Karol Krauser Karol Krauser
Cartoon CultureClassic

Discovered: Fleischer’s Superman Model Was Karol Krauser

Animation historians can sleep a little easier tonight. We now know that the rotoscope model for Superman in the classic Fleischer Studios shorts was a gentleman by the name of Karol Krauser. According to the Superman Homepage, Krauser was “best known as one of the Kalmikoff Brothers, Mad Russians, in the wrestling world of the 1950s and 1960s.” More info and photos of Krauser can be found on the Superman Homepage.

Here’s an example of the Krauser-inspired Superman:

(Thanks, Brian McKernan)

  • Nick Nerdlinger

    How interesting.

  • been awhile sense i’ve seen these classics, such great movements – both rotoscoped and normal(robots)

  • America’s greatest hero was modeled after a Russkie?


  • James

    Checking that site, I’m even more surprised that Stan Laurel and Karol Krauser were good friends at roughly the same period.

  • Now we know the origin of drones.

  • If this is rotoscoped, they did a great job of hiding that. The motion is very stylized and doesn’t look at all rotoscoped. Usually roto action stands out awkwardly, as in Gulliver’s Travels, but it’s always interested me how good the motion in the Superman cartoons looks. I’m convinced they used the Disney technique of looking at the live motion for reference, but not tracing it.

  • Pedro Nakama

    About 10 years ago I bought 2 DVD’s of all those shorts at the 99 Cent Store. They were in awesome condition. It even included the World War II ones which are probably censored now.

    • Actually, the Warner Home Video official set from a few years ago included all of the Fleischer and Famous Superman shorts with almost no editing (save for inexplicably removing part of the “Dangerous mission for a girl” line from the first short, which is common in most prints of that short anyway).

  • Scarabim

    Now that was a real treat. And so worthy of restoration! Has anything been done to clean up the visuals and soundtracks of these Superman toons?

    • Warner Home Video did a decent release a few years ago, although some of the masters they used were in kinda rough shape. At least the colors and picture look crisp and sharp, and there is no obvious DVNR or digital interlacing to be found. I was however dissapointed at how they had to use the same paramount clip and music cue for the end of each short, plus a few other nitpicks such as the first film using the usual Mad Scientist print that edited out part of the “dangerous mission for a girl” line, as well as an odd audio cut in a couple shorts which shortens the opening narration from “truth and justice” to “true-justice”. The extras were also very skimpy and basically worthless.

      Its a good set, but don’t expect a deluxe package. I’m just happy to have good looking prints of those Superman shorts to study.

  • Well, I can certainly see why they chose him. He looks like the Fleischer SUPERMAN!

    The Fleischers used the rotoscope as a guide after Dick Huemer demonstrated, around 1924, they could get better results that way. Of course when Huemer went to Disney he showed then the same thing.

    Now if everyone else would just remember that.

  • No he wasnt a Russian..his wrestling personality was that of one of two Russian brothers…Karol was mostly Polish..

    • claudia

      He was my uncle,my Mother’s brother. A very handsome Polish man.

  • Rick Lawrence

    Just a side-note I thought someone might want to read – I barely remember Karol from when I was a kid in Tulsa, OK. He lived across the street from me but was rarely home due to being on the wrestling circuit. He had a daughter we called “Lulu” who favored him quite a bit. She had long thick blonde hair she would wear in a braid and when she would go out riding her horse bareback, we (the local boys – all 3 of us) would stop whatever we were doing to watch her ride by. She would always stop and speak and it always flustered us. She was about 4 or 5 years older than we were (I am now 58) and had such a free, carefree spirit about her. In my memory I see her riding by in slow-motion like in some Hollywood movie, her braid flopping behind her and her bright blue eyes and beautiful smile flashing in the summer Oklahoma sun. We all thought she was absolutely beautiful! Karol had a son too with the same first name as mine. I ran into him about a year ago and he said Lulu is still alive and living her carefree life. Watching that girl ride that horse was one of my favorite childhood memories.