Donald Duck by Frank Smith

Frank Smith was an American animator and comics artist. He was the third artist to draw the 'Donald Duck' newspaper strip, from 1976 until 1986.

Not much is known about the man himself. He was born in 1908 as Charles Francis Smith. According to comics historian Alberto Beccatini, he worked for various animation studios from 1935 to 1972, including Harman-Ising, before joining the comics department of the Disney Studios. Between 1973 and 1976, he drew 'Donald Duck' comic book stories in cooperation with inker Steve Steere, which were produced for the studio's foreign licensees. He took over the 'Donald Duck' newspaper strip from Frank Grundeen in 1976, and continued it until his death in November 1986. During Smith's run, the gags were written by Greg Crosby (1976-1979) and Bob Foster (1980-1986). He was succeeded as the strip's artist by Frank Smith (1976-1986), Jim Franzen (1986), Daan Jippes (1986-1987), Ulrich Schröder (1986), Jørgen Klubien (1986), Tony Strobl (1986-1987), Bill Langley (1987), Pete Alvarado & Larry Mayer (1987-1989) and Larry Knighton (1990-1995).

Cover artwork for Marvel's Hanna-Barbera books (art by Smith, layouts by Mark Evanier)

He also did art on Hanna-Barbera comic books like 'Laff-a-Lympics', 'The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera' and 'TV Stars' for Marvel Comics in 1978-1979. In 1982 he launched a newspaper strip based on classic film comedian W.C. Fields (1880-1946) with writer Jim Smart for the L.A. Times Syndicate. While the actor was known for his misanthropic nature, heavy drinking and many other bad habits, the comics version was a rather toned-down version. The initiative was also quite remarkable, since Fields had been dead for over 35 years and was largely gone from the public's attention. The strip was launched on 31 October 1982, but the effort didn't last long. By June 1983, Smith and Smart were removed from the project. Fred Fredericks became the new artist, while Fields' grandson Ronald J. Fields took care of the gags. However, the strip presumably ended somewhere in August 1983.

This Frank Smith should not be confused with Frank A. Smith (1911-1975), who was an animator on 'Mr. Magoo' and 'Gerald McBoing-Boing' for UPA and for several TV specials based on Charles M. Schulz' 'Peanuts' for Lee Mendelsohn in the 1950s and 1960s.

WC Fields by Frank Smith

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