Thursday, 31 July 2008


To mark the 40th anniversary of Mickey Mouse's debut, a special episode of Disneyland tv series was made and aired in 1968 in the US. Titled as 'Mickey Mouse Anniversary Show', it traced the history of Mickey Mouse on screen, presenting a sample of his cartoon shorts. This tv show was theatrically released in Europe in 1970. In Italy, it was titled as Topolino Story and the (non-Mickey) cartoon short Three Little Pigs (1933), in which the Big Bad Wolf had debutted, accompanied its screenings. Below is a full image of one of the publicity materials for Topolino Story, of which a scan of the detail of the notice regarding Three Little Pigs is above.


These plastic figures of characters from the post-war Li'l Bad Wolf comics series Li'l Bad Wolf are interesting because they show the Big Bad Wolf in various victimized positions.
The bully on the upper left and lower right corners is Brer Bear. Originally, he was one of the characters in the Disney feature Song of the South (1946), based on a collection of Afro-American folk tales, but, along with other animated characters from the movie, he eventually began appearing in the Li'l Bad Wolf comics. In Song of the South (which I haven't yet seen), he is reportedly featured as a moronic companion of the antagonist Brer Fox. However, in Li'l Bad Wolf comics, he doesn't seem to be associated with Brer Fox, but featured as a solitary chicken-raising figure who often clashes with Big Bad Wolf in the latter's attempts to "swipe" chicken.

Monday, 28 July 2008


I find the artwork in this obscure vintage card very interesting. The figure of the wolf is not very well drawn in the sense of being sub-standart of the Big Bad Wolf figure we are used to, but the overall design of the picture with its semi-abstract rendering of the background involving the window and the door is striking -and stricktly beyond the customary realist Disney style.
It is being offered by an ebay seller who can neither really identify nor date it. The seller refers to it as a "swap or play card" and says it carries no copyright notice and hence no date; the fine print at the bottom of the picture is said to refer to the cartoon short Three Little Pigs. The figure of the Big Bad Wolf itself is somewhat similar to those on some merchandise from 1933-34 capitalizing Three Little Pigs (1933); I myself haven't seen this kind of Big Bad Wolf figure on any product dated later than 1934.


The above screen-captures are from a rival Big Bad Wolf cartoon short made by Walt Disney's former partner and leading animator Ub Iwerks in 1936.
Ub Iwerks (1901-71) was Walt's partner and collague since their youth in Kansas where they founded together a commercial art venture. Later, when Walt moved to Hollywood, he followed and joined the Disney Studio as a junior partner holding 20 percent of the shares (semi-official Disney histories, eager to elevate Walt, downplay Iwerks as a mere employee, but that is incorrect). Iwerks was also the studio's leading animator, and it was he who co-created, with Walt, Mickey Mouse and single-handedly animated all the early Mouse cartoons. However, he was apparently frustrated with Walt bossing around, interfering with his art work, such as going over his sheets and re-timing the exposures at night after Iwerks had gone home. In January 1930, he left Disney Studios, selling off his rights for a mere sum of under 3,000 US dlrs, when he received a seemingly more lucrative offer to set up another studio. In the 1940s, he would return to Disney, this time indeed as an employee.
Iwerks' Big Bad Wolf (1936) cartoon short dates from this era when he was working outside Disney. Earlier, Disney Studios had made the phenomenally successful cartoon short Three Little Pigs (1933), where the Big Bad Wolf had debutted, and followed-up with the sequel Big Bad Wolf (1934). While Disney's Big Bad Wolf was based on the fable 'Little Red Riding Hood', Iwerks' cartoon of the exact same title was based on the nursery rhyme 'Little Bo Peep', both of which feature a wolf as a villain. In 1936, the year Iwerks made his Big Bad Wolf , Disney also produced Three Little Wolves, again featuring the Big Bad Wolf, but I couldn't establish which one of the two cartoons from the same year preceeded the other in terms of production. Nevertheless, both feature similar scenes of the Big Bad Wolf sharpening his knives..
I am sorry I couldn't manage better-looking screen captures from Iwerks' Big Bad Wolf, but the whole short can be viewed in its entirety from here:

