Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year, and Farewell to a Beloved Film Collector

First off, let me wish everyone peace and prosperity for 2008!

The film collecting and historian community's new year has been shadowed by the passing of Harold "Rusty" Casselton on December 30th, from complications from liver cancer.

I knew Rusty only through some vague email correspondence but I can tell you he was a generous man and invaluable resource to the film history community. A short bio on Rusty is given below, borrowed from

Rusty Casselton (1954-2007) film professor, historian, and collector. Harold "Rusty" Casselton was a student, teaching assistant, long-time friend and business partner of Ted Larson. Casselton taught for many years at Concordia College before becoming Director of Film Studies at Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2001. He was a nationally known and respected restorer of rare and silent films.

Here is a good article with all the details. You may need to sign up to see it:§ion=news

Rest in peace Rusty, you will be missed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas, CartoonsOnFilm Style

Howdy Bloggers and Surfers,
Just in case I won't be able to post sooner, I figured I'd treat you all to a Christmas-themed post. I pulled a couple prints from my collection of obscurities and am able to share them with you, again, via my MacBook's iSight camera and YouTube.
As always, please overlook the amateur, poorly framed/focused and low-res image.

First we have a Cinepix Inc. bootleg of a well known Van Beuren cartoon. Note, however, that Cinepix used a silent home movie print and added a somewhat creative music track. Excuse the water damage in the first few feet...

How do you like that "heavenly" odd music that continues after the end title?

Second, a Krazytoons print of a more obscure 1930s cartoon (but with a very famous character). A very nice print for being a bootleg!

Hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season, and will be back blogging soon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ken Southworth (1918-2007)

As posted by Ray Pointer at
Ten minutes ago, I received a call from Ken's wife, Carol that he had passed away of a stroke this morning.
I had spoken with him two weeks ago, and he had had a bad fall and was getting around by a cane.
My association with Ken began on THE ADVENTURES FROM THE BOOK OF VIRTUES in 1996. The following year we joined forces to produce the popular three volume Home Instruction course, THE KEN SOUTHWORTH ANIMATION Program that consisted of instructional VHS tapes and workbooks.
The origin of this series was based on Ken's desire to pass on his 50 years of experience to the next generation. Since talent for the animation field can come from virtually anywhere in the world, there is the possibility that someone in an isolated area without the means to attend one of the major Animation Schools might benefit from a few basic lessons. As a result we fashion this series of courses designed to spark that raw talent.

THE KEN SOUTHWORTH ANIMATION series was featured in several Video Catalogs including Schlesinger's Educational Library Video, The Whole Toon Catalog, and our web site: as well. While Ken established the original web site, I continued to develop it to what it is today. As a result, we have linked to many people worldwide who have found us, and told us how much they have enjoyed our product.

Ken was employed at The Walt Disney Studios from 1943 to 1951. He was primarily an Assistant Animator
in the Jack Hannah and Jack Kinney units working on numerous DONALD DUCK, GOOFY, and PLUTO short subjects. During this period, Ken developed the "Splat" shock/impact effects that became cartoon conventions in the Disney shorts. Ken also worked on a number of the Disney animated features including THE THREE CABBALLEROS, SONG OF THE SOUTH, and THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW. He assisted Frank Thomas on CINDERELLA, primarily on the STEPMOTHER, and also assisted Milt Kahl on ALICE IN WONDERLAND. In one of our programs, Ken took great pride in stating that he had done considerable work on the Croquet Sequence in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, saying, "Chances are, if you see a drawing with ALICE holding a flamingo, I did it!"

Ken left Disney after ALICE in WONDERLAND to accept an offer as an Animator for Walter Lantz, working under Tex Avery. When the second version of the famous WOODY WOODPECKER opening title was done, it was animated by Ken and LaVerne Harding. Ken then went to MGM during its last two years, with an Animator's credit on several of the Cinemascope cartoons produced by Hanna and Barbera starring TOM AND JERRY and DROOPY. When Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera launched H-B Enterprises in 1957, later to become Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1959, Ken went along with them, as an animatior on HUCKLEBERRY HOUND, QUICK DRAW MCGRAW, THE FLINTSTONES, TOP CAT, JONNY QUEST, SPACE GHOST, DINO BOY, SCUBBY DOO, THE SMURFS, DON COYOTE, and SWAT CATS. Ken was with H-B for 21 years.

In the early 1960s, Ken was also a Stop-Motion Animator and Storyboard Artist on DAVY AND GOLIATH for Clokey Productions. He was also Director and Layout Artist on QT HUSH and YOUNG DANIEL BOONE.
In the 1970s, he was a Storyboard Artist and Animator on STAR TREK, LASSIE, HE-MAN, and BRAVESTAR for Filmation. Ken was also an Animator on Bugs and Tweety for GREMILINS 2 and EARTH DAY TV. His fianl assignment was as a Director on ADVENTURES FROM THE BOOK OF VIRTUES on PBS.

