Cartooning News for January, 2007

January 12, 2007

     Happy new year, cartoon fans! There is always a lot going on in the cartooning world. Let's have a look at New York Comic Con, coming up in February. (You'll never guess who is the big name this year.) Originally a web comic, Diesel Sweeties has made the leap into syndication, and Fox Trot creator Bill Amend is taking a break, and will be doing only Sunday issues of his popular comic strip. On a sad note, Iwao Takamoto, the animator who created characters in Scooby Doo,The Flintstones and The Jetsons, has died, only weeks after another famous name in cartooning, Joseph Barbera.

     The New York Comic Con is again set for the Javits Center in New York City, running the week-end of February 23 to 25th. Along with comic book biggies like Stan Lee, Mark Silvestri and George Perez as guests of honour (among others) the big name to attend Stephen King.
The comic strip contingent will be manned by its own stars - Frank Cho, Christopher Hart, and a host of King Features cartoonists at the Syndicate's booth: Patrick McDonnell of "Mutts", Rina Piccolo of "Six Chix" and "Tina's Groove", Chance Brown and Greg Walker of "Hi and Lois", Dan Piraro of "Bizarro" and several others.
The organizers hope that last years troubles of too many ticket-holders will be straightened out and that all who have tickets will be able to enter this year.  One of these years, I'm gonna get there myself!

    Unique in pixillated artistic style, hilarious in form, Diesel Sweeties has made its debut into syndication. With a big fan base already on the web since 2000, it's official debut was January 8th, but due to a space left by the suddenly departing Fox Trot, some newspapers gave Diesel Sweeties an earlier start on January 1st. Congratulations to cartoonist Richard Stevens and may he have a long and successful run in print! Diesel Sweeties home page:

Diesel Sweeties

    Speaking of Fox Trot departing from the pages of newspapers, Bill Amend, creator of the popular comic strip, is taking a bit of a break and will be producing only Sundays from now on. He was feeling a little restricted and that it was time for a change. Amend told the Daily Sentinal on December 29th that it was time he "got out of the house and tried some new things". He added, "I love cartooning and I absolutely want to continue doing the strip, just not at the all-consuming pace. " Fox Trot will be missed in the dailies!


    Though his name was not prominent, Iwao Takamoto was one of the driving forces behind many television cartoon successes. The character of Scooby Doo is one of the legacies of his decades-long career in animation; After drawing the gangly great dane, Takamoto named the now-infamous pooch after a phrase in "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra.

     Trained in one of the most unexpected spots, by other internees in an American internment camp for Japanese residents during World War II, his talent surfaced and when the war was over, he was taken on as an apprentice by Walt Disney. He left his mark on movies such as Cinderella, and Lady and the Tramp. In 1961, Takamoto moved to the Hanna Barbera studios, where his talents were used to help create Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, The Jetsons and many other innovations.

     Takamoto later took up directing and character design. Working right up until his sudden death by heart attack, he was Vice President of Special Projects at Warner Brothers Animation.

     He died in Los Angeles on January 9, 2007 at age 81.


    Partners with William Hanna since the 1940s, Joseph Barbera was one of the top men in cartoon animation. A talented artist even as a child, his mother pulled him from his Catholic elementary school because "he spent more time drawing pictures of Jesus than studying him." (*1)

     His first job at age 16 was as a bank clerk, but that soon went the way of the wind, and he began selling cartoons and sketches to Collier's Magazine. 1937 saw the young man employed at MGM's cartoon department, where he teamed up with another young artist, William Hanna

     One set of their first characters evolved into Tom and Jerry, still on TV even yet. The two skilled men formed own studio, creating the delightful Huckleberry Hound as the first offering in 1957. It was a hit.

    As Hanna-Barbera, their studio went on to create now-classic shows such as Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby Doo and so many more entertaining features. (Hanna did the technical stuff, Barbera did the drawing. It was a perfect alliance.) The team received eight Emmys for their efforts, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and lifetime awards.

    At age 95, Joseph Barbera died on December 18, 2006 of natural causes. His work partner, William Hanna died in 2001.

     They have left a legacy of laughter and fun for generations to come.



© Susanna McLeod 2007