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Unpaid Stars of the Movies


This 1930 article from Popular Mechanics magazine (below) tries to explain the process of recording sound for animated cartoons in pseudo-scientific terms. There are all kinds of interesting and oddball facts bandied about, such as cartoons costing $20,000 per reel, and the artists themselves being able to draw the dialogue soundtrack (Huh??). The images are cool, and one seems to demonstrate an early method of matte photography. In a particularly dated reference the article’s author, in explaining that cartoons are popular all around the world, says, “They appeal alike to the Chinese Coolie and the Alaskan Indian”!

Click on thumbnail pages below for larger, readable images.
(Thanks, Leslie Cabarga)

  • The author of this article is, I think, making a poor reference to “sketching sound,” which was a practice that WAS happening in animation (not a lot, for obvious reasons) and was identified in another article found on the Modern Mechanix site. It’s located online here: http://blog.modernmechanix.com/page/2/?s=sound+sketches

  • Great stuff. Leslie, what month in 1930 is this article from? The still on page two comes from the “Reuben and Rachel” sequence in 1931’s TEACHER’S PESTS, so the article might indirectly tell us how far ahead of release Fleischer cartoons were finished at that time.
    I love the statement that “a picture of Bimbo would be as readily recognized in China as in the United States.” It’s true and yet completely misleading; because at the time, Bimbo changed design radically from cartoon to cartoon depending on whose unit did the animation. I’m sure he’d have been equally well recognized from Beijing to Hoboken… that is to say, not recognized at all in either place!