WHAT ABOUT THAD?
March 23, 2015 posted by

Paramount Sales News #43: “Many Tanks”

May-June 1942

In May 1942, behind the scenes in Miami, the animators and personnel at Fleischer plant were told that Seymour Kneitel, Isadore Sparber, Sam Buchwald and Dan Gordon now would be running day-to-day production and that the studio would now be renamed Famous Studios.

On screen, Max and Dave still receive credit for the cartoons, and in the Paramount Sales News (despite the ongoing and expensive Superman series) Popeye continues to front the studio as its sole cartoon superstar.

This week’s batch of promotional print cartoons also includes something special: signed artwork! June 10’s edition is signed by cartoonist/storyman/comic writer Larz Bourne. May 6 and 13 and June 17 are also clearly his cartoony work. The profile of FDR is particularly impressive (in a topical gag referring to FDR having christened the secretly-located presidential retreat – today known as Camp David – a “Shangra-la”).

We’ll have a few more of Bourne’s in weeks to come, along with some by animator Tom Golden (unsigned). It appears once the changeover to Famous happened, these cartoons were just thrown to whoever was available, as opposed to an “assigned” artist as during at Fleischer regime.

(click to enlarge)

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ABOVE: Many Tanks released May 15th, 1942

8 Comments

  • Was it just a few years ago that it was a mystery to most animation scholars exactly when, why, and how the Fleischer Studios turned into Famous Studios and moved from Miami back to New York? Wow; how animation historiography has advanced!

  • While Dave Fleischer still had to be credited contractually, his name does noticeably shrink in the credits of the final Popeye cartoons done under Max’s name, as if Dave’s not even at the studio anymore.

    • David made no appearance at the studio after December 1941. Max was gone by the beginning of Jan. ’42.

  • Superman must have really fallen in popularity to get short shrift like this. Or Paramount lost interest. This might explain the drive the diversify a little later at Famous

    • I don’t think they were giving SUPERMAN the short shrift per se. At this point, well into the first season of shorts, they backed the SUPERMAN films with more promotion than THE RAVEN or possibly MR. BUG.

      POPEYE was Paramount’s bread and butter series, their top cartoon star, probably the most popular shorts they had going and they had just committed to a long term deal with King Features. SUPERMAN was contractually two seasons and out.

      Paramount’s focus on shorts in the 40s is fascinating – as they began showing more interest George Pal’s Puppetoons and Speaking of Animals. Famous had to keep up with Little Lulu and the catch-all Noveltoons. Stay tuned to Thad’s post in the next few weeks to explore more of this story!

  • Note: the “Shangri-La” reference was actually FDR’s puckish answer to a reporter’s question as to where the airmen of the April, 1942 “Doolitte Raid” on Tokyo came from. (The actual answer, of course, was from an aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet — later in the war, there really WAS a carrier named “Shangri-La”.) FDR had in mind the fictional, fantastic location from the novel “Lost Horizon.” It was only after this incident that what is now Camp David was named Shangri-La; it was inaugurated in July, 1942 (after this cartoon was drawn).

    • Thank you for that clarification, Eric. I did not know that.

      Let it also be noted that I, as editor, I added the “Shangri-la” explanation to Thad’s post above. Thad’s record for historical accuracy is still unblemished.

  • I hadn’t seen this cartoon in many, many years, and had forgotten how funny it was, not to mention the fast-placed animation and the clever script, all of which had to have been well planned out to synchronize right to the beat with Sammy Timberg’s score. No one could do atmospheric music for cartoons better than Timberg, and this entry proves it: a tank doing the Conga??

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