"This is the Columbia Blechman System"

2008
Dec
7

A while back, über-blogger Wil Wheaton posted the ‘classic’ CBS Special intro (with a title that helps prove my previous point about the overuse and trivialization of thefword1, but I digress). Actually, several YouTubers had uploaded that 5-6 seconds of Pavlovian nostalgia (how many people have trouble accepting “A Charlie Brown Christmas” without it at the beginning?), but TAFKAWesleyCrusher (who triggers the Media Memory Response himself) didn’t even pick the one that looks least like a bad VHS tape.

As I twittered at the time, those were the days when SPECIAL meant SPECIAL and CBS meant Green Acres, Hawaii Five-O and Bugs Bunny/Road Runner on Saturday Morning.

While rummaging around the neighborhood of that clip, I discovered this one-minute treasure made for the Big Eye network circa 1966 by the iconic commercial artist R.O. Blechman.*

If you’re not familiar with Blechman’s work, SHAME ON YOU. As the video above showed, he’s the absolute master of making squiggly lines show exactly what you want (and that ain’t easy). His advertising work helped sell an obsolete stomach medicine and introduced us to Designer Water, but we can forgive him for that since he also did things like the clip above and The Soldier’s Tale<img src="/img/comm.gif” /> built around the musical piece of the same name by Igor Stravinsky (Clips: 1 2 3 4).

I considered it a semi-honor to have some of my articles at MSNBC.com accompanied by illustrations by somebody who copied Blechman’s style (Apologies to F.Birchman, but look at these examples: 1 2 3 4*). I’m still not sure if they just stopped using illustrations or got cold feet when The Huffington Post started using the real Blechman.

And R.O. is still going strong at the age of 78 with a a new children’s book about an urbanized fly<img src="/img/comm.gif” />. But then, he was drawing as if he had the old-man-shakes in his 30s…

* You’ll notice that way back in the ’60s, that damn Liberal Media was declaring war on Christmas with a “Seasons Greetings” message in which the only semi-Christmas-like image was a Charlie-Brownish looking tree.

** I should be using that last illustration – All About Me Productions – for my .Me address, but I’d have to lose most of the character’s hair

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