THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
January 18, 2024 posted by Steve Stanchfield

It’s The 95th “Anniverskary” of Popeye!

But first — The Complete Animated Adventures of Van Beuren’s Tom and Jerry is now back and shipping!

This is a set that seemed to never be getting closer to the finish line for a while as I kept trying to get better versions of many of the films. We scanned more prints for this set than any other up to this point- with more material scanned and then not used than any other. Until I started to gather all the HD scans in one place I hadn’t realized just how many prints went into eventually finishing the set. As you try to upgrade things that’s not so unusual to scan more than one when you don’t have master material, but the variance on prints was astonishing through the process. Most of the material was 16mm for the set, but in the end we were able to get three in 35mm – Polar Pals, A Swiss Trick and Piano Tooners.

Over all the years I’ve been collecting, good prints of the Tom and Jerrys were always on my want list. Some of the prints I’ve had for many years that ended up on the set, and the best prints that other collectors had found over the years were *still* the best prints that we’ve found on many of the titles.I’m particullly indepted to Mark Kausler, who had beautiful material on some of the hardest to find good prints on, and Tommy Stathes for generously letting me use his as well. Chris Buchman, Jeff Missinne, Alice Savage and Thad Komorowski came through with the best material on some titles, Jay Diaz lent a rare print of Redskin Blues that fixed some splices and improved scenes, and George Willeman at the Library of Congress help navigate me through getting some key things, as he has over all these years. I’m especially grateful for Jerry Beck, who has championed even my craziest DVD and Blu-ray ideas over these years. Once in a while I think we’re on the right track.

All the pre-orders are going out this week-so if you pre-ordered you’ll get yours first — and if you didn’t pre-order you can get the set on Amazon.com

…or at thunderbeanshop.com

Here’s a little preview, with a shot from every cartoon in the series, in order:


And — we can’t forget Popeye!

Yesterday (January 17th) was the 95th anniversary of the first appearance of Popeye — in Thimble Theatre.

The website Comics Kingdom did a nice article on Popeye— with some of the new comics as well as his first appearance.

Popeye is, arguably, the best adaption of a comic strip character into an animated cartoon— and certainly the most prolific. I know many of you have loved the Fleischer cartoons since first seeing them, and many generations have. Popeye is a rare creation that seems to work with each new generation. When I first saw the cartoons on TV, it was a curiosity that they were in black and white since, even as a child, we had a color TV. They were the *only* black and white cartoons still on TV in the early 70s in the Detroit market, but they were of course paired with the color Famous Studios output. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I really saw Segar’s work. I remember pouring over several of the longer stories for week, thinking about how the story construction worked and especially how the Fleischers had managed to get some of the comic strip ideas into the films (especially one my favorites as a kid, Goonland (1938). So, if you get a chance, sit down and watch a classic Popeye cartoon, and find some of Segar’s great work from the early years of the strip. They’re wonderfully entertaining, and Popeye lives every time we bring him back to life.

Have a good week everyone!!

23 Comments

  • Every time I read your posts on Thursday, it brings a smile to my face! I am especially smiling this week because you finally got a good new item for us. I’m still enjoying “flip the frog“, and now “the Van Buren and Tom and Jerry cartoons“. Beautiful!

    I also agree that the Max Fleischer cartoons are wonderful. If you really want to see, wonderfully restored Max Fleischer “Popeye“ cartoons, pick up a copy of “Kentucky Kernels“, the WarnerArchive edition, and there are at least two “Popeye“ cartoons added as special features along with an interesting Warner Bros. title.

    As always, thank you for all you do to keep great old cartoons, alive along with this wonderful site, and thanks as well to Jerry, Beck and Company.

  • That’s a beautifully edited promo, capturing all the fun and energy of these wonderful cartoons. I like it that every effort was made to match the action in all those clips to the beat of the music. This set has been a long time coming, and while I’m sure it’s been frustrating at times, I’m also sure the result will be well worth the wait. We’ll all be ready when the great day comes — and it looks as though that great day has arrived!

    Watching “Goonland” again makes me wonder: Have you ever bought an old film print that turned out to be spliced together with a safety pin?

    • Hey Paul,
      I’ve never found any prints spliced together with safety pins, but how about PAPER CLIPS! The late Murray Glass used to come over to my house years ago and ask me to run nitrate prints of a lot of very old stuff, some dating to D.W. Griffith. Imagine my shock when a fragile nitrate print running through my Holmes projector hit a stiff paper clip and stuck in the aperture! Fortunately, the film never was there long enough to catch fire and I turned off the lamp right away, but it sure was SCARY! Murray never put his nitrate prints on the bench to inspect them and just trusted to luck and my projector to evaluate the condition of his prints. Wotta Guy!
      Mark

      • My assignment in the Army in 1973 was to the American Forces Network Europe TV station in (West) Berlin. Television shows and movies were circuited from station to station and I did hear stories of film being spliced with pins and even staples!

        • Wow, worst than Scotch tape on school prints.

  • Great cartoon! Epic adventure with broad comedy…and a little bit of pathos thrown in for good measure! This was and is a classic! Popeye at his best!

  • The promo for Tom and Jerry is just- “cute”++++! Amongst many other virtues this set will help perpetuate the memory of Gene Rodemich, a master musician from Saint Louis, who is pivotal in the history of the recording industry as well as animation.

  • One of the few times Fleischer kept up with the comic-strip continuity. This cartoon coincided with the story-arc “Popeye’s Search for His Poppa,” which ended with the introduction of Poopdeck Pappy, but the comic-strip story is otherwise completely different–Pappy is just hiding out on an island because he doesn’t like people, and is not a prisoner of the goons. The goons first appeared in the strip in 1933, in the Sunday comic story-arc “Plunder Island,” with Alice the Goon as a hench-creature of the Sea Hag (I think it’s regrettable that Fleischer never used the Sea Hag in a cartoon; she was a long-time foe and had very creepy witch-powers. She doesn’t show up in the cartoons until the King Features TV shorts in the 1960’s, and is more comical than scary).

