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Before and After


(Click on images above for larger version) The painting above left is original art from Fleischer Studios Technicolor two-reel special The Raven and how it may have looked on screen in 1942. The image at right is a blurry 16mm frame grab of the same shot – the way it looks today as it sits unrestored and essentially unavailable to view. ASIFA-Hollywood is working with the UCLA Archive to help preserve neglected films like this (and in fact, The Raven may be ready later this year). It’s a real crime that these animation classics are allowed to rot in the vaults of the mega corporations who own them. The Raven is one of the Fleischer’s lesser efforts, but can we really judge it in the horrifying condition as it now exists?

If you’d like to see a larger, more complete version of the gorgeous background painting above, click here. And for those of you who might like to own it, the piece is being sold at auction by S/R Labs sometime during October 22-23, 2007, along with more than 250 fine pieces of animation art like it. S/R is an animation art conservation center that specializes in restoring vintage cels and paper (as well as doing ceramic, porcelain and oil conservation). They do good work.

  • Randy

    That’s a really beautiful BG! Man, those guys could paint!

  • uncle wayne

    Wow! Now that IS a treat! (Didn’t knew it existed!) I, myself, animated an entire 10-min. film (of the same title & material)….with paper-doll animation (who could afford “cels”) ….in high school….with my Super 8 single-frame camera! What a great memory!!


  • T.S.

    I checked out the S/R Labs site because I wanted to see what else is going up for auction, but it looks like the only auction catalog currently on the site is for a completed Disneyland poster auction.

  • Take a look at the marvelous period documentary on the Fleischer studio available on the Thunderbean Popeye disc. Many of the ‘guys’ who painted those backgrounds were female.

    That aside, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Fleischer’s THE RAVEN. Is it based on the poem by Poe?

  • Amazing, simply amazing. Whether they were guys or women … I could care less, what they realized is simply breathtaking.

  • This is another argument against copyright as it currently stands. Yes, creators and corporations have a right to profit from the work they create, but as that work will one day become part of the public domain according to the U.S. Constitution, copyright holders also have an obligation to preserve the work that they own. If not, they should forfeit ownership of the work.

  • That is a gorgeous background… is it a Tenggren?

  • The BG painting is incredible–it’s hard to believe within a few years detailed backgrounds like this were abandoned by the studios for the UPA look. Fleischer’s traditional & 3-D backgrounds, especially the urban Popeye’s were second to none!

  • Brett – I don’t know who painted this background but, based on other credited examples I have, I believe it’s by Robert Little.

  • To Mark Mayerson:
    How about my solution to the whole preservation dilemma, the copyright holder cannot renew the copyright without proof that the materials are properly preserved! Of course, that would take some backbone in the Copyright Office, fat chance!

  • Nancy, THE RAVEN is based only vaguely on Poe’s poem. The Raven, humanized in this version, is a former highwayman who’s decided to go straight. He sets out to become a vacuum cleaner salesman, but his old-time best buddy—a wolf who is still crooked—tags along hoping to rob the vacuum cleaner buyers’ homes.
    Eventually there’s a wonderful showdown between the Raven, the wolf, and a rich Scotty dog customer, all set to the Hungarian Rhapsody.
    Poe’s poem is only really invoked insofar as the Raven refuses to leave without making a sale… and in repeatedly insisting that he’s through with crime, he often adds “Quoth the Raven: nevermore!”

  • Ken Layton

    Wow what a beautiful scenic. Simply amazing. I’d sure like to see that animated special release.

    That sure does look like Bob Little’s work.

  • A.Antic

    It would be wonderful for this film to be restored. I think it’s one of the coolest wolf designs the Fleischers ever did! Under-rated film.

  • Breath-taking! Thanks for sharing and thanks for caring…

  • Paul

    Wow! I’m making this my new desktop image.

  • Just want everyone to know this painting is just as beautiful in person. The S/R Labs auction will be posted on our website — http://www.srlabs.com — beginning October 15. You won’t be disappointed if you drop in for a look.

  • I am looking for a character that has their eyes popping out.
    can you help me