I know, I know… you think I’m simply a shill for everything Craig Yoe and Steve Stanchfield produce. I admit I’m a minor contributor to many of their projects… but ya gotta believe me: their stuff is great! Both are back this week with two new items I can’t recommend highly enough:
Making ‘Em Move:Rare Behind the Scenes footage of Vintage Animation Studios, is the new DVD from Stanchfield’s Thunderbean Animation studio. I really thought I knew of all the classic studio “behind-the-scenes” films – like the Paramount Popular Science short (from 1939) at the Fleischer Studio (included on the Warner Bros. Popeye Vol. 2 dvd set), Disney’s Reluctant Dragon feature (1941), the Universal Cartoonland Mysteries (1936) short that goes to the Walter Lantz studio, heck even Gertie The Dinosaur (1914)… but none of those are included here. Instead Steve packs this disc with ten rarely seen films made from 1919 through 1967 that are equal parts educational, entertaining and eye-opening!
The set begins with the long lost educational film, How Animated Cartoons Are Made (1919), featuring animator Wallace Carlson showing us how they did it at the pioneering Bray Studio. This print has been gorgeously restored from an uber-obscure 28mm original! Other incredible finds on this disc include the Jam Handy Drawing Account (1941) featuring animator Robert Allen explaining the nuts and bolts (literally) of cartoon production in the 1940s; Old Chinese Proverb (1941) featuring a look inside the Jerry Fairbanks (Speaking of Animals) Studio; rare color footage of animators at work at Terrytoons in the 1940s; Disney animator Clair Weeks setting up a modern (1956) animation studio in India; and Otto Messmer animating the giant electric Time Square billboards. There is also a Disney behind-the-scenes promo from a forgotten RKO Newsreel; a rare Paul Terry Social Security sales pitch; and just for fun, Van Bueren’s rubber-hose animation classic Makin’ ‘Em Move (1931) – which is probably the most accurate film in the whole bunch!
This is a must-have video compilation for everyone reading this blog – yeah, even you! Animators, educators, students, vintage cartoon collectors. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore – here’s everything you need to know about how they did it. Buy it today.
Wowie-KaZowie! Speaking of “not making ‘em like this anymore” – The Carl Barks Big Book of Barney Bear is the latest Craig Yoe hardcover collection of classic comic book stories, this time bringing together the 1940s Barney Bear comics – written and drawn by Disney Legend Carl Barks (Uncle Scrooge)! Barney Bear was an MGM animated cartoon star and these stories originally appeared in Dell’s Our Gang Comics. They feature Barney teamed with one Benny Burro – a team that began on screen in MGM’s The Prospecting Bear (1941) and ended with Half Pint Palomino (1953); though Benny also appears solo in Rudolph Ising’s short Little Gravel Voice (1942). Barks was a major creative figure in comics: an outstanding gag writer and story-teller who’s work has gone on to influence comic artists, filmmakers and animators. Everything he did is worth a read – and this is no exception. Barney and Benny may not been Disney characters, but these stories are pure Barks – superbly drawn, cleverly staged and very funny. My favorite is one where Barney tries to catch an escaped convict, Klepto Klippo – a character designed to look like a 8-foot Mickey Mouse. I almost forgot to mention that Jeff Smith provides an Introduction and a wonderful tribute cover. If you love cartoons, MGM cartoons in particular or Carl Barks you need to buy this right now.