THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
April 28, 2016 posted by

Cel Animated Phillips Ads: “The Magic Music” and “Dreamland”

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A brief post today! It’s the last week of classes, so student work has been occupying a lot of time. I’m happy to have some time at night to help on a few projects, all coming together quite well. These are usually the busiest weeks of the year here, so I haven’t had a chance to touch the Cubby Bear project myself all week. Two other folks here are working on them, happily, and they’re looking very nice. We’ll be kicking that year out of here and off to mastering before too long, hopefully! A majority of the films are in final versions at this point. Flip is moving forward with another batch of film sitting here waiting for me to have time to get it to scanning.

So, this week’s films are for the animation fan who has seen everything, but not these!

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Here are some interesting little ads produced by Marten Toonder’s animation studio. Toonder, a Dutch comic artist, was a former studio partner of Dutch animator Joop Geesink, who created the Stop Motion ‘Dollywood’ shorts, including ads for Phillips. One source claimed that 2d ads were produced by Geesink; if this is one of these, it’s odd that the studio name isn’t listed.

still-1These two theatrical commercials, directed by Henk Kabos, were likely produced in the late 40s, judging by the design of the Radios. I think they’re both really interesting, lushly designed and fun. I especially like the surreal sequence in Dreamland. I hadn’t seen any animation produced by the Toonder Studio before; it turns out that the studio produced mostly stop-motion animation, but after a little digging it turns out that they produced at least a handful of cel animated shorts in the later 40s. I’d love to learn more about the studio and see more of their films.

These both are transferred from British 16mm Technicolor prints, so my guess is that these showed theatrically in the European markets. These prints are courtesy of Dennis Atkinson.

Have a good week everyone!

23 Comments

  • Marten Toonder is a towering giant in the Dutch comic and animation film world. Not only has his comic strip starring Tom Puss and Mr Bumble (the two characters above) classic status, even winning literary awards, his studio employed a large number of comic/illustration/scenario artists that later became famous in their own right, e.g. Hans Kresse, Martin Lodewijk, Dick Matena, Lo Hartog van Banda, Thé Tjong-Khing, Piet Wijn, Patty Klein and Harrie Geelen. In fact practically the complete Dutch post war comic industry has its foundations in the Toonder studios, and only in the 1980s this started to change. Danish Academy Award winning animator Borge Ring also worked for a long time at the Toonder studio.

    Toonder started to explore animation during the war years, but these were troubled by the Nazi occupation. After the war he made mostly commercial films, but also two independent gems, ‘The Golden Fish’ and ‘Moon Glow’. Only in 1983 he fulfilled his dream of realizing an animated feature with ‘Als je begrijpt wat ik bedoel’, also starring Tom Puss and Mr. Bumble. This film remained until recently the only animated feature made in The Netherlands. In contrast what you’re saying most of the Toonder studio output was cel animation, leaving stop motion to Joop Geesink’s Dollywood studio.

    A selection of Toonder’s films can be seen on a DVD inside Jan-Willem de Vries’s book ‘De Toonder Animatiefilms’, which is unfortunately available in Dutch only.

    More on Marten Toonder In English can be found here: https://www.lambiek.net/artists/t/toonder.htm

    • Thanks for that interesting mini-history lesson, Gijs!
      Can you tell me if Toonder himself drew his strip for its entire run? The artwork takes a notable ‘Walt Kellyish’ turn in the mid-to-late 1960s, and I’m wondering if other hands were involved, or whether Toonder radically improved his style at that time?

    • Thank you for your reply, Dave!
      Marten Toonder was a formidable draftsman, as is witnessed by his free work. But for his comic strip ‘Heer Bommel en Tom Poes’ (Mr. Bumble and Tom Puss) he employed the rather strange method of letting his co-workers do the sketching, lay-outs etc., and doing the final inking himself. As a consequence the influence of the different co-workers can easily be seen. Not every co-worker has been identified, but they include Wim Lensen (1942-1944), Ben van ‘t Klooster (1947-1960), Richard Klokkers (1947-1949), Ben van Voorn (1950-1957), Dick Matena (1962/63), Terry Willers (1964/65), Fred Julsing (1965-1971), and finally Piet Wijn (1971-1986). Especially Fred Julsing’s highly idiosyncratic style can easily be identified.

