April 2, 2024 posted by Devon Baxter

Breaking Stories from Warner Club News!


Back in 2018 I was able to post eighteen columns devoted to a cache of issues of Warner Club News obtained from the USC Collection (thanks to my late friend, Ned Comstock).

Since then, Devon Baxter has found some additional issues (and the animation columns therein) that USC did not have. He’s been posting these (and much much more) on his invaluable Patreon account (HIGHLY recommended). I thank Devon for allowing us to see these clippings here – and again, urge you to check out Devon’s deeper research on Patreon – and on his blog Pegboard Profiles (his latest post, a revised expanded bio of animator Frank Tipper is a must-read).

– Jerry Beck

Here’s a special treat for fans of Warner Bros. cartoons!

Cartoon Research has previously shared a substantial amount of Warners Club News, the in-house newsletter issued by the studio, sourced from the WB collection housed at University of Southern California (USC). As editor Jerry Beck has noted, their collection of Warners Club News magazine is incomplete, leaving some large gaps. Luckily, I have located one issue that has not been shared, from Mike Barrier’s collection. The issues from 1945 stop at July, but this column of “What’s Cookin’ Doc?” is from the following month’s newsletter.

As written by Warren Foster, the staff has made their vacation plans for the summer, but there are some interesting anecdotes if you read along. Here it is for all to see – Warners Club News, from August 1945…

Since that post above, I received twelve more issues of Warner Club News for a reasonable price (with one duplicate), including four that the USC Cinematic Arts Library does not have in its collection. That will soon change – arrangements are forthcoming. Lastly, I plan to digitally scan the entirety of the magazines and post them on the Internet Archive to aid current and future cinematic study and research. A huge thanks to the loyal Patrons that made this possible!

Warner Club News, an internal studio newsletter intended for employees, detailed the operations of various departments, including its animation division, where the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were produced: their column was called “What’s Cookin’ Doc?” In the case of these magazines, the evidence presented in the columns provides the only clue to an artist’s career path if they were never interviewed or profiled by a historian or scholar. In addition, the identities of the in-betweeners, assistants, checkers, and ink-and-paint artists, never credited for their work in the cartoons, are highlighted in capital letters in each column.

The following issues were obtained from this cache (the issues missing from USC and Cartoon Research are in bold): July 1940, July 1949, September 1949, October 1949, December 1949, February 1950, March 1950, July 1952, September 1954, January 1955, February 1955, March 1955 (x2), and May 1955. (The August 1945 edition, also missing from the USC’s holdings, is shared above, courtesy of Michael Barrier.)

However, the caveat is that neither the September 1949 nor the July 1952 edition do not contain “What’s Cookin’ Doc” columns for unknown reasons. Still, there is plenty to share here, so let’s get to it!

First, here is the cover for the March 1955 issue, of which I’ve received two copies. As the photo caption notes, David DePatie stands second from the left in this promotional image for Gordon Douglas’s 1954 sci-fi monster movie Them!

The column February 1950 issue has sound effects man-film editor Treg Brown mentioning Chuck Jones’s Oscar-winning animated documentary So Much for So Little, Friz Freleng’s Ballot Box Bunny starting its production, and a mention of a square dance jamboree organized by Phil Monroe—this became a frequent activity, inspiring the story for McKimson’s Hillbilly Hare, released six months later.

Though the January and May 1955 editions appeared on Cartoon Research, here are more high-res photos from both magazines. First is a photograph of studio paint technician Jane M. Nurre (1913-1981). Originally, the May issue mislabeled Art Davis and Ken Harris on their name captions—they are now corrected for the post.

Now, for the feature presentation: a three-page tour of the Warner Bros. cartoon department! Published in the September 1954 edition, the activities occurred earlier than the magazine story. First, reporter Barbara Richards mentions The Egg-Cited Rooster as a new production, ultimately released in theaters on October 1952. Additionally, a closer look at camera operator Ken Moore (photo 28) reveals his work photographing a scene from Rabbit Seasoning, another 1952 release.

The photo caption for picture #7 labels Tedd Pierce as “Edward Pierce”—his birth name was Edward Stacey Pierce III.

George Grandpre (photo #14) is mentioned as the head of the in-betweening department during this period; by 1954, George became a regular animator in McKimson’s unit after the studio reopened after its six-month closure.

Also interesting is photo number 13—many copies show only Ben Washam and his assistant Frank Braxton, but now we can see that in-betweener Dick Cassarino and animator Keith Darling were also present.


  • I’m sorry to hear about Ned Comstock’s passing. When I was writing my dissertation in 2001, I asked him about how to obtain copies of scripts of “Tom and Jerry” with the maid’s appearances. Soon thereafter, he sent me copies of dialogue sheets for each of those cartoons–free of charge! I visited USC months later and had the chance to thank him in person. He’s in the acknowledgments of my book THE COLORED CARTOON. He really made a difference in how I study film.

  • Boy, that February 1950 clipping by Treg Brown is fascinating. I love that, already by 1950, the fact that everyone was taking credit for creating Bug Bunny was becoming a “joke” among staffers.

    And the reference that So Much For So Little being produced for “Club and School release” is also interesting. The late 40s was the beginning of “non-theatrical” – which would become a bigger business in the 1950s and 60s, with the advent of 16mm use in schools, churches, hospitals, etc. – along with the establishment of “clubs” (aka film societies) in various cities (the forerunner of art theaters and repertory cinemas). As this film was made for such distribution, I’m surprised how few 16mm prints survive on the collectors market.

  • Devon, this is great! That photo of Stalling and Franklyn is, as far as I know, the only published photo of the two of them together.

  • It’s funny how both Life With Feathers and Peck Up Your Troubles are singled out as successful shorts in the 1945 column, yet the two nameless birds are considered the winning elements, as opposed to their later famous cat character who appeared in both. That said, the woodpecker did make one other appearance years later in McKimson’s A Peck o’ Trouble, though hardly because they were attempting to make him a recurring character.

  • What amused me is that the newsletter managed to spell Bob Gribbroek’s name correctly, which hardly anyone ever does, yet referred to the studio’s in-house composer as “Carl Starling”. Or could Stalling have been one of those “warsh your car in the gararge” Midwesterners and really pronounced his own name that way?

  • Stinky Skunk might just have that superstar potential.

    • That was an early name of Pepe Le Pew. His mailbox has the name “Stinky” in “Scent-imental Over You” (1947).

  • I’ve been paying attention, lately, to paste-ups of real newspaper clippings used on WB backgrounds from the period (pausing and reading), and often, from the writing style, they read like they could be from the Warner Club News. I’d have to start reading them all cover to cover (if I even had any to read) to confirm any matches, though, and I must admit I’m not likely to work quite that hard to confirm my suspicions!

    • I happened to watch THE HOLE IDEA last night, and there’s no doubt about it. The words “Warner Club News” are right there!

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