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Chew Chew Baby (1958)

There’s no debate that animator Irving Spector was, like John Dunn, an under appreciated cartoonist and storyman — working in animation at a time when the finished product didn’t do justice to the talents behind it. Thanks to Spector’s son, Irv’s work is getting some long overdue appreciation in a blog dedicated to his work.

Among the best of the late Paramount output, Chew Chew Baby was produced during a brief period when the studio put some actual effort behind its limited animation. This particular film is one of my favorites, and contains one of Jackson Beck’s (no relation) best performances. It’s also notable as one of the last cartoons to ignore political correctness and feature a pygmy cannibal – as well as one of the last cartoons credited to Isadore Sparber, released a few days before his death in August 1958.

This is also one of the “Harveytoons” not contained in Classic Media’s Complete Harveytoons DVD collection. Mike Van Eaton (of Van Eaton Gallery) recently unearthed a cache of original Spector storyboards from this film (click thumbnails below to enlarge). These drawings are a lot of fun – and this film may be the closest representation of Spector’s design style to make it faithfully to the screen.