      The Toonder studio published many more comic strip’s under Toonder’s own name (Kappie, Koning Hollewijn, Panda, a color balloon strip starring Mr. Bumble and Tom Puss), but of those he only drew the first or the first few strips, leaving all the drawing and inking to his co-workers.

    • Dave, regarding the evolution of Toonder’s “Tom Poes” strip: Marten Toonder was always in charge of the strip himself, but during the time when he first expanded his studio into a big-business operation which produced multiple comic strips (as well as animation) — in the 40s to early 60s — he would over time let assistants handle much of the workload on “Tom Poes” for extended periods, as he was also running and overseeing the entire studio.

      By the mid-60s, however, Toonder felt that he had become more of a businessman than an artist. So he moved to Ireland, where he isolated himself to focus on writing and illustrating “Tom Poes” entirely on his own. From this point on, both the writing and artwork of the strip becomes much more sophisticated and adult. It’s no coincidence that these last 20 years in particular (Toonder ended the strip in 1986) have earned “Tom Poes” a position as highly acclaimed literature in Holland.

    • His style certainly changed after the 50’s. Less rounder and a lot more personified the way those characters appeared. I know someone though that enjoys the earlier Toonder style of the 40’s though.

      That 1983 movie is perhaps the only Tom Puss-related thing we Americans may even know at all since it used to be aired on The Disney Channel and released on home video (through MCA/Universal), though the English version changes most of the names considerably, renaming Tom as “Kit Kat” and used female pronouns that I suppose matched the female boyish voice they gave him.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djBS56Cmsqk

      Toonder didn’t hit it big outside with Tom & Ollie though there had been attempts over the years, here’s just one…
      http://tralfaz.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-other-cartoon-tom-cat.html

    • Ah ha!! So that IS Toonder himself doing the strip from when I admired it most!
      Thank you so much for the detailed replies, both Gijs and Mesterius!! I’ve learned a lot today!

    • Seems I was somewhat misinformed regarding the people who sketched the Tom Poes strip — I didn’t know that Toonder employed artists to sketch for him even after he moved to Ireland, as Gijs Grob tells us.

      However, it seems Toonder didn’t ALWAYS do the full inking himself in the years prior to 1965. Here’s what Lambiek has to say:

      “Up until 1965, Toonder discussed the basic plots with his scriptwriters (such as the prolific Lo Hartog van Banda). Artists like Carol Voges, Ben van Voorn, Ben van ‘t Klooster, Dick Matena, Terry Willers, Fred Julsing and Piet Wijn provided the pencilled and partially inked drawings in accordance with his scripts, but the final outcome was Toonder’s. In the course of said year Toonder left the ownership and management of the Toonder Studios to others and emigrated to Ireland, enabling himself to fully concentrate on the ‘Tom Puss and Mr. Bumble’ saga. From then on the stories were the products of his personal imagination and he took on the full inking himself. The overall quality of the series became such that their publication in paperbacks (in addition to their daily appearance in the papers) resulted in 44 best-sellers.”

    • Thank you for the extra info, Mesterius! Yet I believe that even before 1965 only on a few occasions Toonder left the inking to his workers. There are examples from the early sixties, in which Toonder greatly improves the sketches by his own inking. And there’s a special period in the early 1950s in which a more loose, and highly virtuoso shading style invades the comic strip, especially in the background art. This is directly linked to more loose style of the free work Toonder produced during the same period. Despite the great work done by his co-workers, I’m certain Toonder could draw his own characters and backgrounds at any time in his career, no matter the style period.

