THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
June 15, 2017 posted by Steve Stanchfield

New Stop-Motion Marvels and “Cheers For Chubby”

When I have time off from the school in the summer, I always look forward to spending some time doing various Thunderbean projects as well as getting a little rest time. So far, the rest ain’t happening, but there’s a lot of activity around here with all the Thunderbean stuff.

The Flip the Frog Kickstarter isn’t kicking as much as we had hoped, but there’s still some time! If you can spread the word, we’d appreciate it greatly!


I caught up on my Jerry Fairbanks Productions never-seen animation list this week with Cheers for Chubby – a pretty strange short that I had never seen before yesterday. It’s not a great transfer but watchable, here on youtube. Animation is credited to Manny Gould and Art Scott (as ‘Animation Directed by’) With Lou Lilly getting credit for ‘Animation Supervision’.


On other notes, I’ve been revisiting the Stop Motion Marvels set from 2010. In these seven years since that first set, quite a few more shorts have surfaced in the ‘Kinex’ films series and better prints on others things as well. Sadly, we mastered everything for that set is SD at the time, so a retransfer is required for pretty much everything again. Happily, the collectors that let me borrow things the first time around have been generous in lending these films again, so we’ve started over in earnest.

I have to admit that one of the reasons I wanted to do a stop motion set in the first place was to gather the oddest stop motion shorts in one place – somehow stop motion as a technique attracts strange ideas in design and execution – but innovation comes out of those flights of fancy.

Howard Moss is the creator of Mugzee, and seems to have started animating in 1916 on the ‘Motoy’ short films. Mugsy seems to have first appeared in 1917. Here’s a really neat example of an early motoy short – Mary and Gretel

The later stop motion Puppet films starring “Mugzee” directed by Howard Moss with Charles Bennes animating are still some of the oddest stop motion films I’ve seen, although always interesting, especially for their ambition. There are difficult shots attempted in both of these later films that, given more development, could possibly have been to a high technical level. They never manage to reach the level of animation or technical camera work that the Puppetoons reached, but you can see them trying to go in a better technical direction from this 1931 short to the 1935 one.

A while back I did a post on Buzz Saws and Dynamite. This short dates from the mid-30s. Sadly, the only print I know about is now too badly deteriorated to transfer further, but we did get an ok scan a few years back:

Earlier, they produced at least two shorts for the Vitaphone ‘Variety’ series. At least one of those, Hearts and Flowers survives. I just scanned a beautiful 16mm print of this short, preserved by Mark Kausler from a nitrate that has long since deteriorated. It’s Vitaphone short 1136, and is missing its soundtrack, so if anyone out there has the disc recording for this, I’ll be your best friend and give you as many Mugzee cartoons as I can find – or Tobys, or you name it!

The earliest example I’ve seen of this character is in a film is called ‘Cracked Ice’- and seemed to be most available in 16mm prints from Sterling Films titled ‘Toyland Ice Capades- the adventures of Mugzee’. There were many more made, although the survival rate is questionable currently.

I think Dolly Daisy is the most interesting of these shorts in personality animation and timing if not quite as technically ambitious as “Buzz”. Although the models don’t allow the full looseness of movement that would allow the animator to greatly improve the animation quality, you can see that the animator (likely Charles Bennes throughout) was trying hard to get good poses and funny action. I especially like the background style in this short- unique for a stop motion short, looking more like stage play sets than animated props.They look especially good projected, but since that’s hard to do all around the world in a day, here’s the new HD transfer of the short that will eventually be on the stop motion Blu-ray set. It’s silent here, but hopefully the track will show up – maybe you have it in that pile of Vitaphone discs sitting under your film workbench! The King of Kongo is sitting there, so maybe Hearts and Flowers is there as well. Heck, maybe the other Buster Bear short is too- more on that soon. Give a thanks to Mark for this film in your comments, and have a good week everyone!

6 Comments

  • I check the Kickstarter page every day. I shared it on Facebook and will do it again. I hope the Kickstarter makes it! I really want to see this new Flip short!

  • Hey Steve, what are you going to do if the Kickstarter doesn’t make it?

  • Oh man, I sure hope that the kick-starter campaign works wonders for you. This is the kind of project that I’d love to throw money at, and we’ve all seen the snark aimed at kick-starter campaigns overall. Iv’e said it on Facebook and I’ll repeat it here, this is a project that deserves funding. This is no joke. If anyone can do such a job, Steve Stanchfield can get it done, and I very much look forward to his FLIP TEH FROG set when it is completed. I only wish that the big money video companies that own the fading source material on all cartoons would look to Steve to do the job that they claim is impossible! After checking out his WILLIE WHOPPER set and the sampler disk of POPEYE and BETTY BOOP cartoons, I can only shout out praise for what he’s accomplished on his own. Steve, I wish you well on the STOP MOTION MARVELS reboot, and I only wish I could appreciate the marvels that you’ve given us in this article to check out. I hope that the next eight days prove fruitful for you, although I know that just wishing and hoping won’t do the job.

  • Mugzee bears a resemblance to The Kid who would eventually morph into Alfred E. Neuman in Mad Magazine except he seems to have the one tooth that Alfred is missing!.

    • I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought of Alfred E. after seeing that screenshot of Mugzee!

      “Mary and Gretel” was included on one of the Smithsonian’s tapes of early animation, which is where I saw it.

  • The water scenes and especially the buzz saw scenes are interesting because of the motion blur. Some buzz saw shots look to have perhaps been filmed in real time but some stop motion was shot while the drive belt and saw were actually running. The whole of the short may not have been great but parts are fascinating.
    Also, I played around with YouTube playback speed where X 1.5 improved the timing of some gags tremendously.

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