Help me ID this cartoon for Christy Karacas

Okay, I’m stumped. I get mail like this all the time and I try to be helpful. But this one just sounds so strange, I want to know what it is myself. It all started a few days ago when I got this email from animator Christy Karacas (Superjail):

Jerry,
I’m writing to you because there was a cartoon I remember seeing at the public library as a kid and have no idea what it is but really want to see it again. I remember a line drawing of a pair of legs, a giant eyeball (maybe a spider?) running around a castle. It was hand drawn. I know this sounds weird but thought you were the one to ask… I remember thinking this was really awesome-i feel like you might know it. thanks either way.

I requested more information. Was it a short or a feature? Anime or Saturday morning cartoon? Christy responded:

No it was a short film… I wish I could remember more about it. I’m so curious what it is… Not sure, but had a hunch it might be European. I saw it at my public library as a double feature with The Red Balloon as a kid…but…yeah, I dont really remember much more. I THINK there was no talking but not sure… I could draw how I remember the characters if you want?

Yes, please!

Hey Jerry-
These are SUPER QUICK SKETCHES (Ugh, the talkback will be about how shitty they are… hahhaah!), but I remember them running around a castle… up stairs I believe… and I think the eyeball was a spider. I can’t remmeber if it bounced around or changed size… maybe i am crazy and i should just do a ‘remake’ from my memory… a mash-up of sorts… create the animation from my childhood as best as I remember it because I can’t find it? hahaha. Amid-if you see or read these let me know if you know what I’m talking about…
Thanks!

If this rings a bell with you… please let us know in the comments below!


UPDATE: Our readers identified the mystery film. Find out what it is and link to it, in our comments section.


  • Matthew Koh

    Can you give us a hint?

    Is it by the National Film Board of Canada?

  • http://highlyrecommended.blogspot.com Satorical

    Makes me think of the spider/eye machine in the Jonny Quest intro.

  • Corey K.

    The mention of a cartoon featuring a line drawing of a pair of legs reminded me of the below bizarre thing, which certainly isn’t what she’s looking for, but I figgered I’d post it anyway because why not?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnhGpPbXw0Y

    • Mahesh

      Was thinking the same thing!

  • http://mayersononanimation.blogspot.com Mark Mayerson

    It’s called Kick Me (1975) and the director is Robert Swarthe. Here’s the link to the IMDB listing: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073237/. If I remember correctly, it’s drawn on film.

  • http://rafatoro.blogspot.com Rafa

    No idea of what film is but sounds so intringuing and bizarre… Hope and can´t wait until someone reveals the name of the piece!

  • http://www.juanalfonsos.blogspot.com juan alfonso

    I believe it’s one of those drawn-on-film animations,possibly Norman Mclaren.Used to be shown at animation festivals,classrooms,etc.

  • Luke

    I saw this short on an airplane several months ago, as it is, I wasn’t paying it any attention.

  • AnywayOnward

    I’m sure this isn’t it but they used to sell a VHS copy of “The Red Balloon” with “The Pin Cushion Man” (aka “Balloon Land”) as a double feature. The triangle with legs in the sketch sorta looks like the Pin Cushion man but I’m not too sure about the eye ball/spider.

    Double feature VHS:
    http://www.amazon.com/Red-Balloon-Pincushion-Man-Video/dp/B002O5QBXE

    Pin Cushion Man Cartoon
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5c7gzHCPPg

  • http://mcdworkshop.com/ Chris McD

    I like this post a lot. I’d like to hear more murky memories of films that may or may not be dreams or distorted reality. And then I’d like to watch Christy’s remakes.

  • Chuck

    Dude!!!! I’ve been wondering about that film for years myself!! Asked about it on a forum a while ago and got some info on it–unfortunately not the name or animator. If I can find the post, I’ll copy the info and hopefully that’ll narrow it down enough for someone else to figure out the answer.

  • Edwin L Austin

    I believe it was called Kick Me and it scratched directly on the film.

  • http://twitter.com/virtualbri Brian

    I *vividly* remember seeing this cartoon as a child, and I want to say it was on Pinwheel, the precursor to Nickelodeon either 1979 or 1980.

