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Cartoon Crossroads Columbus/Oct. 1 – 3, 2015

Magic happens when people work together. Ohio State University and Wexner Center for the Arts joined forces with the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio History Connection, and the Columbus Metropolitan Library  to celebrate a regional strength.

Portland will have such a festival someday. I hope soon!


Announcing a new cartoon art celebration:
October 1-3, 2015

June 4, 2015 – The first annual Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, or CXC, a celebration of the cartoon arts and their creators will be held Oct. 1-3, 2015. CXC is modeled on events like the Sundance or Tribeca film festivals, or the metropolitan comics events in Europe that offer a breadth of exhibits, artist talks, workshops, film screenings, performances, signings and more.

Featured guests include: Kate Beaton* (Hark! A Vagrant, The Princess and the Pony), animation historian Jerry Beck**, Bill Griffith (Zippy the Pinhead), Francoise Mouly*** (RAW, The New Yorker, TOON BOOKS), Jeff Smith (Bone), Art Spiegelman*** (MAUS), and Craig Thompson (Blankets, Space Dumplins) More special guests will be announced in the coming weeks.

“What makes this show unique is Columbus itself,” said Jeff Smith, CXC’s President & Artistic Director, “We have unprecedented levels of institutional support for cartooning and comics here, from the museums and schools to the Thurber House with its annual Graphic Novelist in Residence which recognizes outstanding new talent. This festival brings the whole city into the celebration.

Organizers Smith, Lucy Caswell, Vijaya Iyer, and Executive Director Tom Spurgeon have teamed with the city’s great arts institutions to plan the event:

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
Columbus Metropolitan Library
Columbus College of Art & Design
Columbus Museum of Art
Cultural Arts Center
King Arts Complex
Laughing Ogre
Ohio History Connection
Popular Culture Studies, The Ohio State University
Short North Alliance
Thurber House
Wexner Center for the Arts

This year’s CXC will kick off on Thursday and Friday at the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum on The Ohio State University campus. On Saturday, events will move downtown. The Cultural Arts Center will host a lively comics convention where many of the most talented makers of independent comics will be on hand to sell and sign their books. CXC will conclude on Saturday evening at Columbus College of Art & Design with an event organized by CCAD in collaboration with CXC: Jeff Smith in conversation with Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly regarding the watershed comics anthology RAW.

CXC’s mission is to celebrate the diversity of the cartoon arts including animation, editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books and graphic novels, and to highlight the city of Columbus and its comics community to the world, working to secure the brightest possible future for the next generation of comics-makers.

Registration for exhibitors is now open and can be found at

For more information, please visit the website or e-mail

Collaboration appears to be Columbus’ middle name. I’m looking forward to Portland’s version of this festival, which will be just as fabulous.

Collision Of Cartooning Supernovas, Jan. 17, 2015

matt with homer davenport

Matt Groening displays his new copy of Annotated Cartoons Of Homer  C. Davenport.

Photo credit: Gus Frederick

Oregon Animators Celebrate Homer Groening’s Mid Century Oregon Genius

Not one, not two, but three Oregon animators took the Hollywood Theatre stage on Jan. 17, 2015 to celebrate the life and work of independent filmmaker Homer Groening (1919-1996).

Two time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton introduced Lisa Groening and Matt Groening, who then introduced the films. All three speakers have been known to animate.

Two other panelists, Tom Shrader, on the far left in the photo below, and Ted Mahar, to Tom’s left, spoke about Homer Groening as a friend and colleague. All spoke about him as an influence and inspiration.

We heard personal stories as well, about the man who loved surfing, flying, basketball, advertising and making films. The Groening family loaned six of those films for the program.  A seventh came from Walt Dimick, the son of one of Homer Groening’s colleagues, Norm Dimick.

When I began the series, Dennis and I thought we only had his two battered, color deteriorated, prints of Homer Groening films to count on. Wonderful to watch the world’s first Homer Groening retrospective take shape, as the Groening family and the Dimick family rose to the occasion and generously supplied what we needed to fully celebrate this Oregon film pioneer.

