June 29, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Looking ahead: The Rest of the Year in Old Cartoons at Thunderbean

Thunderbean’s origins as a puppet show, circa 1976

It’s been an overly busy time through these last few weeks here, especially in putting the finishing touches (read: fixes) on the Flip the Frog Blu-ray masters and sending it out the door. It’s been the longest and hardest project we’ve done at Thunderbean, with lots of lessons learned. In the end, I hope, all the work isn’t showing, just the great work the Iwerks studio did in making these films. Disc two is building again tonight, and I have that feeling that I always get about this point that we have our final masters on it. It’s a major moment here, and I always get a little philosophic while going through postpartum on these things. The funny thing is, none of the other projects in progress have as many pickles and production nightmares as this one did – but perhaps I’m just momentarily delusional. Blame it on the frog legs.

Tom and Jerry DVD cover by Milton Knight

Across the room, on archive drive 17, 64 and 67, the Tom and Jerry Blu-ray is reaching its last stages, with five films getting a revision in cleanup, then, collectively, onto a visit and away from here to Devon Baxter for some additional TLC. Having one from the negative (Piano Tooners) just makes me wish we could find all of them from the negatives, but they’re likely not on the planet any more, and have been gone since before I was born. At least we have the best copies we know to exist on most if not all of them.

These next handful of weeks are full steam ahead on several other projects, with the Technicolor Rainbow Parades taking the lead at the moment here, along with supervising and cleaning up films for the Fleischer project. A large amount of scanning is happening in July, with the stack of things I’ve been gathering here and larger projects at archives. A second volume of Technicolor Dreams has finally had an approval to scan a whole bunch of things I’ve been trying to scan *for years*. The Iwerks Comi-Color negs are continuing be be scanned, and that’s a whole other very fine kettle of fish. It’s lovely to be able to work with master materials, and really spoils you since they’re often so good looking despite lots of dust and dirt to contend with and other odd factors. I’m working on the Bunin Alice set as well, and really like what I’m seeing, finally. These are what is taking center stage.

For each of these projects and the many pieces involved, I think about how hard they are to get going or work on until they’re not— and that’s the oddity of this particular pursuit. Often, the much needed lever to make this or that happen is stuck behind some additional thing that needs to happen first, and after nearly 20 years now running the DVD and Blu-ray version of Thunderbean, I’ve come to the conclusion that my concentration now needs to be on what levers to attempt to pull and when rather than running in a circle and pulling some of them, then puling back, then pulling another. It’s all sort of like that giant panel in Koko’s Earth Control with the million knobs and levers. I also feel like there’s an urgency to accomplish the things that need to happen and to pursue stridently the ones that already have had those levers pulled- and fast. It’s all a little too overwhelming at times, but gratifying as well. I’ve been so lucky to have been able to even do the stuff we’ve been able to do, and I feel all of these projects are such collective efforts that, in the end, they belong to everyone in that the films are now available in at least as decent of quality as we’re able to make them currently.

The rest of the year is about getting things off our plate and one new big thing added, all with the help of the small and overworked Thunderbean staff. Watching things fall into place this week for quite a few of the projects keeps me pretty optimistic for the other pursuits. There are several projects I won’t be talking about at all, but others I will, including showing stills and process as we go, per usual.

We’ve all keeping these animated films alive by caring about them, showing them, sharing them, and I’ve been really lucky to be in a position to work on so many of these restoration projects for Thunderbean and others. Teamwork is perhaps the most important thing at this moment in the preservation of so many films, especially with many films, especially in private collections, succumbing to Vinegar Syndrome (really acetate deterioration). All these wonderful films are worth the effort to keep them sticking around.

Getting the biggest projects well on their way is the giant goal here right now. Thanks to everyone for helping us get there. I’ll let you pick the cartoon this week- and wishing you all a good upcoming week!


  • What’s the latest news in regards to The Little King collection? Has that been shipped out yet?

    • We hope to finish shipping the rest of The Little Kings with the bonus disc by Saturday of this week. Thanks for supporting the title Nelson!

      • Anytime Steve. Looking forward to Little King and of course Flip. Two sets that I know are gonna be great.