Sunday, 27 July 2008


The above images are from a series of postal cards depicting scenes from the cartoon short Big Bad Wolf (1934). They were issued by a Paris-based publisher who also issued other series of cards based on other Disney cartoons. Below is the image of the reverse side of the cards:

There are no copyright dates on the cards and the ebay seller offering them says they are from "circa 1950", but I've seen used cards from the same line of products which have been inscribed as early as 1941, so these might also be from early 1940s. The no. 10 above depicting Big Bad Wolf and the Practical Pig was sold at an ebay auction for 56.5 US dlrs while the other was sold for 13 dlrs.

Below image is of a French postal card (recently sold for 11.5 US dlrs at an ebay auction) issued by the Tobler chocolate company in the 1950s as part of its long-running series of cards featuring Disney characters.

Various online sources for collectors say that these cards were give-aways with chocolate packages. However, the notice on the reverse side of this card indicates the campaign involved a more intricate enterprise: "Buy the delicious Tobler chocolates and ask your supplier for a free album which will enable you to do yourself a film with true drawings of Walt Disney contained in the shelves and to receive a Tobler surprise-gift." If anyone knows what exactly this means, please let us know..

And below is a postcard from Belgium:

The artwork for the wolf is quite lousy compared to that of the pigs, but this is nevertheless tangentially interesting for featuring the Practical Pig in a dancing pose, which is somewhat out of line with his character. The reverse side of the card carries a permission notice from "Walt Disney Ltd". The ebay seller offering this item estimates its date as "circa 1945" 'though it's not clear on what this estimate is based on.

Thursday, 24 July 2008


Above image is from a calendar of 1938 (which was sold at an ebay auction for 436.5 US dlrs!!!)with each month devoted to one Disney cartoon short from the Silly Symphonies series, May being covered by Three Little Wolves (1936). Below is the reverse side of the above leaf:


This item was sold at an ebay auction for 102.5 US dlrs!..

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


Even though several issues of different series of comics magazines in Italy were being devoted exclusively to Li'l Bad Wolf comics with Big Bad Wolf and/or Li'l Bad Wolf appearing on their covers since 1949, it would take longer for the father&son wolves to have any comics magazine issue devoted to exclusively themselves in their home country, the USA. Their debut on comics covers in the US would come in the medium of give-away comics. In 1950-51, the Wheaties cereal company issued a total of 32 oblong-format mini-comics as give-away and four of these featured Li'l Bad Wolf, Secret of the Woods being one of them.
Secret of the Woods, whose writer is unknown but whose art is by Gil Turner, is an outstanding comics story. The plot kicks-off with Li'l Bad Wolf voicing speculation that someone must be casting spells on the woods since unexplainable happenings are being observed lately. The first act sets up an uneasy atmosphere, successfully conveying the protagonists' feeling of paranoia which spread with with word-of-mouth without any concrete proof. This is brilliantly achieved by simple devices of a few well-written lines of dialogue and expressive looks on the faces, as in the below successive panels:

In the second act, the usual wolf vs pigs antics are carried out against this background, without any clue to uncover the mystery being encountered but the characters carrying the burden of paranoia throughout.

The finale of the story is a genuine masterstroke and the final revelation of the mystery comes as a surprise not for what it is but for how sudden and unexpectedly it is revealed:

When Secret of the Woods was re-printed in no. 37 of Brazilian Mickey comics in 1955, the cover of the said issue was based on its finale:

Secret of the Woods is the only one of the Wheaties give-aways currently in my collection, but as soon as I get the others, I will also post about them. In the meantime, I will be posting a general overview of Gil Turner's career and works in the coming days, so stay tuned on..