Photo credit: Gus Frederick


Harry Smith PDX

Oregon Cartoon Institute artist in residence Carye Bye supplied this portrait of Oregon’s most influential high modernist, Harry Smith. See Harry Smith PDX.

harry smith - oregon cartoon institute

harry smith – oregon cartoon institute

Oregon Cartoon Institute Public Meeting/Feb. 12 @5th Avenue Cinema FREE

Oregon Cartoon Institute is holding its second public meeting on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2:00 PM at 5th Avenue Cinema.

All friends and fans of Oregon Cartoon Institute are invited. If you think you might belong to this group, you do.

The agenda includes a brief introduction to the all volunteer Institute, and a discussion of what is up next. We’ll have announcements from the Mel Blanc Project and the Homer Davenport Project, some proposals to consider, and some hand outs to take home.

Reminder: last time the Institute met, Dennis Nyback supplied home made refreshments.

This year our featured attraction is a rare screening of The Little Baker, a stop motion animation short by early Portland filmmaker Lewis Clark Cook (1909 – 1983)We will also screen a ten-minute profile of Cook, made for OPB in the early 1980’s by Portland artist Jim Blashfield.

Michele Kribs, who was trained by Cook to succeed him as head of Oregon Historical Society’s Moving Image Archive, will be in attendance.

In the photo above, use of which was generously made possible by the Oregon Historical Society, Lew Cook is 15 years old. That is his own 35mm camera. A doting aunt, knowing that he was in love with the movies, bought it for him. He quit selling newspapers and went to work as a newsreel photographer.

Top Three Reasons You Might Want To See The Little Baker:

3. Cook made his living as an independent filmmaker using more tricks than you can imagine. Just as Bill Plympton turned down Disney, Lew Cook turned down Warner Brothers. He chose independence. Besides Plympton, the other Portland filmmakers who followed Cook’s lead include Homer Groening, Will Vinton, Joan Gratz, Jim Blashfield, Gus Van Sant, Rose Bond and  Joanna Priestley.

2. The Little Baker was made “in the 1920’s” which means Cook could have made it anywhere between age 11 and age 20. Come help us sleuth out clues as to whether this is the work of a hard working child or an uninhibited adult.

1.  No one else you know has seen this film.


This event is a partnership between Oregon Cartoon InstituteOregon Historical Society and 5th Avenue Cinema.

Thank you to Kerry Tymchuk, Michele Kribs and Scott Rook of Oregon Historical Society.

Thank you to Heather Petrocelli of 5th Avenue Cinema and PSU’s Public History Interest Group.

Mayor Sam Adams Declares June 29, 2011 Mel Blanc Day In Portland

Oregon Cartoon Institute OCI accepts declaration of MEL BLANC DAY June 29th

Whereas Mel Blanc, whose chosen art form, in its vitality, innovation, excellence, and wide popular appeal, expresses what is unique about Portland; and

Whereas appreciation of his genius recognizes no national boundaries,with Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck well beloved around the world, as are the many other cartoon characters to which he lent his voice; and

Whereas he discovered his gifts here in Portland: in Neighborhood House in South Portland, where he learned to play the violin; in the halls of Lincoln High School, where he perfected the laugh he gave to Woody Woodpecker; in the ballroom of Multnomah Hotel, where he sang and played the ukulele; in the Oregonian Tower, where he performed on KGW’s Hoot Owls, and, later, on his own show, Cobweb & Nuts, on KEX; and

Whereas this summer marks Portland’s first public celebration of Mel Blanc, with Oregon Jewish Museum offering a Mel Blanc exhibit and Oregon Cartoon Institute offering the Mel Blanc Project, a series of public history/arts education events ranging from lectures to guided tours of Mel Blanc’s Portland; and

Whereas on June 29, in Lincoln Hall, where Mel Blanc himself sat as a high school student, Craig Adams, early Portland radio historian, and Robyn Tenenbaum, current Live Wire radio producer, will induct Mel Blanc into Oregon Cartoon Institute’s Hall Of Fame; and

Whereas the City of Portland is recognizes the significance and importance of Blanc’s creative genius, which he cultivated and expanded here,

Now, therefore, I, Sam Adams, the Mayor of the City of Portland, Oregon, the “City of Roses,” do hereby proclaim June 29, 2011 to be Mel Blanc Day in Portland, and encourage all residents to celebrate this day.


