Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"The Little King" and Otto Soglow

Born today in 1900, Otto Soglow would be 109 years old.

Otto Soglow's chief claim to fame was a quiet little comic strip called "The Little King". One of those rarities that shifted from magazine cartoon panel to daily newspaper strip.

It was never a giant in the field, but Soglow was one of those cartoonists who's simple style was easy on the eyes but who's work was never simplistic. It seemed even more simple for the fact that the main character was a pantomime character. His work was highly regarded by his peers. He was a true master of minimalism.

Like I said, never a power hitter on the page, but the strip lasted from 1934 to 1975 when Otto passed away.

Soglow also did a vast amount of advertising work for print. His quick easily read work was perfect for getting the product across without undue clutter.

He drew ads for a lot of products now defunct, but here's a few you'll recognize that are still sold today:


Royal gelatin and puddings...a perfect brand name for incorporating his Little King...


Mmmmmmmm Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer...

His work even made the transition to animation as theatrical shorts. They were produced by a kind of low budget studio out of New York (rather than the usual Hollywood) called the Van Beuren Studio. They were a chief rival of the Fleischer Brothers because of their geographic proximity. One of the Van Beuren films is posted below as a "Christmas Bonus" of this post.

Ironically enough, after the Fleischer's success with Popeye, it was they that "King Features" first offered the Little King film rights too. Never one to shy away from an excuse for a Betty Boop cartoon, here's that very pilot film.

"Betty Boop and the Little King":

Otto Soglow's brand of cartooning is a lost art I fear. A quiet, well crafted type that is harder to understand than it seems on the surface.

Thanks Otto, for the simple beauty.


Here's a nice film rarity. Van Beuren Studio's "Christmas Night" from 1933 featuring "The Little King":

Ho! Ho! Ho!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Jeff!
I love "Betty Boop and the Little King" cartoon. The old cartoons are the best in my opinion. When my sister went to USA she bought a DVD with a many black and white cartoons. Max Fleishcer and Disney are great, mainly the first.

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