Monday, March 30, 2015

"Hawaiian Eye" Tiki

Way back in 2006, as the collectible tiki mug craze was reaching its height, I made a special mug just for myself based on a (then) fifty-year-old television program that I was completely obsessed with.  Hawaiian Eye, produced by Warner Brothers in Burbank and originally broadcast on ABC-TV from 1959 to 1963, was a "private eye" adventure in modern Honolulu, with murder and mayhem set against the tropical scenery of the islands. 

The show had a vacation-like atmosphere with plots rum-infused with luaus, surfing, ukuleles, and Navy Grogs.  Anthony Eisley and Robert Conrad were the private investigators working from their stylish poolside office at the famed Hilton Hawaiian Village. Pretty nightclub singer Connie Stevens performed each week in the adjacent Shell Bar, and Hawaiian-born Poncie Ponce added to the fun as a colorful cab driver. Even the villains on the show each week seemed to be on vacation.

The most familiar icon of Hawaiian Eye, however, was the tiki seen at the opening and closing of every episode. Conceived by Art Director Perry Ferguson (best known for his production design on Citizen Kane, Alfred Hitchcock's Rope, and the live-action sequences in Walt Disney's Song of the South), the tiki also stood in the Hawaiian Eye headquarters and served as a sort of good-luck charm for the private eyes. 

Standing nearly 4 feet tall, the grimacing deity was reportedly carved from palm wood by an actor named Malcolm Mealey.  Mealey trained weightlifters here in Anaheim and chiseled tikis out of palm logs as a hobby.  Most of his tikis were purchased by Stephen Crane (Lana Turner's ex-boyfriend) who built hotels with themed restaurants, such as "The Luau" in Beverly Hills.

The tiki became the show's logo, both behind the scenes, and on the handful of rare (and highly collectible) merchandise items based on the series.

I've been told by Book of Tiki author Sven Kirsten that after the show closed in 1963, the tiki prop was taken as a memento by one of its cast members Doug Mossman, but it has since rotted away in his yard in Waikiki.

And what about my mug?  Over the years I've been bugged by so many friends to make it available, and now it's finally happened, thanks to my favorite mug-makers Munktiki in Portland, Oregon.  The ceramic vessel is 9-1/2" tall with a removable lid, for cocktail-sipping or display. Each piece is cast by hand and individually glazed to mimic the texture of palm wood…and each includes a numbered certificate with the recipe for the official "Hawaiian Eye Cocktail" created for the show's cast in the 1960s.  

Click here!

Jody and I are currently building an online store which will launch (hopefully) next month…but the Hawaiian Eye Mug is available for purchase right now. There are only a hundred of them…and I'm keeping 5…so they will go quick and fast.  Email me privately with your mailing address. The shipping is Priority Mail only (one day delivery!), which includes insurance and tracking in the US. Paypal only, one per person please….This is it, when they're gone, they're gone.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Steaks and Chops

Let's journey back to "grandmother's day" with some wonderful artwork—part of an original pencil layout—created in 1955 for a rare full-color newspaper section presenting some of the "many delights and wonders that are yours to enjoy at Disneyland."

The text written to accompany this page:
"The Red Wagon Inn is one of several charming eating places in Disneyland. It is resplendent in the elegance of a by-gone era reminiscent of the famed eating houses of yesterday. All appointments are authentic mementos of the gay and glamorous 90's--including the stained glass ceiling, entrance hall and foyer taken from the S. James home in Los Angeles, one of the West's most noted old mansions. Atmosphere, however, is not confined to the building alone. The menu itself brings back visions of historic good eating --featuring steaks and chops."

"Grandmother shopped in a store like Swift's Market House on Disneyland's Main Street. Here we find the old-fashioned butcher in straw hat and cuffs, the pot-bellied stove and shelves lined with authentic old-time meat and grocery products. Swift & Company, whose quality meats are served exclusively in Disneyland, is the sponsor of this exhibit."

"The Chicken Plantation at Disneyland is a gay antebellum river plantation house, reproduced in every nostalgic detail. French Provincial decor and old Southern Hospitality make the Chicken Plantation a memorable spot. You'll want to visit the Plantation soon and enjoy tender grown Swift's Premium Chicken."

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas with Old Friends

My favorite project this year was creating the corporate holiday greeting card for Warner Bros. Studios Animation.  Warners currently owns the Hanna-Barbera film catalog and I was beyond thrilled when they asked me for an original design featuring the classic H-B characters. 

There are so many good characters to choose from so, naturally, I chose the earliest ones and placed the style in the late '50s/early '60s.  Ruff and Reddy, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi, and Boo-Boo Bear are constructing a paper tableau using the very tools I used to create the actual scene. 

On the flip-side, Quick Draw McGraw and his sidekick Baba Louie are assisting from behind the scenes.

This was so much fun to work on, and required some tricky staging to pull off the illusion that the flimsy paper characters were actually supporting the scissors and x-acto knife.

