.

The history of ASIFA has some meaning and these screenings are reminders. I'm reminded of George Griffin saying how your job in the audience is to program a festival. A festival that is emblematic of New York's relationship to animation.

As fun as it may be to moan and cluck from the auditorium, it's a serious task if one takes animation seriously.

That's why I find the clapping and hooting for personal favorites obnoxious. A member has a vote, yes. That vote has meaning, but screenings aren't about you, hooting voter. They're not even about the films, per se, or the film makers. The ASIFA show, the awards, represent Animation. It represents New York, community, for better or worse, and the continuum of an art form from Stars & Stripes Prods. Forever, Inc. "Sparklettes: Desert" (the first best in show) and the great Sesame Street films of the 70s (Jerry Lieberman's Parrot capturing 1972 title) and Suzan Pitt's Asparagus and Michael Sporn's Marzipan Pig and John Schnall's Grim to the groundbreaking, individual artists of the future.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ink Tank Poster

I used to have a few of these, but floods, vermin and other plagues did them in.

One of R. O. Blechman's original models for The Ink Tank was the Magnum Photo Agency.  Replacing photographers with illustrators, he thought he could create an animation agency for the world's great print artists.

Seymour Chwast designed this poster with eight fingers -one for each artist in the stable.  Blechman, Chwast, Maurice Sendak, Ronald Searle, Andre Francois, Edward Sorel, Chas. B. Slackman, and Jean-Michel Folon.

The Ink Tank evolved into a more traditional production company.  I don't think Folon or Andre Francois were ever animated by the studio.  Searle had some bits in a 2:00 spot for The Atlantic (I think), Slackman and Sendak only Simple Gifts.  Sorel had a few commercials over the years, and Chwast has several.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Test Village

As previously mentioned, we're working the signal film for this year's Ottawa Animation Festival.

Since we like to needlessly complicate things, this is shaping up more like a signal cycle.

For the third installment, we're thinking an environment like this.

These are the first models.  Eventually a whole city will be constructed.

There was a time when I'd insist on hiding the edges.

Today, edges don't bother me.  Not that it should look sloppy (there are a few sloppy folds in some of the buildings), but it should look attainable.

The film as a whole should be magical, should come together in seemingly impossible ways.  The elements which comprise the film -whether it's animation, actors, music, photography -don't need to be perfect.  In fact, it's may be more effective if somewhat rustic parts work together to create a piece greater than its sum components.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Top Cel Vol 2, #04 3/22/45 -Diatribe Against Willy Bioff

As we received an up to date list of addresses from the Local in Hollywood, with this issue we start sending Top Cel to about thirty more service men stationed overseas.  Feeling that they are even more interested than we in knowing "what goes" Top Cel made its business from the beginning to include in its mailing list, not only our own members, but the West Coast members overseas.  We trust they like our little paper and we hope they let us hear from them.  We certainly would appreciate it if they report to us their changes of addresses.


At our last General Membership the members approved the Executive Board recommended proposed contract for Famous Studios.  The main points are basically like Smith's agreement.  It is asked seven holiday with pay; 12 days sick leave per year and four months maternity leave with rights accrued.  One working day vacation for each month of employment; severance pay at the rate of one day's pay for each month employment.  Famous and the Union will agree to set job descriptions and rate ranges.  The salaries proposed are as follows:

Head Animators....................$150
Animation I............................ 105
Animation II...........................  85
Assisting.................................  70
Breakdowns............................ 55
(minimum of 6 employees)
Inbetweeners (singles)............ 37.50
Background Layouts I.............105
Background Layouts II............ 85
Background I........................... 90
Background II.......................... 70
Apprenticeship period of six months
starting at................................. 50
Letterer.................................... 50
Animation Checking............... 57.50

Apprenticeship period of six months
starting at................................. 45
Inking....................................... 37.50

Apprenticeship period of six months
starting at................................. 25
Planning, P&I Checking.......... 47.50
Color Marking.......................... 45
Matching, Special Effects......... 37.50
Paint Technician........................ 75
Paint Dispensary........................ 30
Cel Polishers.............................. 27.50
Film Cutter, Analyst.................. 55
Camera Man.............................. 80
Department Supervisors 50% above
Department Minimum

Negotiations were started officially already.  The Committee is composed of President Calpini, John Gentilella, Shirley Knoring and Sylvia Palasky.