    I’d love to see it again soon. And I wish I could be more help.

  • Chuck

    Okay, here’s the only answer I received back in 2007:

    Q: “Back in the early to mid-1980s, I saw a cartoon on PBS. It was basically a line drawing of a pair of legs (red, I think) on a white background. The legs did a little hop dance and then started walking around. Well, shortly the legs started running up and down a stairwell, got chased by a giant bouncing ball (which got eaten by a giant spider), got chased by a giant spider, and ran away from a bunch of little spiders that made a net with their spider-silk (which blocked a passage in the stairwell). Yeh, I know, kinda surreal. Anyways, I was sitting here and had one of those little flashes of memory and hoped that someone might know something about this animation.”

    A: “Yes, you are not crazy. I remember it. The little legs I believe were drawn directly on film if not all the animation. I believe it was an American independent film.
    Sorry. Can’t remember the name either. PBS was great for animation back in the day; Saturday at the Bijou, International animation Festival hosted by Jean Marsh.”

    I did some searches at the NFB back in ’06, but was not able to find it, so I don’t think it’s a short from the National Film Board of Canada.

    Hopefully, this snippet of intel will help someone else narrow down the search.

    Thanks for doing this Jerry! :)

  • http://sameandsuch.tumblr.com/ Marc Crisafulli

    I know what it is!

    Give me a little time, and uh… -maybe consider a consulting or research position for me?- And I’ll be back soon with what I can tell you.

  • Chris Sobieniak
    • Edwin L Austin

      Thanks for the link, I’ve wanted to see this toon for years! It’s one of the best ever.

  • John Canemaker

    I think the film referred to is KICK ME by Robert Swarthe, the 1975 Oscar-winning short.

    • ajnrules

      I feel so guilty for correcting an animation legend (and an Oscar winner himself), but this has been gnawing at me all day. While Kick Me was nominated for the Oscar, it lost to Bob Godfrey’s Great, the biographical film about the life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

      Both are great films and are among my favorites.

    • john

      Yup, I remember that animated short as it was cool and weird. It was shown on Nickelodeon’s “Breakaway”. A fill in for time between movies. They’ve also shown this on the Great Space Coaster. What I found to be amazing was that the red-legged character got a lucky break with his almost death encounter with the giant spider by having the film melt. Don’t ask me how Mr. Swarthe managed to put in the effects of melted film into his movie. He also made another animated short that aired once on WLIW 21 back in the 1980′s called thne Unicycle Race.

  • Tom

    “Kick Me” by Robert Swarthe?

    http://www.bcdb.com/cartoon/38919-Kick_Me.html

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    Thank you all – especially Mark, John, Edwin, Chris and Tom. We can all sleep better tonight knowing this wasn’t some bizarre dream!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Especially for someone like me who had saw this endlessly 30 years ago on early cable TV!

  • Doug Holverson

    Actually that sketch was a pretty good recreation of a scene for something drawn from a very vague memory.

    Actually, I have a couple of vaguely remembered animated features (and a not-animated album cover) that I’ve been wondering about.

  • Chris Padilla

    Yep, it’s Robert Swarthe’s “Kick Me”, screened in theaters nationwide in 1977 in Fantastic Animation Festival.

    • http://kipwblog.blogspot.com Kip W

      Perzackly! I remember laughing my head off at that in the theater. I knew there was no chance in hell I’d be the only one to remember the cartoon. What’s surprising is that I even remembered the animator. Yay me!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      The Fantastic Animation Festival appeared to be the one pinnacle of indie animation for it’s time, though I can’t help but notice how many of the films in it were made between a period from 1973 to ’75.

  • http://sameandsuch.tumblr.com/ Marc Crisafulli

    *Aw

    What about the fancy selection of high grade screen shots I’ve gone to prepare?!

    http://bit.ly/tbcxfc

  • Rick R.

