Beagle Boys by Cliff Voorhees
Beagle Boys (W BB45-02 from The Beagle Boys #45, 1978)

Cliff Voorhees was an American comics artist and animator, who also drew comics based on animated franchises for Western Publishing's Gold Key line. He provided backgrounds and lay-outs for several animated films and TV series.

Clifford Voorhees was born in 1930. A friend of his father was related to Disney animator Les Clark, which helped him get a job at Disney when he was old enough. He started his career as an assistant special effects animator on Walt Disney's 'The Lady and the Tramp' (1955) and one Donald Duck cartoon, but soon found out he needed to learn more skills. The young man studied film and cartooning at the Chouinard Art Institute, as well as advertising design. After graduation Voorhees drew the soap opera newspaper comic 'The Toodle Family' (also known as 'The Toodles'), originally created by Stanley and Betsy Baer and drawn by Rod Ruth, which was distributed by the Chicago Sun Times/Marshall Field Syndicate.


Unsigned Toodles strip from 9 July 1958, possibly drawn by Voorhees?

The job was extremely time-consuming, since no other artists or assistants were there to help him. As a result he was working long hours, practically all days of the week. His wife tried to help him with inking, erasing and cleaning up the drawings, but since someone had to take care of their baby too this eventually became too problematic. After five years Voorhees eventually quit in order to, as he put it: "hang on to his sanity." It is unsure during what period Voorhees actually drew the strip. Officially, Rod Ruth drew 'The Toodles' from 1941 to 1959, after which a certain Pete Winter worked on it from 1959 to 1961. In a 2011 podcast with The Animation Guild Voorhees said he drew the strip for about five years, after which another artist took over. According to Allan Holtz's 'American Newspaper Comics' encyclopedia, 'The Toodles' ended in December 1961, so Voorhees' tenure was probably as a ghost artist for Ruth in the second half of the 1950s.

Chip 'n' Dale by Cliff Voorhees
Trap Trippers (Chip 'n' Dale #56, 1979)

In the late 1950s he found a better job as associate art director at Westways magazine, the official publication of the Auto Club, and did illustration work for The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. Through a friend he was hired by Western Publishing Company, where he made various comic books based on animated characters for their Gold Key Line. Throughout the 1970s Voorhees drew various 'Mickey Mouse', 'Donald Duck', 'Chip 'n' Dale', 'Beagle Boys' and 'Supergoof' stories for the Gold Key Disney books, but also for the foreign market story production of the Walt Disney Company (1972-1976). He continued this work until the Gold Key comics line came to a close in 1984. He also drew comics based on Hanna-Barbera's 'Tom & Jerry' and 'The Hair Bear Bunch' and Walter Lantz's 'Woody Woodpecker'.

Supergoof by Cliff Voorhees
The Zapper (Super Goof #51, 1979)

From 1967 on Voorhees was active as a background and lay-out artist for various studios. He started off at Filmation, where he worked on such series as 'Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids' (1972-1979), 'Star Trek: The Animated Series' (1973-1974), 'He-Man' (1983-1985), 'She-Ra' (1985-1987), 'Ghostbusters' (1986) and 'Muppet Babies' (1987-1989). For the same company he also did lay-outs for series based on popular franchises, such as Bob Montana's 'Archie Comics' ('U.S. of Archie', 'The New Archie/Sabrina Hour'), Bob Kane's 'Batman' ('The New Adventures of Batman') and Paul Terry's 'Mighty Mouse' and 'Heckle and Jeckle'. Under Filmation's production he furthermore worked on the TV special 'Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies' (1972), based on characters developed by Tex Avery, Friz Freleng and Bob Clampett. Like most animators at the time he found work at Hanna-Barbera, where he contributed to 'The New Adventures of Tom and Jerry' (1980) and 'Tom and Jerry: The Movie' (1992), 'The Smurfs' (based on Peyo's eponymous comic strip) and more forgettable shows.

At Film Roman he was involved with animated series and films based on Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer's 'Felix the Cat', Charles M. Schulz' 'Peanuts' and Jim Davis' 'Garfield'. Voorhees also created some background lay-outs for three episodes of Matt Groening's 'The Simpsons', namely 'Whacking Day', 'Duffless' and 'Brother From The Same Planet' (all from 1993), as well as Al Jean's 'The Critic' and Mike Judge's 'King of the Hill'. He made a return to the Disney company, working on the series 'Timon & Pumbaa' (1995). In the final years of his career his most memorable contributions were done for 'VeggieTales' (2001-2005) and 'Grim and Evil' (2004-2006). He passed away in 2015.

Cliff Voorhees

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