Tomorrow is the last class day for the semester at the College for Creative Studies where I teach, so we’re reviewing student work for most of the day. The work I reviewed today was in Senior Studio and Animation 2 (Sophomores) and its lovely working with students and having their work improve so greatly.
Since the Van Beuren Tom and Jerry set is off to replication now. I’m working on finishing our annual Christmas ‘special’ set tomorrow night and working on finishing a Fleischer project film in the coming days. I may be taking a trip out west during the break to help move several other things forward too— and I’m really excited about that!
We’ve been purposely waiting to share the Rainbow Parades 2 set as well as an unannounced project or two until we’re closer to having them closer. The Lou Bunin set is gaining momentum, with frequent Thunderbean restoration artist Ciara Waggoner jumping into co-producer position in the coming weeks to help it along a lot faster. It’s one of the longest in production here right now and, hopefully, moves forward a lot at the beginning of the year.
And… onto The Cartoon!!
The Screen Songs from the 40s are a series we’ve scanned a lot of, but there’s never been an ‘official’ set. Looking back at the materials we’ve already scanned and the additional films we now have or have access to, we could do a pretty good set, but I’ll save that idea for another time. They’re an odd series, sometimes featuring a character you know from one of Paramount’s other series.
Cartoon collector extraordinaire Collin Kellogg told me many years back (when I was a teenager) that the cool cartoon people really like Famous Studios and Terrytoons, nearly above all others; more than 35 years later I’m still hoping to get in that cool cartoon person club, or any of the others for that matter. Maybe I need to be better dressed for the occasion or make sure I don’t have a color perception problem. Then, someday, I’ll be crowned like the Sliphorn King of Polaroo and break my current interloper status. I wonder what I need to do exactly? Does doing all these Thunderbean projects, curating shows, being on TCM or teaching an Animation History Class for 24 years count? Maybe I need to write a book. To me, helping others, and helping make sure there’s good copies of cartoons (if I have that ability) are the things that really matter. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned from Jerry Beck, Mark Kausler and others.
Moreover, enjoying the great work of the past should be the most important thing, not whether you know something about a contract from the 30s or 40s. I enjoy those kinds of things, but sharing that information is the reason to know anything. In my book, we’re all in the cool person cartoon club, or we wouldn’t be looking at a site called Cartoon Research!
Winter Draws On (1948) is a pretty typical entry in the series; well-produced with some very nice animation. The story features a bunch of birds heading south for the winter (with the gags you’d expect from Famous). The running ‘gag’ features two parent ducks waiting for their offspring to be born— and in typical Famous Studio-style, there’s a gag where the father gives the yet-to-be-hatched egg a ‘hot foot’— causing the newborn to sing out of the egg in pain from the hot foot (in fact, he continues to have the ‘hot foot’, already in a scarf and ear muffs, jumping up and down all the way through his mother breaking the 4th wall and asking if we remember the song we’re about to sing along with. Through the second half of the sing-along, the little hot footed bird guides us through. There’s some pretty typical stereotypes (including a guest appearance of Buzzy the Crow early in the picture) all voiced by Jackson Beck. One of my favorite interviews with Beck centered around him not remembering that he voiced the character at all until Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald showed him one of the films! When he did the interview with my friend Lenny Kohl later, he misremembered the name of Buzzy as ‘Ricky Raven’.
Here’s Winter Draws On with the Paramount titles (although missing the mountain). It’s from a pretty decent 16mm print that Paul Mular was nice enough to let me scan some years back.
Have a good week all and enjoy singing along!