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Twinkie the kid, Heathcliff & Flip-It Books - Tom Ray's Pop-Culture Roadshow May 23, 2020



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Okay, so here is another episode of my "Tom Ray’s Pop-Culture Roadshow" where I look at some of the items that I have from all the toys and vintage pop-culture things that I've collected over the years and try to find out a little something more about them. Maybe little history, a little art background, something like that!

Twinkie the kid 

image of twinkie case with cowboy hat

Twinkie made a personal Twinkie holder for kids in 2001. Now if I'm not mistaken Twinkies come in packs of two, so giving getting them their own holster while it is neat, I mean I enjoy it look at this thing it's got hands for crying out loud I just don’t get what you do with the extra twinkie?

Twinkie the Kid was created in 1971 and he was dressed like a cowboy, ten-gallon hat, kerchief, cowboy boots. In the commercials they also had the characters Captain Cupcake and Fruit Pie the Magician. These were animated of course, in one of the commercials that they had Twinkie the kid saved Twinkie Town. So they created an entire town that was named after him, Twinkie Town. I would love to know if there's actually a Twinkie Town anywhere in the world in real life?

In 1999, President Bill Clinton actually put a Twinkie inside of the nation's millennium capsule for something that's going to be opened years from now and he said because it is an enduring American icon.

The voice of Twinkie the kid in those commercials was a person by the name of Allen Swift. Allen's real name was Iris Stadlen but he was known professionally as Allen Swift because he took his name from a mixture of two things, he liked Fred Allen one of his favorite entertainers and also he liked the author Jonathan Swift. So he made a mixture of the name and came up with Allen Swift.

Allen was the host of a show that was called the Popeye Show in 1956. He also provided a majority of the voices on the Rankin and Bass Mad Monster Party movie.

He also did the voice of Howdy Doody after Captain Buffalo Bob had a heart attack.

Heathcliff

image of vintage paperback comic books

So I have a bunch of Heathcliff books. But I mainly know him from the Heathcliff animated show that was really popular in the 80s.

Heathcliff series debuted in 1984. The cartoon was outsourced to Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean animation studios. Mel Blanc did the voice of Heathcliff on the animated series.

The show wasn't just Heathcliff, it was Heathcliff and Riff Raff and the Catillac Cats, I think it was. I didn't care for that one as much.

Heathcliff was often thought of as a ripoff of Garfield when in reality - Heathcliff came out eight years before Garfield ever did in 1973 and Garfield didn't show up in newspapers until 1978.

The person who drew Heathcliff was George Gately, he studied at the Pratt Institute. After graduating he worked at an advertising agency for 11 years but he did not care for commercial art. His older brother was a cartoonist so he decided that he was going to enter the cartoon field as well.

In 1957 he sold his very first comic. Since his brother was already a cartoonist he dropped his last name so people wouldn't confuse them. So he went by his middle name, Gately. That's how he became George Gately instead of George Gately Gallagher.

In 1964 he actually had his first comic strip and it was called Hapless Harry and it was a very hippie-centric cartoon, filled with hippie terms and, you know, freaking out the squares! It's like on the Beverly Hillbillies when they have a hippie show up and he'd be dressed a certain way in the fur vest. It's kind of like that.

Then in 1973 he drew a fat orange cat pitched it and Heathcliff became an enormous success. A lot of the stuff he did was one-panel comics. To keep up with demand he recruited Bob Laughlin and then also his brother, so his brother now worked for him, the person that inspired him to go into cartoons ended up working for him to help draw daily strips and keep up with the pace of doing daily and Sunday comics.

Flip Books

image of 3 vintage paperback comic books on white background

I have all these big little books. But on occasion, they will have this thing on them that says "flip-it cartoons. See them move!"

Well these are books that are stories where it's an actual novel but each page is illustrated with the character. I have one about the Pink Panther, another one with Bugs Bunny each page had a drawing next to a text story.

But up in the corner there's a little section that was a square with a figure in it. They were flip-it cartoons. So they were books that came pre-made with animated stuff.

The fun thing was, being a person who wanted to make cartoons what I loved about them is I could look at them and see how they animated things. I would retry and redraw those myself and try and get the movement and the motion and the squash.

The first known record of somebody who created actual flipbooks was a man by the name of John Barnes Linnett. He was born in 1831 and he was a British lithographer and lived in Birmingham England. He has the oldest known documentation of the flipbook. So he actually registered it. He did that in 1868 it was under the name the kineograph or moving-picture. It was a machine that would flip the book and you would look at it.

In 1894 Herman Kessler invented a mechanized form of a flipbook called the Mutoscope. He mounted pages on a central rotating cylinder rather than binding them in a book. Kind of like those card catalogs for phone numbers a Rolodex. They were coin-operated and people could pay to actually see these in penny arcades and amusement parks and stuff like that.

Then Herman Kessler helped develop a portable one that was smaller that could be put in more places. The new ones were hand-cranked and he came out with that in 1900.

He also helped John Pross to develop a three-blade projector shutter also to help reduce flicker so while messing with these animated flipped things they also kind of helped the process and the innovation of filmmaking.

So that's what I learned by looking up some of the items I’ve collected.

Check out all the retro pop-culture items in Tom Ray's eBay Store - https://ebay.to/2vMYStC

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