During his active years, Ken taught Animation at the Hanna-Barbera Evening School, The American Animation Institute (Cartoonists Local 839), and since his retirement ten years ago, continued to speak at colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada including VanArts.

Ken was a most unique, generous, and inspiring man. With all of his past experiences with business ventures, he stated that I was the best associate he had ever worked with. That was really a tremendous compliment in light of his rich history, which gives me a great deal to live up to. Always the optomist, Ken had this to say about the future of animation:

" I think the best is yet to come, remembering that the play's the thing...I'm very optimistic for both 2D and 3D animation."
Rest in Peace, Ken,

Saturday, November 24, 2007

USA Weekend, Nov. 24th-25th

If you happen to have it lying around the house, great!
If not, take a good look here:

Link to the online article.

***Please note, some of the details and specifics are skewed in this watered-down article, but it is exciting nonetheless!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Funtime Bootlegs

Well, I got creative earlier today and said to myself "Hey! Maybe I can get some low-res video of some 16mms by using my MacBook"...and it worked!

First I took video from Soda Jerks, a mid-1920s Mutt & Jeff Cartoon. 1950s Astra TV print.

Second, a 30s Terrytoon bootlegged by Cinepix Inc. They used a silent Castle print as they did with all their Terrys I've seen, so they had to substitute with a Winston Sharples music track and notice the splices where the Castle intertitles would have been.
So there you have it, two vintage 1950s TV prints. Gotta love 'em!

P.S. Sorry for any cut-off portions of the picture and other inconsistencies...this is all very amateurish, but a fun way to sample some of my silents and for those of you out there who haven't had the joy; a taste of what it's like to screen 16mm prints.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Here's a cartoon I tinkered with way back in 2004. I must have been 15 at the time.
"Tanked" is a reissued and probably edited version of Bonzo in the Army (1925).
Hope you enjoy my SFX and stuff....I had lots of fun doing these "enhancements" back then. Shame I didn't save more of them.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Two cartoons on Youtube

I've finally figured out how to rip cartoons from my DVDs and upload them to youtube. Here is HOUSE THAT DINKY BUILT (1925) from my new Dinky Doodle DVD, and a silent Farmer Alfalfa cartoon: The Picnic (retitled for TV) available on one of my Farmer Al DVDs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Special Requests

Well, I'm still learning how to use iMovie. It doesn't seem to be the most versatile editing program, but it's uber convenient to have a camera built in to this macbook.
If any one has special requests for me to talk about on youtube, please post them and I'll see what I can do based on what the request is.
Don't forget to take advantage of the new DVD releases and sale, folks. :-)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

8 New Releases and Sale!

Dear friends and fans,
I'm announcing the release of EIGHT new early animation DVD compilations!

Here goes:
Rare Silents Volume 2:
Keeping Up with the Joneses (Men's)
Keeping Up with the Joneses (Women's)
Never Again! The Story of a Speeder Cop
Mr. Nobody Holme Buys a Jitney
Policy and Pie with The Katzenjammer Kids
Professor Bonehead is Shipwrecked
The Fresh Lobster (Novelty starring Billy Bletcher with some animation)
Phable of the Phat Woman

Rare Silents Volume 3:
Tommy Tucker's Tooth (Disney)
Cartoons in a Seminary (Animated Grouch Chasers)
Cartoons On Tour (Animated Grouch Chasers)
Taking A Ride with The Gumps (Fragment0
Celebrity Caricatures
Charley Out West (Chaplin cartoon, illegible intertitles.)
Auto Race (abbreviated Life Cartoon Comedy)
Hurry the End of the War (WWI short animation)
Twas but a Dream (International Film Service)

The Magic Lantern:
1960s documentary on early optical toys and a brief history of animation.
Also includes Cartoon Craft, a 1936 short showing the Disney studio
working on Snow White.

Bray Rarities Volume 2:
Thrilling Drill (Jerry on the Job)
Swinging His Vacation (")
Mad Locomotive (")
Without Coal (")
Dud the Circus Performer (Us Fellers)
Dud the Lion Tamer (")
Chip off the Old Block (")
Dud Leaves Home (")

Bray Rarities Volume 3:
Tail of a Kangaroo (Happy Hooligan)
Getting the Goods (Happy Hooligan, short fragment)
Turn to the Right Leg (Judge Rummy)
Fish Story (", fragment)
Joy Ride (")
His Country Cousin (")

Dinky Doodle and Friends:
Red Riding Hood
House that Dinky Built
For the Love O' Pete (Pete the Pup debut)
Lunch Hound (Pete the Pup)
Jungle Belles (Pete the Pup excerpt)
The Tail of the Monkey (Unnatural History)

Out of the Inkwell Volume 3:
The Show
Pay Day
Koko's Queen
Fade Away
Koko the Kid
Koko Hops Off
Koko Makes 'Em Laugh
Koko's Courtship

Winsor McCay Sampler:
Little Nemo
Sinking of the Lusitania
The Flying House
Bug Vaudeville
The Pet
These new compilations are $20.00 each plus shupping.

