Dover Publications has kept Frank Tashlin’s THE BEAR THAT WASN’T in print for many years, which is yet another reason to love this wonderful publishing company. Its current edition lists for $2–one the all-time great bargains in the history of great bargains. If you haven’t read the book, you have no excuse for not owning your own copy.
But as far as I know, Dover’s editions have never used Tashlin’s original cover from back in 1946. And that’s a shame. So here it is. Happy new year!
An Iranian archeologist may have unearthed the first man made example of animation. The animation was found on a 5000 year old goblet discovered in an archeological dig in Burnt City, in the Sistan-Baluchistan province of southeastern Iran. Read the story here and download the 20 second “film” made from the object.
Back on October 7th I wrote about the new book DAWS BUTLER: CHARACTERS ACTOR, the official biography of the voice of Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound, by Joe Bevilacqua and Ben Ohmart coming from Bear Mountain Media.The book is now out and in my hands, and I want to recommend it to all. It’s truly the complete story of Daws Bulter, from his childhood, nightclub acts, radio and entry into cartoons – to his work with Bob Clampett (Beany & Cecil), Stan Freberg, Tex Avery, Jay Ward and of course Hanna & Barbera. The book is loaded with choice photos from Butler’s incredible career – including many jaw dropping pictures, like the one above of Daws with Freberg, Clampett, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis! Heck, the book is worth it just for the pictures! It’s an incredibly enjoyable read, about an incredibly enormous – and beloved – talent. I never had the opportunity to meet Daws Butler, but was always in awe of his range and his acting abilities. Ohmart and Bevilacqua have now written a book which allows us to learn about the full scope of his amazing career, and what a great guy he really was off mike.Order it directly from BearManor Media
Back on Aug. 7th I raved about a new “anime” film from Korea, SKY BLUE. The visuals are incredible and the story, though familiar, is very well directed and animated. I recommended seeing it in a theatre, and here in L.A. the film opens this Friday (December 31st) at the Nuart Theatre.You can preview the first 8 minutes exclusively on iFilm.com. Earlier today, the fine folks at Landmark Theatres and Maxmedia offered our readers free tickets. Ron Amorim, Brad Bradbury, Ken Gadoua, Mark Maxey and David Vallone won our little contest. SKY BLUE is a spectacular film and I really recommend it you check it out.Nuart Theater
11272 Santa Monica Boulevard, just west of the 405 Freeway
West Los Angeles, CA
Ken Sitz, Creative Director of CONELRAD.com (All Things Atomic) informs us of the completion of his latest project:
Just wanted to let you know we’ve just published the first production history of DUCK AND COVER to coincide with the Library of Congress National Film Registry’s announcement of the 2004 list of inductees. With both Bert and Popeye inducted – it’s been a decent year!
Ken’s group lobbied for Duck and Cover’s in-duck-tion into the Film Registry. Check out Ken’s incredibly informative website today!
The Library of Congress has announced its 2004 additions to the National Film Registry, and there are two cartoons on it: Fleischer’s 1936 POPEYE THE SAILOR MEETS SINDBAD THE SAILOR and the 1951 instructional film DUCK AND COVER, in which an animated turtle advised kids on what to do in case of nuclear holocaust. (The press release has Popeye meeting “Sinbad,” but I’m reasonably sure that the correct spelling is Sindbad, as shown on the poster to the left.)
These cartoons join a respectable list of other animated works already in the registry, including PINOCCHIO, GERALD MCBOING BOING, ONE FROGGY EVENING, WHAT’S OPERA DOC?, PORKY IN WACKYLAND, GERTIE THE DINOSAUR, FANTASIA, and both the Disney and Fleischer versions of SNOW WHITE.
If I were choosing films for the registry all by myself, there are a number (and not a small one) of other cartoons I’d honor. And although the idea behind the registry is to preserve important films, most of the those cartoons are still viable commercial products, and therefore not at risk. (Maybe there should be a National Animation Registry, run by savvy cartoon scholars and fans–I’m more worried about obscure stuff like Ted Eshbaugh films crumbling away and disappearing forever.) Still, it’s nice to see the Library of Congress paying attention to animation, and I’m particularly glad to see a Fleischer Popeye film join the list.
Fun side note: You can download DUCK AND COVER in a variety of formats at the Internet Archive. Whether you’ll want to preserve it, I can’t say–but it’s certainly worth watching once.
Serious side note: ASIFA-Hollywood and UCLA have an animation preservation project that is devoted to saving cartoons that actually are in danger. It’s a very worthy venture–in fact, I think I’ll send them a few bucks before the end of 2004.
Former Guest-Brewer Mark Mayerson sent in large scans of his 45rpm copy of the same A.A.P. Popeye record discussed below. He’s had his copy since the late 50s! Check out his sleeve and label here.
