Saturday, January 17, 2015

UPDATE 1/17/15

The Annie movie that I worked on has been out for a few weeks. Haven’t seen it. When I was working on this feature I watched the other two versions and was underwhelmed. The John Huston film was just creepy…some really off-putting images for a “kids” movie. The TV version with Kathie Bates was much better, but not something I’d watch if I wasn’t working on a remake. The worst of it was that in neither version is Harold Grey, the creator of the strip , ever mentioned in the credits…only the syndicate that “owned” the strip.

The character was from a poem by James Whitcomb Riley. My mother used to read it me as a kid…with special emphasis on the refrain: And the Goblins will get you, if you don’t watch out. Is it any wonder I grew up with a lot of anxieties? It certainly explains my morbid tastes in literature and movies and comics. 

Little Orphan Annie came to our house to stay,
And wash the cups and saucers up, and brush the crumbs away,
And shoo the chickens off the porch, and dust the hearth, and sweep,
And make the fire, and bake the bread, and earn her board and keep;
And all us other children, when the supper things are done,
We sit around the kitchen fire and have the best of fun
Listening to the scary tales that Annie tells about,
And the Goblins will get you, if you don’t watch out.

Once there was a little boy who wouldn’t say his prayers
And when he went to bed at night, all the way upstairs,
His Mommy heard him holler, and his daddy heard him bawl,
And when they turned the covers down, he wasn’t there at all!
And they searched for him in the attic, and the cubby-hole, and press,
And they searched up the chimney, and everywhere, I guess;
But all they ever found was his pants and round about
And the Goblins will get you, if you don’t watch out.

Once there was a little girl who liked to laugh and grin,

And make fun of everyone, her family and kin
Whenever there was company, and guests were sitting there,
She mocked them and she shocked them, and said she didn’t care!
Suddenly she kicked her heels, and turned to run and hide,
There were two great big Black Things standing by her side,
They snatched her through the ceiling before she knew they were about!
And the Goblins will get you, if you don’t watch out.

And Little Orphan Annie says, when the blaze is blue,

And the lamp-wick sputters, and the wind goes woo-oo!
And you hear the crickets quit, and the moon is gray,
And the lightning bugs in dew are all squenched away
Listen to your parents and your teachers fond and dear,
And cherish those who love you, and dry the orphan’s tear,
And help the poor and needy ones that cluster all about,
Or the Goblins will get you, so you better watch out.

A side note to all of this is that one of the folks I truly admire is Leonard Starr, who after starting out working in comics, went on to a tremendously successful career as an artist and writer, and eventually ended his professional run  working on the Annie comic strip. And while I started out working in comics, I certainly never quite achieved Leonard’s brilliance as a creator, but I did get to finish up my career in films working on Annie. I always tell Leonard that I’d be happy to achieve on my best days what achieved on his ordinary ones.

 (And you might notice I cast myself as the cab driver in this sequence. As with most of these folks, don't look for me in the final film.)

Above are a few frames from one of the sequences I boarded. At the time, Will Smith’s daughter was slated for the film, and Alec Baldwin was to play Daddy Warbucks. It was a fun job for the most part; I had little supervision and was just expected to turn out a few frames a day and was well paid. The best part was that I was working for Aaron Sowd, who is a prince of a fellow. It reiterated one of my cardinal rules: Who you work with is far more important than what your working on or how much you make. 

 That rule also applied whenever I worked with Pete Ventrella.  Pete and I go back a long ways. I first met him when I was working on Tales From the Crypt. Later we worked on a number of Lori Lovecraft stories together. These days he is producing DVD packages and developing a number of documentaries. The Planet of the Apes drawings I did for him when he was working at Deluxe. They were used in one of the box sets of the Ape films. 

 Another good friend, Anthony Diecedue helped with the computer coloring and designs on some of the backgrounds. Here's one of his finishes.

See you next week,




  1. Excellent work as always, Mike! This article is particularly exciting -- I'm interested in seeing you Apes boards in the finished product as a big Apes fan myself. Wishing you and your Annie the best!

  2. Hello Mike, I'd like to feature your work on my specialised Planet Of The Apes blog, ARCHIVES OF THE APES. I hope this is OK with you, if not just give me a shout and I'll take it down. I've scheduled your entry to publish in March 2017. This is my blog here: all the best, Gaz

    1. Gaz, Not a problem as long as you provide a link to the blog. thanks for the interest. Best, Mike