    I remember that thing from when I was kid…

    Got one also.. in the 80s, publicly funded Public Television in Mississippi didn’t have pledge drives, so they ran short cartoons between shows. They used to run a really great one based on Patrick Barrington’s “I Had a Hippopotamus” but even on the vast internet, I cannot find a record of this cartoon.

    Anyone know where I could find it?

  • Bob Harper

    Thanks for posting the question and thanks to those who found the answer – That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!!!

  • http://silverfishcloset.com David Montgomery

    Can I try one?

    My vague remembrance of a cartoon from my childhood has a hermetic Giant who locks/walls out everything, even the seasons. Beautiful anthropomorphic versions of spring and fall turn away but winter and I think the North wind wreak havoc on his house. I think he relents and lets everything back in at the end. Any ideas?

    • stavner
      • http://silverfishcloset.com David Montgomery

        Thanks, with a name that obvious I’m a bit embarrassed I couldn’t find it online.

  • christy

    WOW WOW WOW!
    you’ve made me very happy this friday!
    THANKS SO MUCH EVERYONE! THAT’S IT!!!!
    i have been wondering about this film for YEARS!!!!!!
    its so weird how i remember it in my mind and how it really looked! like i said, i saw this as a child in the public library and i remember going home and drawing it as a kid-i must have been 6 or 7 (im 36 yr old now haha)it really captured and got my imagination going as a kid-and again now as an adult.
    wow-thanks so much jerry and everyone who answered on here! can’t wait to show this to my brother!
    thanks everyone!

    • http://smomotion.com :: smo ::

      dude this totally made my day!

  • Brad Constantine

    I gotta say..that was a fun cartoon to watch! I’m very impressed with the vitality of the animation.Thanks for sharing everyone!!

  • Nicoface

    I want to see more obscure film from memories investigating as well!!

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    This should be a regular column “What is this film?”…

    • Doug Holverson

      I agree!

  • Galen Fott

    Awesome! Now figure out who played Gordon in the Sesame Street pilot:

    http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/theshow/gordon

  • http://bakertoons.blogspot.com/ Charles Brubaker

    Okay, here’s a film that’s been driving me crazy for years.

    It’s a short told in musical format about a man who got thrown overboard in a ship, only to end up in an island inhabited by natives (I think they were apes, but I don’t remember). The man and the princess fall in love with each other, but just before they can marry the Captain of the ship finds the man and forces him back, making him swab the deck. IIRC the animation was colored with colored pencil or marker.

    I saw it on Cartoon Network on Acme Hour, circa 1997-98. I know my information is vague, but surely someone who watched CN during that era knows what I’m talking about.

  • Shmorky

    I was just thinking about this… thanks for reminding me!

  • Doug Holverson

    Here are my two and two halves of want to IDs:

    A children’s animated feature film that I saw back around the time of when I was in Kindergarten (circa 1966) give or take a couple of years. All I really remember is the in the film’s world is a scene where toys gave alive for about one minute after midnight on Christmas. They remove the fake beard of (I think) a guardian of the child protagonist who is either a runway or otherwise an orphan.

    The second is a another Christmas animated feature. I think it was around the Holidays ’78 (I’m pegging the time on that the guy who Bruno is based on in my webcomic was staying with the family) on a “$100 Matinee” type show. The movie was probably several years old by then and probably Eastern European, although it could have been early Anime, and it was an animated version of “The Nutcracker”. I remember three-headed mice royal despots that swelled up like balloons and exploded when they tried to sneeze.

    Half number one: I know these exist, just that nobody remembers them, not even YouTube. These were Bicentennial hype era commercials for a Pop Tart wannabe. These featured a “Reginald Redcoat” repeatedly failing in trying to steal toaster pastries from two Yankee kiddies. I Googled up one single solitary iron-on of Reginald and that’s about it.

    Half number two: A album cover that kind of freaked me out when it stared at me from the record racks at the Sioux City Bellas-Hess around ’70. It was a choker closeup of a cartoon face with a wicked rictus and a lots of eyes.

    • Jay Sabicer

      That album cover could possibly be “Lost in the Ozone” by Commander Cody and the Lost Airmen. I suffered a similar freak-out, encountering it in a stack of my older brother’s LPs.

