December 5, 2013 posted by

Ub Iwerks in the 1930s

Another busy week here at Thunderbean. A final master for two titles went out today, with another in the coming week. All told four titles are in the process of being finished at the same time…. I never thought THAT would happen! There will be an announcement here for one of the new titles at this time next week, so stay tuned!

This is turning out to be a great year for seeing cartoons that were made in color but have only been available in Black and White for many years. Besides the Snow Man, a better Wizard of Oz and Teapot Town, here’s a piece of ‘See how they Won’ produced by the Ub Iwerks studio, the subject of a post a little while back. It showed up on Youtube, courtesy of the Alliance Boots Archive and Museum – and UK’s MediCity:

The ending animation is even more Devo-esque than I ever could have hoped for. Now, let’s hope to see the whole thing in color someday! As of today, Medicity has had it on Youtube up a few weeks, and the only video they have up… clocking in at 89 views. I think that may change a little now.

I find ‘orphan’ color advertising films are really interesting – they often found other homes minus their tags in the years after their first purpose. The early years of Television in some ways were a “wild west” of film packages. Two
companies in particular – Medallion film packaging and ‘Krazytoons‘ lead the pack in a strange mix of animated films from many sources, from bootlegged Castle films versions of Andy Panda cartoons to Iwerks, Van Beuren, Felix the Cat shorts, other silent films and often advertising shorts. Maybe they were one-and-the-same company. They were also very sloppy with the title placement. I had a print of Iwerk’s Humpty Dumpty with a “Krazytoons” title that said ‘An Ill Wind‘.

And funny enough, their attempts to cobble together a film package of cartoons often led to them unearthing an advertising short, like See How they Won.

Iwerks got out of his contract with Pat Powers in 1936. The studio survived doing advertising films like See How they Won and theatrical cartoons for Warner Brothers and Columbia. It appears that a sequel to See How They Won was made called Leave it to John, without Pat Powers Celebrity Pictures, but rather with Iwerk’s studio under its new name, Cartoon Films Ltd. A print hasn’t showed up of that short yet, but others from Cartoon Film Ltd. have, including this short, Breakfast Pals, from 1939:

There’s a series of these advertising commercials on the Thunderbean DVD collection, Cultoons, Volume 1. My favorites are one made for Shell Oil. Iwerks also produced a series of cartoons starring Grandpop Monkey. Two of the three made have shown up in color, and are on Cultoons, Volume 3. I hope to present more of Cartoon Film’s advertising shorts as they become available…


  • People who grew up watching “Shining Time Station” on PBS (such as myself) will recognize “Humpty Dumpty” as it turned up as background animation for one of the music videos shown in the station nickelodeon.

  • That Humpty Dumpty fight was great. Not sure what the Bad Egg’s intentions were though – he doesn’t even try to steal a kiss.

    The design on the kids in the Breakfast Pals short is a little odd. With those dark eyelids they look like they were sleeping off a hangover.

  • Steve is absolutely right about the “wild west” angle of early TV syndication. I wish some “pack rat” out there would turn up the advertising that had to exist to sell those bootleg packages to stations. One TV film director I spoke to many years ago (since deceased) told me that the Krazytoons were sold outright as low-cost filler material. (He’d been throwing them out but still had a cardboard boxful left; he gave them to me, and I still have some of them.) With items like the Boots film, never released here, turning up in these packages; one wonders where the hell they ever found them in the first place!

    Searching on line for info about these shadowy distributors turns up either nothing or the wrong angle; a search for “Krazytoons” yields a club DJ by that alias and a guy who draws porn cartoons, and one for “Transvideo Artists,” the Krazytoons distributor, turned up sites for transvestite porn. (On the web, you’re never far from either adorable kittens or porn…)

    The Krazytoons negatives ended up in the hands of a well-known silent film collector, who had rescued them from a NYC lab where they were about to be discarded for unpaid bills. He asked me for info on ID-ing some of them, but passed on soon afterward; and I have no idea where they (or the rest of his huge collection) are now.

  • The Krazytoons prints date to at least 1963. There were 150 Krazytoons cartoons. It came from a New York based company on 15 East 48th Street in New York City. The company probably disappeared by the 1970’s. By then, that address became a Korean restaurant.

  • very good your work!!

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