The interior of the card had its own special tableau, as well.  I thought it could be fun to contrast large and small characters together in one shot:

Magilla Gorilla dangles a real vintage ornament (from our own Christmas tree at home) while the mice Pixie and Dixie leap around.  Incidentally, I hope everyone out there reading this is familiar with all these great Hanna-Barbera characters.  We don't see them very much today—except perhaps for Yogi Bear—which is quite a shame.  I spent countless hours of my kidhood enjoying the TV antics of these characters, and it was a dream come true to be able to revisit with them for a short while as they skipped across my workbench.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tiki Kiliki

A gift for a sweet and photogenic friend, Tiki Kiliki (Miss Christie White) of The Hukilau
(Painting by Jody Daily, tiki mug by Kevin Kidney.)

Tiki Kiliki, herself.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Rolly Crump: The Architect of Delight

Illustration for Los Angeles Magazine by Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily,  March 2011

Rolly Crump is one of our favorite designers in the whole wide world. Whether we're talking about his theme park contributions for Disney, or his satyrical counter-culture posters, Rolly rules.

A few years ago Los Angeles Magazine asked us to create an illustration to accompany an article about the legendary artist, and of course we were thrilled.  Our first rough concept was heavily inspired by our love for Rolly's "Museum of the Weird":

Our first concept.  Too weird?

Rolly's bizarre bats and dragons proved to be a little too dark for the tastes of the magazine's art director, who asked us to try something lighter and more cheerful. We decided to take elements from some of Rolly's more familiar Disneyland designs and build an imaginary theme park out of them.  We lovingly referred to this concept as "Crump City":

"Crump City" preliminary sketch
 The art director liked it, and decided we should do sort of a mock "attraction poster" with the elements.  The design became more and more simple as our "poster" took shape.  We created our art digitally in Adobe Illustrator and played around with possible color schemes.

Experimenting with different colors and values.

We did a lot of fussing with colors until we landed on the final bright purple version at the top of this post.  Everyone seemed to like it, and we even received a swell compliment from Rolly himself.  Score!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rolly Crump: Muse of the Weird and Wonderful

Sun illustration by Rolly Crump, 1966

Rolly Crump is one of my favorite artists in the whole world—not only for his groundbreaking Disney work—but for his quirky and beautiful independent art as well.   Actually, I'm inspired by everything I've ever seen him do.

Rolly with his Tower of the Four Winds model
for the 1964 New York World's Fair

In Disney circles he is known for his designs on the Enchanted Tiki Room, It's a Small World,  the Haunted Mansion, the Adventureland Bazaar, and to a lesser degree for his legendary unbuilt Museum of the Weird—macabre and witty concepts that were decades ahead of their time and Tim Burton.

Lighting Fixture for The Museum of the Weird, 1966

I love his drawing style of the 1960s: bold, ragged ink line, textured and angular, with colors kept to a minimum. Much of it borders on the psychedelic.  Even more, his art has a sly sense of humor that I'm simply crazy about.

Pride Creations "Push Down" Toys, 
concepted by Rolly, 1960s 
According to Rolly, even while at Disney he always had cool projects going on the side.
In 1960, a chance meeting with West Coast rock poster pioneer, Howard Morseburg, led to a new venture in printmaking. Rolly's satirical designs poked fun at Beatnik culture, the coffee houses and jazz clubs of Greenwich Village, Seattle, San Francisco, and the East Bay. 

Poster for Pete's Poop Deck Jazz Club
Seattle, Washington, 1960
His easy-to-read graphics satirized big issues of the era, from drug use to the human rights record of revolutionary Cuba and the Soviet Union.  Though they apparently weren't made in extremely large quantities, the hand-pulled prints were popular with artistic young musicians and hipsters, and were influential on poster design that later dominated the Sixties.

"Green Gasser Kauphy House" Poster 1960
In 1959 Rolly became a show designer at WED (now Walt Disney Imagineering) after Walt saw some of the propellers and mobiles he had created.  
Rolly's Rongo Tiki God concept, 1962

Jody and I first met Rolly when we were curating "Tiki: Native Drums in the Orange Grove" at the Anaheim Museum in 1996.  Rolly gave a 2-hour presentation describing the inspiration for his Tiki designs and his other work.  It was an unforgettable evening.

Jody Daily, Rolly Crump, & Kevin Kidney
Anaheim Museum Tiki Show, September 14, 1996

In our own projects for Disney, Jody and I have welcomed the opportunity to more fully geek out over Rolly's designs by translating several into merchandise, including his 1967 Tomorrowland Ticket Booth Small World Clock facade, and, of course, his Tiki characters.

New Disneyland Tiki Room Rongo Bowl
Rongo Tiki Drink Bowl at Disneyland, 2009

Thanks, Rolly, for sharing your creativity and utter coolness with us.