    • dbenson

      The first film sounds like “Cricket on the Hearth,” a cel-animated Rankin-Bass hour that originally ran as an episode of a Danny Thomas series (Thomas and daughter Marlo both did voices). Definitely second-tier Rankin-Bass, with animation more limited than usual and weak storytelling.

      Scene in question: The heroine’s fiance, presumed lost at sea, returns disguised as an old man because he has little to offer her. The toys, grateful to the heroine and her toymaker father for making them attractive instead of junky, come to life for just one scene and pull the beard off the sleeping fiance so the title cricket knows the truth and can set things right.

      It’s on a DVD set titled “The Original Christmas Classics,” which otherwise consists of the biggest Rankin-Bass specials plus Magoo’s “Carol.” The cover mentions the title and shows one small image of the cricket with no other comment.

      • Doug Holverson

        Thanks! I’ll check it out!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I probably have a few from my childhood I want to see again or get ID’d.

    The classic Nickelodeon series “Pinwheel” often played a lot of animated stuff that came out of Europe in the 60′s and 70′s. Tracking this stuff down had been something of a personal euphoric high for me since it was the stuff I grew up on over anything else. So far I managed to put most of those pieces together very quickly in the internet age, but there’s still a couple things here and there I can recall from this program of interest to ask about.

    - One stop-motion piece I remember involved a group of animals, possibly three bears of varying ages, who appear to be artists and paint pictures on easels though during a break, they watch a TV program of an acrobatic feat before they went to bed or so. One or two of them decide to fool around however and replicate the same routine with their easels and whatever else was in the room but it all comes down in a great fall with paint, wood and other things bestrewn about the place and once they were caught they had to clean up anyway.

    - Another film (this time cel animated) featured a girl who steals a boys red ball with white polka dots on it and results in a rather wild goose chase where the boy tries to follow her in a dog-powered car. He has both a dog and cat with him and while trying to chase after the girl gets caught in traffic with the dog inside the toy car relieves himself in nervousness in front of a traffic cop. Towards the end of the film they end up going eventually catching the girl who gives the ball back and both kids run off playing together.

    - Using the same group of characters (sans the girl) there’s one where the boy takes the dog to a hospital after it ate an alarm clock.

    - Again, in the same series, the boy and his dog and cat go on some sort of wild game hunt and eventually corner a wolf or fox who in the sight of the gun pointed at him willfully jumps out of his fur and is forced to walk away with his hands up as the boy marvels at the pelt he received in the process.

    - Going into an experimental sort of thing, I recall one film involving what sounds like synthesized beep type tones (perhaps created as the optical soundtrack itself) set to a rectangular patterned field that continued to change color, shades and values throughout.

    - While I already know the title and origins of this next short, it’s one I’d like to see again if it ever pops up. From Hungary comes a quirky little film from 1960 called “Ceruza és radír” (or “Pencil & Eraser”). One moment I recall in this film involved the pencil and eraser drawing a ship and a captain for it. As the boat was to sail out to sea, it doesn’t move at all, due to an anchor that was left on the ground and the captain turning red and fainting before the eraser removes the anchor and the ship sails off.
    http://www.bcdb.com/cartoon/132111-Ceruza_es_Radir.html

    • http://2005.the-comic.org/ Chris

      would one of them happen to be Chapi Chapo? That used to be on Pinwheel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_oEovxpf8s

      • Chris Sobieniak

        No, I’ve seen Chapi Chapo already and it’s not that (I think it was from Central/Eastern Europe).

  • http://smomotion.com :: smo ::

    this might be my new favorite cartoon brew post. amazing!

  • Scott B.

    It’s easy to see why Christy remembers this so vividly. Even if this had been done “traditionally” and not scratched into film, it would still be an arresting film. I’m totally amazed by the physics, storytelling and foley work, considering how it was produced. I’m glad she asked about it, and thanks to everyone who was able to ID it for those of us who otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to see it!

