Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Paul Coker Jr. and Frosty

This past Christmas season, my son and I watched at least one of the old Christmas specials each night.
We really got a kick out of the original Frosty the Snowman. Character designs, voice work, all of the things I loved about it, he didn't care about. All he knew was that he liked the way it looked, and it made him laugh.
The next night, we watched Frosty Returns. Complete 180 from the night before.
You know there's trouble when the cartoon hasn't been on more than 10 minutes, and he's asking how long til the end.
He was bored by it. So to make up for that we watched The Year Without a Santa Claus.
That more than made up for the first half of the evening.
That being said, I'm not knocking the guys who worked on the second Frosty. I have had to animate some terrible, boring projects myself. The only thing you can do is to try and slip some funny business into your scene, and realize that soon it will be done, watched, and forgotten.
As long as the check clears and no one gets hurt, well...I can sleep at night knowing that I did my best.
Back to Frosty.
So the next morning, I wake up thinking about Frosty and the terrific Paul Coker, Jr designs.
Which gets me to think of the old Rankin and Bass stuff, The Reluctant Dragon, etc., which gets me to thinking about MAD magazine and the work he did for them..
Before I knew it I was writing a little note to him, expressing to him the kick I got out of sharing Frosty with my 8 year old.
I put in another line about how I have been a fan of his as I was growing up, and still am!
( Look at his line work, his poses, these old timers could really crank it out!)
Put the note in the mail and forgot about it.
Well, not really. One day, two, three..then it kind of drifted from my mind as I was caught up in deadlines and such.
Today, I got the mail, and as I was going through the junk mail and bills and other flotsam, there it was.
A letter from Paul Coker, Jr.,written in his unmistakable hand.
I was very touched that he took some moments out of his day to reply.
A few lines is all, and maybe you wouldn't think that it's such a big deal.
I'm a long way from the fat kid who read his comics under the blankets in the night,
trying not to laugh out loud at the Horrifying Cliches he did for MAD , but that little fat kid in the past, and me in the present, had a smile ear to ear when we opened that letter today.
It was a wonderful gesture from a class act.

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