A Terry's, the company and the Union have signed application to the War Labor Board for increases to 3 workers, Don Figlozzi, Carlo Vinciguerra and Tony Creazzo.

At Famous, the WLB approved the latest increase of salary requested for 14 workers.  Most of them were retroactive to Oct 30.  One to Nov 6.  (Unfortunately at Terry the increases are not retroactive, being effective whenever the Board gives the approval)

In requesting exemption from income tax, the following information of our operation during 1944 was sent to the proper authority.

Receipts from members:

     Initiation Fees...........   693.90
     Laywer assessments..   994.40
     TOTAL GROSS INCOME $5339.77

    Per Capita tax............1,051.10

    Taxes (SS).................     27.50
    Operating Expenses..1,002.63

    Debt to Local 852.....   260.00

    Attorney's Fee...........1,094.40

The Union submitted to the New York Stat Mediation Board "Where on not Wilmuth Stevens (Background artists at Terrytoons) shall be paid at the rate of $37.50 for the period from February 1, 1944 to June 23, 1944 (the last day of her employment with the company).  If not, what rate shall Wilmuth Stevens receive for this period?"  After considering the facts in the case and reaching to certain conclusions, Mr. Ernest Lenoue, the Arbitrator, made the following award: "Wilmuth Stevens shall be paid at the rate of $37.50 for the period from Feb 1, 1944 to June 23, 1844.  The contract shall include the following classification:

Background Tracer...............................29.00
Background Tracer Apprentice............22.00
                     After Two Months...........24.00
                     After Four Months...........26.00

                     After Six Months..............29.00

The  General Membership accepted the ruling on it meeting March 13.


That wonderful little booklet that West Coast Cartoonists put for their men in the service is out again.  We bought 100 copies for our own members in uniform, and the remnant is for the members that wish to buy them at 10cents a copy.  Please place your order with your steward if you want one copy for your service men.  you can mail it with one penny within the US and six cents for overseas.


We have received a letter from England asking us for information on the West Coast strike.  Herb Sorrell, the Hollywood bad boy is again on the war path, and the press makes a good case of the claim.  But some of us who were involved in the Disney strike should know that this is another round in the fight to keep gangsters out of unions and to preserve the American right of majority.

We don't expect the daily press to remind us that Dick Walsh, the president of the notorious IATSE is the heir Willy Bioff and George Browne. When these two characters were sent to jail thanks to the titanic work of Herb Sorrell carried out, in Hollywood, Walsh and the International took things easy.  They gave their Locals back part of the autonomy Bioff took away (not the thousands of dollars, tho) and they told everyone they were going to be good boys.

That was years ago.  People forget easily... There is a war going on, and even the Government freed Bioff and Browne when they turned stooges for the US District Attorney.  However, the democratic forces were getting terrific impetus in Hollywood.  Not only did the liberals clean up the corrupt Central Labor Council, but Herb Sorrell and the Conference of Studios Unions (of which the Cartoonists in Hollywood are part) were making it tough for Walsh.  The IATSE could not afford to wait any longer.  Bioff has been out of the picture too long, but it was about time for him to start holding those reins again, although of course, his name would not appear.  That's the background.  Bioff tying to come into the picture again, and the Producers doing all they could to help.

The details of this fight are simple.  Very briefly: The Decorators Union, decided to affiliation with the Brotherhood of Painters, like any other union that has the right to join any group the majority wishes.  (In this case 99% of the members) However the Producers did not approve the change and soon the IATSE, out of a clear sky, said it claims that group.

The Producers asked the Decorators to go to the War Labor Board.  And a short strike last fall forced the WLB to take action.  Finally, at the end of January, an Arbitrator was named.  The IATSE ignored the Board and its Arbitrator completely.  The Producers played ball, but when the decision was in favor of the Decorators that they had to start all over again, to go to the NLRB!  As in the case of Montgomery-Ward, the workers had no alternative, but to make the Board enforce its own decision.

Now, Walsh is in Hollywood offering charters to all strike breakers.  (In NY he gave a charter to some office employees in spite of the fact that the AFL in its last convention created and International specially for those worker)  The dream of Bioff to have one big union in the movie industry seems nearer.  The Producers needed something like that because they know they can trust Willie.  It means paying gangsters, but it is cheaper than giving money to the workers.

