No, the image above isn’t from the Filmation Tom and Jerry Comedy Show (1980), nor any U.S. produced latter day monstrosity. It’s a page out of one of the ugliest foreign childrens books I’ve ever seen. I just had to share.Someone left an anonymous donation at ASIFA-Hollywood last week – a set of Korean produced anime childrens books. When I took a closer look at the cover of first one I noticed, to my horror, something resembling an undersized Tom & Jerry cavorting with an oversized anime girl. The inside art redefines the word hideous. Whether this is a licensed product or not, I have no idea (I see no Time Warner or Turner Entertainment copyright mark anywhere on the book). It’s right up there with those ugly public domain video boxes you see in the bargain bins. Here’s the cover:
UPDATE! Brew reader Andre writes in to report that the anime girl on the cover is Minky Momo, “from Ashi Productions anime series (released in english as Magical Princess GiGi by Harmony Gold in the 80′s). So it’s not just one knockoff, it’s a two in one crossover.”For even more really bad animation art, don’t miss my 2006 edition of the Worst Cartoons Ever screening at the San Diego Comic Con. More info about my activities at the Comic Con will be posted in the next few days. In the meantime, enjoy!
I’m 99.9% certain it was made back in 1980 by the London based Richard Williams Studio – it certainly has his trademark stylized, super-perspective animation, and has been stuck at the back of my mind all these years. It sort of links in with the the Thief & the Cobbler redux disc that’s floating about.
Update!Eric Goldberg sent in this additional info on the Superman spot:
Layouts by Dick, animated by me, and it’s still on my reel. Anecdote: When it premiered in London, I was at a party talking to a woman about what I had done for the telly lately. I told her about the Superman spot, and was immediately castigated for it being “anti-gay”. Howzat again? She explained: ” Superman’s all big and butch, and he says, ‘Never say yes to a cigarette,’ which is like saying ‘never say yes to a fag,’ and in America, gays are called fags….” I thanked her for her insight and moved on…
Next up on the PBS series History Detectives is an investigation of Mickey Mouse and Disney’s history with toy licensing. The episode airs next week (Monday night in most major cities). A video promo for the episode can be seen here.(Thanks, Anne D. Bernstein)
Thanks to the restoration efforts of Warner Home Video, and the series of Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD sets, there are (or will be) very few pieces of Warner Bros. animation lost to history. But not every bit of “Termite Terrace” animation is safe, nor is every bit owned by the studio. When Leon Schlesinger ran the studio independently (prior to 1944), he took on several outside assignments (for example the opening titles to Paramount’s The Lady Eve) and even loaned his characters (and animators) to other studios (see our previous link to Bugs Bunny in the George Pal Puppetoon, Jasper Goes Hunting).One rare piece of animation, long unseen, is the cartoon sequence in She Married A Cop (1939). This film was a Republic Picture, and that library is today controlled by Viacom (Paramount Pictures). The film was a fairly typical Republic B picture, with two notable claims to fame: (1) It was one of Cy Feuer’s first Oscar nominated film scores – but more importantly (2), the plot revolves around a Hollywood cartoon studio. The story followed the romance of a New York City policeman (played by real life “singing cop” Phil Regan) and a female animator (actress Jean Parker, playing “Linda Fay”, producer of the Fay-Fables cartoon series for Mammoth Pictures). The fact that this is a New York based animation studio, and that a woman is portrayed as the producer/director of the cartoons, are two interesting and unusual aspects of the film.In this first clip below, we see Linda (Jean Parker) directing her animators (note she refers to a model sheet from Tashlin’s Case Of The Stuttering Pig  as a “cue sheet”) and being romanced by studio suit (and suitor), played by Jerome Cowan.
This comedy is set in New York and centers upon a singing Irish cop who causes quite a sensation among two producers when he sings at the annual Policeman’s Ball. For a long time, they have been looking for a voice for their new cartoon feature, “Paddy the Pig,” and the cop is just perfect. The policeman is tickled pink at the prospect of being a star and begins telling all his friends about his good fortune (he has no idea what they plan to do with his voice). Eventually he ends up marrying one of the producers, who still hasn’t told him the truth. Suddenly the night of the big premiere finally arrives and all of the policeman’s old friends and colleagues are there. As it begins, the policeman is appalled and humiliated to see that he has been mocked and has become a laughing stock. He immediately spurns his new wife and goes back to the police force. Time passes, and fortunately, the two reunite and settle their differences.
Below is the “Paddy The Pig” animation sequence itself. I love the part where Parker turns to Regan and says in disgust, “Jim, it’s a cartoon!”. If I were a betting man, I’d say Schlesinger gave the animation assignment to the unit Cal Dalton was supervising at the time (but if anyone can definitively ID the animator involved here, we’d appreciate it). It certainly doesn’t look like the work of Tashlin, Avery, Jones or Clampett.
Eight years later, Republic dusted off the script and remade She Married A Cop as Sioux City Sue (1947), a Gene Autry B-western (with an animation sequence by Walter Lantz Productions). The western has been remastered and is available on DVD. Meanwhile, the original nitrate film elements to She Married A Cop still await restoration at the UCLA Film & Television Archive in Hollywood.
