Young children love to dream of their future careers. Back (okay, WAY back) in my day, most kids I knew wanted to be cowboys, airline hostesses, firemen, or even President of the United States. As for me, I loved watching cartoons on TV and reading comic books. I absorbed all the cartoons I could find on our old 14” black and white set. No one could have guessed it then, but this turned out to be my training for a future career.
I loved shows like Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw, Beany and Cecil, and Rocky and Bullwinkle. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck were on five days a week on The Mickey Mouse Club, and sometimes on Sunday night’s Wonderful World of Disney. Local channels gave me old cartoons starring Popeye the Sailor, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Tom and Jerry every weekday afternoon. Occasional specials on nightly programing brought me Charlie Brown and The Grinch. Saturday morning was the best day of the week, with nothing but cartoon programs to watch. As much as I loved them then, I wish my eight-year old self could see me now.
While I have become a published artist and author with several books under my belt, what I do day to day, five days a week (and sometimes more) is describe artwork created for those animated treasures here at Heritage Auctions. I started out as a cataloger for Comics and Comic Art, but as soon as Heritage hired animation expert Jim Lentz to head up an Animation Art division, I knew this was the once-in-a-lifetime chance for me to join in and surround myself with my favorite animated cartoon characters.
Every day as I write up original animation drawings and hand-painted cels created for 1960s television, I think back on those youthful days spent laying on the carpet, inches from the screen, watching those funny flickering images. One thing I remember so well is the original First Season opening sequence for The Flintstones – Fred driving his “foot-powered” car as he stops to pick up his laundry before heading home to plant himself in front of his television. Imagine my thrill when I came across an original 1960 animation cel of Fred in the car from this opening. I immediately felt the nostalgia of childhood as I was describing this piece of art.
Yabba dabba doo, indeed!
We all know it isn’t easy growing old, but for me, keeping young (in my mind, at least) is an easy task as I put in my eight hours each day. I can channel that inner child as I write about Magilla Gorilla or the Pink Panther, and translate that excitement into my descriptions. Even shows that debuted after I reached the age where watching cartoons “wasn’t cool” is fun. I love seeing art created for Scooby-Doo, the Groovie Goolies, DuckTales, and Garfield. It’s a very special joy to see and handle art from cartoons made years before my time, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Betty Boop, but it’s those 1960s TV cartoons that I adored, and write about now. Yes, I make a living based on a childhood of cartoon watching!
I often wonder if those kids from my time grew up to be the firefighters and airline hostesses they dreamed of becoming. I hope their dreams all came true. I know mine did.