  • Oh boy, those K Mart cassette tapes with the sky blue labels really take me back. They used to come in a packet of, what, six for 99 cents? My parents used to record a lot of things like school concerts that no one in his right mind would ever want to listen to again. As for me, I recorded the soundtracks to a lot of old Popeye cartoons off the TV, hoping to teach myself how to scat like Jack Mercer (at which I was a complete failure). It was only rarely that I could get a full cartoon on tape without it being interrupted by the doorbell ringing, the dog barking, or my mother yelling at me.

    Since I get to pick the cartoon this week, I think I’ll have another look at the Three Dogeteers! Now there’s a cartoon that really lives up to all the “hoop……la……la!”

  • what are the chances of Thunderbean restoring and releasing the Fleischer Superman cartoons since Warner home video apparently can’t.

    • I don’t understand. Are you being sarcastic? I have the Blu Ray Warner Brothers Superman and it looks fantastic. Better than anything I’ve seen and I saw newly minted prints by WB in 1986. I’ve been informed there might be issues with improper soundtracks, but nothing that takes away from the beauty of these cartoons.

      • He’s not being sarcastic. The WHV release is pitiful, with editing errors sloppily carried over from their previous DVD release, skewed colors, and scrubbed of some texture. An embarrassment. Those classic films deserve far better.

        • How is VCI’s Superman DVD set despite not being restored? That’s the same company that Jerry did the PD Fleischer sets for.

        • I am so lucky. It looks fantastic to me. Terror on the Midway is beautiful. There are two spots where Lois looks out of focus, but that’s minor compared to the overall cartoon.

  • Bit of a technical question, but what software are you using to author the Blu-rays? Just curious.

  • Can’t wait for the Technicolor DVDs! I’ve always had an interest in vintage cartoons since Boomerang. Shame Boomerang no longer has a wide variety like it used to have, but at least we have METV to fill the void! I wish METV would also play vintage animated commercials as well. Speaking of which, I think the voicework of Dick Beals and Paul Winchell should be spotlighted. Including their little known work, such as the 1970s Jack In The Box animated characters for Paul Winchell, and The Frito Kid for Dick Beals. Onion Ring Thing even sounds exactly like Tigger! There are only three 70s JITB ads [Baseball, In The Park, Jack In The Box Animated Commercial 1970] on Youtube, but I just adore the stretchy animation, reminds of Looney Tunes or the Fleschiers. Sadly, there’s only one Frito Kid commercial on Youtube, but the voice sounds like Dick Beals. Frito Kid literally sounds like Speedy Alka-Seltzer with a western accent.

    • In my mind, Boomerang practically became Boomerang in name only when they rebranded in 2015 (if memory serves me correctly) and maybe even a few years before that. I think MeTv is doing a great job delivering to classic cartoon fans and it would be a great addition if they could include some vintage commercials as well.

  • Never thought I’d see the day Sesame Street and Thunderbean would be linked together… especially as origins…

  • So glad to hear you bring up the Bunin Alice! I’ve been biding my time waiting for the good word.

    I do have a concern that enough time has passed that I should just confirm that I’m still pre-ordered, paid up and listed to get my copy when it gets released?


  • I had the same question as Nelson Hughes about the “Little King” DVD, because I haven’t received it yet (and I did order it – I checked), so thanks for the update.

    My wife told me that she is not familiar with The Little King, either the comic strip or the cartoons. So…

    I’m looking forward to the Flippies, but I’m even more looking forward to the Tom and Jerrys, because I can’t find my earlier Thunderbean Van Beuren Tom & Jerry DVD set from 2008 or whenever it was. But I’m looking forward to _all_ of it. “Fiddlesticks” in 2-strip Technicolor, restored!

    Actually, after reading Hal Erickson’s 2019 book “A Van Beuren Production,” I’ve become interested in _all_ the other Van Beuren cartoons, too – the Aesop’s Film Fables (silent) and the Aesop’s Sound Fables – so keep ’em rolling! I have the Cubby Bears (Blu-Ray), of course, and “Rainbow Parade” Vol. 1.

    You folks at Thunderbean are so busy! Felix the Cat (AAAARRRGGGHHHH!), Rainbow Parades, Van Beuren Tom & Jerrys, Fleischer Bros., Ub Iwerks, Bunin Alice, etc., etc., and now, it seems, even Farmer Al Falfa! (With Tommy Jose Stathes.) I wish I could help.

    Besta luck, and best wishes…

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