Friday, December 23, 2011

Seasonal Treats

Here's a 1934 Christmas Card from Fleischer Studio employee Bill Van Derveer. I know nothing about him - not sure if he was an artist or production staff.

But - the background looks familiar….

… that's because it's from the 1933 Popeye cartoon 'Seasin's Greetinks!'


Cropped version of the above frame grab approximately matching the card dimensions.


And just in time for Christmas - A visual feast courtesy of the Fleischer Studio site. Ginny Mahoney (Max Fleischer's grand daughter) notified me that the site has launched its Virtual Museum, currently highlighting Christmas. Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Japanese Poster Art...

...for Shakespearean Spinach. (1940)


And what I'm assuming was the source material for the poster drawings.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wow!!

Click here to see the rest of the image and a new blog dedicated to animator/director Seymour Kneitel.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Big Chief Edit-Reassemble-Edit (Conjecture Post)

This post was prompted by blog reader J Lee's comment left on the 'Date to Edit' post -

"There's also an out-of-sequence scene in an earlier 1938 Willard Bowsky Popeye cartoon, "Big Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh", where the segments with the fire starting and the bow shooting and split in two, with the Indians' actions in the middle of the cartoon and Popeye's reactions moved to after he eats his Spinach at the end. Both gags can be merged together into a pair of seamless scenes."

After reading J Lee's comment I decided to edit and reassemble the scenes of animation cited in his comment. It started to look like a different cartoon had been originally planned and on a hunch I edited the rest of the cartoon to work around the reassembled scenes of animation, taking an educated guess at what the scene order may have been. (I'm assuming it was originally planned without the edits and I'm also assuming that there was no extra story material cut)

I always felt the screen direction of 'Big Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh' was awkward and after starting to edit I realized the scenes could be shifted to clean it up. It all seems to fit together well (apart from the post synched dialogue) but makes a less exciting cartoon.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Date to Edit

Below are two clips from the 1938 Popeye cartoon 'A Date to Skate' - the first one directly clipped from the cartoon and the second one edited. Note in the first clip that Popeye starts to reach for his spinach and as he does the film cuts to Olive being pulling by a fire truck. For years I felt it was an odd bit of animation because Popeye appeared to be frozen in time until we rejoin him one cut later. On return to Popeye he resumes the action of reaching into his shirt.






On a hunch (and inspired by similar work done by fellow animator R.A. MacNeil) I cut out the Olive scene and joined the two Popeye sections - they flow seamlessly from one into the other. Strong evidence that it was originally shot as one scene...



Sunday, August 21, 2011

Over at Cartoons of 1943 Blog....

Ted has posted a neat little bit on Famous Studios - that puts some faces to names there showing animator Tom Golden, head animator/de facto director Dave Tendlar, and background painter Robert Little. The bottom picture of the camera set-up has the cameraman shooting a frame from 'Cartoons Ain't Human'. Check it out...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Educated Guess ID - Willard Bowsky

Willard Bowsky's work is hard for me to ID because the head animator/de facto directors at the Fleischer Studio didn't do much animation footage - if any - for their cartoons. Given that bit of info - I don't see a lot of what I would say with any certainty is Bowsky's animation in any of the Popeye cartoons that he de facto directed - at least enough to solidify an ID. There's a good possibility that Bowsky did not like animating Popeye and he may have put his efforts into animating other characters - like Betty Boop - when time permitted. Fortunately, I have seen a couple of autographed drawings that provide a key to help identify his animation style.

Here's a clip from 'The Spinach Roadster', released in 1936 - one bit of animation I believe was animated by Bowsky. Keep in mind this is just an educated guess....



Compare the drawing in the clip with the one below that was autographed by Bowsky, published in 1939.

Monday, July 11, 2011

John the Animator Guy

Fellow animator and former colleague John Celestri has started a blog. I met John when he was a lead animator on the Nelvana animated feature Rock and Rule. Check out his blog when you get a spare moment. (and ask him about the cool Batman commercial he animated)

John also has the distinction of having worked with maestro Popeye animator John Gentilella - both pictured in the photo below taken in 1984. John Celestri is the guy on the far right with the big mustache.

Photo courtesy of Mike Kaweski

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Swedish Popeye Poster

The drawing of Popeye on this Swedish release theatrical poster looks familiar...

