The transition continues as the Paramount animation staff continue to move back to New York. The Superman series comes to a lackluster end with Secret Agent (released July 30th), while Popeye ends his black and white career with the lightning-paced Cartoons Ain’t Human (released September 3rd). Both are embed below.
On the pages of Paramount Sales News, the studio’s predictions on which new series would be the latest sensation had proven unreliable before, and they proved unreliable again. Little Lulu was successful enough for four seasons worth of cartoons, but the plans for “Spunky” to be the next Pluto tanked.
The reboot, Yankee Doodle Donkey, was the premiere entry of the Noveltoon series a year down the road, the 1944-45 season, and was rightfully buried and forgotten upon release. Even by Famous’s increasingly mixed quality, it feels like a lackluster Fleischer Color Classic, but with ’40s animation. (Also: why a donkey? Why couldn’t the cartoon just be about a misfit dog? The story and gags just stink.)
July 15’s promotional panel mixing Popeye’s cast with Lulu is a great example of the simpler creative era those characters originally existed in. How many form letters would have to be written to have all of them appear in the same frame today, I wonder?
August 12’s photo-op gives us a peek at the “creative process”: Lulu creator Marjorie Buell (who was paid $500 per Lulu cartoon), Famous production manager Sam Buchwald, and a few Paramount suits. If John Stanley had never lived, would anyone honestly remember Marge’s vapid creation with any fondness?
Click to enlarge