June 20, 2021 posted by Tommy Stathes

16mm Cartoon Carnival Returns to NYC

This post comes to you with a great deal of good news, and signs of better things to come in the weeks and months ahead! Here in New York City, we’re now in a safe enough scenario to finally offer a plethora of new live entertainment events, happening in real brick-and-mortar establishments—if you can believe it. Those of us who plan or host events, or enjoy attending them, couldn’t be more delighted to get back into the swing of things. One particular form of entertainment that will benefit: 16mm cartoon screenings, expressly through the Cartoon Carnival series.

In the “Cartoons-On-Film” Archive

The study of animation history (or cartoon research, as we casually and affectionately call it here), has enjoyed an occasionally advantageous and beneficial positioning in our consciousness over the past year. With animation being an inherently surrealist medium, and certainly an escapist form of entertainment for most, it should come as no surprise that animation has provided many of us with a bit of recurring enjoyment during otherwise trying times. These dynamic characteristics and the human impact factor of animated cartoons are a large part of what makes me really enjoy studying, archiving, teaching about, and publicly showing animated shorts.

The past year has taught those of us working in this field a lot. We now know full well that we have ways of teaching classes online, and we also have ways of putting on events and holding screenings online, as well. Some of this was old news, and to many of us, it was learned out of necessity in order to keep going, and we complied in order to stay financially solvent. These online methods have plenty of good merits, and while they’re valuable as an ancillary form of entertainment and hopefully income, it all leaves something to be desired. Humans are mostly social beings, and many of us do want to be in public spaces with other people, at least occasionally. For the Cartoon Research crowd, that usually means sitting in darkened rooms watching films on nice, sunny days—but I digress.

For an example of what I mean, have a look at this video of a post-screening Q&A with J.J. Sedelmaier and myself at a summertime Animation Block Party screening of Pre-Code Cartoons at BAMcinematek in 2015. Skip ahead to 4:02, and you’ll see audience reactions while we ran the infamous 1920s short, Buried Treasure. You can only have this much fun among an in-person audience of many peers!

While I was initially able to readapt my 16mm Cartoon Carnival series into a livestream event for some time last year, and still offer Video On Demand recordings of some of those streams, the online Carnival ultimately proved unsustainable for me as the pandemic wore on. For now, anyway. I go into more detail about that experience and some related struggles in a link further down in this post, and those of you who enjoyed the streams or later recordings of them should still hold out hope for more to come, when I’m able to provide. On a lighter note, however, it’s time to enjoy the ‘reel deal’ again!

One of our old favorite venues, The City Reliquary in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, will be hosting Cartoon Carnival 95: Come On Out this coming Sunday, June 27th, 2021. This fun, open-air and safe backyard event will open to the public 7pm. Before going any further, enjoy a teaser trailer for the event—lovingly prepared by our own David Gerstein:

We’ve got a Facebook event page setup here, where updates are shared and comments can be made. We’re also highly recommending advance tickets, since space is limited. Those can be purchased here. A little bird tells me nearly half of our tickets are already sold as of this writing—so if you’d like to attend, secure your spots now!

I’ll let our event promo copy do more speaking about the specifics for that evening:

Tommy at The City Reliquary

For program #95, our nearly two hours of animated fun will shine the spotlight on two things that many of us have sorely missed over the past year: going places, and being out on the town with friends and crowds. This selection of shorts features a wide array of Cartoon Carnival favorites…from silent era superstars like Bobby Bumps, Farmer Alfalfa, Koko the Clown, and Felix; to the Van Beuren Studios’ Tom & Jerry (not the cat and mouse!) and Molly Moo Cow; then onward with Krazy Kat, Buddy, Egghead, and even Gumby — plus a few other oddities and surprises mixed in, as always. In acknowledgement of Pride Month, we’re also selecting a couple of 1930s shorts with brief cameos from queer-coded characters, whom we lovingly reclaim as part of our LGBTQIA+ inclusive Cartoon Carnival family.

Be sure to bring all your family and friends out for this much-anticipated opportunity to see these classic and now-rare cartoons the way they were meant to be seen—projected on ‘reel’ film, and enjoyed with a physical audience!

The City Reliquary will have bar refreshments and popcorn available, and you may also BYO food. Please support the venue for all drinks consumed. Cash only.

7pm Happy Hour—enjoy refreshments with friends at the backyard bar!
Tag Sale—support the Cartoon Carnival by rummaging through vintage goodies and fun cartoon-related merch from the Stathes Collection, including comics, DVDs, vintage 16mm film boxes, Cartoon Roots Blu-rays, collectible enamel cartoon character pins, and other interesting knick knacks!
8pm Showtime—Seating begins. Opening remarks approx. 8:15pm and cartoons soon after!

The entire event will take place in a spacious backyard, and people only have to pass through the museum to get there. We are capping attendance to provide ample space for social distancing. A limited number of (masked) people will be permitted indoors for restrooms, or to browse the museum collections.

Guests are asked to wear masks, and may remove masks outdoors when they are seated distantly or having refreshments. Hand sanitizer will be available for all.

By the way—since many of you have enjoyed seeing the poster creation process for past Carnival events, here’s a timelapse video showing the current poster in production. It’s mostly improvised every step of the way, with only a basic concept in mind. And a challenge to pull off! The handmade process, and going for a ‘shabby chic’ aesthetic for these, is really lots of fun.

In short, I plan to be back on Cartoon Research again in the coming weeks, with news about more events (hopefully some more Video On Demand ones for our online followers, too) and updates on various silent animation restoration projects in the works. In the meantime, I hope to see some of you at the upcoming event. One last word I’ll leave off on for now is a note about some of the difficulties faced as a result of lockdowns, regular events ceasing, and ultimately being unable to continue hosting streams for a long period.

Some friends and colleagues have asked about how they can support the significant loss of income that resulted, and so I’ve set up a GoFundMe for folks to assist with this. If you’re not able to attend the upcoming show in person, you could still very much support the series through this fundraiser—and that will also help get us set up to hopefully offer more programs in the virtual realm, as well. Thank you, and stay safe out there!


  • “A little mincing would be nice!” — Waylon Smithers

    I recognised little Percy from the Ub Iwerks ComiColor cartoon “Mary’s Little Lamb”. Whoo! Good choice for Pride Month. All too often in old cartoons — for example, Van Beuren’s “Radio Racket” and Terrytoons’ “Spring is Here” — the punchline of a gay gag turn out to be a hate crime.

    Best wishes for Sunday!

  • Hi Tommy –
    Do you have any leads where I could get a copy of Buried Treasure? Also, I thought it was silent so a soundtrack would certainly engage more of my crowd.
    Thanks for your time –

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