Wednesday 6 June 2012

A back-stage pass to Pee-Wee's Playhouse

Like many of my generation ("X", if memory serves) I loved Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Along with Twin Peaks, it was one of the few shows I watched religiously -- and that's what the show was like, really, a religion. You either loved it and were entirely devoted to it, or you thought it was juvenile nonsense. Back in the late 80s early 90s, that was the line for me: if you got Playhouse, then I got you. You were my kind of people as they say. (Dumb, I know -- but I was in my 20s for Jambi's sake!)

When the series was released on DVD a while back it was one on the first items I purchased with the intention of watching with my daughter, who was then about two-years-old. One kid later and the discs are still in steady rotation in the household.

For the longest time I assumed that Gary Panter was the man behind the insane design on the show -- and he was in charge. He even won an Emmy for his work on the show. But about 10 years ago I met Panter at a comics convention in Toronto and tried to get him to sign my Billy Baloney puppet (don't judge),  only to have him demure. He said that Wayne White, one of his staff, was actually responsible for designing Billy along with many of the other characters on the show.

I didn't think much of it until a couple of years later I found myself mesmerized by these "word paintings" executed on thrift store paintings by none other than -- one Wayne White. Anyways, White has done a bunch of stuff since then (and is featured in a recent documentary about his career) but the Pee-Wee stuff is still likely his most widely seen and enjoyed work.

I was checking out his blog the other day and came across all these great photos from his time on the  show, including original sketches. Behold! 

And here's one of Pee-Wee and White on the set:

There's a bunch more over at White's site, Go check it out!

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