July 22, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

“Pencil Mania” with Tom and Jerry

In Thunderbean news:

When Rainbow Parades, volume 1, went off to replication, I made a list of all the things I’d like to do or finish before summer ends, Thunderbean and otherwise. Most of the list is going better than I could have imagined. So I’ll knock softly on a nitrate print and count my hard drives.

More special sets are closer and closer to finish, Aesops Fables is following close behind Flip the Frog now, as are the Van Beuren Tom and Jerrys, so I’ll be in Van Beuren-land before too long. Major progress was made on Flip this week. I finished the final versions on 29 of the 38 Flips, with many of the remaining ones pretty close to done, but all with small issues. I can’t believe it’s almost done.

Sometimes it’s hard to switch gears and write about something *other* than what is in progress here. Other sets are in progress around me with freelancers without me involved much as I concentrate on Flip. The handful of freelancers helping to get the finishing touches on Flip have their hands full as do I. Of the remaining nine, five are really all together, requiring additional dust-busting and cleanup. The other four all have *other* things going on, and those are the ones I’m spending time on personally right now to get them looking great. One film, Puppy Love, actually has *two* different versions of the soundtrack, with one clearly the original and the other with some new dialogue and changed music cues, probably all for rights reasons. It would just be an edit job on the sound, but one of the music cues has a scene with the dog wagging his tail *twice* to match the music. The existing master positive and the German print we’ve scanned for the soundtrack has him only wagging once- with Flip doing a different action on each. So, we’re 17 frames or so away from locking down the final version on that one – but need to scan those darn 17 frames!

Rainbow Parades looks like it will be finished in replication on Thursday, so, if it isn’t too late for Fedex here on Friday, we’ll be starting to send the pre-orders and listing the title on Amazon. We’re including a postcard with the set of the original stock one-sheet from the series (below). Thanks to everyone for supporting this many years venture!

On the Van Beuren ’Tom and Jerry’ set:

One of the hardest things about producing one of these sets, at least for me, is understanding that they won’t be *perfect* really, ever, but *little* details in mastering the films are the things that really bug me. There’s some things I’m better at and some not so much. Things like getting all the spelling right throughout has never been my strongpoint, but luckily my good friends, especially David Gerstein, have been helping proof-read things more these days. Still, the little tiny details, like a fixable mistake in film scan, are the things I just *have* to redo if they’re not *quite* to the place I’d like them to be.

Case in Point: Pencil Mania starring our plucky duo Tom and Jerry. I didn’t get a chance to supervise some of the recent scanning on eight Tom and Jerry prints, and that was ok for the most part – except for this one. The print is pretty nice, but since it was printed a little further to the left it caused an issue. The scanner uses the sprockets to align the picture, and in this case, the picture being slightly further to one side caused it to be in the area used by the sprockets, making a piece of the picture darker. We’ll rescan before too long. Since this one needs to get redone, I thought I’d share the not-getting-used version with everyone this week!

Since we tried really hard to make the Cubby Bear set as good as possible, I felt that we can’t drop the ball on at least trying to get the very best we can find on this series too- and the Little Kings will eventually get that same treatment. The collectors have been wonderful in helping to get there. My own prints of many of this series have been scanned to use. It’s been a little obsessive in trying to find the best ‘Official Films’ print of each of the ones they issued.We have found the silent prints are sometimes the best since they tend to have less wear and splices- and the earlier silent prints are often direct print-downs from 35mm.

One of the cooler things about the Cintel 2/Black Magic scanner, used on some of the newest scans, is that it has a really amazing defused light source, hiding most of the scratches on the base and the emulsion side of the film. There’s no need to ‘wet gate’ most prints any more with this newer system, and it makes a huge difference in how long it takes to clean things up too.

Pencil Mania, maybe more than any Van Beuren cartoon, seems to celebrate creativity and the imagination, and, as in the best of the series, it’s a freewheeling little adventure. There’s funny, enjoyable cartoon drawing throughout. Tom and Jerry cartoons are devoid of any pretension, ever. What are your thoughts on this one?

Make sure to watch in HD. Have a good week everyone!


  • John Foster, co-director of “Pencil Mania”, later incorporated many elements from it into the Terrytoons short “The Magic Pencil” (1940). The first thing Gandy Goose does with his magic pencil is draw an egg suspended in midair, which splatters in Sourpuss’s face when he examines it from beneath. Then Gandy draws a line segment that transforms into a saxophone, and as it plays, eighth notes come out of its bell and turn into honking geese. Then the saxophone sprouts legs and begins to dance. Later, Gandy draws a stick-figure melodrama heroine and mustachioed villain (but not the handsome hero, that role being filled by Sourpuss). As in “Pencil Mania”, Gandy draws a getaway car on the side of a shack. The climax of the cartoon takes place not on a railroad track, but in that other melodrama cliché, a sawmill. (A funny original gag is that Gandy stops the sawmill simply by drawing a brake lever, and then pulling on it.) Finally, just as Sourpuss is about to embrace the girl for the happy ending, Gandy retracts her ink lines back into the magic pencil for the iris out.

    Many Terrytoons are literal remakes of their earlier cartoon shorts, but offhand I can’t think of another that’s a remake of a cartoon produced by a different studio! It suggests that Foster must have been very proud of his work on “Pencil Mania” — as indeed he had every reason to be.

    • Yeah, that was an odd rarity. Rather surprised John didn’t do a remake of “Make’em Move” there.

  • Merrytoons.Terrrytoons…hm…:)

  • Will you include some of the “alternate cuts” of the Flip cartoons as bonus features on the set?

    • Hi Scott! The pre-order includes the specal disc that has all the unusual stuff, plus heads and tails of all the prints that had them since that stuff is really fun- and part of the history. We haven’t finished the bonus features for the set, but its two discs, so we’ll have bonus stuff on both discs as well.

  • HI,

    If you didn’t know the saxophone solo is called Saxophibia written by Rudy Weidoeft and is probably being played by Andy Sennella who is prominent on most of these soundtracks

    • Andy Sannella was also credited as bandleader for four of the very last recordings on the paper Hit of The Week records, released in June, 1932.

  • Downloaded Pencil Mania and the audio goes out of sync with video after the lady & the guy start singing, about 3:45 in.

  • I wonder, after reading about differences in various prints of the same FLIP THE FROG cartoon, how many other such instances appear throughout animation history. I may have pointed this out before, but there are two different existing versions of the soundtrack to “BILLY BOY”, a Tex Avery cartoon from his MGM days. The print that we have seen on laserdisk and the one occasionally shown on television has one minor difference in the music track after the line “Don’t forget to write, heah, heah, heah?” than the print thata I heard and recorded on cassette tape from New York’s WPIX, channel 11 at some point in the 1970’s. There are also some minor differences in one or two TOM AND JERRY (the cat and mouse) cartoons but unfortunately, since I can’t aptly describe the visual, I can’t really point out the difference from the print you see today and the print that some have seen on laserdisk. Oh, if only such deep digs could be done daily; I’m sure there are other such examples. Meanwhile, I like the Van Buren TOM AND JERRY cartoons for the great musical scores and pre-Code bits, and I’m sure these will sound even better on the forthcoming blu-ray set. Good luck, as always, in progress.

  • Can’t wait for the Flip disc! You still have the pre-orders from back in 2016 right?
    I would re-order and not mind!

  • I had recently watched Detouring Thru Maine (1950), and I was wondering if you could upload it as next week’s cartoon!

    I say this because I was hoping to submit screenshots of it for the Internet Animation Database, a site dedicated to all things animation, which I’ve been working at since 2016.


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