I learn something new every day.I did not know AAP (Associated Artists Productions), the company that bought the pre-48 Warner Bros. film library and Paramount’s Popeye cartoons and syndicated them to television in 1957, had a record label. One of my Christmas gifts this year was a copy of the “Official TV POPEYE Record Album”, a 78 rpm vinyl record featuring New York kid show host Captain Allen Swift and Mae Questel singing various Popeye related songs. It came in it’s original mailing sleeve (from “A.A.P. Records Inc.”) and there is a King Features Syndicate copyright notice on it.It contains (per the sleeve) “Almost 10 minutes of delightful entertainment” and “Songs & Chatter Children will enjoy over & over again”. The record was made available as a 78 or a 45. Swift wrote several of the original tunes and co-produced the tracks (with Arthur Pine). He also does an awful Popeye voice (Swift was clearly more suited to doing Bluto).But what really amazed me is that A.A.P. supposedly had a record label! Does anyone out there have any other A.A.P. records? I knew A.A.P. had a line of 8mm home movies (see box at left – courtesy of Harry McCracken’s Home Movie Box Museum) – now I wonder how extensively they exploited their acquired properties.When I worked for United Artists (1978-84) I picked up a lot of AAP background material, but never ran across anything on them producing records. I suspect from the packaging, and despite the $1.00 price printed on the sleeve, that this was some kind of promotional item, a one-shot, perhaps offered for sale through the kid show hosts in local markets.If anyone has more info on AAP Records, please let me know. It’s news to me.
If you have a few spare minutes and a broadband connection, check out this little film that Dell Computer made, apparently for in-house use. It’s inspired by TEAM AMERICA (and has some direct nods to THUNDERBIRDS)–and if nothing else, it’s pretty darn ambitious from the standpoint of faux cheesy production values. I have no idea how much it cost to make, but I’m willing to wager that Gerry Anderson never got his hands on this sort of money, on a per-minute basis…
To follow up on yesterday’s comments on the adult merchandising of cartoon characters, Brew reader Juan Lara points out the proper place to use your Sanrio playthings: I once stumbled upon this website for the Hotel Chateau in Kagoshima. The hotel is a “love hotel” where a couple can rent a room for a few hours for some intimacy. Now don’t these pictures really put you in the mood? Personally this hotel looks like my worst nightmare. But, to each his own.
Viacom has a very frustrating merchandising agenda regarding their classic Terrytoon cartoon stars. Thus I wasn’t sure what to make of this item I spotted on the internet while Christmas shopping last week: Mighty Mouse panties!My first reaction was to make all manner of off-color jokes relating to the placement of The Mouse of Tomorrow so close to the area of the female body associated with that euphemistic word for “feline”. But upon further “research” I see that many other classic characters are also being marketed toward this new niche: Jerry Mouse, Swee’ Pea and Betty Boop.If I were Viacom, I’m not sure if this is the fan base I’d be appealing to, but I suppose its all good clean fun. As a matter of taste, we still have a long way to go before we catch up with the Japanese (Sanrio’s use of Hello Kitty and Badtz Maru on adult products is clearly venturing into newer – or shall I say, virgin – territory).
Here’s a SLATE piece on the marketing of THE POLAR EXPRESS as…an evangelical film? Read it and be fascinated.
The last time I was in the Big Apple, I wanted to go to the Popeye exhibit at the Museum of Television and Radio–but I got food poisoning and was too weak to make the two-block trek from my hotel. I’m back in NYC for the holidays–I join Jerry and Amid in hoping yours are happy, by the way–and feeling fine, so I visited it today.
The good news? The show includes some Segar originals, a decent amount of Fleischer and Famous Studios art, a few wonderful vintage posters, a smattering of fun collectibles, and a film loop that includes a newsreel visit to the Fleischer studio in Miami. The Museum is also showing Popeye cartoons in one of its theaters in conjunction with the exhibit; I didn’t attend today’s screening, but if it involved any Fleischers or early Famous shorts, I’m sorry I missed it. And in general, the exhibit seems carefully curated in terms of attention to detail–for instance, the signage includes dates whenever possible, and they seem to be accurate.
But this show had something in common with a pretty high percentage of cartoon-related museum exhibits: An inability or unwillingness to be discriminating. So the film loop also includes stretches of 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoons, there are multiple POPEYE AND SON cel setups on display, and the recent CGI special is touted heavily and approvingly compared to Segar and Fleischer. It’s as if all Popeye were good Popeye, or it didn’t really matter whether Popeye was any good in the first place.
After spending 20 minutes in the exhibit (and a bit more time watching an unrelated but fascinating compilation of TV clips of Bobby Darrin, selected by Kevin Spacey), I left both happy and dejected. If you love Popeye and get the chance to attend it–it’s on until January 29th–you’ll probably come away with the same feeling.