Saturday, 19 July 2008


Russel Mfg Co. of Leicester, Mass., which had picked up the license of Disney characters for card games, released a set of six miniature card game decks in 1946. Each deck headlined one major Disney character, but featured several other characters on its cards. The Big Bad Wolf appeared on the cards of three decks, those headlined by Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and, naturally, the Three Little Pigs. The above card is from the Donald Duck deck.
The Mickey Mouse deck featured an illustration of Big Bad Wolf in different combinations with all the other characters from that deck; the one pairing the wolf with Mickey is shown below:

The Three Little Pigs deck on the other hand featured four different illustrations of the Big Wolf:

The illustration on the lower left had also been previously used in a British card game from 1938. It goes without saying that Russel Mfg Co.'s Big Bad Wolf is clearly modeled on the pre-war short cartoons and not on his post-war revival in comics as father of Li'l Bad Wolf.
Russel Mfg Co. would release a new edition of the Three Little Pigs deck in 1965 with identical illustrations but in regular size with reduced number of cards.


The above illustration (click over the image to view it in larger size) is from a mini-poster given away to new subscribers of Walt Disney's Comics & Stories in 1949; note the Big Bad Wolf lifting weights at the left. The below scan is of the back cover of Walt Disney's Comics & Stories no.100, dated Jan. 1949, promoting the give-away.

Thursday, 17 July 2008


I give a short break to my coverage of post-war Big Bad Wolf publications and temporarily revert back to the pre-war era with this post about British lantern slides. The above image is of the box of a set of slides with sequential images from the short cartoon Three Little Pigs (1933) in which the Big Bad Wolf had debutted. Below are the actual slides themselves; click on the image to view it in real size.

This set is one of the many slide sets based on Disney cartoons which were manifactured by the London-based Ensign Ltd. I cannot see any copyright date in the original box of the set in my collection, but it must date from the period 1933-40, possibly circa 1936. The first Three Little Pigs set by Ensign Ltd, which also happened to be their first set with color slides, reportedly came out in 1933, but that set is reported to feature only 14 slides while the set in my collection is from a later edition with 24 slides (as can be seen in the above images).

Among other sets released by Ensign is one based on Three Little Pigs's first sequel, The Big Bad Wolf (1934):

These sets were marketed either individually or in groups together with the lanterns themselves:

Below is a close-up of the wonderful illustration on the reverse side of the lid and further below is the same illustration on the worn-out front side of the lid:

The below advertisement is from no. 40 of British comics magazine Mickey Mouse Weekly, dated Nov. 7th, 1936 (the same advertisement was also published in several other issues of the said magazine in late 1936):

Tragedy befell Ensign Ltd during the 2nd World War as its facilities were hit and destroyed during the Nazi air bombardment of London in September 1940; as a result, the company had to cease its activities and got liquidated...

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


As noted in my previous post, the debut of Big Bad Wolf's benevolent son Li'l Bad Wolf in 1945 had not only marked a resurgence of the wolf vs pigs comics, but had also shifted the center of the attention to the wolves. However, there were occasional exceptions to this trend as well. A one-shot 3 Little Pigs comics from 1949 not only headlined the pigs, but the Li'l Bad Wolf was surprisingly missing altogether from the roster of characters featured in the main comics stories published in that issue. In 1968, it would be reprinted with new cover art, which is seen in the above scan (the cover of the 1949 edition features only the dancing pigs and not the wolf).
The headline comics story of 3 Little Pigs is the 16 pages long 'The Wonderful Magic Lamp', written by the same Chase Craig who had created Li'l Bad Wolf only four years ago then. Losing all hope that he can outsmart the Practical Pig, the Big Bad Wolf enlists the help of a witch to cast a spell on him. As a result, a few rather amusing instances where the Practical Pig becomes even more dumb than his silly brothers ensues. However, the Wolf's victory turns out to be pre-emptive as usual.

