Friday, 18 November 2011

Barker Bill by Bob Kuwahara

In the early 1960s, there was an animated Terrytoon series called ‘Hashimoto’, the pleasant product of the mind of Bob Kuwahara. That’s all I knew about Kuwahara until recently—I’m not a Disneyphile—when I was surprised to learn he was one of the artists enticed to join the new MGM cartoon studio in 1937. His Disney career began several years earlier.

Kuwahara was also behind a newspaper comic called ‘Barker Bill.’ Of course, his name wasn’t on it. He worked for Paul Terry, so in a time-honoured tradition that saw such comic strip “artists” as Leon Schlesinger and Fred Quimby (and even Walt Disney), Terry took credit for the strip, though unlike the aforementioned he didn’t sign his name to it. Animator and historian Mark Kausler has been busy tracking down the strips and reached a bit of a dead-end. His preliminary research couldn’t find the start of the series.

Allow me to help.

The Winnipeg Free Press had a little blurb on September 25, 1954 announcing it was carrying the strip as of the following Monday, the 27th. Here are the strips for that week. They’re not very good scans and have suffered from dirt and scrapes on the microfilm of the newspapers but they’re the best I can do. Click to enlarge them.

You can see the strip had a story line that continued from day to day.

Kuwahara got his own strip in 1956. He was one of five contest winners and United Features syndicated his ‘Marvelous Mike’. As far as I know, what you see below was an entry.

Mark Kausler is a real friend of animation and he’s helped me so many times in the past. I hope this post has helped him and interested you.



    ‎"Barker Bill" was also the title of a CBS Cartoon series from 1953-55 that aired twice a week and incidentally, showed older Terrytoons (Farmer Alfalfa, etc). According to Wikipedia, the strip came out of this show..Terry then sold his studio to CBS..

  2. Doug Crane has pleasant memories of Bob Kuwahara when I talked to him about his Terrytoons career. Said he always look forward to working on his Hashimoto cartoons.

    Here's Kuwahara's bio card from the National Cartoonists Society. He was born in 1901 in Tokyo.

    I don't know the exact date he died, but it was sometime in the 1960s. Crane lamented he he died too soon.

  3. I can't find an exact death date. Did he die in the U.S.? He was living in Larchmont, N.Y. I thought the New York Times would have an obit but searching newspapers on Google has become next to impossible.

  4. Yowp,

    Kuwahara was still working at Terrytoons when he died, so yeah, I'm betting he died somewhere in NY.