The Toonerville Post Office and Bert Buchanan’s Toy Store.
Toonerville is not only a wonderful cartoon place created by Fontaine Fox in the 1930’s, but the name of the town that inhabited my HO Train Layout when I lived in South Texas and had the Trolley actually running nearly on time. The train layout has not been restored to working condition for over a decade now. The buildings which I mostly built from kits or bought as plaster or ceramic sculptures and repainted have been sitting on bookshelves in all that time. I still have delusions of rebuilding the train set in the garage, but it is becoming increasingly less and less likely as time goes on and my working parts continue to stiffen up and stop working. So, what will I do with Toonerville?
Wilma Wortle waits on the station platform for her train at the Toonerville Train station. I built this kit in the 1970’s, hence the accumulations of dust bunnies.
Loew’s Theater has been awaiting the start of The African Queen for more than twenty years.
Main Street Toonerville at 2:25 in the afternoon. Or is it three? The courthouse clock is often slow.
Grandma Wortle who controls all the money in the family likes to park her car near the eggplant house when she visit’s Al’s General Store.
But I may yet have found a way to put Toonerville back together through computer-assisted artsy craftsy endeavors.
A two-shot of Bill Freen’s house and Slappy Coogan’s place on the photo set to start production.
Bill Freen’s house lit up with newfangled electricical. (and I do believe that is the way Bill spells it all good and proper.)
Bill Freen’s house cut out in the paint program.
So I can make composite pictures of Toonerville with realistic photo-shopped backgrounds. Now, I know only goofy old artsy fartsy geeks like me get excited about doofy little things like this, but my flabber is completely gasted with the possibilities.
Bill Freen’s house at sunset… (but I don’t get why there’s snow on the roof when the grass is so green?)
There is a place so like the place where my heart and mind were born that I feel as if I have always lived there. That place is a cartoon panel that ran in newspapers throughout the country from 1913 to 1955 (a year before I was born in Mason City, Iowa). It was called Toonerville Folks and was centered around the famous Toonerville Trolley.
Fontaine Fox was born near Louisville Kentucky in 1884. Louisville, of course is one of the two cities that claims to be the inspiration for Toonerville. Apparently the old Brook Street Line Trolley in Louisville was always run-down, operating on balls of twine and bailing wire for repair parts. The people of Pelham, New York, however, point to a trolley ride Fox took in 1909 on Pelham’s rickety little trolley car with a highly enterprising and gossip-dealing old reprobate for a conductor. No matter which it was, Fox’s cartoon mastery took over and created Toonerville, where you find the famous trolley that “meets all trains”.
I didn’t learn of the comic strip’s existence until I was in college, but once I found it (yes, I am the type of idiot who researches old comics in university libraries), I couldn’t get enough of it. Characters like the Conductor, the Powerful (physically) Katrinka, and the terrible-tempered Mr. Bang can charm the neck hair off of any Midwestern farm-town boy who is too stupid to regret being born in the boring old rural Midwest.
I fancied myself to be just like the infamous Mickey (himself) McGuire. After all, we have the same first name… and I always lick any bully or boob who wants to put up a fight (at least in my daydreams).
So, this is my tribute to the cartoonist who probably did more to warp my personality and make me funny (well, at least easy to laugh at! ) than any other influence. All of the cartoons in this post can be credited to Fontaine Fox. And all the people in them can be blamed on Toonerville, the town I used to live in, though I never really knew it until far too late.
Mm-hmm, Toonerville is a town I founded and built. I know that sounds strange, but I can explain. It used to be my HO model train layout. It used to be, when I owned a house in Cotulla, Texas, I had room for a four by twelve sheet of plywood on which to lay track, wire it up, build scenery, and run my model trains (and two different versions of the Toonerville Trolley).
Toonerville is named after Fontaine Fox’s Toonerville Folks comic strip that appeared in newspapers from 1915 until the 1950’s. A book of Fox’s collected Toonerville cartoons became my most prized possession during my college days, the second half of the 1970’s. More than just a favorite book, it became my religion, my Bible, influencing not only my art style and my cartoon stories, but my very perception of small town life, the only life I knew from 1956 to 1975.
When we moved from South Texas to the Dallas area in 2004, my city of Toonerville had to be torn down, boxed up, and transported. Sadly, it never got set up as an HO train layout again. Now it is relegated to the tops of three bookcases. In addition to train engines that mostly still run (though I am guessing, not basing that on experiment), it includes model houses and city buildings that I put together myself and painted, plaster buildings that I have painted, and other nick-knack-shelf buildings of approximately the right size that I have re-painted (including re-painted Christmas, Easter, and Halloween ornaments, plus one house-shaped candle that my sister-in-law gave me). Oh, yes, you can plainly see the portions of my Pez dispenser collection that sit grumpily amid the streets of Toonerville.