Gross, Milt

Popular 1920’s-40’s cartoonist-animator noted for Yiddish-inflected dialogue

Price: $10.00

Description:
(1895-1953) New York-born Jewish cartoonist and animator, his work noted for exaggerated cartoon style and Yiddish-inflected English dialogue. He originated the non-sequitur "Banana Oil!" as a phrase deflating pomposity and posing. His character Count Screwloose's admonition, "Iggy, keep an eye on me!", became a national catch phrase. Gross's 1st comic strip, begun when he was 20, was “Phool Phan Phables” for the New York Journal, featuring a rabid sports fan named George Phan. It was one of several short-lived comic strips (and other undertakings, including his 1st animated film) before his 1st success, “Gross Exaggerations”, begun as an illustrated column in the New York World. Its “Yinglish” vocabulary set the tone for much of Gross' work, as would its re-workings of well-known tales, as in "Nize Ferry-tail from Elledin witt de Wanderful Lemp" and "Jack witt de Binn Stuck". These were gathered in a 1926 book, “Nize Baby”, which evolved into a Sunday newspaper color comic strip. Also in 1926, he published “Hiawatta witt No Odder Poems”, a 40pp parody of Longfellow's “Hiawatha.” Gross followed with “De Night in de Front from Chreesmas” (1927), “Dunt Esk” (1927), and “Famous Fimmales witt Odder Ewents from Heestory” (1928). In 1930, Gross published his masterpiece, the pantomime tale “He Done Her Wrong: The Great American Novel and Not a Word in It — No Music, Too”. Minus words, this "novel" is composed entirely of pen-and-ink cartoons, nearly 300 pages long, comparable to such silent film serials as “The Perils of Pauline.” Starting in 1931, Gross worked for the Hearst chain, doing various syndicated comic strips and Sunday topper strips, including “Dave's Delicatessen”, “Banana Oil”, “Pete the Pooch”, “Count Screwloose from Tooloose”, “Babbling Brooks”, “Otto and Blotto”, “The Meanest Man”, “Draw Your Own Conclusion”, “I Did It and I'm Glad!”, and “That's My Pop!” (later a radio show). His work always maintained Yiddish touches. In 1936, he illustrated 2 books in collaboration, “Pasha the Persian” (by Margaret Linden) and “What's This?” (with Robert M. Low & Lou Wedemar). In 1945, the year of his book “Dear Dollink”, he suffered a heart attack and semi-retired. His last book was “I Shouda Ate the Éclair” (1946). In 1946–47, his work appeared in the short-lived comic book “Picture News”. His final published work appeared in the comic books published by American Comics Group, including 2 issues of “Milt Gross Funnies”. In 1950, 2 of his earlier books were combined as “Hiawatta and De Night in De Front From Chreesmas”. He made some animated films in the silent film era, including “The Ups & Downs of Mr. Phool Phan” (his first), “Useless Hints by Fuller Prunes”, “Izzy Able the Detective” and “How My Vacation Spent Me”. In 1939, he returned to animation with 2 MGM cartoons, “Jitterbug Follies” and “Wanted: No Master”, featuring Count Screwloose (voiced by Mel Blanc). In 2009, New York University Press published “Is Diss a System?: A Milt Gross Comic Reader” which argues for his importance as a link between cartooning cultures of the 1st & 2nd halves of the 20th century, especially as they related to Jewish culture. Autograph sentiment (“Sincerely”) signed on 3 ¾ x 6 ½ typed-addressed cacheted envelope with 1946 stamp both comemmorating Stephen Watts Kearny’s 1846 New Mexico expedition (neither Kearny nor New Mexico having anything to do with Gross so far as we can ascertain). Postmarked Beverly Hills, California, January 31 1947. NOT a First Day Cover!

Condition: Very good
Type:Signed Envelope






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