That's because it's almost an exact copy of one below drawn by Dave Tendlar for 'Beware of Barnacle Bill'. (1935) I wonder if it was made specifically for the aforementioned cartoon. Could that be the cartoon's title on 'Karl-Alfred's' chest?? Anyone out there read Swedish??

UPDATE: Blog reader diego cumplido commented on the lettering on Karl-Alfred's chest - I don't read Swedish, but Google Translate says that "varldens starkaste sj├┤man" means "the world's strongest sailor". Thanks for the info Diego!!


Monday, July 4, 2011

Cartoon Logic at Work

Cartoon logic is a unique aspect of animation in the way that our minds are able to connect improbable actions and things that could never take place in real life. One of my favorite bits of cause and effect cartoon logic is a sequence of events that happen to Bluto in the Famous Studio Popeye cartoon 'Too Weak To Work'. (1943)

For those who have not seen the cartoon, here's a short preamble: Bluto feigns sickness to get out of doing work on the battleship and ends up in the hospital. Popeye catches Bluto in his sham, and after setting his mouth ablaze, gives chase to Bluto through the hospital. The following chain of events start when Bluto runs into a steam room to escape from Popeye.

Here's some cartoon logic and cartoon physics at work -
Popeye shuts Bluto in a steam room and Bluto shrinks. Take away mass.

Animation by Ben Solomon

Popeye inflates Bluto with oxygen to return him to normal size. Add mass.

Animation by Ben Solomon

Bluto has a mishap with a rain cloud and his inflated body is burst like a balloon by lightning - his deflated body falls to Earth. Take away mass.

Animation by Abner Kneitel

A husk that needs to be filled + the need to get Bluto back to work….

Animation by Jim Tyer

… calls for Popeye to pump Bluto full of spinach. Only an industrial sized can will fill the space left by the escaped air. Add mass + strength.

Animation by Jim Tyer

Bluto, full and powered = ready to work. It all makes sense.

Animation by Jim Tyer

Cartoon logic in action:


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tidbits of Tendlar

Today's highlight is 2 clips of animation by primo Popeye animator Dave Tendlar, from a cartoon he also de facto directed - 'The Anvil Chorus Girl'. The short is a remake of 'Shoein' Hosses' - an early Fleischer Popeye cartoon that Dave also animated on under de facto director Willard Bowsky.




Sunday, June 19, 2011

Throwaway Drawing

Something recently up for auction on Ebay...

Every so often a Popeye animation drawing shows up - this one looks to be from 'Her Honor the Mare' - the first Famous Studio Popeye cartoon short to be made in Technicolor. I say 'looks to be' because on viewing the cartoon - it's not there. It's obvious that the drawing came from the aforementioned cartoon given the subject and situation - I would love to know why it was cut. A redundant gag perhaps??





Her Honor the Mare (1943) - de facto directed by Jim Tyer

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Book Behind the Cartoon??

Every so often I see this book pop up on ebay. It was strangely familiar - then I made the connection. An altered version of it was used in 'Adventures of Popeye' - the first, to my knowledge, 'cheater' cartoon made up of clips from older Popeye cartoons. Could this book have been the inspiration for making that cartoon??




Adventures of Popeye (1935)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Al Eugster

Here's the only bit of Popeye animation that I know was animated by Al Eugster - and that info was given to me by Mark Mayerson. Mark worked with Al years ago and, IIRC, the following clip from 'House Tricks?' was the only bit of Popeye animation Al could remember doing.

Al Eugster's animation from 'House Tricks?' (1946)

Al was one of those rare individuals who kept a ledger of his animation work - unfortunately there are no particulars of what he animated, just titles with the month and year noted. Below is a cut-in from Al's ledger showing 5 Popeye titles - the top three he was credited as head animator/de facto director, the bottom two he was an uncredited animator.

Copy of Al's ledger (copy from Mark Mayerson)

Like many of his colleagues at the time, Al drew comic book stories - an example of his work below. Unfortunately this is the best image I have - it was grabbed off of ebay and published in Cryin' Lion #1. If anyone out there in the blogosphere has a copy and cares to share, I would love to see the rest of the story.

Click on image to enlarge

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saul Kessler??

Saul who, you say. Never heard of him?? Saul Kessler is another one of the many uncredited animators to work at the Fleischer Studio. I've known for years that a photo existed of him in a 1930 - 31 studio personnel group shot, but nothing else until recently. Flipping though the pages of Fleischer's Animated News I was able to cobble bits of information together, and in turn, make a conjecture about his work.

