December 18, 2014 posted by

Random Notes


I was sad this week to hear about the passing of Dave Butler, 16mm film collector, original art collector and founder of Bosko Video. I first met him at the Columbus Cinevent show in 1988, the second show I went to selling Snappy Video VHS tapes of old cartoons. Dave was there selling 16mm prints of Warner Bros. cartoons and other shorts, a lot of rare prints. Not long after that he formed Bosko Video, releasing a few collections of Warner Brothers Cartoons with the studio’s gag reels interspersed between them…very cool and completely impossible to see footage.

bosko250If memory serves, I believe Dave said he gotten of the films from Bob McKimson himself.. though I might be wrong about that… Over the course of a handful of years, Dave released a complete collection of Private Snafu cartoons and many other sets, including the first good quality set of the Fleischer’s Superman Cartoons I had seen. One of my best memories of Dave was sharing a table with him and two of the surviving Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz. Dave had found a rare nitrate print of ‘Terror of Tiny Town’ and often had Munchkins with him to sign copies of the film!

Dave later distributed some of my Snappy Video collections to comic book stores as well. My friend David Gerstein told me he got a few of them back then, with simple, two color covers. Dave was a consummate collector and loved cartoons, and in later years made quite a few videos on the local Pow-Wows held near his home in Wisconsin. He was a character and loved these films like so many of us do. He’ll be missed.

superman-dvd-250As my duties at the College for Creative Studies wind down for the semester, I find I’m often catching up with all the other stuff that either went into the back burner or forgotten, or though to and just not acted on. I’ve had a chance to work on the short film that has been in progress in some form all year, and happy to be able to finish a few other little projects. I’m getting back to a couple of bigger projects for Thunderbean as well, now that work is finished on helping on a good friend’s DVD/ Blu-ray.

A little while back I asked both here and at a few other places for suggestions on projects- the results have been a lot of great ideas here, on some of the forums and emails. These are super helpful, and keep me thinking about what projects to pursue with this little company. Some of them really are feasible, while others are still pipe dreams. A few things looked promising and have been stopped right now in their tracks, while other things are moving forward. Being able to work from original negatives and fine grains on projects right now is really a joy; I just wish everything had that kind of quality. I do hope to share stills soon on some of these.

Last week’s article by Chris Buchman led to some conversations this week about putting out a really good Christmas set in blu-ray… including both some of the common and not-so-common things in excellent quality- and that’s not-so-common for many of these shorts! If you had your druthers, what films would you put on a set like that- feel free to mention non-animated ones as well please! (I already know about Santa and the Three Bears, so no need to mention that one!). I’d love to see some mentions of some of the rarer things that have shown up through the years..

Christmas comes but once a year is for sure one of my favorite Christmas Cartoons of all time. I do hope that someday we’ll see absolutely stunning original material on the Fleischer Color Classics. So many kids saw this cartoon over and over in a reddish print on cheap VHS cartoon collections….I think I may have first seen it on ‘Matinee at the Bijou’.


  • On the Christmas set, here are some of the things I’d like to see:

    “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”
    Max Fleischer’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (both the original 1948 and 1951 re-release versions)
    the original GE commericals from Rankin/Bass’ “Rudolph”
    the live action/animated short “Christmas Toyshop”
    “Fresh Hare” with Bugs Bunny
    “Pals” (Christmas Night) with the Little King

  • Wow, sorry to hear about Dave Butler’s passing.. Never met him, but was always a fan of his work.

  • My sympathies on the passing of your friend Dave Butler; he sounds like someone I would have enjoyed knowing as well.

    “Christmas Comes But Once a Year” and Jam Handy’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” would be essentials for such a set, of course. I’d also love to see John Halas & Joy Batchelor’s “The Candlemaker” and “The Christmas Visitor”, Lotte Reiniger’s “The Star of Bethlehem” (or any of her holiday-themed work, such as “Christmas Is Coming”, a short ad reminding people to mail their Christmas cards and gifts early to ensure their timely arrival), and any foreign material you think would be worthy, such as “New Year’s Trip” (aka “The Christmas Visit”) from the Soviet Union in 1959. And on the live-action side, you might want to take a look at an early (and much-abbreviated) TV version of “A Christmas Carol” from 1949, featuring none other than Vincent Price as the narrator.

    • and any foreign material you think would be worthy, such as “New Year’s Trip” (aka “The Christmas Visit”) from the Soviet Union in 1959.

      I was going to suggest that as well! The English version of which I’ve been told has Hal Smith doing a voice or two on.

  • I can start things off. WGN has been showing 3 Christmas shorts for as long as I can remember: UPS’s Frosty the Snowman, and the stop-motion Suzy Snowflake and Hardrock, Coco and Joe would make a good starting point. Anybody know why the UPA Frosty has only shown up in B&W?

    • It wouldn’t surprise me if it was only produced in B&W, but I could be wrong here (same with “Peter Cottontail” they did for Easter).