So nasty Herb Sorrel is still at his fight to make Hollywood a clean place where to work.  With the active part the Producers play it is not easy, because the IATSE members, like the cameramen and the lab technicians, are sick and tired of being pushed around and want to help.  But their constitution does not allow them.  We all hate rackets and crooks in unions.  We should learn to recognize a clean leader, and above all, Bioff should never be  allowed in the American Labor  movement.  It is a pity how much money and effort is used to extradite Henry Bridges of San Francisco and the his character is free to enjoy his ranch in California.  (Incidently, furnishing and trees, rugs and lamps were presented to him by the grateful Producers)  All Disney strikers remember that well.

THE SOUTH. Hot Issue.

The voting rights of Negroes continued to be the hottest issue in the  South.  Alabama's New Dealing Senator Lister Hill call on his state to "follow the admirable example set by Georgia" and repeal the poll tax.  His proposal was 1) cheered by editorialists. 2) ignored by Alabama legislators.

Having taken one step forward by its admirable example, the Georgia Legislature now took two steps back.  Up rose greyhaired Senator Roy McGinty to propose that Negroes be permitted to vote in

Democratic primaries.  The Senate listened politely.  When the vote came, down went McGinty in a solid chorus of Nos.

HEROES. The Honorable Roll.

His home town is ashamed of Frank T. Hachiya, but his country honors him.  His was one of the 16 names which the Hood River (OR) American Legion Post struck from the county memorial roll because they were Japanese.  Last week Private Hachiya's name was on another roll.

Twenty-five year old Hachiya, who had fought at Kwajalein and Eniwetok, finally landed on Leyte with the 7th Division.  On Dec. 30 when a man was needed to cross a valley under fire and scout Japanese positions, Hachiya volunteered.  He had worked out ahead of his protecting patrol, when he suddenly staggered with a sniper's bullet in his belly.  He emptied his rifle at the enemy and crawled back to the US lines, gave his scout's report.  Soon after, Private Hachiya died.


Walter Lantz has inked a five year pact with Whitman Publishing Co. by which firm will print a Cartoon magazine, titled "Walt Lantz' Funnies."

According to "Hollywood Daily Variety" difficulty of retaining girl employed by studios as inkers and painters is proving a serious threat to production of animated cartoons.  With minimum for those classifications as low as $30 per week, girls are said to remain only long enough to land a defense job, slowing  production and creating a bottleneck because of the necessity of studios training new workers... Producers are said to realize the necessity of upping scales in the lower brackets, and Cartoonist Business Agent Maurice Howard expressed confidence the two groups would get together on minimums.  Prod. generally have agreed to go along with procedure established in Disney case.

George Pal is preparing special two-reeler to commemorate 10th Anniversary of his Puppetoons.  Short with star Pal's characters Jasper, Rusty, Punch and Judy and will be released by Paramount as a special.

The dialogue and lyrics of "The Lady Said No" Daffy Ditty cartoon now being produced by Morey and Sutherland will be translated into Spanish, French and Portuguese for distribution overseas and Latin America.

War Labor Board has delayed action for three weeks on wage dispute between Disney and Cartoonists Guild.  Board decided to postpone action on setting up wage brackets pending receipt of additional information.  Decision has already been handed down on conditions.

Production needs and uses of films in education will be the subject of a two day conference of teachers, producers and distributors of educational films at New York University on March 23/24.  The Conference is sponsored by the New York University Film Library.

A whole new field for films has been opened through literacy film experiments conducted by the Committee on Inter-American Affairs in Mexico, Honduras and Ecuador.  The tests, over a period of months, indicate that the use of literacy films is proving most successful in teaching illiterates to read.  Four films produced at Disney studios were used in the test on illiterates more than 14 years old.

"Mouse Trouble" a Joe Barbera-Bill Hanna directed cartoon won the 1944 Academy Oscar.

Through a survey designed to determine if exhibitors are effectively exploiting and publicizing Cartoons, Walter Lantz has learned that 42% of theaters playing his subjects are now plugging them on their marquees and in their newspaper ads.  LABOR. Effective Answer. (Time, Feb. 26/45)

When Congress enacted the War Labor Disputes Act in June 1943, it gave the National Labor Relations Board the sole right to conduct the strike ballots. Last week NLRB gave an accounting of its first year's stewardship under the Act's terms.  Some findings:

Unions have used the strike ballot to try to force favorable and quicker decisions from Government agencies.