All of my previous DVDs are HALF OFF ($10.00 each) until 1 December 2007. The list is located at

This is a great opportunity to pursue some new material and to build up your library of early animation.

As always, thank you all for supporting my cause in the past, present, and future. If you are interested in any of these DVDs, please email me your order and information to or fill out the "Order Form" on my sales website at

Tom Stathes

P.S. It may take a couple weeks to ship these initial orders due to my busy schedule. Thank you for understanding.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

An important message from Michael Perlman

For those of you architecture fans out there, here is a preservation situation and petition needing your support.
Appropriately enough, we are rallying to save a historic Manhattan theater.
Below is the info as shared with me by good friend and fellow preservationist Michael Perlman.
"Please sign an online petition to save NYC’s oldest vaudeville & silent films theater, the Playpen on 8th Avenue between 43rd & 44th Streets, which was known as the Ideal Theatre in 1916. The clock is ticking, and the Committee To Save The Playpen Theater amongst other preservationists, need all the help we can get to spare this intact Beaux Art gem. Demolition permits are pending, and we’re trying to convince developer Daniel Tishman to donate the theater entirely or in part to a non-profit who has submitted a proposal. Please sign, post a brief comment, & forward the following petition to as many contacts as possible. Your assistance is invaluable!
Sign the Petition!.

For the latest updates, photos, history, & the provisions which challenge its scheduled demolition:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bray Studios on 1940s and 1950s Television

As a hardcore fan of the Bray Studios cartoons, their lengthy (yet mildly obscure) exposure on 1940s and 1950s television is of great interest to me. Film collector and animation enthusiasts who may be "purists" usually are very dismissive of television versions of theatrically released films. As I will stress again and again, television-era prints of such films are in many cases the only circulating (or even extant) sources for these masterpieces.
J.R. Bray's cartoon studio had a powerful yet seemingly short life...approximately 15 years (1913-1928). Regardless, Bray was unlike his peers in that he had confidence that there would be some sort of perpetual interest in the films produced at his studio. As a result, he would make dozens and dozens of films available to schools, libraries, and other interested parties in the 1920s first by offering (now obsolete) 28mm prints. Later he offered them in 16mm which became something of an educational and amateur standard by the 1930s.

As television caught on in the late 1940s, Bray revitalized some of his cartoon stock and offered over 80 vintage titles in the form of newly titled 16mm prints, some with music and narration soundtracks. In the New York area particularly, baby boomers may recall seeing Farmer Alfalfa (Bray and or independent-Terry produced), Bobby Bumps, and possibly Out of the Inkwell on Fred Sayles' "Uncle Fred" kiddie TV show. According to one website, the station purchased and amassed a collection of 300 silent-era cartoon prints which would be used by Sayles to narrate in his show starting in 1948.
Although televised in limited amount when compared to Non-BRAY packages of Farmer Alfalfa (Gray), Out of the Inkwell, so on and so forth, it did mean that part of a new generation was given access to these cartoons.
You ask, what cartoons were these? Well, have a look! (Special thanks to Mark Kausler for sharing this with me a few years back.)

(Note: Both Dinky Doodle and Pete the Pup shorts were packaged as "Dinkey Doodle")

Amazing, eh? What is more interesting is that these cartoons were still available directly from Bray up until the early 70s. Unfortunately, by then some of the TV negatives had already decomposed and some titles were unavailable. Even so, with so many available rather recently, it is a shocker that most of those titles remain as good as lost...but if I have anything to do with it, let's hope that changes soon.
Here is an example of what the title art looked like:

(Special Thanks to Ray Pointer. To read about Ray's exposure to silent animation in his childhood, please read FINDING KO-KO.)
For anyone interested, so far I have four TV versions of these cartoons on my DVDs. BOBBY BUMPS' GOATMOBILE (1916) and BOBBY BUMPS' HYPNOTIC EYE (1919) are on my Bobby Bumps DVD while PERPETUAL MOTION (70s dupe) and CIRCUS (with original narration!) are on my Out of the Inkwell DVDs. Click the Tom's Vintage Film banner on top to find the DVD list.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Back soon!

Dearest bloggers and surfers,
Let me formally excuse myself for being so silent has been a somewhat busy Summer o'er here. Not to mention, my freshman college classes are starting later this month.
I'll be back soon with more rare and forgotten animation stuff ;-)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Off Topic: Queens Crap

As some of you may know, I'm a native of Queens, New York. While technically located on Long Island, Queens is within the limits of the City of New York (rather than the State).
The past few years have been painful as I watch my neighborhood deteriorate into a developer's paradise. Founded in the mid-1600s, this area is known as the birthplace of absolute religious freedom in America. It should have been one of the first areas in the city designated as a historical district, but no such luck. At this point, is there much left to designate? I'm an optimist, so yes...though the Manhattaners hardly take much interest in Queens.
Anywhoo, there is a fantastic blog dedicated to exposing the crimes committed on historic Queens soil, and it is Queens Crap.
Though it is a mostly anonymous blog where anyone can contribute, HERE is a link to my first contribution. Oh, the pain.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Half-Price Sale! Don't Miss Out

