June 20, 2018 posted by Charlie Judkins

The Sheet Music Art of Myron “Grim” Natwick, Part 2: 1919-1921


Part Two: Animating and Illustrating in New York, 1919-1921

Uploaded by Christina Hughes, Ancestry.com

In the Spring of 1919, Grim joined his former Chicago schoolmate Gregory LaCava at the IFS animation studio, probably around the time they reorganized as a subsidiary of Bray studios. Here Grim developed a wonderfully loose and eccentric animation style, influenced by his new co worker William C. “Bill” Nolan and the new style of animation he’d developed, known today as the “rubber hose” style. Grim worked in this style up until joining Walt Disney in 1935 (at which point he was forced to “refine” his approach). While Grim stayed on staff with IFS until the studio’s closure in 1921, he also continued to freelance heavily as a sheet music artist at this time. In fact, there are more known covers by Grim from 1919 than any other year!

This period of Grim’s music illustration career shows that animation was perhaps making him approach design with more conservatism, or economizing: there is a great range of styles, but the figures are more realistically drawn compared to those in some of Grim’s early Chicago covers. The influence from Grim’s new day job didn’t end there: noticeably, the charac-ters that adorn the bottom of the 1919 Skidmore Publication “Never Let No One Man Worry Your Mind” look like they just marched out of a Jerry on the Job cartoon! The characters featured on the front of “Tip Tip Tippy Canoe” are noticeably of a similar “animation-ish” design.

There is a noticeable wealth of interesting design schemes, color styling concepts, and compositions on display here, but perhaps most noticeable is that Grim was starting to become a specialist in rendering stylish women. This specialty also played into Grim’s animated films of this time, making him a valuable asset at a time when attractive women were considered extremely difficult to capture in drawn animation. Grim’s 1920 Judge Rummy cartoon A Joy Ride (Below) demonstrates this:

While the body of work Grim had produced up until 1921 was certainly impressive, he still aspired to greater heights as an artist. When IFS finally folded, Grim took the opportunity to head to Europe and enroll at the Vienna National Academy. While Grim and his wife planned to spend only a year abroad, they wound up spending three, returning in 1924.

1919 (Click each piece to enlarge)

1920 (Click each piece to enlarge)


(Special Thanks to Alex and Sarah Hassan)

Next: Krazy Kat and Final Years in Illustration, 1924-28


  • Ernest Hare, featured on several of these songs, would go on to greater fame on radio as one of the Happiness Boys, with tenor Billy Jones.

  • Remick Music Company was one of the companies Famous Studios used in the Screen Songs series.

    • Though curiously, it was owned by Warner Bros.!

  • Grim’s got kind of an Erté thing going on there, huh?

  • Several years ago I was visiting Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin- where Grim was born and grew up. The wonderful small museum there had an large exhibit of Grim’s work that included a huge collection of these wonderful music sheet covers.

    • I’d love to visit sometime and see them! There are some pictures of that exhibition online, although they’re low resolution and unsatisfying…

  • Thank you for making this, the last Cartoon Research post in my maternal grandfather’s lifetime. He passed on the same day this was posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2018.

  • Thank you so much for posting these! I have a small collection of old sheet music. Love this stuff.

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