  • Dave was an advertiser in Animato! and I later sold his VHS tapes through the magazine. His Felix tapes were good as well and he once sent me a VHS of a proposed release of Fleischer Song cartoons from the 1930s that had all of the live action musical performances cut out! He apparently was concerned about clearance rights of the music. Although he could be a “character” at times, he was an avid animation fan who put out some really wonderful tapes.


    • I recall a clip at the very end (featuring the Christmas Seals stamp for 1936) being shown on an episode of HBO’s “Dream On”. I still sorta wonder what deal was made to put that in at the end (and whether or not was there an added message from the American Lung Association we never got to see due to the usual NTA prints removing those endings).

  • “Christmas Come But Once a Year” was reworked as a Casper cartoon some years later, wasn’t it? I seem to remember a Casper with the same basic plot idea and a few of the same gags.

    • Yes, but I don’t remember the name of the Casper cartoon. Same premise, though, and some gags recycled from the earlier Fleischer short.

    • Okay, found it. “True Boo,” from 1952. Instead of an orphanage full of Campbell Kids, Casper brings Christmas to a single poor boy.

  • Sorry to hear of Dave Butler’s passing. I liked his DVD sets around the Warner Brothers BOSKO cartoons, and I only wished that he could have issued the *ENTIRE* series, but his PRIVATE S.N.A.F.U. set was terrific and I’m sure it inspired your own such collection as well as the collection soon to come. It is probably his SUPERMAN collection that reintroduced the Max Fleischer cartoons in stunning quality to new generations of fans. He had a nice FLIP THE FROG collection as well. Sorry I never got to meet him.

    I have so many ideas for a Holiday-themed cartoon collection, but for Thunderbean, I’m also wishing for more sub-licensing since there are so many copyrighted cartoons that need to be unearthed, and it seems that the only way this will get done is if someone in a neutral corner gets the job done! Now, if only the bigger companies would cooperate; I mean, Warner Brothers allowed for a terrific job to be done on the LOONEY TUNES black and white cartoons of the 1930’s; why couldn’t Thunderbean pick up the slack? I wouldn’t consider this as intrusive on their territory since they don’t seem to be even mildly interested in finishing the job for whatever reason. Your company is devoted enough to the idea that you’d keep searching for the best quality, and you know much about the history already so that a lot of background would go into what you do! This is just an idea, of course, and I’ve already discussed with you some titles that have alternate sequences throughout that vast library. Good luck in 2015, and believe me, no one wants to see these things happen more than me! Happy Holidays to all the animation historians and much fruit in future projects! Books are fine, but what the history needs is to be *SEEN*, restored and uncut!

  • Sorry to hear of Dave’s passing. I remember those Bosko Video releases too and was envious such releases were ever possible.

  • Sorry to hear about “brother” Butler. I never had the chance to meet him, though I remember buying a pile of color Lantz cartoons at the Columbus con once in the mid-80’s. After about 10 years I turned most of it around to Brother Kausler in an effort to thin out the herd a bit. I agree with Christmas Comes but Once a Year (with original titles restored—-and don’t mask out the Technicolor banner) and Rudolph – Handy. I would really like to see a restored pan down the tree version of the titles. nI would really believe that’s how it started life. As long a you’re not relegated to stick to indy or only one studio, you could use “Shanty where Santa Claus Lives”. Yeah, it’s around but it’s relevant. The old B/W Suzy Snowflake-HardRock Coco & joe-and Frosty shorties would go in there. If a good print exists of Castle’s Santa Claus’ Punch & Judy show might fit. The Little Audrey Santa cartoon might work, but I draw the line at Ski for Two because Wally Walrus looks at the calendar and see’s it only July!! That’s all I can think of off the top of my cranium.

  • Man, I loved those Bosko Video tapes. Back in the day, those were THE releases to get in order to watch vintage cartoons.

  • There are Van Beuren Studios cartoons that would go well on a Christmas cartoon collection: A Waif’s Welcome (1936), Candy Town (Silvery Moon) (1933 re-release), A Toy Town Tale (1931), Toy Time (1932), Skating Hounds (1929). The pre-Burt Gillett/Tom Palmer era cartoons are pretty goofy, but fun. Please avoid any of those live-action and puppet Castle Film shorts — although interesting to sit through once, they take ridiculous to a higher level. Yes, I would buy this collection, probably several to give away.

  • At least, we want the full restoration of “Santa and the THREE BEARS” from the original WB footage. With a improvement on the original RCA sound and the original TECHNICOLOR of that era. This is a very interesting feature film. And what’s about a vinyl recording with the soundtrack?
    So many people wants to remember this classic with the original WB logo.
    And this story is interesting for this XMAS time. This movie is a very interesting classic, but we want also a full restoration of the Paramount cartoon, “Santa’s Surprise,” with many footage of some NTA prints, and the original Paramount intro and ending. And we need a search for the original “Hector’s Hectic Life” title card, for a new restoration of the NOVELTOON released in 1948 and reissued by UMMTV Corp. in the mid-50’s. Also a restoration of the original RCA sound of this short is important. Thanks to all.

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