Stop-motion animator Joel Fletcher (Nightmare Before Christmas, Dinosaur, King Kong, Land Of The Lost, X-Men: The Last Stand) has established a new website to show off his talents – which includes a great demo reel of his freelance commercial work.Animator Tom Sito has moved his blogging activites from the G7 Animation website to his own webspace, www.thomassito.com, where he will continue to note highlights in world history on a daily basis. Hey, did you know Cab Calloway recorded The St. James Infirmary Blues today back in 1931? Also check out Tom’s forthcoming book (I’ll be plugging this more extensively as we get closer to publication date): Drawing The Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart SimpsonPat, of the Silver Age Comics blog, wrote a neat overview of the COOKIE comic book series by Dan Gordon (without naming the creator). Gordon was a top golden age animator (and director of Superman and Popeye cartoons) who went on to co-create The Flintstones. Cookie is one the many bizarre comic strips Gordon dreamed up in 1940s and 50s.(Thanks to Milton Knight for the Cookie link)
The relationship between animated cartoons and breakfast cereal goes back to the 1930s. But it was the weekly TV cartoons shows of the 1960s that permanently cemented the connection between the two. Dan Goodsell, on his Sampler Of Things blog, has posted a bunch of rare General Mills cereal box package backs featuring Total Television’s Underdog, King Leonardo, Tennessee Tuxedo, the Go Go Gophers, Jay Ward’s Rocky & Bullwinkle, Hoppity Hooper and Hanna-Barbera’s Space Kidettes. Great fun, whether you grew up with this stuff or just seeing it for the first time.
Dick Van Dyke. The star of Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bye Bye Birdie and Diagnosis Murder. He was “Chairman of TV LAND”, loaned his voice to the animated Curious George (2006) and Tubby The Tuba (1976) and was, of course, Rob Petrie of the classic The Dick Van Dyke Show.But in 1956, Van Dyke was a struggling actor making his way in New York. One of his early breaks was signing a contract with CBS, and the opportunity to host a CBS network prime time TV series. However, the program in question turned out to be a showcase for the network’s newly acquired animation library, with Van Dyke playing straightman to a collection of vintage Terrytoons.CBS CARTOON THEATRE was a summer replacement series, which debuted on Wednesday June 13, 1956 and lasted three months in primetime (it aired from 7:30 to 8pm). It was clearly aimed at kids. CBS has purchased the Terrytoons studio and cartoon library in 1955 and was in the midst of revamping the operation. CBS was also competing with ABC, who had a big gun – Walt Disney – winning the ratings on Wednesday nights . CBS CARTOON THEATRE was offering new cartoon entertainment directly opposite Disneyland reruns. But having an appealing host in an office setting (the same set-up as the Disney hour), didn’t fool anyone. These were lowball Terrytoons, not Disney mini masterpieces. Thankfully they had the personable Van Dyke – could you imagine Paul Terry himself hosting this cheap knock off?These clips are from the seventh broadcast, from July, 27th 1956, almost 50 years ago exactly. The show was never rerun, but thanks to the miracle of You Tube we are able to present excerpts from this rare show.I have no doubt Van Dyke’s conversing with Dinky Duck and Gandy Goose gave his dancing with Penguin waiters in Mary Poppins more depth.Below is the final segment – including end titles animated by Jim Tyer.For the record: CBS-Viacom still owns the Terrytoons today. And they could still run the 13 episodes of CBS CARTOON THEATRE on Nick-at-Nite or TV Land if they wanted to.
A while back we reported on various art swipes from the Preston Blair animation book, found on things like lottery tickets, and in places like restaurants and high schools. Brew reader Devlin Thompson recently found this vintage example:
I was filing away a bunch of random old magazines, catalogs, and the like that had piled up in the last couple of years when I rediscovered this 1956 Dremel pattern book that, like so many others before and since, steals liberally from Mr. Blair’s animation book. Just one more thing to throw on the pile of Blair swipes, but I thought you might find it of interest.
Cynthia Petrovic has added a nifty flash animated intro (animated by Scotty Arsenault) to her fun Tangoland website. Petrovic is an animator who has gone into business for herself, licensing her cute designs and selling products based on her Red Tango characters. Petrovic’s website offers cool downloads, a well written blog, an intriging family photo gallery and an interactive drawing board. I didn’t know she was related to wrestler, football player and Hollywood bit player Sammy Stein (pictures of him with Charlie Chaplin, Abbott & Costello, and John Wayne are featured under her “Vintage Dreams” section). Her website is a lot of fun and well worth exploring.
Dave Fleischer left Miami based Fleischer Studios in 1942 and bolted to the west coast where he was offered the job of producer, replacing Frank Tashlin, at Columbia’s Screen Gems studio. Two years later, Fleischer would be out of that job. He went on to spend the rest of his professional life as an in-house trouble shooter at Universal Pictures. But briefly, between jobs in 1944, Fleischer surfaces in two obscure B-movies released by Republic Pictures.He first appears, on screen, in a gag cameo appearence in Trocadero (which was released April 24th, 1944). This dreary low-budget melodrama centered around the famed Hollywood night club. This being a Republic picture, the film stars Ralph Morgan along with future kiddie-show host Johnny Downs, and is stocked with several low-level celebrity cameos.This first clip (below) introduces Dave, who happens to be sitting alone at the club (a shabby set on the Republic Pictures lot), minding his own business. The clip begins with comic M.C. Eddie Bartell and band leader Eddie LeBaron introducing Dave. Band leader Bob Chester and Cliff Nazarro also appear in this segment.