I'm assuming that Kessler was already an animator in 1931 based on the group photo (link below) where he was placed in forth row from the top and beside animator Nick Tafuri. And in a 1935 Animated News, Kessler is noted a being a member of the Johnson crew alongside animators Tex Hastings and Don Figlozzi.

(courtesy of Ryan Englade)

At some point Kessler may have been shifted into Seymour Kneitel's crew - possibly after Crandall left to head up his own crew. A Fleischer animation crew would average 6 animators - that number included the head animator/de facto director. Crandall's departure would have left a hole in Kneitel's crew - one that Kessler may have filled. My guess is based on similarities between the following gag drawing and frame grab.

Kessler gag drawing from Oct.'36

The above Popeye drawing is arguable in the style of Seymour Kneitel's 1936 cartoons - and leads me to believe Kessler may have been part of Kneitel's crew at the time of the drawing. Below is a frame grab with drawing similar to the one above.

Saul Kessler animation?? Frame grab from 'I Likes Babies and Infinks' - Sept. 1937

Update: Check out the comments for some links to Kessler's comic book work.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tendlar Interlude

Having the position of head animator/de facto director allowed Dave Tendlar his pick of the choice scenes to animate. The following clip is an example of Tendlar's 'cherry picking' a scene of animation from 'Learn Polikeness'. (his style earmarks previously noted here and here)




Note the shape of the fingers in Bluto's open hand - the 'bulb-shaped' look is another earmark typical of Tendlar's drawing style.

Upcoming posts: Graham Place follow-up, Saul Kessler, Hold the Wire.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Graham Place Teaser


Graham Place's animation from 'Stealing Ain't Honest'.

More to come soon...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wiffle Piffle - Common Street Brawler

Those of you familiar with the stable of original characters created by the Fleischer Studio will no doubt be a fan of Wiffle Piffle - the man with the boneless arms. For those ignorant of the joy of Piffle, you can see drawings of him here and watch him in the Betty Boop cartoon Hot Air Salesman.

I was surprised to find the aforementioned, ineffectual mite, was actually in a Popeye cartoon - as a street brawler in 'Brotherly Love'. His guest appearance had eluded me for countless screenings over the years. It's a short cameo so stay sharp and don't blink when the scene comes up next time you watch the cartoon.




Frame cut-in. Caught in the act!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tyer Under Control

It just hit me today - I've been watching 'Wotta Knight' for years oblivious that it contained the last bits of animation Tyer did on the Popeye cartoons. I have always wondered who the mystery animator was in this cartoon. It's incredibly controlled for Tyer - but his style earmarks are there if you look closely.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Bowsky Gag Drawing

For ages I have been trying to definitively tack down Willard Bowsky's Popeye animation. It's a tough call and I refrain from doing so in many cases because the earmarks of his drawing and animation are not as evident as other animators I am able to ID. It's partially because, as head animator/de facto director, the amount of animation he would be able to do in any particular cartoon would be minimal at best and at times none at all.

Below is a gag cartoon (a copy of a copy of the original) drawn and signed by Bowsky and published in the Fleischer Studio's Flipper Club Annual of 1939. I love finding a drawing like this - it provides great clues to cracking his animation style.

(click on image to enlarge)

Note on the right hand side of the drawing is Alice the Goon - who never appeared in any of the animated shorts produced by the Fleischers. It makes me wonder if there was another Goon cartoon in the works starring Alice.

BTW - readers interested in the Famous Studio cartoons should check out Thad's blog - highlighting a gorgeous copy of the Blackie cartoon 'Much Ado About Mutton'. I left some comments that may prove interesting to Famous Studio fans.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Bits

... of Brucker.


Organ Grinder's Swing



Fowl Play



Fowl Play



Learn Polikeness



Mutiny Ain't Nice

Be sure to check out the comments section of the last post - there is some biographical info posted on Brucker.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bits of Brucker

Eli Brucker - whom I know nothing about other than the odd anecdote - worked for the Fleischer Studio animating in Seymour Kneitel's and Dave Tendlar's crews. After the move to Miami it looks like he disappeared from the business.

For Better Or Worser

For Better Or Worser

The 'Hyp-Nut-Tist'

I Wanna Be A Lifeguard

UPDATE: Check out the comments for some biographical information on Eli Brucker.