Dearest Bloggers,
It's that time again! My Silent Cartoon DVDs are now half-off until August 1st.
If you have not already bought, this is a perfect time to obtain some fun and obscure cartoons like Farmer Alfalfa, Felix the Cat, Out of the Inkwell, and many many others.
Each DVD is just $10 each. At regular price, I offer a discount if you buy DVDs in sets organized by studio. This sale apples to individual DVDs only, and no sets can be ordered at half price.
Please Remember: The sales of DVDs is the ONLY way I can support and maintain my collection. The less sales made, the less material I can find and bring forth to the precious few animation enthusiasts. Be a pal and help out.
Sale valid only for orders placed on July 15th through July 31st.
To view the selection and to place an order, please click the "Tom's Vintage Film" banner above to go to my sales site.
Fellow Bloggers: If any of you would like to spread the word on your blogs, I will offer a 15% commission on referral sales. Contact me for the specifics.
Thanks folks!!

P.S. Here is a list of the DVDs:
A couple people asked me if I could do this, so here is a list of the DVDs for everyone's convenience.

TS01: Disney's Laugh-O-Grams
Walt Disney's Pioneering Series from 1922-1923
1. Newman's Laugh-o-Gram
2. Four Musicians of Bremen
3. Cinderella
4. Little Red Riding Hood
5. Puss In Boots
6. Bonus: Clara Cleans Her Teeth!

TS02: Disney's Alice Comedies (Volume 1)
Rare cartoons from 1923-1924
1. Alice's Wonderland (Pilot from 1923)
2. Alice's Day at Sea
3. Alice's Spooky Adventure
4. Alice's Wild West Show
5. Alice's Fishy Story
6. Alice and the Dog Catcher
7. Alice the Peacemaker
8. Alice Gets in Dutch
9. Alice the Piper
10. Alice and The Three Bears (no main title)

TS07: Disney's Alice Comedies (Volume 2)
More classic Alice Comedies from 1924-1925
1. Alice In Africa
2. Alice Cans the Cannibals
3. Alice the Toreador
4. Alice Gets Stung
5. Alice Solves the Puzzle
6. Alice's Egg Plant
7. Alice Loses Out
8. Alice Gets Stage Struck
9. Alice Wins the Derby
10. Alice Picks the Champ

TS08: Disney's Alice Comedies (Volume 3)
Alice's Tin Pony
Alice's Orphan
Alice Rattled by Rats
Alice's Balloon Race
Alice's Mysterious Mystery
Alice the Whaler
Alice's Circus Daze
Alice the Jail Bird
Alice on the Farm

TS03: Disney's Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Hard-To-Find classics from 1927-1928
Trolley Troubles
Oh Teacher
Great Guns
Mechanical Cow
Ocean Hop
Rival Romeos
Bright Lights (decayed)
Oh What a Knight
Fox Chase
Yanky Clipper (Lantz)

TS05: Farmer Alfalfa Volume 1
Everyone's favorite "Farmer Gray" in silent cartoons!
Two of a Trade (1922)
Smart Salesman (1923)
In Dutch (1925)
Why Argue (1926)
Windjammers (1926)
Through Thick and Thin (1926)
Where Friendship Ceases (1926)
Static (1928)
Wooden Money (1929)
Snapping the Whip (1929)

TS06: Farmer Alfalfa Volume 2
Wayward Pup (1917)
Donkey Tricks (1922)
Bad Bandit (1923) Spanish Titles
She's In Again (1924)
Picnic (1925)
Over the Plate (1925)
Watered Stock (1926)
Small Town Sheriff (1927)
Water Cure (1929)
In the Bag (1929)

TS20: Farmer Alfalfa Volume 3
Farmer Alfalfa's Revenge (1916)
Custard Pies (1929)
Summer Time (1929)
Tuning In (1929)
Barnyard Melody (1929)
Ship Ahoy! (1930)
Iron Man (1930)
Noah's Outing (1932)
Holland Days (1934)
Why Mules Leave Home (1934)

TS19: Aesop's Fables Volume 1


Amateur Night on the Ark (1923)
Wild West (1924)
Sharpshooter (1924)
China Doll (1926)
Knight Out (1926)
Sunny Italy (1926)
Short Vacation (1927)
Stars of the Circus (1927)


TS09: Bray Rarities
A sampling of forgotten cartoons from the first studio to mass-produce
animated cartoons!
The Artist's Dream (1913)
Col. Heeza Liar At The Bat (1916)
Police Dog On the Wire (1916)
Farmer Alfalfa's Revenge (1916)
Turn to the Right Leg (1920) mediocre print
Jungle Belles (1927) with Walter Lantz appearing

