Gaston prepares to apply paint to canvas.


Original Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Terrytoons
First Appeared: 1957
Creator: Gene Deitch
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Gaston LeCrayon (one of several beneficiaries of a brief period at Terrytoons when tried-and-true characters like Mighty Mouse and The Terry Bears were ousted in favor of unknowns like Flebus and Clint Clobber) was conceived as a cartoon device so venerable, it almost qualifies as a cliché — an artist whose pictures …

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… become real, like the sidewalk drawings in Disney's Mary Poppins, the various creatures in Nickelodeon's Chalk Zone, or the inventions of Clyde Crashcup. But this theme quickly faded from his cartoons, and during most of his series, wasn't seen.

Gaston made his debut in the May, 1957 cartoon Gaston Is Here, in which he paints a toaster to thaw out a freezing man. Later, he was just an egotistical French painter whose enthusiasm far outweighed his talent. Like John Doormat, Silly Sidney and other Terrytoons characters of the period shortly after studio founder Paul Terry sold out, he was created by Gene Deitch (formerly of UPA), whom CBS, the new owner, had brought in to supervise the cartoons.

The character's voice is credited to Allen Swift, the stage name of Ira Stadlen, who chose the name to honor two favorite humorists, Fred Allen and Jonathan Swift. His other voice credits include Tooter Turtle, King Leonardo's Itchy Brother and Underdog's Simon Bar Sinister. Also, he was the live-action host of an early cartoon show starring Popeye.

His media penetration consisted entirely of a a few fillers in the back pages of comic books. Pines Comics (Super Mouse, Jetta of the 21st Century) was licensing the Terrytoons characters at the time. He never had a title of his own, or even appeared on a cover.

Deitch soon left Terrytoons, and Gaston Le Crayon went away with him. Former stars like Heckle & Jeckle and Dinky Duck came back, at least briefly, and new stars like Hector Heathcote and Deputy Dawg came to dominate the Terrytoons output.

Gaston Le Crayon starred in a total of five cartoons. The last one was Gaston's Mama Lisa, which was released during June, 1959.


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