Thursday, April 09, 2015

Perilous Illustrations by Mort Künstler


Eeee-YOW! This pair of hair-raising paintings by Mort Kunstler really pack a wallop. These two guys—or perhaps the same unlucky guy—are about to become fish food for some monstrous creatures in these fantastic illustrations for a 1950s pulp magazine.


As a young freelance artist, Kunstler created "way out" scenarios for men's adventure magazines, paperbacks, model kit packaging, and even Mad magazine. Spectacular stuff!


Mort Künstler's official website
Mort Künstler at American Art Archives

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

To the Moon with Frank Soltesz


Hey Kids!   Write your name here!

Impress your earthbound friends with a souvenir of your round-trip flight to the moon aboard Disneyland's TWA Rocket!  This exciting illustration of the Moonliner exiting the Earth's atmosphere with its tripod gear retracted, was created by artist Frank Soltesz.  


Artist Frank Soltesz in his studio, circa 1947

I've been spacing out over the dynamic work of Frank Soltesz for a long time, even before I knew who he was.  His magazine ads for TWA, and especially his complex "cut-away" images will floor you.

Ken Soltesz, Frank's son, has shared with me the original TWA magazine ad that Disney used for the certificate.  The text is fun to read, as well!

Visit the Frank Soltesz Gallery on Flickr!

Monday, March 30, 2015

"Hawaiian Eye" Tiki


Way back in 2006, as the collectible tiki mug craze was reaching its height, I made a special mug just for myself based on a (then) fifty-year-old television program that I was completely obsessed with.  Hawaiian Eye, produced by Warner Brothers in Burbank and originally broadcast on ABC-TV from 1959 to 1963, was a "private eye" adventure in modern Honolulu, with murder and mayhem set against the tropical scenery of the islands. 


The show had a vacation-like atmosphere with plots rum-infused with luaus, surfing, ukuleles, and Navy Grogs.  Anthony Eisley and Robert Conrad were the private investigators working from their stylish poolside office at the famed Hilton Hawaiian Village. Pretty nightclub singer Connie Stevens performed each week in the adjacent Shell Bar, and Hawaiian-born Poncie Ponce added to the fun as a colorful cab driver. Even the villains on the show each week seemed to be on vacation.


The most familiar icon of Hawaiian Eye, however, was the tiki seen at the opening and closing of every episode. Conceived by Art Director Perry Ferguson (best known for his production design on Citizen Kane, Alfred Hitchcock's Rope, and the live-action sequences in Walt Disney's Song of the South), the tiki also stood in the Hawaiian Eye headquarters and served as a sort of good-luck charm for the private eyes. 


Standing nearly 4 feet tall, the grimacing deity was reportedly carved from palm wood by an actor named Malcolm Mealey.  Mealey trained weightlifters here in Anaheim and chiseled tikis out of palm logs as a hobby.  Most of his tikis were purchased by Stephen Crane (Lana Turner's ex-boyfriend) who built hotels with themed restaurants, such as "The Luau" in Beverly Hills.

The tiki became the show's logo, both behind the scenes, and on the handful of rare (and highly collectible) merchandise items based on the series.



I've been told by Book of Tiki author Sven Kirsten that after the show closed in 1963, the tiki prop was taken as a memento by one of its cast members Doug Mossman, but it has since rotted away in his yard in Waikiki.
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By the way...Jody and I are currently hard at work on our online store set to debut in about a month.  It's a lot of work, but as it evolves there will be some nifty stuff you probably won't  find anywhere else.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Steaks and Chops


Let's journey back to "grandmother's day" with some wonderful artwork—part of an original pencil layout—created in 1955 for a rare full-color newspaper section presenting some of the "many delights and wonders that are yours to enjoy at Disneyland."

The text written to accompany this page:
"The Red Wagon Inn is one of several charming eating places in Disneyland. It is resplendent in the elegance of a by-gone era reminiscent of the famed eating houses of yesterday. All appointments are authentic mementos of the gay and glamorous 90's--including the stained glass ceiling, entrance hall and foyer taken from the S. James home in Los Angeles, one of the West's most noted old mansions. Atmosphere, however, is not confined to the building alone. The menu itself brings back visions of historic good eating --featuring steaks and chops."


"Grandmother shopped in a store like Swift's Market House on Disneyland's Main Street. Here we find the old-fashioned butcher in straw hat and cuffs, the pot-bellied stove and shelves lined with authentic old-time meat and grocery products. Swift & Company, whose quality meats are served exclusively in Disneyland, is the sponsor of this exhibit."

"The Chicken Plantation at Disneyland is a gay antebellum river plantation house, reproduced in every nostalgic detail. French Provincial decor and old Southern Hospitality make the Chicken Plantation a memorable spot. You'll want to visit the Plantation soon and enjoy tender grown Swift's Premium Chicken."

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas with Old Friends


My favorite project this year was creating the corporate holiday greeting card for Warner Bros. Studios Animation.  Warners currently owns the Hanna-Barbera film catalog and I was beyond thrilled when they asked me for an original design featuring the classic H-B characters. 


There are so many good characters to choose from so, naturally, I chose the earliest ones and placed the style in the late '50s/early '60s.  Ruff and Reddy, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi, and Boo-Boo Bear are constructing a paper tableau using the very tools I used to create the actual scene. 


On the flip-side, Quick Draw McGraw and his sidekick Baba Louie are assisting from behind the scenes.



This was so much fun to work on, and required some tricky staging to pull off the illusion that the flimsy paper characters were actually supporting the scissors and x-acto knife.


The interior of the card had its own special tableau, as well.  I thought it could be fun to contrast large and small characters together in one shot:


Magilla Gorilla dangles a real vintage ornament (from our own Christmas tree at home) while the mice Pixie and Dixie leap around.  Incidentally, I hope everyone out there reading this is familiar with all these great Hanna-Barbera characters.  We don't see them very much today—except perhaps for Yogi Bear—which is quite a shame.  I spent countless hours of my kidhood enjoying the TV antics of these characters, and it was a dream come true to be able to revisit with them for a short while as they skipped across my workbench.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tiki Kiliki


A gift for a sweet and photogenic friend, Tiki Kiliki (Miss Christie White) of The Hukilau
(Painting by Jody Daily, tiki mug by Kevin Kidney.)

Tiki Kiliki, herself.