TS12: Bobby Bumps
Bobby Bumps On His Goatmobile (1916)
Bobby Bumps Gets a Substitute (1916)
Bobby Bumps Starts a Lodge (1916)
Bobby Bumps Before And After (1918)
Bobby Bumps Puts a Beanery On The Bum (1918)
Bobby Bumps' Hypnotic Eye (1919)

TS14: Krazy Kat Volume 1
Goes A-Wooing (1916)
Bugologist (1916)
At the Circus (1916)
Family Affair (1920)
Hinges on the Barroom Door (1920)
Great Cheese Robbery (1920)


TS10: Out Of The Inkwell Volume 1
Circus (1919)
Perpetual Motion (1919)
Modeling (1921)
Bubbles (1922)
Challenge (1922)
Reunion (1922)
Payday (1922)
Puzzle (1923)
Bedtime (1923)
Contest (1923)

TS11: Out Of The Inkwell Volume 2
Fortune Teller (1923)
Shadows (1923)
Vaudeville (1924)
Vacation (1924)
Cure (1924)
Sparring Partner (1924)
Koko in 1999 (1924)
Cartoon Factory (1925)
Koko In Toyland (1925)
Storm (1925)

TS13: Koko Song Cartunes
Sound Cartoons Made Before Disney's "Steamboat Willie"!
In the Good Old Summertime (1924)
My Old Kentucky Home (1926)
Margie (1926)
Tramp Tramp Tramp (1926)
Tramp Tramp Tramp (1926-Alternate Version)
Sweet Adeline (1926)

TS15: Felix the Cat Volume 1
Feline Follies

Felix in the Swim

Felix in the Bone Age

Felix Out of Luck

Felix Finds Out


One Good Turn

April Maze

Tee Time

TS16: Felix the Cat Volume 2


Felix Strikes it Rich

Felix Turns the Tide

Felix Hyps the Hippo

Felix Goes West

Felix Gets the Can

Felix in Eats Are West


Woos Whoopee

Sculls and Skulls

TS17: Felix the Cat Volume 3


Felix Tries for Treasure

Felix in Hollywood

Felix Doubles for Darwin

Felix All Puzzled

Felix Monkeys With Magic

Felix Dopes it Out

Felix in Two-Lip Time


Hootchy Kootchy

TS18: Felix the Cat Volume 4


Felix Busts a Bubble (1926)

Flim Flam Films (1927)

Felix Hits the Deck (1927)

Outdoor Indore (1928)

Comicalamities (1928)

Arabiantics (1928)

Pollytics (1928)

Oceantics (1930)

TS04: Rare Silent Cartoons Volume 1
Classics availabe nowhere else!
Indoor Sports (1920)
Kat in Chinatown (1920?)
Local Talent (1927)
Red Hot Rails (1927)
Tale of a Kangaroo (1917)
Man in the Moon (1910?)
Left Behind (1925)
Goldilocks and The Three Bears (1929)
The Witch's Cat (1929)
In the Land of Whiz (1929)

TS21: Bonzo Cartoons
Nearly forgotten rare cartoons by Studdy. (No music)
Bonzo (1924)
Tally-Ho! Bonzo (1925)
Aladdin Bonzo (1925) Exclusively from the Tom Stathes Collection.
Sandy McBonzo (1925) Exclusively from the Tom Stathes Collection.
Bonzo the Traveller (1925)
Polar Bonzo (1925- Together with Traveller)
Bonzo In the Army (1925) a.k.a. "Tanked"
Dog Gone (1925?)
Zoo-Ology (1925?) Edited version of Dog Gone.

TS22: Stop Motion Madness Vol. 1
Enchanted Drawing (1900)
Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906)
Morpheus Mike (O'Brien, 1915)
Dinosaur and the Missing Link (O'Brien, 1915)
Swat the Fly (Hopkins, 1916)
R.F.D. 10,000 B.C. (O'Brien, 1916)
Adam Raises Cain (Sarg, 1920)
First Circus (Sarg, 1921)

*Sound Cartoons*

Van Beuren
TS23: Aesop's Sound Fables Vol. 1
Wildly and wacky surreal cartoons from the Van Beuren Studios.
Presto Chango
Skating Hounds
Jail Breakers
Night Club
Dixie Days
Western Whoopee
Snow Time
Old Hockum Bucket
Fisherman's Luck
Play Ball
Wild Goose Chase
Bring 'Em Back Half-Shot
Venice Vamp
Bugs & Books
Runaway Blackie.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Updates, etc....

It seems we may have identified the cartoon in the below post. GeneS from the Animation Show Forums tells me that this may very well be Ivanov-Vano's 1955 film "V nektorom carstve" based on the Russian tale of The Magic Pike. Thanks, GeneS!

In other news, last night I discovered that a cartoon I've been wanting to see exists in an archive. I'm going to try my best to obtain a copy; after all, the film (like so many of the silent cartoons I still do not have) is Grandfather-Claused (copyrighted and/or publicized before 1923) and is no longer protected by copyright. More details on this later--hopefully I can dig up some information.

