I hope that summer finds all of you well and enjoying the outdoors. It was crazy hot here today as I write this, so the cool air at night is greatly welcomed. The light bugs are lighting up the country sky here as I peer out.
In the world of Thunderbean, this last week has been all about Cubby Bear as I push to finish the title. The happiest moment was seeing some rare drawings arriving courtesy of Mark Newgarden. They look mostly like story drawings, perhaps by a newer member of the staff.
This one below was the most unusual I think- I wonder if this is supposed to be Van Bueren’s Cubby beating up the Harman Ising version!
Film clean up takes the longest on the titles at this point, especially since stuff is HD now. Since all of the material on Cubby is coming from prints, the cleanup is extensive, even on seemingly ‘mint’ material. I’m super happy with the overall quality of the set, and am amazed that we’ve been lucky enough to get so many of these films in such beautiful prints. The summer allows pretty long days, and I find I’ve been spending every spare moment on the cleanups- so many hours! I started on the the first cleanup on the film Fresh Ham at 6 on Wednesday morning, and am approaching a fairly clean version on Wednesday night as I write this. I wish all of them were able to get to this point this fast; some of them have well over a week into cleanup in them.
Earlier today, my friend Chris Buchman was telling me about some of the finds he had recently come across. Chris especially likes neat little home movie films, and often material released on 8mm or 16mm in the 40s, 50s and 60s are orphan films or things licensed from small producers. Veteran animator Bernie Wolfe left us a neat little curio that will serve as this week’s short. When Chris mentioned he had just received some of the Bernie Wolfe Nursery Rhyme shorts in 8mm silent versions, I realized we had never shown them here, so here (at least most) of them are!
Bernie Wolfe (aka Bernard, Bern or Berny Wolf) worked on many of the major animation studios over the years, from Fleischer to Ub Iwerks to Disney to MGM, on to Hanna Barbara and many others. He started a small company in the 50s called Animedia Productions that produced animation for educational films and likely television commercials. My guess is that it’s an outgrowth or renaming of his earlier company, Nursery Rhyme Films, started in 1948. Of course, these were the first years of the baby boom, and educational film production was booming as well around this time. My guess is that he mostly sold prints to schools or rental libraries, but into the 60s the films were available in various formats for home use as well.
Wolfe’s animation on these low budget films is a lot of fun, and it’s also fun to see him using the bouncing ball device, having animated on the Fleischer bouncing ball films in the early 30s. They are clearly shot in 16mm film by the edits between shots. I’ve always liked the animation of the Three Blind Mice losing their tails, then happily displaying their bandanges! I also especially like the narrator/singer saying ‘Follow the Piggy!”.
This print came from 16mm film dealer Jerry Nelson, who sold me this battered 16mm Kodachrome reel for $14 in 1984, while I was still in high school. It actually had a fragment of one more of the Nursery Rhyme shorts on it, Humpty Dumpty, but it was incomplete and really too beat up to run, and I tossed it back then.
Have a good week everyone!