The next clip features double talk comedian Cliff Nazarro in conversation with Dave. Dave utters his only syllable of dialogue here. Nazarro was a well known radio personality and mimic who can be heard in several Warner Bros. cartoons, including BELIEVE IT OR ELSE (as Ripley), SLAP HAPPY PAPPY (as Eddie Cantor) and PORKY’S PREVIEW (as Al Jolson). It seems clear from this clip that Trocadero’s producers had hoped to get someone like Walt Disney, or Max Fleischer himself, thus the gag involving a “Koko the clown” like character – credited in the opening titles as “Snippy”!
This final bit (below) is the last scene in the film! Dave gets to close the film with “Snippy” (unfortunately this TV print obliterates the original end title – but you get the idea).
After Trocadero Fleischer became an associate producer (and provided a brief animation segment) for another “B”, That’s My Baby! (released by Republic on 9/14/44). But that’s another story for another time.
In honor of the opening of SUPERMAN RETURNS today, we pay tribute with a rare clip of one of our favorite animated superheroes: a 1965 cereal commercial featuring Underdog (Wally Cox), Polly Purebred (Norma McMillian) and Simon Bar Sinister (Allen Swift).
Who says they don’t make ‘em like they used to? Everything old is new again… Over at Ain’t It Cool News they’ve got some nice pics from the N.Y. Licensing Show of a new vinyl toy of Oswald Rabbit (above, left), displayed at the Disney Booth. I’m still trying to figure out what rights Disney got to Oswald. In addition to the 26 Disney silent cartoons, they also got the merchandising rights. I assume that Universal still owns the Lantz and Winkler Oswald films… which pretty much dooms them to obscurity forever.Speaking of Lantz, Electric Tiki continues to make some great mini statues and maquettes of classic characters. This Andy Panda (above right) is based on Dick Lundy’s 1946 cartoon, The Wacky Weed, though the design is styled after Freddy Moore’s later model. And take a look at this mini-maquette of the early, psychotic Woody Woodpecker! I’m ordering mine today.(Thanks, Thad)
Two great new books, mentioned prevously on this site, have finally been published and both are a lot better than I imagined – and highly recommended.Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records, by Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar, fills in a missing piece of the Disney legacy. In the 1950s, the Disney company exploded – with TV production, Disneyland, Buena Vista Film distribution, and a music company, which begat Disneyland Records.This book chronicles the story of how Roy and Walt entered the recording and music publishing business. It’s a fascinating story – and a great tribute to the voices behind the mike and the talents behind the scenes. Paul Frees, Thurl Ravenscroft, Cliff Edwards, Sterling Holloway, Dal McKennon, Alan Young, Hal Smith, Billy Bletcher, The Sherman Brothers, Jimmy Dodd and Annette are all part of the story. It’s a great read and if you’re a fan of Disneyana, this is a must-have.I’m not a big fan of “How to” books, but David Levy’s Your Career In Animation: How To Survive and Thrive is absolutely teriffic. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Levy has apparently spent his own successful career taking lots of notes – and his advice, from networking to getting a job, from pitching your own show to starting your own company, is absolutely spot on. I’ve lived through it all myself and his observations on navigating through the industry are completely accurate. I found myself nodding and agreeing with most everything Levy suggests. I don’t think there is a wasted page in this book – even the photos, illustrations and captions have relevance. Every section is loaded with do’s, don’ts and practical advice based on true experience. This isn’t a dry read either, Levy is an excellent writer, who uses humor, and ample anecdotes from his own career, to get his message accross. David, thank you for writing this book. It’s the one I’ll recommend to everyone who asks me how to break into the biz, and to anyone who doesn’t understand the effort required to make animated cartoons.
Today only, Classic Media is offering up a bunch of cartoons for free viewing on Google Video. Episodes of Roger Ramjet, Jay Ward’s Rocky and Bullwinkle, Oriolo’s Felix The Cat, The Mighty Hercules, and some awful DePatie Freleng Magoo cartoons. The Ramjet cartoons are always worth watching. If you don’t know the series, we highly recommend checking these out.For some really great classic cartoon downloads – always free – don’t forget ReFrederator.com
Nice bit of publicity in today’s L.A. Times: a full page article for the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive. Pictured in the piece (and above) is archive director Steve Worth, middle, with animators Katie Rice and David Gemmill.The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive is the only dedicated archive, museum, and library for the benefit of the animation community, students and general public. In case you came in late, ASIFA is amassing a virtual archive of significant animation production material and inspirational art, as well as archiving the organization’s existing (and growing) physical collection – all of it to be made available for personal inspection or online reference. Visiting the archive and reading the blog is always a treat. Donating to the cause is always welcome.