      And, of course, he always wrote the stories himself, even if he employed a great plotter as Lo Hartog van Banda for a while (notable exceptions are (parts of) stories nos. 18, 19, 67 and 76, during which Toonder was ill). As early as in 1949 he started to write stories that became more than just adventures, and there already many gems in the 1950s and early 1960s.

  • By the way, ‘The Magic Music’ was released in 1948, and ‘Dreamland’ in 1949.

    • There was another one of these produced for Philips called “Tom Puss & The Haunted Castle” too.

  • Thanks for this great share, Steve! 😀 I have to say, though, I am shocked you didn’t mention that both of these ads star Marten Toonder’s most famous comic strip characters — Tom Puss (in Dutch, Poes), the cat; and Oliver B. Bommel, the bear; who are the two main characters in Toonder’s long-running newspaper comic strip “Tom Poes” (1941-1986). That was certainly the biggest draw for me in watching these, as I’m a fan of the Tom Poes strip myself. 🙂

    While I’m at it, the Marten Toonder studios actually produced hand-drawn animated shorts not only during the 40s, but also in the 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s. These were mainly ads, but occacionally they did independent 2D shorts as well. The animated output of Toonder’s studio has an official YouTube channel named “Toonder animatefilms” — you can see many samples of their work through the years there: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYGf6ukyJRK9Ek7RHMM5ZrQ/videos The most interesting-looking short of their non-ad productions may be the 1954 “Moonglow”, which you can see a fragment of here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whIhVGtr0k8 I’d love to see that one in full.

    A full-length book on the Toonder studio’s animation history, titled “De Toonder Animatiefilms”, was released a few years back: http://www.silvesterstrips.nl/strips/toonder/toonder-animatie/ I suspect the book comes from the same people who run the official YouTube channel, because it includes a DVD which reportedly features a comprehensive collection of Toonder studio shorts in full. Unfortunately, buying the book – which costs 100 euros and is in Dutch language only – is apparently the only way of getting the DVD.

    • It’s a shame there isn’t an English version of that book (even if only as an online thing), that DVD is probably worth it in the end.

      One of the later Toonder Studio’s entries I liked seeing was a film made to show people who to run a specific home video formatted recorder released by Philips which I guess came with the unit (known as ‘Video 2000, as the tapes resembled an audio cassette you could record on both sides with). Without words (besides captions in any specific language required), the viewer could get an understanding on how to play a video cassette, record a program on it, or time shift if out of the house. This was very effective.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmdffoiW-GI

  • Yes, the surreal sequence in Dreamland is fantastic! I especially love the point of view portion where the bear is bouncing up and down on the staff. That’s very clever, and I can’t recall any similar scenes in classic animation.

    I’d love to have that DVD!

    • “I’d love to have that DVD!”

      So would I, if it was only available to buy at a reasonable price SEPARATELY from that insanely expensive, Dutch-only book…

    • I have the DVD. It contains the following films:
      ‘Serenata Nocturna’ (pilot stop motion add for Phillips by Toonder & Geesink, 1942)
      ‘Phi-Garo in het woud’ (stop motion add for Phillips, mostly done by Geesink, 1943)
      ‘Een ontdekking aan de Zuidpool’ (Henk Kabos, cel animation (as are all below), ad for Kerko shirts, sound lost, 1944)
      ‘Das musikalische auto’ (Henk Kabos, ill-conceived short for Nazi client, deliberately used to keep workers out of forced labor, sound lost, 1944)
      ‘Das Geheimnis der Grotte’ (starring Tom Puss in an animated version of his very first adventure, 1944)
      ‘The Haunted Castle’ (Henk Kabos, 1948, starring Tom Puss)
      ‘The Magic Music’ & ‘Dreamland’ (see above)
      ‘Floepedorus de flessengeest’ (1949), ‘Plucky Panda’s Penny’ & ‘The Legend of Loch Ness’ (1950), three Phillips adds directed by Harold Mack
      ‘De gouden vis’ (Harold Mack, 1952, uncommissioned film with a genuine Chinese atmosphere)
      ‘Hugo macht Musik’, ‘Hugo am Trapez’, ‘Hugo baut auf’, ‘Hugo als Kraftmax’ (four films starring Hugo, Harold Mack, 1952)
      ‘The Conquered Planet’, ‘Metrographic’, and ‘De verzonken klokken’ (Han van Gelder, uncommissioned films, 1953-1957)
      ‘Suite Tempirouette’ (id.)
      ‘Moonglow’ (Harold Mack, 1954, uncomissioned)
      ‘Theodora’s Testament (Harold Mack, 1954)
      Horlicks (add for throat lozenges, 1955)
      ‘Lokkend goud of gouden lokken (Borge Ring, 1958, uncommissioned)
      ‘Van Inca Tijd to Blooker tijd’ (Han van Gelder, 1958, add for chocolate)
      8 short Tom Puss films in limited animation (1959/1960)

