Hopalong Hoppity, by Ken Hultgren

Kenneth Vernon Hultgren was one of the great "animal artists" at Disney in the 1940s. Born in Minneapolis, he studied at the School of Art in his hometown. In 1935 he moved to California to start his artistic career. Soon afterwards, he joined the Disney Studios, where he became one of the best animators. He worked on such productions as 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' (1937) and 'Bambi' (1942), doing model sheets and layouts.

Bambi by Ken Hultgren

'Bambi' also became Hultgren's first work in comics; he illustrated the comic adaptation in 1942. He also did some other stories with characters from the movie. His craftmanship on comics was noticed by art director Carl Buettner, who assigned Hultgren to illustrate four 'Mickey Mouse' comics. In addition, Hultgren illustrated the very first 'Panchito' strip, based on the Mexican rooster from Disney's package film 'The Three Caballeros' (1944).

Panchito, by Ken Hultgren

Hultgren worked for Sangor Studios who not only produced comics based on animated films by Disney, but also by Warner Brothers, Screen Gems and MGM. Specialized in drawing humanized animals, Hultgren illustrated such titles as 'The Duke and the Dope', 'Robespierre', 'Hopalong Hoppity', 'Izzy & Dizzy' and 'Uncle Pigly' from 1943 to 1949. When the Sangor Studios folded in 1949, Hultgren created 'The Art of Animal Drawing' at McGraw-Hill publishers.

Robespierre, by Ken Hultgren

From 1955 to 1957 he was back at Disney as an animator. The following two years, he worked on the 'Mickey Mouse' daily comic with writer Milt Banta, succeeding Larry Knighton. From 1955 to 1962 he also worked for Archie Comics and several syndicates, doing among others a comic strip based on Hanna-Barbera's 'The Flintstones'. At the same time, Hultgren remained active as an animator ('Mr. Magoo', 'Popeye', 'The Archie Show'). Ken Hultgren died of a heart attack in 1968.

comic art by Ken Hultgren

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