Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cartoons

These gorgeous close ups are from "Fort Better Or Worser", a hilarious cartoon from 1935.
My guess is they are drawn by Roland Crandall because they look a lot like the drawings and animation in Betty Boop's "Snow White". -but I could be wrong.
I just love this style. When I think of what makes the Fleischers unique it's this kind of look. It's more like the comic strips than what was becoming known as "animation style" in Hollywood.
Some particular animators seem to stand out: Dick Heumer , Grim Natwick, Willard Bowsky, Al Eugster and some others whose styles I recognize but aren't sure of the names that go with them. I like Shamus Culhane's early Fleischer stuff though he disparaged this whole school of animation when we met. So did Myron Waldman.I think this is their best stuff!
















Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938, Vol. 1

around 1940 it became pretty noticeable that Fleischer cartoons were moving way from their own look and attitude and instead imitating the Hollywood style.
They still did some nice animation but I prefer the 30s when they were really doing their own thing. I think Disney made everyone feel guilty for having unique styles and approaches to animation in the 1930s and it led to a general blandification of much of the industry. Luckily some holdouts continued along their own paths: Avery, Clampett, Tashlin, Jones to an extent, Tyer, Scribner, Mckimson, and later UPA.

18 comments:

Isaak said...

Speaking of quality, Dwight Mcdonald wrote an essay in the mid-century opining about the lower quality associated with current culture, thanks to lower standards. I think you might be interested.

The essay is called Masscult and MIdcult.

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=r1DFqJaoEhIC&oi=fnd&pg=PA9&dq=masscult&ots=0Za2I1VmWY&sig=J9aQTM0I8WyY255uFaX8PzDkqvw#v=onepage&q=masscult&f=false

Joshua Marchant (Scrawnycartoons) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SparkyMK3 said...

I got that Popeye DVD set a couple years ago for 20$ at a thrift store, and it was one of the best purchases I ever made. 73 classic cartoons stuffed onto four discs, with hours upon hours of gut-bustingly funny entertainment. The other two sets were also pretty good. I want to make cartoons just as funny and inventive as these Fleischer cartoons.

Roberto Severino said...

You really got to meet both Shamus Culhane and Myron Waldman?! I thought you didn't like Culhane's work too much. In any case, please tell us more.

jeffreyJack said...

Not exactly animation related but http://popeye.com/comics/
has the early Popeye THIMBLE THEATRE series posted in its entirety.

Including the very first rendering of the irascible swab himself.

Me, I can'sk gets me enuf Popeye meself.

Trevor Guitar said...

Fantastic. If I could draw that well and interesting with just a ball for a head I'd have it made XD

Because of your recent post I went looking for Popeye's I saw as a kid, the colored ones from the 60s, and also the ones from Fleischer.

What a difference! The older black and white is so beautifully fluid. So strange how it changed.

The episode I was badly wanting to see is called 'The Golden Fleece' and it's not the one called Golden-Type-Fleece.

It's one I remember from childhood where Popeye had to fight off the harpies etc. Maybe its the same cartoon but a longer version? Badly wanted to see it to see what I would think as an adult.

It was in color if that helps anyone to guess and point the way.

Erik Butter said...

Yowza! That one pretty lady ;)
The line work on these cartoons are gorgeous too.

I am am watching trough the looney tunes golden collection dvd's right now and you're commentarys on Clampet are nice. I wish you did more of these Commentary tracks in stead of that mumbling Micheal Barrier or Greg Ford i believe.

But what do you think of an Donald duck cartoon like this one?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjIzJ5v4Syw
Don't mind the stupid intro by Leonard Maltin tough...

Steven M. said...

Another thing to like about these frame grabs: the inking.

Scotty Ohnoudidnt said...

John, I dig everything you do. I also waited to buy all this crap so Nick wouldn't get 1 red nickel.

http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r157/scotty2dopeMB/Zi6_3919.jpg

You sir, are the bee's knees.
I thank you for everything.
Scotty

bergsten said...

Thanks, Johnny. I've been trying and trying to remember "Gabby's" name for about five years now. That Gulliver's Travels was insane. It was this "normal" animation with this mescaline-induced character thrown in for no apparent reason. Vaguely remember it had nice music. Must look it up.

bergsten said...

Thanks, Johnny. I've been trying and trying to remember "Gabby's" name for about five years now. That Gulliver's Travels was insane. It was this "normal" animation with this mescaline-induced character thrown in for no apparent reason. Vaguely remember it had nice music. Must look it up.

J C Roberts said...

The Fleischer cartoons were certainly their own thing in those early years. It's not surprising they eventually succumbed to the Disney influence, likely pressured to do so since the entertainment industry has always been more about duplicating success formulas than innovating.

Not that the innovators don't still surface sometimes, but they have their work cut out for them blazing trails in an industry primarily concerned with playing follow the leader.

The pattern is so clearly obvious and repeats over and over - something unique makes it through the system and catches on. If it does well enough to get the attention of those calling the shots, they'll say "we need to be doing something like THIS" and cue the flood of imitators. They'll take whatever was special about something and make cheap, diluted copies of it, until the returns diminish, then rinse and repeat whenever the next unique property sneaks out and catches on. Like a certain someone did back in 1991...

Did the Fleischers themselves decide to homoginize their style into the Disney mold, or were they instructed to? I'd like to think the real innovators don't compromise on their vision unless under threat of having their plug pulled.

Still, it's hard to say this style could be used in this era without being considered "retro". Art styles have a tendency to move with the times, and reflect the accumulative look and feel of what else is out there and any given time period. It's kind of a shame if you're too partial to a bygone style, as you'll always be swimming against the current if you want to stay with it.

Moti Zigman said...

wow!
thanks! these are the kind of posts i like, because of you i bought this popeye dvd and also the looney toons, and the one with woody woodpecker, and maybe other stuff...
anyway, i like it, im sad that people today cant appriciate and enjoy these cartoons, and im so glad that my kids like it and growing up with it. (also with spongebob!)
thanks again!

Robert Wertz said...

I love the feather pillow hands. They really have a sense of dimension. Plus, they obey the rules of pillows, not human anatomy. You always need some rules, not always the ones that are obvious.

BadIdeaSociety said...

Boy, I remember that Popeye short. Olive Oyl, once the lipstick touches her lips, looks downright grotesque.

Karyn Danforth said...

love love love it all!

Elana Pritchard said...

How could you?

SparkyMK3 said...

"Did the Fleischers themselves decide to homoginize their style into the Disney mold, or were they instructed to? I'd like to think the real innovators don't compromise on their vision unless under threat of having their plug pulled."

J.C., Paramount badgered the Fleischers into emulating Disney, specifically Barby Balbian. Paramount had gone through several bankruptcies and were trying to shift gears by emulating the family film mold of studios like MGM, only on smaller budgets. A lot of people say it was the Hays Office that did in Fleischer, but that was only part of it; it also had to do with the same management that destroyed Famous Studios when it had a few years of good stuff in the early to mid 40's.

Its a miracle that Popeye managed to stay intact before 1939 when you have this kind of management, the same that resulted in drivel like Color Classics getting made.