Saturday, August 30, 2008

Polka Party Nite!

Polka Party Nite at Disneyland, 1957
Now THIS is my idea of fun! (You think I'm kidding?)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Love Bug! 

For my amazing nephew Jeremy who is celebrating his birthday today, here are three Herbie paintings that I did for the 30th Anniversary of "The Love Bug" about nine years ago.  (Jeremy is a serious Herbie fan -since about the age of four - and he can tell the difference between a good Herbie movie and a bad Herbie movie. He's seen 'em all.)

Though not intended to be final art, these "exploratory" Photoshop images nevertheless ended up on an assortment of merchandise from travel mugs to mousepads for the Walt Disney Gallery stores. I confess I borrowed heavily from "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" and the commercial animation of Halas and Batchelor for the look of these.

In 2005, I was surprised to see elements from all three images show up in the product development style guide for "Herbie, Fully Loaded".

A tip of the sunroof and a "beep beep" on the horn to Jeremy today! Hope he's having a great one!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Classiest Place on Earth

1959 "Disneyland After Dark"  Newspaper Ad
Dixieland music aboard the Mark Twain...The Elliott Brothers at Plaza Gardens...The Tahitian Terrace Fire Dancers...I'm there.

1959 newspaper clipping...

Friday, August 22, 2008

1963 Newspaper Ad for Disneyland
1963 Newspaper Ad...

Sunday, August 10, 2008


"Blast Off with Walt Disney Magazine" Illustration, 1959

Today let's revel in some original illustrations created in the late 1950s by a handful of artists for Walt Disney Magazine.  Inspired by the immense popularity of the Mickey Mouse Club television program, this high-quality periodical for kids featured stories about young studio stars, as well as articles touching on science, music and the interesting world around us.

Best of all is the sophisticated art direction lavished upon each issue by staff artist Paul Hartley. An accomplished illustrator himself, Hartley is revered today for having designed the look of Walt Disney's Cold War-era classic, Our Friend the Atom, as well as several of the original silk-screened attraction posters for Disneyland.

Here's a comical painting by Hartley for a story called The Pink Hat published in the August 1957 issue.   (Click small images to view at larger sizes on Flickr.)

"The Pink Hat" Illustration by Paul Hartley, 1957

Legendary Disneyland designer Herb Ryman created this modern airport scene for a "Spin and Marty" adventure in 1959. 

Spin and Marty Illustration by Herb Ryman, 1959

Al Dempster, a golden boy of Little Golden Books, painted this fantastic depiction of Johnny Appleseed for the series "Heroes of American Folklore" in 1957.

"Johnny Appleseed" Illustration by Al Dempster, 1957

The uncredited title illustration for "Yellowstone: Land of Burning Mountains" published in June 1957, may have been the work of writer Milt Banta, who was also an artist. Banta died at a very young age, at 36, in late 1959.

"Yellowstone" Illustration (by Milt Banta?) 1957
Can't get enough of this good stuff?
"Pink Shoelaces" Illustration, 1959
A hug around the neck to Miss Stacia Martin- an illustrious illustrator herself- for identifying the titles and artists of these images.  Thanks a million, Stacia! 

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Skin Deep

The Restoration of Mr. Bali Hai

Bali Hai Beauty, circa 1953

No bones about it, today's post is precisely seven years late.

Way back in August 2001 (mere weeks before "9/11" meant anything to us other than the eleventh of September) Jody and I volunteered to rescue an old, rotting lump of wood that had been sitting outdoors in the sun, rain, and salty sea breezes for half a century. Even worse, the lump had been touched, leaned upon, and sometimes even sat upon by hundreds of thousands of people.

Me and Mr. Bali Hai

Mr. Bali Hai is the world famous Sort-Of-Tiki that has stared down each and every visitor to the Bali Hai Restaurant on Shelter Island in San Diego, California since 1953. And, in our highly-respected opinion this deadpan deity is a bona fide star in the American Pop firmament.  The Buster Keaton of Tikis!

Hewn from one massive solid chunk of native Californian Julian Pine by an undocumented carver, Mr. BH is widely recognized thanks to a souvenir ceramic mug in his likeness, carried off to all corners of the world by the bazillions of folks who ordered the "Mr. Bali Hai" cocktail with dinner.

For years Jody and I griped about the color scheme and sorry state of Mr. BH every time we ate at the Bali Hai,  and finally we decided to see if we could do something about it. We took some unpaid vacation from work, bought several gallons of latex paint and, with the blessings of the restaurant's owner and the preservationist organization Historic San Diego, we set to work.

It didn't take long to discover that a fresh coat of paint was not going to cut it, as Mr. Bali Hai's troubles turned out to be more than skin deep. Decades of moisture had seeped into his back and a fungus had rotted away some of his insides.

Mr. Clown Face

About five pounds of moist, punky wood (think potting soil) had to be removed and the caverns scrubbed with a wire brush to get all contaminated wood out of there. The remaining fibers were flooded with termite pesticide and wood preservative. The "caves" were then coated in sealant, filled in with rock-hard wood putty, fortified with a layer of concrete, primered, painted and sealed again with three coats of marine polyurethane.


Referring to several vintage photographs of Mr.BH, we were able to recreate something close to his original appearance. It was thrilling to hold a 50-year-old photo up to his head and see all the same woodgrain traveling through his face. Somewhere back (we guess in the 1970s) he had been frosted like a cake with about a 1/4 inch of spackle.

Beginning to apply the Brown Base Coat

We counted six layers of different colors that he has been over the years. You might recall him being Martian green, but did you know that over the years he has been THREE different shades of green? And for awhile his pupils had been bright orange!

Jody Daily

Today only one detail is still lacking:  the bone through his nose. We had gotten approval to recreate the bone - which we did- out of newly acquired pieces of Julian pine. However a few factors need to be worked out before the bone can be restored....and more on that later....

Not long ago I came across the photos we had taken to document the process. With many of our friends recently in San Diego for Comic-Con, we've been reflecting quite a bit on the stalwart Mr. Hai.

If you'd like to relive the whole gruesome drama, step-by-step, visit 
"Mr. Bali Hai's  Restoration" Photo Album. 

Jimmy Durante & Mr.Bali Hai Compare Noses, 1955

And of course, next time you're in San Diego, please stop in and say Hai.