The Mel Blanc Project is a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

Another recommended method of deepening your knowledge is to attend the entire lecture series, Mel Blanc: The Portland Years.

Mel Blanc Project Presents: Radio Daze: Hollywood Behind The Microphone








Radio Daze: Hollywood Behind The Microphone

Mel Blanc first performed on radio when he was 15 years old. Although he would become more famous for his work in animation, radio was Mel Blanc’s first love. He remained active in it his entire life. This program includes Dennis Nyback’s favorite radio themed cartoons and short films from 1929 to 1943.
Coo Coo Nut Grove (1936) WB Cartoon.
Caricatures of
Jean Harlow,
Bette Davis,
Joe E. Brown,
Hugh Herbert,
W.C. Fields,
Clark Gable,
Groucho and Harpo Marx,
Johnny Weissmuller,
Mae West,
Lionel and John Barrymore,
Laurel and Hardy,
Edward G. Robinson,
Fred Astaire,
and George Raft dance and drink.  A caricatured Ben Bernie MC’s as the radio broadcasting bandleader.  Jokes comment on the feud between Ben Bernie and radio journalist Walter Winchell.
Hi De Ho (1934)  Live action short. Cab Calloway appears at the Cotton Club, on a show being broadcast on the radio.  One of his fans is a railroad porter who is worried that while he is on the road his wife ( Fredi Washington) will betray him. Cab advises the man to buy a radio to keep his wife happy and at home.
Captain Henry’s Radio Show (1933)   Live action. One of the most popular radio shows on the 1930s was the Maxwell House Showboat  This film shows a broadcast which includes the popular radio performers Annette Hanshaw and Lanny Ross.

I Love to Singa (1936)  WB Cartoon   Young Owl Jolson is a disappointment to his classical music loving father.  Kicked out of the house, he finds redemption singing jazz on an amateur hour radio show hosted by Jack Bunny.

Midnight Melodies (1936)  Loretta Lee,  Ed Paul,  Jack Gilford   Live action. Incredibly rare film featuring the Ed Paul Orchestra doing a radio broadcast.  Featured throughout is the  young comedian Jack Gilford, making his first of many film and television appearances, but eight years before his next film appearance.

GI Journal with Mel Blanc (c1944) Live action. Army-Navy Screen Magazine recreation of a radio broadcast features Mel Blanc as the character Sad Sack. Extremely rare footage of Blanc performing live. Also featuring Lucille Ball and  Kay Kyser.

God Bless America (1943)  Live action. Technicolor clip from This is the Army (1943).  Features  Kate Smith introducing the famous Irving Berlin song in the form of a radio broadcast heard by the nation and by soldiers over seas.  Among the listeners are George Murphy, who later became a United States Senator, and a fresh faced nobody named Ronald Reagan.

All films from The Nyback Collection. For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website. Another recommended method of deepening your knowledge is to attend Mel Blanc: The Portland Years, our upcoming lecture series. For people who can’t wait until the lecture series,  and want to get right down to it, we recommend you attend the Mel Blanc Project Screening Series at The Secret Society, throughout May.

Mel Blanc and the Jazz Age: Portland Jazz Baby

What: Screening Series Night 2

Where: The Secret Society
116 NE Russell
Portland, OR

When: Tuesday, May 17 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm

How Much: $6 suggested donation

Where did Mel Blanc get his astounding ear and ability to improvise? This program is of music shorts of pre-1930′s jazz bands (Duke EllingtonHal Kemp) and performers (Bessie SmithRudy ValleeEddie Peabody, others) which document the era during which Mel Blanc was himself a professional musician playing in Portland jazz bands. This is the music young Mel Blanc heard.
Program opens with a live performance from Portland’s newest ukulele orchestra,  Honky Tonk Prison.
We’re so pleased to have ukulele musicians with us on this night. Mel Blanc was discovered playing ukulele and singing with the Multnomah Hotel Orchestra in 1927. He was nineteen.
On to the films! They will include:
Kitty From Kansas City (1931) So early that Betty Boop is still a dog, and one named Kitty!  She is the title character in a song featuring Rudy Vallee, which he had made famous in 1930.
Black and Tan(1929)  Dudley Murphy directs Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra
Favorite Melodies (1929) Ruth Etting
Rhapsody in Black and Blue(1932)  Short with Louis Armstrong and Sidney Easton.
College Chums (1928)   Eddie Peabody with Hal Kemp Orchestra.
St. Louis Blues (1929)  Dudley Murphy directed the only film of Bessie Smith.
All films from The Nyback Collection.
7:00 PM@ Secret Society, 116 NE Russell, Portland, Oregon
Admission by donation


