July 19, 2018 posted by Steve Stanchfield

A Visit with Bob Koester – and a Good Print of “Merry Kittens” (1935), and “Sassy Cats”(1933)

First, the usual Thunderbean news!

I’d really like to take a road trip this summer that *isn’t* Thunderbean-related, but I have a feeling that most of them this year just will be!

The little machine that is Thunderbean is running a little smoother each day. With help putting together sets, packing orders, digital restoration and other tasks, it’s been a little easier to concentrate on getting films together, working on edits and working on organizing upcoming projects. It’s exciting to see all these things happening, although I’m still going through the growing pains of trying to delegate a little more a things move forward. We’re working on dubbing/shipping the finished special sets as well as the Snappy Video Party disc and other stuff…

Both Technicolor Dreams and Willie Whopper ran out of stock this week; thanks to everyone for supporting these titles. We’ll get them right back in print soon. Mid Century Modern, Volume 2 Blu-ray is back from replication, so we’ll be sending them out to the pre-orders before Mid Century Modern Volume 1. That title will be in replication within the week. Grotesqueries is coming together really fast right now as well.

I was advised earlier in the week that the Telecine at the production house in Detroit is still a tentative situation; at this point in time Thunderbean is nearly the only client using it. As I’ve been getting all these various projects scanned, it’s been a combination of the telecine in Detroit, some scans in LA, and some out in Toronto. The price of the scans in Detroit made it possible to do the little ’special’ sets. Since that’s coming to an end, I’m trying still to get as many things scanned that I can there. There’s been a bunch of them, but I know they just can’t continue much longer if at all. I’ve put another special set up on the IAD forum called ’Terry/Lantz/Famous’ with rare cartoons from these three studios including some Little Lulu’s— a series I’ve never scanned anything from up to this point. Details here.

On the Rainbow Parades set, we’ve scanned nearly all of the first half of the series and have started working on the second half. There have still been a few hold-outs. One of those was Merry Kittens (1935).

The print that you usually see on youtube (that appeared on the Thunderbean Rainbow Parades DVD) was a telecine scan done back in 1989. It first appeared on a VHS set we did called in 1990. Here is that scan (from youtube— with my inaccurate replacement titles on the head and tail)

Someone must have had my old VHS as well—here’s a copy from the same print, but off a VHS source:

The only other color print I know of is pretty splice. It showed up years back on the one of the VHS PD cartoon tapes. That scan seems to still be around. Without searching much I found it on youtube:

When I started the blu-ray project, I asked one long-time collector that I borrow films from if I could borrow his print…but he only had the film in black and white.

I racked my brain to try and figure out who I had borrowed that print from 29 years ago. Luckily, I remembered somehow that I had borrowed the print from Bob Koester from Chicago. Bob is a long-time 16mm collector and founder of Delmark Records. Delmark recorded Chicago Blues for decades. Bob sold the company about a year back, and also sold his famous Chicago Jazz Record Mart. These days, at 85, Bob runs ‘Bob’s Jazz and Blues Mart’, selling new and used Jazz, Blues and Rock on LPs, tapes and CD. It’s a wonderful little place to visit. He still even has live events at the store. Here’s a link to his shop.

Needing to borrow the print gave me a legitimate excuse to drive out to Chicago (about four hours from here). I finally found a day to do it, so Mary and I headed to Chicago Tuesday to see Bob and borrow the cartoon.

Bob Koester inspects ‘Merry Kittens’

It was nice to see Bob again, not having seen him at Cinevent for several years. Bob said he had purchased a whole library of films for $1 a reel, and this cartoon was one of the prints. I also managed to get Bob to sing ‘There’s gonna be a wedding! A Wedding in Pastry Town’. That alone was worth the trip.

Steve and Mary’s dog Jenji very much enjoyed the visit

The print itself is still in good shape after all these years— and, funny enough, the leader and countdown I put on the print had my writing on it. I’ll be scanning the print in the coming week or so, completing the 16mm scans except for an additional scan of ‘Rag Dog’. That will be print three of the film’s picture to be scanned, not including two prints for soundtracks only.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print at the moment, but having a cartoon is a good thing here— so, since we’re on cats (and the Rainbow Parades are always represented) here’s a Scrappy. Sassy Cats (1933) is pretty fun— I think it’s a good example of the Columbia Scrappys at their best. Dick Huemer’s Scrappys are generally my favorites. This cartoon is largely animated by Sid Marcus, who would take over the director’s helm later that same year on the series.

This was one of the first Scrappys I managed to find in 16mm; I’ve had this print since 1983— although the focus isn’t too great on it (as on many of the ‘Samba’ TV prints) it’s the best I’ve seen on the title. It really is a cat gag festival more than any one thing. I always enjoyed showing this one to an audience.

Have a good week everyone!


  • Steve I have sent you 17.00 for the TERRY/LANTZ/FAMOUS
    Blu-Ray. If this amount is wrong please let me know
    by either replying here or by

  • The Scrappy cartoon endly abruptly at 5:18–just as our hero seeks revenge with a vacuum cleaner!

    • I hope Steve or Jerry can fix whatever went wrong with the upload of “Sassy Cats”. I love these HD Scrappy prints, but I’d really prefer to watch the film complete.

    • Any chance of getting the full cartoon uploaded?

  • Steve this is Chris did you receive my payment? I’m eager to get this special set

  • Thank you for the update! Always glad to hear how things are progressing. So, about that telecine in Detroit…any chance of Thunderbean being able to purchase the equipment and keep it in-house? Indiegogo? GoFundMe? I’d be willing to donate to such a project!

  • Hi,
    Maybe this is a stupid question, but are the Rainbow Parades going to be released as a complete two disc set or is the upcoming release going to be a second volume to the Rainbow Parades/Toddle Tales disc that is currently for sale on amazon?


    • I guess it was a stupid question.

  • It’s nice to see ol’ Bob Koester again. Of the three prints you have on here of “Merry Kittens”, I like the VHS transfer the best, it has the best color, condition and the sound is in sync! Your dog Jenji looks a lot like the dog in “Merry Kittens”. He went all the way to Chicago with you and Mary? Must have been a real Barks festival.

  • As always, Steve, I’m happy to read these updates and sample interesting cartoons. I’ve pre-ordered the TERRY/LANCE/FAMOUS disk, although Paypal hadn’t confirmed my order…it is listed as “payment sent”; so I hope you received it. I’ll be anxious in the coming weeks to hear about the most recent licensing deal and more terrific toons. The WILLY WHOPPER cartoons are amazingly high quality, and I hope that many folks grabbed this while it was available.

  • Thanks for the updates. Looking forward to these sets. Just sent my order for the Terry/Lantz/Famous set as well!

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