I'm hoping to complete the new .COM I posted about awhile back. The new DVD site will be very aesthetically attractive and visually honoring of our favorite silent-era cartoon characters. I'm also hoping to coincide the design of new and improved DVD cover sleeves to appear once the new site is finished.

Without a transfer machine, there is not much more material I can make available on DVD. Hopefully this will change soon.

Well, that's enough for today's random ranting & raving, so stay tuned for more informative posts on rare and obscure early animation.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Help me identify...

Here's something that came with a recent purchase. An ASTRA TV 16mm print retitled THE MAGIC FISH. Naturally, I thought this would be the 1934 TerryToon but it is not.
I really think this is a European cartoon. In some scenes it appears the characters are speaking, but Astra replaced the soundtrack with generic music (probably to mask a foreign-language track).
Maybe one of you faithful bloggers can help me identify this cartoon.

Here is an introduction title, probably added for this version or a previous US reissue...(sorry for the bad scan)

It reads: "In a certain Kingdom, a poor peasant named Emylia caught a pike. The kind Emylia let the pike go free and the fish promised if he would but say "By the pike's will, by my desire"--- Emylia's every wish would be granted."
The Fish:

Our Hero:

Basically, this fisher boy catches a pike and certain things around the boy (his water buckets, his axe) become magical and perform tasks on their own. I forget if the King is jealous or angry for other reasons, but the King and his guards chase the boy into his cabin. Of course there is a happy ending.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Blackhawk...EARLY Precursor!

In my searches I have turned up pretty random things...and many times, these things were unexpected. For instance, last year I bought a "Kitty Kat" home movie print entitled THE FIGHTING FLEES. I was mildly familiar with this title as I once lost out on winning a print previously to a collector-peer of mine (confounded eBay!).

For those of you who are curious, this particular excerpt was taken from FELIX FULL O' FIGHT (1925).

What I did not expect was for the film to come in an "Eastin Feature Films" box. As it turns out, this box may very well be from the earliest days of the well-known Blackhawk film corporation when it first started operating in 1927.

I was almost certain that this specific line of Kitty Kat clips originated from Novelty Film Co., but maybe Eastin did have a hand in the Kat fiasco. Who knows? We need to turn up some catalog proof.

The reel itself was contained in a generic orange box which was within the Eastin box, so I cannot confirm its origin. The interior box is stamped DEC 24 1934 (in may not be visible in the scan) so this may very well have been a Christmas gift for some lucky kid that year.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Andy Gump: More Than a Comic Strip

Digging into the depths of obscurity, we find nearly intangible traces of Andy Gump. A well-renowned strip character for years, the series was also an animated cartoon from 1920-1921. Released by Celebrated Players, the series was produced and animated by Wallace Carlson, already a seasoned veteran of The Bray Studios at that point. The cartoons were also animated by David Hand, later known for his Animaland cartoons.
Wait, you've never seen a Gumps cartoon? A home movie clip from a joy ride-related cartoon was included on the video companion to Donald Crafton's Before Mickey, and it seems that one clip has been the only circulating example since the series was last shown in theaters. Out of 55 cartoons produced, that is an atrocious yet common rap sheet for some silent cartoon series.
In the tradition of yours truly, I shall now treat you to some very rare frames from two other Gumps cartoons.

from Andy's Mother-in-Law Pays Him a Visit (1920)

from Andy's Cow (1921)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Grotesque-eries of a Terry Fan

Every now and again, I feel like drawing a little something. Inspired by a Paul Terry Aesop's Fable cartoon in my collection which I recently screened, I decided to draw what you see below.

Remember, it's inspired by the cartoon...I'm afraid the original is not as surreal (darn!) but in a way it is equally violent. I would call this a hybrid of a movie theater poster and glass slide, both or either of which would be generic or specific to a film and would have a blank area for the date of exhibition to be written.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Musings of the So-Called Animation Experts

