Flintstones by Walt Clinton
Debut of The Flintstones' newspaper comic, 2 October 1961.

Walter Clinton, aka Walt Clinton, was an American animator who worked at the classic animation studios Walt Disney, MGM and later Hanna-Barbera throughout his career. He was also active as a newspaper cartoonist, but many of his series never found a publisher, except his work as an assistant on Harry Tuthill's 'The Bungle Family' and Gene Hazelton's 'The Flintstones' newspaper comic strip.

Early life and career
Walter Frank Clinton was born in 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri, as the son of a shoe factory salesman. He studied at the Night School of Commerce at St. Louis University and later at Washington University. After graduation in 1928 he became a sign writer for Merchants Sign Service and Sears Roebuck.

Disney and MGM
In the late 1930s Clinton became an animator, character designer and lay-out artist at the Walt Disney Company. He worked on their feature films, such as 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' (1937) and 'Pinocchio' (1940), as well as several 1940s shorts starring Donald Duck, among them classics like 'Donald's Camera' (1941) and 'Donald's Snow Fight' (1942). In 1941, when a huge strike broke out at Disney, Clinton was one of many animators who left the studio. He joined MGM and became employed in Tex Avery's unit. He worked on several classic 'Droopy' shorts and one-shot cartoons like 'King-Size Canary' 1947), 'Lucky Ducky' (1948), 'Bad Luck Blackie' (1949), 'Ventriloquist Cat' (1950), 'Symphony in Slang' (1951) and 'Magical Maestro' (1952). One of his most famous scenes is the animation of the lion roaring himself inside out in Avery's 'Slap Happy Lion' (1947). Between 1953 and 1957 Clinton also worked on several animated TV commercials produced by Five Star Productions and Kling Studios.

When MGM closed down its cartoon studio in 1957, many of their former animators were rehired by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for their TV cartoon production company. Clinton contributed lay-outs and character designs to many of their series, including 'The Ruff & Reddy Show' (1957-1960), 'The Huckleberry Hound Show' (1958-1961), 'Quick Draw McGraw' (1959-1961), 'The Flintstones' (1960-1966), 'Yogi Bear' (1961), 'Top Cat' (1961-1962), 'Jonny Quest' (1964-1965) and 'Space Ghost' (1966). John Kricfalusi noted on his blog that Clinton's style is easily recognizable due to the fact that he draws the male characters as dumpy and oafish people. He also had a tendency to draw low ears (often touching the collar at the back of the head) and triangular heads and noses.


Assisting comics
In 1961 a newspaper comic series starring 'The Flintstones' was created under supervision of lead artist Gene Hazelton. Walter Clinton was one of his many assistants, presumably on the very first strips. Animation historian John Province discovered that Clinton assisted on Harry Tuthill's newspaper comic 'The Bungle Family' (1924-1945) too.

Unpublished comics
Throughout his career Clinton often tried to launch a newspaper comic of his own, but never found a syndicate interested. One of the earliest was a comic strip about a little boy named 'Dinky'. Like most of his unpublished comics it's undated, but the graphic style is very reminiscent of a standard 1940s cartoon character. Another attempt was made in the early 1960s, when Clinton drew a gag-a-day family comic named 'Calvin'. It centers around father Herb Dibble, his wife Millie, two children, cat Jiffy and a dog. The 'Calvin' comics mention Clinton's personal address on every strip. They too never found a newspaper. It seems that the resemblance with Hanna-Barbera's house style was perhaps too big. The father looks a lot like George Jetson and his wife is a mix between Jane Jetson and Wilma Flintstone (particularly the haircut). The short-sized neighbour Bill Bagby, with whom Herb Dibble often argues, echoes Barney Rubble from 'The Flintstones'.

Death and legacy
Walter Clinton retired in 1969 and passed away in 1992 in Sun City, Arizona. After his death his unpublished comics were purchased by John Province, who claimed that there were "literally dozens of ideas Walt drew up, but never submitted." In January 2014 several 'Calvin' comics were sold on eBay.


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