    • In these situations, a standalone DVD (or Blu-Ray) would be great (and if subtitles in a few noted languages like English, the better), this is material worthy of scholarly study I feel.

  • I’d love to have that DVD, too -I can even read ‘een beetje’ (a bit) of Dutch!
    By the way, the 1983 feature was released in the US on home video as “The Dragon That Wasn’t (Or Was He?)”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PW1dxDUQW6o
    In the English dub, Tom Poes is re-named Kit Kat, no doubt in order to avoid copyright problems with another famous feline.

    • “In the English dub, Tom Poes is re-named Kit Kat, no doubt in order to avoid copyright problems with another famous feline.”

      Uh, I wouldn’t think that’s the reason they changed Tom Poes’ name (and sex) in the English dub. Tomcat is simply a word for a male cat, so calling the character “Tom Puss” in English wouldn’t risk a copyright dispute with Tom from “Tom and Jerry”. I suspect it was simply because the producers of the English translation for some bizarre reason felt that Tom Puss was better suited to be a female cat. Can’t say I agree with that reasoning…

    • That’s pretty much the short and end of it. Some American company at least saw an interest in this and released an English version over here and nothing else (though this came at a time when MCA’s Universal Pictures had already released Bluth’s An American Tail the year before, and it wouldn’t be until the following year for the first Land Before Time feature so perhaps they wanted a few more family-children-oriented material to clog the store shelves in the meanwhile before Timmy the Tooth came out).

    • Were the characters animated since then.

    • Were the characters animated since then.

      I don’t believe so. A least not anything I haven’t seen or heard of (say a commercial but I don’t suppose they were used much in pimping things i the 90’s or 2000’s)

  • I wrote a long, unfavorable review of “The Dragon Who Wasn’t (Or Was He?)” at the time, that I unfortunately no longer have access to. As I recall, the movie consisted of everyone except Kit Kat/Tom Poes doing silly things, then doing the same silly things over again immediately while pretending they’d done them deliberately, not by accident. Everyone was pretending that the obvious baby dragon couldn’t really be a dragon, since they’d just said that dragons don’t exist.

    The U.S. releaser threw out as much of the Dutch plot as it could. The film’s Dutch title, “Als je begrijpt wat ik bedoel”, was Heer Ollie’s (Lord Ollie’s, not Mr. Bumble’s) catchphrase, “If you know what I mean”, as famous in the Netherlands as Superman’s “Up, up, and away!” or Wimpy’s “I will gladly pay you next Tuesday for a hamburger today!” were to Americans. But nobody in America was familiar with the Dutch cartoon characters, and the U.S. releaser made no attempt to introduce them.

    There was some arguing at the time whether that was really the first Dutch animated feature, since the 1943 unreleased anti-Semitic “Van den vos Reynarede”, then lost (since rediscovered) was advertised in 1943 as the first Dutch animated feature. It wasn’t since it was only a two-reeler, about 13 minutes.

    • Thanks for the info Fred, I suppose this was a misguided attempt just to get whatever sold on tape in those early home video days. Of course it was the same mindset that gave some early anime fans anything at all when it came to finding unusual gems.

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