There comes a time when great minds collide and tackle some of the world's biggest mysteries. Or attempt to, at least. You will now have a rare opportunity to have an insider view of one of these conversations, between myself and noted animation scholar Mike Matei. The topic at hand? (immediate pun to the right not intended) Gloves on cartoon characters.
Intellectual pondering it may be...or perhaps eccentric balderdash, that is for the discerning reader to decide.
Warning: Whilst dealing with the discussed topics at hand, we have decided to honor the beloved Will Hayes in censoring this communication for language and content.
MM (11:24:05 PM): well?
TS (2:24:29 PM): d'oh?
MM (11:25:02 PM): why does mickey mouse wear gloves? !
TS (2:25:58 PM): hmm
MM (11:26:04 PM): answer me mother superior
TS (2:26:25 PM): well, I have a complex theory if you want to hear
MM (11:26:32 PM): YES
TS (2:26:36 PM): okay
TS (2:27:54 PM): Well, mice are not humans, so they do impulsive things without thinking about it. So therefore, he must relieve himself and/or minnie a lot, so being born in his generation that's not cool. Wearing gloves, well, probably made him a little less dirty of a mouse.
TS (2:28:37 PM): impulsivity is also the reason he ATE minnie's head in my video cover.
TS (2:28:41 PM): see, it all makes sense
MM (11:28:59 PM): dude
MM (11:29:10 PM): this is why i love talking to you
MM (11:29:29 PM): because you come up with better answers then the real answer
TS (2:29:41 PM): you can bet on that
MM (11:30:57 PM): do you know the real answer?
TS (2:31:48 PM): I think that's a fact best kept secret from the public
MM (11:31:57 PM): ha
MM (11:32:04 PM): I do know the answer
MM (11:32:13 PM): and you will like it
TS (2:32:16 PM): do tell
MM (11:32:21 PM): and its not a joke
MM (11:32:25 PM): this is fact
TS (2:32:31 PM): spit it out
MM (11:32:42 PM): you know felix the cat?
TS (2:32:48 PM): heard of him
MM (11:32:59 PM): what color is he
TS (2:33:11 PM): er, african american
MM (11:33:18 PM): right
TS (2:33:20 PM): ok
MM (11:33:23 PM): he's black
TS (2:33:34 PM): go on
MM (11:33:56 PM): what happens when felix puts his hands in front of his body
MM (11:33:59 PM): answer
MM (11:34:04 PM): they become lost
MM (11:34:15 PM): because his hands are black
MM (11:34:22 PM): and his body is black
TS (2:34:31 PM): Makes sense...and looks better than drawing white outlines
MM (11:34:42 PM): and there tom
MM (11:34:47 PM): is your answer
MM (11:35:00 PM): that is your lesson for tonight!
TS (2:35:13 PM): the societally correct answer, that is. Old theories die hard (-:<
MM (11:35:30 PM): what does that mean
MM (11:35:41 PM): i want you to explain that statement
TS (2:35:46 PM): it's sophisticated balderdash
MM (11:35:53 PM): NO
MM (11:35:58 PM): you said it
MM (11:36:05 PM): now you explain it
MM (11:36:21 PM): before i end up annoying you about it
TS (2:36:25 PM): Well, think of it this way
TS (2:36:55 PM): All the big animation brass sit in a conference room together, cigarette smoke like a nuclear mushroom cloud...1924.
MM (11:37:06 PM): right
MM (11:37:09 PM): ....
MM (11:37:15 PM): and
TS (2:37:33 PM): Now, perhaps they foresee something like the Hayes code coming into effect, who knows when
TS (2:38:00 PM): the moral faction censoring films, that is
MM (11:38:19 PM): okay..
MM (11:38:25 PM): semi following you
TS (2:40:05 PM): What's to say these experts don't agree on something that might appease these heaven-goers...knowing the Catholic church for instance prohibits self-gratification, something animals do quite frequently, it may make sense to voluntarily censor the hands of animals. Just a theory they might not teach you in film school.
TS (2:41:08 PM): or it could pure balderdash. That is for the discerning enthusiast to decide.
MM (11:41:31 PM): did you come up with this idea?
TS (2:41:53 PM): Walt Disney: "Hey! We'll tell the animators we're putting gloves on the characters because it makes sense in animation terms...blah blah blah"
TS (2:42:00 PM): (I may have )
MM (11:42:38 PM): here is my question
MM (11:44:26 PM): how does putting gloves on the hands of animals censor anything? The character is justs walking down the street for example. Why does he need gloves?
TS (2:44:58 PM): It's like how people used to think a woman with uncovered legs was "dirty".
MM (11:45:10 PM): ahahaa
MM (11:45:24 PM): jesus savior christ
MM (11:45:41 PM): could you do me a HUGE favor
TS (2:46:08 PM): what might that be
MM (11:47:03 PM): PLEASE make a blog on everything we said here. it's just too funny.
And the rest, fellow bloggers, is animation history. Or is it?

Friday, June 1, 2007

TAD's Cat playing INDOOR SPORTS (1920)

Thomas A. Dorgan, a.k.a. TAD, was a San Francisco native who would be described by Jack Dempsey as "the greatest authority on boxing" in the early 20th century. What does a boxing authority have to do with cartoons? Well, TAD took up drawing for therapy after losing some fingers in a factory machine accident. This led to an eclectic cartooning career as the top sports artist for The New York Journal. In-between all this athletic hoopla, Dorgan was well-known for his Indoor Sports series and more importantly a feline character of his appropriately named TAD's Cat.

Like many cartoonists of the time, Dorgan had a run-in with the big screen. According to Denis Gifford's American Animated Films: The Silent Era, 1897-1924, Dorgan's work was featured in 4 animated films for the International Film Service from 1918-1920. The earlier 1918 films were directed by Bill Nolan and Walter Lantz(presumably 18 years old at the time).
This post features INDOOR SPORTS by TAD, animated by Paul D. Robinson and released February 21st, 1920 in International News, a weekly newsreel.
This cartoon is a satire on the typical married man, his wife's nagging and his loathsomeness for the mother-in-law.