Of the 1,089 strike notices file with the board (726 by AF of L, 156 by CIO. 201 by unaffiliated unions.  6 by individuals), 688 were withdrawn, 232 led to strike votes, the rest were settled otherwise, only 64 resulted in strikes.

In each of the strike ballots, NLRB asked the employees "Do you wish to permit an interruption on war production in wartime as a result of this dispute?" 71% voted yes.


Since the General Membership put prices for all after working hours animation, no one has reported to the union to be engaged in the same, not the price being paid.  The Executive Board in its last meeting decided that those members engaged or planning to take work, have to notify the Union or have charges made against them.  This ruling of course implies only any aspect of animation work whether inking, painting, or handling the work.  But before accepting any work, the member should secure the Union's OK.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Morning Motion Graphics: Pictures of Pictures

These are two clips from a sequence we did for Gail Levin's American Masters' Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides.

Since Starman, Jeff Bridges has chronicled the production of all his films with his widelux camera.  He then prints a small run of books as wrap gifts to cast and crew.

Presenting photography in documentary can present a tough issue.  Showcasing the image is the primary task, so you want to respect the image, intent and cultural context of the picture.

In this case presentation is made even more difficult by the ultra-wide format of the camera.

So we decided to show the books instead of creating a digital graphic presentation.

The idea was to evoke an intimate, personal feeling with the books.  The photographer has an unusually personal relationship to the subjects, so we felt as though the "hand" should feel present here too.

So we shot a test in a couple hours, it was probably about three minutes long.  A few days later, Jed Parker, the film's editor, trimmed it to the length they needed.  We then reshot to match that length.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Push Pin Conspiracy

Here's an article from the March 6, 1977 The New York Times Magazine marking the 20th Anniversary of the Pushpin Graphic.  Written by Harold T. P. Hayes 

Gratefully, no doubt, considering the unlikely circumstances of its origin, The Push Pin Graphic will celebrate its 20th anniversary on  March 24 with a retrospective exhibit of past issues at the Mead Gallery in New York City.  The Graphic is one of the least known periodicals of its time, except to its small audience, which views it either as counterrevolutionary or irrelevant. (The February number, its most recent, has 32 pages of drawings and text devoted to "The Complete History and Knowledge of the World.")  It is mailed free to its several thousand readers, but none of them, however they may regard it, will pay as much attention to what it says, as to what it shows.

The Push Pin Graphic is the propaganda organ of the Push Pin Studio, a handful of New York illustrators, designers and photographers whose work, like the Graphic itself, has to be seen to be believed.  The studio's first marketable product, rendered in a loft on East 13th Street, was a gross of cork place mats.  Today, the Push Pin Studio has become an attitude, its influence considerable.  Over the years, Push Pin designers have come and gone, some to establish themselves in their own right (Paul Davis, Ed Sorel, Sam Antupit, Reynold Ruffins). But its chief proprietors,  Seymour Chwast and (until he left two years ago to form his own studio) Milton Glaser, are its most celebrated members, and heir works have been exhibited collectively, under the Push Pin Studio name (at the Museum of Deocrative Arts in the Louvre, Milan's Castello Sforzesco, London's Reed House), and separately: Chwast's at the Brooklyn Museum and the Galerie De Delpire in Paris, and Glaser's at the Museums of Modern Art in New York and Brussels.  In the past 20 years or so, having slipped in through the back door, the Push Pin Studio has come to be viewed as one of the two dominant schools in the international movement of graphic design.

Graphic design, a clumsy term, is the craft of reproducing words and images.  It is held, as a ship by water, to the mechanical processes of reproduction, but only in the sense that the strange chicken head shown above (The Graphic's Eustace Tilley) could not exist as a graphic design without the paper and machines needed to print it.  It is a craft that works on the eyes of the public, who respond to it without knowing where it comes from.  A subway map is the work of a graphic designer, so are magazine illustrations, and traffic signs.  So the CBS "eyes" and NBC's controversial N.

Whether all this may be described as an art form is unclear.  "As the term 'graphic arts' is currently used,"  observes Glaser, "it can be applied equally to printed objects that are works of art (etching, engravings, woodcuts, etc.) and to those that convey only specific information (menus, announcements, books, etc.).   Thus, both Picasso and the man who prints your laundry tickets can legitimately call themselves graphic artists."

