Here Come the Flakes!

« It’s quiet snow that I remember best… snowfall and Brahms on November nights. » — Rod Mckuen, Midnight Walk

While Autumn is easily my favourite season, much of its magic and colours are gone by the purgatory that is the month of November, and I find myself longing for snow to brighten the relentlessly longer and gloomier evenings.

And then, yesterday, as I was still mulling over this post, I woke up to this view from my front door.

Well, then! This post consists of a(nother) gallery of Warren Kremer‘s delightful Harvey covers, this time with a snowy theme. Never truly ‘ha ha’ funny, they get along on charm and crafty, limpid conception and execution.

This is Little Dot no. 15 (Jan. 1956, Harvey). While most of Harvey’s efforts were channeled into their ‘Big Two’, Casper and Richie Rich, I always found these too bland (in the former’s case) or kind of deplorable (in the latter’s). I was more attuned to the line’s (slightly) bad boys, Spooky and Hot Stuff (Donald Ducks to Casper and Richie’s Mickey Mice), but really, the genuine interest resided in art director Kremer’s nimble design gymnastics and thematic acumen on Little Dot covers. By this time, these have improbably (but happily) inspired designers all over the globe. Nevertheless, a big juicy pox on the article’s author for failing to acknowledge Warren Kremer even once.
This is Spooky no. 73 (Apr. 1963, Harvey). Those 1960s Harveys were so beautifully uncluttered in their design, with the bonus of Kremer’s marked and ongoing contempt for the Comics Code Authority stamp. Oh, and here’s our earlier selection of Spooky covers.
This is Wendy, the Good Little Witch no. 22 (Feb. 1964, Harvey).
Richie Rich no. 23 (May 1964, Harvey). What have you been eating, Richie?
This is Little Audrey and Melvin no. 23 (Mar. 1966, Harvey). As you can see, Audrey’s sidekick Melvin shares a former fedora with our dear friend Forsythe Pendleton ‘Jughead’ Jones. That particular chapeau is called a Whoopee Cap.
This is Richie Rich no. 55 (Mar. 1967, Harvey).
This is Casper, the Friendly Ghost no. 116 (Apr. 1968, Harvey). Variations on skiing through solid objects is quite the cartooning wellspring.
This is Little Audrey and Melvin no. 39 (Apr. 1969, Harvey).
This is Hot Stuff, the Little Devil no. 93 (Oct. 1969, Harvey). For more Hot Stuff covers, check out Who Will Change the Devil’s Nappy?
This is Little Lotta no. 89 (Apr. 1970, Harvey). And they didn’t find the local children’s mangled bodies until the following spring thaw.

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday: All Aboard

Has this ever happened to you? You’re sailing along, just minding your business, concentrating on fishing or just taking a pleasure cruise, when suddenly you’re abruptly attacked by shifty tentacles. What do you do? Defend yourself with a tickle assault!

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Page from “Little Dot Meets Uncle Gill”, printed in Little Dot no. 5 (Harvey, 1954). Art is by Steve Muffatti. Little Dot is never at loss in any situation, but I’m surprised the octopus isn’t covered in polka dots.

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Panel from “Little Dot Meets Uncle Gill”, printed in Little Dot no. 5 (Harvey, 1954). Art by Steve Muffatti. No harm done!

Some octopuses sneak onboard to be helpful…

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Original art for a Felix the Cat Sunday comic strip from July, 1934. Art by Otto Messmer.

… And some are just pissed off about their dwindling food supply. (Or perhaps that fish was a personal friend.)

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Marmaduke Mouse no. 2 (Summer 1946). Artist unknown.

If there’s any moral to these tales, it’s that fishing is hazardous business.

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Walt Disney’s Donald Duck Beach Party no. 1 (July 1955). The story is “Sea Breeze Sailors”, scripted and drawn by Dick Moores.

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« Don’t let it get away! » Cartoon by Gahan Wilson.

~ ds

Little Dot’s Playful Obsession

« Y’gotta develop an annoying compulsion if y’wanta get anywhere in this world! » — Dan Clowes’ Willy Willions (Eightball No. 5, Feb. 1991)

Dorothy Polka, known to the world at large as « Little Dot », made her first appearance in Harvey’s Sad Sack Comics no. 1 (Sept. 1949). All you need to know is that she’s inordinately fond of dots and circles, and that she has an absurdly large extended family. That raises a few choice questions, but we’ll leave them for someone else to tackle.

While I cheerily dismiss the bulk of Harvey Comics’ post-Code output as at best charming in a decidedly minor way, I opt to focus on the line’s most singular highlight: art director/chief artist Warren Kremer‘s endlessly inventive and escalatingly bonkers cover variations on the Harvey stable’s absurdly formulaic monomanias. Kremer clearly viewed the preposterous task he’d been handed as an opportunity to continually challenge himself with elegant design exercices and experiments. While I see little point in collecting, nor even reading most Harvey Comics, my admiration for Mr. Kremer just grows and grows. Perhaps these examples will give you a sense of what I see in them.

Oh, and bonus points to Kremer for his increasingly callous treatment of that omnipresent visual blight, the Comics Code Authority stamp. Clearly, he judged the censorious seal de trop.

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Little Dot no. 29 (January, 1958)

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Little Dot no. 38 (October, 1958)

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Little Dot no. 44 (May, 1958)

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Little Dot no. 51 (December, 1959) Gruyère? Impressive refinement for a little kid. Perhaps there’s more to the little lady than meets the eye…

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Little Dot no. 52 (January, 1959)

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Little Dot no. 97 (January, 1965)

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Little Dot no. 119 (October, 1968)

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Little Dot Dotland no. 9 (November, 1963)

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A timely one: Little Dot Dotland no. 38 (March, 1969)

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Little Dot’s Uncle$ and Aunt$ (they’re loaded, I guess) no. 21 (November, 1967)

-RG