Animation History
February 26, 2018 posted by Jerry Beck

Warner Club News (1947)

Welcome back to the Warner Club!

We meet here every Monday with another year’s worth of columns written by the staff of the Warner Bros. Cartoon Department back in the 1940s (and 1950s and 60s to come). This week 1947.

These come from the USC Cinematic Arts Library (courtesy of Ned Comstock) and while their collection of Warner Club News is not complete, its good enough for us to get started.

This week, I have a special treat – a close-up of the staff caricatures used in these columns. Check that out by scrolling below to the end of the post.

March 1947

Warren Foster does the chores this month – beginning with a nifty description of some of the fan mail the studio receives. He then relates what several staffers did before they worked in animation – these include the facts that Bill Scott was on radio, Art Davis drove a laundry truck and Manny Gould was a hat salesman!

May 1947

Jean Blanchard takes over the reigns of the column for the rest of the year – and adds these neat little caricatures to the page. Apparently John Burton once participated in a a Seinfeld-like “Contest” of celibacy! There is also an acknowledgement of Burton being in the cartoon business on his own in 1933 (check out his Hector The Pup here).

June 1947

Mention of the Freleng Bugs Bunny sequence in Two Guys From Texas; A delightful write up on production supervisor Steve Milman; and lots of gossip from the gals in ink & paint.

July 1947

McKimson’s Hop, Look and Listen is “sure-fire Academy material”. It’s huge reaction is probably why its central premise became a long running series. And a whole bunch of nice bio stuff on Art Davis in regards to Mutt & Jeff and Fleischer – but no mention of his years at Mintz/Screen Gems.

August 1947

Nice bio of Friz Freleng (accompanied by a great caricature) – mention of his little girls Hope and Sybil (both of whom are friends of mine today!). Vacation plans for the entire (or most of) staff are revealed!

September 1947

A nice bio of Robert McKimson (and a mention of his son, Bob Jr. – also a friend of mine today); and my favorite nugget buried in the fine print: “Ivy Carroll Christensen modeled all the authentic polka’s for Gerry Chiniquy’s animation in the forthcoming Mouse Mezurka.”

October 1947

USC doesn’t have the October issue – but a portion of it is glued to the Chuck Jones caricature below. Blanchard has it marked as September, but methinks she’s in error. It has a nice Jones’ bio (and mention of daughter Linda – yes, I know her very well too).

November 1947

Nice bio of Tedd Pierce. Harry Love is trying to play matchmaker between Jean Blanchard and Manny Gould (who is at Fairbanks… on Speaking of Animals?); Gloria Carlson joins the Warners inkers from Screen Gems – nice to know at least one name of the many obscure I&P artists who toiled at the Columbia studio.

December 1947

USC is also lacking the December issue – but part of it is attached below with Michael Maltese’s caricature. The Maltese bio includes this tid-bit: “Mike has been with Warner Bros. Cartoons since May 6th, 1937. Previously he did stints with Jam Handy Cartoons in Detroit, Max Fleischer cartoons in New York where he started as a painter, then inker, inbetweener and some camera.”

The Jean Blanchard Caricatures

Animation art collector and Cartoon Research reader Tom Brakefield shared with us his collection of the original Warner Bros. animator caricatures, originally done for these columns in the Warner Club News. Apparently Jean Blanchard kept the originals in a scrapbook and had some of the subjects sign them. The last three that have several caricatures grouped on a page may have been drawn by another artist at the studio. The final one, a group drawing including Virgil Ross, has initials on it (“Nic” which stands for Sam Nicholson). We’re grateful to Mr. Tom Brakefield for preserving these – and allowing me to share them publicly.

(click to enlarge)

Caricatures of Emery Hawkins, Ken Harris and… ??

Hawley Pratt (lower right), the “Chin” (upper left), and I can’t make out the signature of the lower left fellow.

There’s Virgil Ross (upper left), Don Smith (lower left), Lew Irwin (lower right) and Peggi Morgan. These seemed to be initialized “Nic” or “MC”…


  • A lot of those caricatures closely resemble the “gremlins from the Kremlin” in RUSSIAN RHAPSODY. Is there any documentation of Jean Blanchard working on the character designs on that cartoon?

  • The lower left seems to read “Help! Tedd”

    • Yes, and the signature looks much like Tedd Pierce’s signature above. And the shape of the nose is very similar. I’m guessing it’s Tedd Pierce again, drawn by someone else.

      Are all of these supposed to be drawn by the same person? And if so, by whom? Jean Blanchard? I’m not the greatest art critic but they don’t all look to be drawn by the same hand to me. But please let me know if I’m wrong.

    • Dan – I was discussing this with Mike Kazaleh today; I also suspected these were not all drawn by the same person. Perhaps these were self-portraits… as the Jones one looks like it was drawn by Jones himself.

      To quote Mike Kazaleh: “The brush technique looks the same on most of the pictures, so I think these were all drawn by the same person, presumably Jean… however, in many cases she is ‘quoting’ from existing drawings… The Friz one is based on Tee Hee’s version, as was Johnny Burton’s. The Bob McKimson one is based on Bob’s self portrait, and I would guess the Jones one was as well. I think I have seen the Davis self portrait drawing before, or it was based one somewhere.”

    • Also, note that the Davis caricature looks like the protagonist of his cartoon “The Way of All Pests” from 1941, which I always assumed was supposed to be a self caricature.

  • Fantastic caricatures!

  • Ahhh yes, May 6, 1937–wasn’t that when the A/S Hindenburg exploded during its landing at Lakehurst (NJ) Naval Air Station?

  • I remember seeing Jean Blanchard’s name all over Larry Harmon’s and Filmation’s cartoons in the 60’s as the head of ink and paint. According to iMDB, she also worked as an animator for Ralph Bakshi. But I was never aware of her career at Warner’s until reading this.

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