“Now Cut That Out!”: Portland Theaters Educate Mel Blanc

buy tickets for the mel blanc project

buy tickets for the mel blanc project

United States – May 13, 2011

This lecture will introduce the world of downtown Portland theaters, a world inhabited by Mel Blanc first as a consumer and later as an entertainer. Because Portland was on the Orpheum and Pantages vaudeville circuits, Mel Blanc saw all the big name acts, live and on stage just as if he had been growing up in New York or Los Angeles.

Guest speakers: Local theater historians Steve Stone and Gary Lacher, co-authors of Theaters of Portland, talk about the Portland Mel Blanc grew up in, with downtown streets lined with vaudeville theaters and movie houses, and a mayor, George Baker, who was himself in show business. Stone and Lacher will describe the Portland audiences who patronized vaudeville, and give a quick overview of the intersection between vaudeville and Hollywood.

Films: Dennis Nyback will show films of some of the vaudeville performers (Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, Eddie Cantor) Mel Blanc would have seen perform live during his Portland years. Later Blanc would perform alongside these same stars on national radio.

This lecture is the first of four. Buy tickets below…

To buy a pass to all four lectures.

To buy a ticket to the June 15 lecture

To buy a ticket to the June 22 lecture

To buy a ticket to the June 29 lecture

Oregon Cartoon Institute was founded in 2007 by Anne Richardson and Dennis Nyback to promote a greater awareness of Oregon%u2019s rich animation and cartooning history. Conceived as a colloquium of interested organizations and individuals, the Institute has no brick and mortar home, and always works in partnership with institutions and organizations which do.

Oregon Cartoon Institute is fiscally sponsored by Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization.

The Mel Blanc Project … May – August 2011

he Mel Blanc Project will take place May through August 2011

he Mel Blanc Project will take place May through August 2011

Oregon Cartoon Institute is comprised of individuals and organizations interested in raising awareness of Oregon’s rich animation and cartooning history. Carye Bye, the proprietress of Red Bat Press, joined this interlocking set of community partnerships when she created the above portrait. She is now a charter member.

The Mel Blanc Project will take place May through August 2011 in conjunction with Oregon Jewish Museum‘s Mel Blanc exhibit. During the run of that exhibit, Oregon Cartoon Institute will present a four part lecture series exploring the formative influence of Mel Blanc’s early Portland years on his later career. Tickets are available NOW through Brown Paper Tickets and TSHIRTs are available now as well!

Show your love of Oregon Animation with the purchase of one today.

Other Oregon Cartoon Institute charter memberships are held by:

David Chelsea, artist & illustrator

Bill Plympton, filmmaker & studio chief

S. W. Conser, artist & bon vivant

David Plotkin, provost of Marylhurst University

Beverly Walton, assistant curator at Portland Art Museum

Rose Bond, artist & director of PNCA’s exploding out of the box undergraduate animation program.

These Oregon film history enthusiasts lent support at crucial junctures in the development of the Institute. Rose Bond, in particular, provided direct inspiration in her essay on the history of Portland’s animation scene.

How exactly did the Oregon Cartoon Institute come into being? See this overview written for Oregon Movies, A to Z.

Oregon Cartoon Institute is run by volunteers. We are fiscally sponsored by Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, a 501 (c) (3) non – profit organization. We welcome your support! Our goal is to increase access to basic information about Oregon’s animation and cartooning history which will cause all Oregonians, present and future, to burst with pride.

Support Oregon Cartoon Institute by making a donation, by volunteering your labor, or by sharing your expertise. We value all three.

Contact me, Anne Richardson, mrs dot nyback at gmail dot com, for more information about the Mel Blanc Project and Oregon Cartoon Institute.