  • Popeye is probably my favorite cartoon character — depending on my mood atm, I have a lot of favorites. He’s just so fun of a character, and the Popeye universe has so many fun elements. A shame there hasn’t really been a good cartoon adaptation since the mid 50s when Famous’ shorts started just being alright. KFS’ licensing thing is apparently VERY lenient and hands off, which is prob why most Popeye things have been mediocre to awful for quite a while now (Popeye’s Island Adventures or the Nintendo Switch Popeye game come to mind), but on the bright side if someone with talent DID pitch a Popeye thing, I assume they would be more likely to ok it.
    Goonland is one of my fav’s too; honestly I love the more adventurous shorts more than the Popeye-Olive-Bluto shorts. If I had to critique the Fleischer shorts on anything, they relied a bit too heavily on that dynamic (which wasn’t even that big in the original comics, Bluto/Brutus wasn’t even a major character until after the cartoons became popular)

  • Looks like another winner, Steve! One of these days – hopefully soon – I’ll have to get me a copy!

  • So, is that earliest comic strip version of Popeye soon to enter public domain? He’s barely recognizable, since Segar soon evolved him into a regular character with the face we recognize now, but I’m guessing primitive Popeye would be up for grabs on the same terms as Steamboat Mickey.

  • Been watching some Thunderbean disks, and have noticed that many–not all, but many–of the transfers have white corners. I’m not sure how else to describe them. Small white triangles in each of the four corners of the picture. The inside line of each triangle is somewhat curved.

    I assume that these are the corners of each frame of film.

    More to the point, why are we seeing these? Years (and years) of watching movies and I don’t think I’ve ever seen these “triangles” visible in any other company’s video transfers. Given that, why does Thunderbean choose to make these white corners visible when pretty much no one else does it?

    • The Thunderbean “special” sets have raw scans that show the full film frame, showing more of the image at all four edges than you’d see if projected since they’d be hidden by the projector’s aperture plate. White, rather than black, corners are seen on Technicolor IB (dye-transfer) prints, whose images are transferred onto a clear film base.

      • That’s as good of an explanation as I could have come up with– and accurate. For the special discs we rarely do anything to the scans. For the official discs we spiff the films up a lot. I like the idea of the special discs being in collector’s hands just as they are, or close generally– just as a film print is when you get it- and since that period is mostly over as the world of film collecting and presentation gets smaller, maybe in some little way those scans will stick around and be available somehow, with as little intrusion from me as possible.

        • Thanks!

          John

  • Hurrah! The Van Beuren Tom and Jerry set is finally released! Honestly, mentioning me during the special thanks paragraph made my day. Thanks, Steve : )

    About the article’s last line, “Popeye lives every time we bring him back to life.” Not sure if the 2018 series “Popeye’s Island Adventures”, or even the 2021 Popeye video game for Nintendo Switch and PS4 count as modern examples. (spoilers: they don’t)

  • It’s always exciting to see the trailer for a Thunderbean release, since that means it’s close to arriving in the mail! Thanks to everyone who made this release possible!

  • When you think, watching “Goonland,” of what a great “aminated” feature Popeye would have made at his screen peak (done correctly, it would have knocked Disney on his mouse ears, if only because it could have been done on a budget–not even necessarily in color), it’s a little sad that he was stuck in such an uninspired formula, fighting Bluto over Olive Oyl in dull suburban settings for hundreds of short cartoons. Even the early idea of making Popeye Gulliver wasn’t a bad one if in his travels he could have met up and had adventures with quirky characters adapted both from Swift and Segar. If, on the other hand, it just had been Popeye having the hot idea (spoiler alert) of combining “Faithful” and “Forever” into one song, it’s just as well they didn’t use him after all.

    • I agree – if Fleischer had adapted some of the comic-strip story-arcs, they would have made great features. Many of them involved Popeye & Co. sailing off to faraway lands in search of treasure or to help people in distress (“Popeye Meets Ali Baba” comes closest to this). Also, by the time this cartoon came out, Gus Wickie had stopped doing the voice of Bluto, and they hadn’t found a permanent replacement, so I think that’s why they moved away from the Popeye-Bluto-Olive stories into more original ones.

      This one also has Jack Mercer doing some of his best “ad-libs” and terrible puns: “Hair today, goon tomorrow” – Ouch!

  • Whether they’re great or poor cartoons the fact 500 Popeye animated films are still in worldwide syndication (aside from You Tube) demonstrates his ongoing popularity despite mishandling over the years. On a personal note, I have donated Popeye items to children’s hospitals where he acts as a strength figure.

  • I was WONDERING HOW LONG it would take for you to show up here, Fred! You’re slipping! Thanks for all your hard work over the years on POPEYE’s behalf!

    Looking forward to POPEYE’s 100th, myself!

    • I enjoyed the “paper clip” story, Mark! Was your friend a film editor? I read – with amazement – the autobiography of film producer Michael Hoey (whose dad played “Inspector Lestrade” in the ’40s SHERLOCK HOLMES films) and his experiences as a film editor. They used paper clips a lot in doing rough edits of scenes for movies!

  • Another wonderful read, Steve! I enjoyed the preview video. The clips depict the fun and vibrancy of the Van Beuren Tom and Jerry cartoons. Also, it’s mind blowing that Popeye’s introduction has already hit 95 recently! Goonland is classic Popeye the Sailor Man at its finest.

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