  • smallerdemon

    It’s fascinating that the credits with the name of the film and the animator are almost identical to the style of opening credits used in Scott Pilgrim. (The shaky animation and the slides out of frame.)

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Which is why it amuses me when people unaware of what we had before look back on the works of Norman McLaren and others and just put 2 and 2 together instantly. There’s always someone who doesn’t realize what may inspire some people given the nature of their work.

      This film of course can be seen as a loving tribute to what pioneers like McLaren did in his time, yet also contains hints of the classic “Golden Age” approaches to animation the likes of Jones, Avery and the others with it’s comical timing and 4th wall breaks.

  • Doug

    Interesting how a simple squiggle could be invested with more personality than Mickey Mouse or Mighty Mouse had in ninety percent of their theatrical cartoons over a span of decades.

  • Charlie

    I find this kind of thing very interesting, I’ve got one myself that I REALLY want identified, it involves a frog and cricket as main characters and a couple of men (a tall and fat one) that have moustaches who are villains. I probably have to wait for that faithful day when I can know what it is and re-watch it.

  • gene schiller

    Here’s one I saw over 30 years ago, but not since: an animated cut-out film called either “Dem Bones” or “Stairway to Heaven.” To the tune “Dem Bones” (sung by an a capella choir) a dice-rolling skeleton (double meaning there!)is anointed by the hand of God (giant hand), sees the light, and begins his ascent towards heaven (among the celestial sights along the way – star-shaped cut-outs of Perry Como, Bing Crosby and other “stars” – this is the only sight gag I can remember, but there were other good ones.) When he reaches the pearly gates, lacking a hat, he doffs his HEAD, as if to say, ‘Thank you, Lord!’ If this helps, I can tell you it was shown as filler after an episode of “Twilight Zone” – the very first one: “Where is Everybody” featuring Earl Holliman as an astronaut who ‘hallucinates’ the entire episode in an isolation chamber – with original theme music by Bernard Herrmann. Someone must have seen this besides me! Best regards, Gene Schiller

  • BrianR

    Wow, what a great post! I also remembered seeing this short as a part of some kid’s show in the late 70s or early 80s. All I could remember was the spider, the castle and that it was drawn directly on film. No one I knew had any idea based on that flimsy description. And now I’ve seen it again for the first time in 30 years. Thanks Cartoon Brew!

  • john

    I have a few other cartoons that I’m trying to remember the title of. There used to be a tv show on Nickelodeon called Pinwheel, and they used to show a bunch of animated shorts that would be about the topic they were talking about. So here’s my memory if anyone could help me.

    1, The film starts out with a wodden pencil case opening up and a pencil and eraser comes to life and they have adventures. They are good friends as the pencil draws thngs that comes to life, and the eraser erases the mistakes. But they fight and argue upon a drawing of a man in a car going in one direction and the eraser wants the car going in another direction.

    2. There was an animated film featuring a woman narrating a poem about colors. She starts out as “What is White?” And various animated things appear to describe what the narrator is talking about. I really enjoyed the music to that movie.

    Eureeka’s Castle had show a bunch of animated shorts as well.

    1. The cartoon starts out as a circle on a blue screem and begins to morph into many circles, and eventurally forms into a baby, mother, and father. They have adventues as the baby always cried whenever it wanted something and the father would create things with the circles around him. Very wonderful music and art conception of circles.

    2. there was one about a raccoon or badger who always wore a hat, and had adventures by drawing things to discover what the sound her heard was. I loved the background music to them.

    Any help on these cartoons would be helpful.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      To answer John’s first question, that film is “Ceruza és radír” or “Pencil & Eraser”, produced in 1960 by Hungary’s Pannonia Filmstudio, designed by György Várnai and written/directed by Gyula Macskássy. A short clip can be found here…
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZXX-y50TbY&t=4m1s

  • gene schiller

    There’s a cartoon from the Zagreb studio called “Once Upon a Time There Was a Dot” that sounds like one of the films you describe. It’s available as part of a collection called “You Can’t Shoe a Horsefly” released by “Cartoon Craze,” which you can probably find on amazon.com selling for a few pennies.