The artist on 'The Wonderful Magic Lamp' is Toby Strobl and his rendering of the Big Bad Wolf is unexpectedly sloppy, as can be seen in the above scans. This was one of Strobl's earliest works on Disney comics; eventually, he would turn out to be a prolific Ducks characters' artist (for more info on Strobl, see: ).
The back-up comics story in 3 Little Pigs is the 12 pages long 'The Mounties', again written by Craig but this time with art by Gil Turner, who had taken over the art chores of the Li'l Bad Wolf comics in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories from the series' first artist Carl Buettner. Set in a deserted mining town complete with secret passages and underground tunnels and enlivened with ghostly appearances, this story - even though it also ends unhappily for the Big Bad Wolf as usual- entails two instances where he outsmarts the pigs, including the Practical Pig!

Turner would emerge as the definitive artist on Big Bad Wolf with a decade of tenure on this character and the coming post(s) in this blog will concentrate more on his works, so stay tuned on..

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


The below scan from an Italian publication of 1949 is one of the earliest comics covers where the Big Bad Wolf is featured without the three pigs:

The Big Bad Wolf had effectively receeded from public sight in the war era after appearing in several short cartoons as well as in illustrated story books and newspaper comics continuities in the 1930's; but he would make a come-back in 1945 in the pages of the US publication Walt Disney's Comics & Stories, this time accompanied by his benevolent son, the Li'l Bad Wolf.
This new series, composed of short adventures of usually 8 pages in each issue of Walt Disney's Comics & Stories, was the brainchild of Chase Craig (1910-2001), a former animator who had picked up a comics writer career in the late 1930's working first for newspapers, and then for the Western Publishing, which held Disney's license in for the comics magazine media in the US. In addition to creating the L'il Bad Wolf, Craig would also script some Brer Rabbit comics for Western and would eventually rise to the rank of editor. The first artist on the series was Carl Buettner (190?-1965), another former animator who had incidentally collaborated with Craig in newspaper comic strips work in the late 1930s. Besides more than one year on Li'l Wolf, his output for Western included several covers and he was the main artist for Bucky Bug for several years. He seems to have quit comics work after getting a job as editor for the Little Golden Books series of illustrated story books which would include several Disney titles as well.
The series featuring the Li'l Bad Wolf would be sufficiently popular to continue incessantly for 20 years in American Disney comics. It would also be quite popular in Europe. Beginning with 1949, several issues of two different series of Italian comics weeklies, the oblong-format Albi tascabili di Topolino and the standart-format Albi d'oro, would be devoted exclusively to the L'il Bad Wolf comics. Actually, in the Italian editions, it would usually be the Big Bad Wolf who would get the star billing in the title and not his son, a trend which would be followed in several other European countries. In any case, the pigs had clearly been overshadowed by the wolves.

Saturday, 5 July 2008


This small-sized puzzle has been issued by Jaymar Speciality Co., a leading publisher of children's puzzles, including many based on Disney characters.

Thursday, 3 July 2008


While the British 'Mickey Mouse Annuals' published by Odham Press from 1931 onwards are relatively easy to find today, this Silly Symphony Annual published by the London & Glasgow-based Collins Clear Type Press is a rare item. Note that the cover art includes a barely visible illustration of the Big Bad Wolf at the upper-center section. Below scan is from the spread illustration at the reverse sides of the front and back covers (the full image couldn't fit my scanner completely):

The image of the Big Bad Wolf in this introductory page is based on the cover art of the Big Bad Wolf illustrated story book from 1934:

Below are scans of other pages featuring the Big Bad Wolf:

The above image is based on a scene from the short cartoon Three Little Wolves (1936).
I should add that my copy of this scarce book is unfortunately missing a few pages, so there might be some more Big Bad Wolf related material in an intact copy.
With this post, I round up my coverage of pre-war publications featuring the original Big Bad Wolf. In the coming days, I will start a series of posts on post-war Big Bad Wolf, as re-defined in comics as the father of Li'l Bad Wolf.