Our man of interest has lost his collar button, seemingly something he does quite often.

Wait, I thought women were seen as foolish with money!

Uh-oh...MUST he go to the mother-in-law's?

A final gag...the eruptive nature of marriage.


Now, you may be scratching your head in enjoyment (or was it disbelief) and asking yourself, "Where can I find this forgotten masterpiece?" At my sales site, of course!
Nota bena: It shall move to a visually appealing .com soon...promise!
Just look for Rare Silent Cartoons Vol. 1 on the DVD page.

GAC's Mega-Fun UGLY PD Cover Contest...The Results Are In!

This year marked the 5th anniversary of GAC's UGLY PD COVER CONTEST, a fun event in which participants create their own ugly covers for mock Public Domain video and DVD collections.
Don't just sit there, go look at all the lovable entries!
Clicketh HERE

What a hoot. And what's best is I really enjoyed being one of this year's judges for the contest. Who better than me to judge PD shlock? :-D

Now for some fabulous omissions from the contest...namely, some covers created this year by yours truly.

Contest images courtesy GAC's Jon Cooke

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

All Fabled-Out

Loved by some, loathed by others...that is, the seemingly endless menagerie of cartoons from the studios of Paul Terry. The "Woolworths" of the business as he himself claimed, these cartoons spanning from 1920s onward are typically dubbed cheap, unappealing, and tasteless by 'historians'. What is my opinion? All along, it may be obvious...though I ask my fellow bloggers to form their own neutral, unbiased opinion - based not only on artistry but also by other key elements: entertainment value, content, longevity, profitability, among other things. After all, here was a man who was told his product was worthless in 1915. Despite this, the man successfully animated, directed, and produced cartoons well over 50 years after the fact. This in itself becomes an important factor when judging the Terry cartoons.

A brief history, if you may. Paul Terry completes his very first cartoon, "LITTLE HERMAN", in 1915. A distributor tells him that he would have paid more for the raw film stock before Paul drew his cartoon images on it. In 1916, Terry is discovered by the Bray Studios and completes 12 Farmer Al Falfa cartoons; the beginning of a legacy. 1917 sees further Farmer Al Falfa releases with Conquest Pictures, an Edison Company. After the first World War, Terry partners with Amadee Van Beuren to form Aesop's Film Fables in 1921. Over the course of 9 years, Terry would produce some 420 Aesop's Fables cartoons, some starring the Farmer and all starring millions of countless animals. Though brain fog persists, I want to say that Terry churned out these cartoons every amazing feat for a single series. This accomplishment and its follow-up in decades to come is what we will focus on in this post.

Coinciding with what this blog usually focuses on, up for discussion is the reissuing of these Fable cartoons. Concurrently, it seemed, various Fables were available in America and overseas on 9.5mm offered by Pathe (the films' distributor) for home use. Almost immediately during the 1920s, Kodascope Libraries offered a dozen or so Fables cartoon as part of their 16mm rental libraries. As some of you may or may not know, Kodascope was the Blockbuster Video of the 1920s; a major library where individuals could rent (and possibly buy?) films for home exhibition. As the film cans stated, "Rental Charged for Each Day Held Whether Used Or Not". Kodascope Libraries lasted into the 1940s and so did this small handful of Fables. In-between that period, Pathe also offered many Fables in abbreviated and complete 16mm prints as part of their Pathegrams Home Movie line. Here and there, some Fables were also butchered by the low-end home movie companies like Irwin Safety Film.

The big "Hurrah" for Fables in the 1940s would be their surfacing under two new series titles. Snappy Cartoons, a Sterling Films release, were Fables with new main titles and intertitles with added music offered on 16mm, as well as standard 8mm. Some speculate that the Fabletoons series was a theatrical reissue although it has been unconfirmed. Both types of prints would wind up on television in subsequent years.

The unavoidable new medium, television, would emerge soon thereafter. Since old silent and early sound film was viewed as saleable product for filling in time slots in early broadcasting, the Fables would also see much exposure on television in the early 1950s. Due to the sheer number of pre-existing Fables, as you can imagine, the distribution rights would be split among a handful of different TV distributors. Sterling Television used the Snappy Cartoons prints as previously mentioned. There was also Commonwealth (who also handled many Van Beuren cartoons at this point) as well as Guaranteed Productions and Stuart Productions (these two, probably one and the same, also carried Out of the Inkwell shorts.) Last but not least, there would be the occasional bootleg print of a Fable turning up.

In the 1960s, color television was becoming the standard and old black and white content was deemed useless. In this period we see a heightened availability of 8mm Carnival Films prints of Fables. Although these have cheerful and collectible packaging, they are fearlessly low-quality dupes of older Snappy Cartoons 8mm prints and often suffer great quality loss. That, my friends, is the end of the Fables until casual VHS and DVD collections came along (cough, cough). Hope you enjoyed the visuals as well.