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Commentary: (The lack of) Cartoon Promotion


Leonard Maltin, aware of my interest in old-time animation publicity materials, sent along this image (above) from Benjamin Hampton’s 1931 book A History of the Motion Picture.

This picture got me thinking about how, back then, each individual cartoon short was treated as special as a live action feature. Stills, publicity art, posters, sometimes lobby cards and newspaper ads were created for individual cartoon shorts. And all that old promotional material seems fun to me, like the image above.


We’ve come a long way since then.

Today, Cartoon Network and Disney Channel may mount an occasional bus poster or billboard for one of their new series (mainly in New York or L.A. to attract advertisers), but publicity for individual episodes is pretty rare. There are some exceptions to the rule: The Simpsons has always done it; Frederator creates original postcards for each of its shorts. But those are special cases. I guess my point is, promotion of animated TV series, not to mention individual episodes, is practically non existant these days.

It’s just one of the differences between the business then and the business now. And it’s one of the reasons why I prefer the business then.