But it is also significant that graphic design today is a business -an arm of industry seeking to sell something -or, as in an earlier time when terms were simpler, "commercial art".  Graphic designers do not work for themselves; they work for clients.  They tend to position themselves in the business world as illustrators, printmakers, photographers, typographers, art directors and visual consultants.  In some cases they are directly responsible for making the product sell; in others, they are the last desperate line between sensibility and raw avarice.

Whatever their specialty, they are trained artists, and to a remarkable degree they have come to be responsible for the surface cosmetics not only of American society but -through their influence on communications and multinational corporations- of much of the rest of the world as well.  They consult now with architects and city planners; they shape advertising and design trademarks.  They advise on museum exhibits.  Some have invaded the territory of industrial designers by creating tools, furniture and toys.  A select few of them have created this country's exhibits at world fairs.  And one design firm, Chermayeff

& Geismar, devised the symbol of the American Bicentennial.

Graphic designers concern themselves with the look of things, as graphic artists always have, but many of them do so now for more urgent reasons: "We have to deal with the clarification of information in a crowded environment," says the designer Rudolph deHarak.  "The amount of communication data today is immense.  What we are trying to do is synthesize information so that it may be conveyed efficiently and economically.  We try to reduce the problem to its essentials."

DeHarak speaks for most designers today who fall within what is described as the Bauhaus/Swiss School style.  It is a powerful influence dating to the 20s when a group of artists in Weimar sought to reduce to an underlying logic all the pars of a whole, from rocking chairs to housing developments.  A reaction the gilded age, the Bauhaus style was spare to the point of austerity, functional, clean-lined and comparatively anonymous.  By reductivism the designer could arrive at a grid system to project his solutions toward organic unity.  Equally important was the Swiss School which, in a complementary fashion, began to reassess typography as a visual tool.  Curlicues went out and bare-boned type came in.  The absolute ultimate in no-nonsense lettering was a typeface that came to be called Helvetica.  It remains today.  The Mobil sign, again, is a derivative.

All this seemed to many designers, and still does, the most sensible way to dispense information in an orderly fashion to a mass society near deafened and blinded by too many words and images.  It was an idea especially attractive to large industries seeking a public identity both visible and coherent -a neat, uncluttered way for monoliths to meet their public.

Thus has Bauhaus/Swiss flourished in the 20th century, and its elegant geometrics would no doubt have spread all the more had it not been for the pungent breath of Push Pin, gathering force in the late 50s and swelling to a gale in the anarchistic 60s.  With premeditated irreverence, the Push Pin Studio was formed to provide clients an escape from the present into the reassuring heterogeneity of the past.  Push Pin (which is nothing more than a pin

clockwise from upper left: Chwast, Glaser, Chwast, Chwast, Chwast (Threepenny Opera), Glaser (Dylan), Glaser.

with a rounded head) is no style, say it progenitors, it is all styles. The celebrated poster of Bob Dylan -as much a banner for the movement as the Bauhaus/Swiss Mobil sign -derives from a silhouette cutout by color motifs from Islamic art. By the late 60s, museum curators were cataloging modern graphics by two generics: post Bauhaus/Swiss, and Push Pin Studio.

While Bauhaus/Swiss is more visible today as institutionalized art- through its corporate signs and symbols, trademarks and annual reports -Push Pin has been a more intimate expression: poster art, book jackets and, especially magazine illustration. Graphic designers elsewhere watch American magazines with avidity, and it was through this medium, in the pages first of Esquire, Show, Audience, Ramparts, Playboy and later New York, where Glaser was design director, that Push Pin's influence spread. Glaser and Chwast say Push Pin is in fact as much a literary statement as an art form. It pursues the psychological implications of an assignment, dealing in irony, indirection, hyperbole and sometimes deliberate nonsense. Its artistic commitment is, first, to sensibility, and to this end it insists on the right to draw from any graphic element of the past. Consequently it is often referred to as nostalgic, and indeed, Push Pin is credited by many in the field for the revival of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, not only in graphic design but as manifest now in interior decorating, fashion and furnishings as well. But it draws as freely from other and older traditions, and it is to the further credit of its designers that, while the contemporary art history through the 19th Century, Push Pin, with its commercial skills, has managed to voice its echoes to the present.