July 15, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Scrappy in “Graduation Exercises” (1935)

It’s Scrappy time again — just as every day should be. If we watched a Scrappy cartoon a week we’d be watching them for a little over two years!

In Thunderbean news:

Behind the scenes at Thunderbean is all about drawing for an upcoming project, moving files, finishing this or that and really just catching up on various things on the long list of things to catch up. I’ve been working at night making final versions of Flip the Frogs for the Blu-ray set, smiling the whole time. More films have been arriving to scan in the coming weeks, and my kitty Bouba, a faithful companion otherwise, jumped behind my computer and unplugged several USB connections as files were transferring, corrupting a sound file I had just scanned from a print. Tail between my legs (or more properly Bouba’s tail between the USB ports!) I had to write Mark Kausler back and break the news that I may need to borrow the same print back again! I won’t hold it against Bouba, but I’m putting a bunch of obstacles behind this computer from now on to prevent his less-than-productive meddling.

By this point next week, I hope to have the majority of Flips all on their final versions. I’ll share some of the work on the in next week’s post.

Now, onto this week’s cartoon: Graduation Exercises!

Ben Harrison and Manny Gould spent most of their time in the 30s working on Krazy Kat or Color Rhapsody cartoons at Columbia, but they did tackle two Scrappy cartoons in 1935: Scrappy’s Ghost Story and Graduation Exercises. I don’t think either film is a classic, but it’s interesting to see the difference in having a different team working on a Scrappy.

Graduation Exercises, this week’s cartoon, starts out great: Scrappy and Oopy are on their way to Scrappy’s last day of class. Oopy’s distractions cause Scrappy to be late to graduation, so Oopy devises a plot to sneak into class so Scrappy can still graduate.

The contrast of the characters moods in the first sequences of the film are just wonderful, and the film really shows promise. Sadly, once in the classroom, the film nearly falls flat, turning into a basic chase, missing the mark on following in the footsteps of pretty good first act.

The character animation is wonderful as Scrappy and Oopy dress up to attempt to fool the teacher. Some of the action and animation continues to be fun throughout (the timing on the pin on the chair gag is really nicely done) but the film really goes nowhere more interesting. Still, the animation alone makes it a fun outing. It holds up as simple entertainment, save for one unfortunate black stereotype/ Eddie Cantor impression.

I watched this cartoon again twice tonight to just enjoy the animation. Make sure to pull out your Scrappy Puppet theatre and light it with your Scrappy Christmas lights so you can relive their adventures after the cartoon is over. Have a good week everyone!


  • I wait for your post all week. I wish it was ten times longer! You are to animation what Kevin Brownlow is to the silents.

    I’m 64 years old, my childhood from 7 years old has been blackhawk 8mm and super8mm, then vhs, then dvd, now bluray and cartoon research. You and all those at CR will be in the pantheon of animation gods. I cant hold back my admiration for your work.

    The first film in a theatre I was brought to was PINOCCHIO – I was 4 years old, and my eyes have never gotten over that day. My mom was unaware of the importance of that day. In short your work reinforces the world of the masters animators by restoring their work anew, a long over due job.

    You were a child with a mission; you are my teacher and mentor – and I thank you for all us kids-at-heart.

    • “I wait for your post all week. I wish it was ten times longer! You are to animation what Kevin Brownlow is to the silents.”

    • Hi Walter,
      Your post really touched me, and I’m glad you like the articles here! I really need to spend more time putting them together- I have a bunch in the works that I haven’t finished! These really are the things I love, and I’m so happy you enjoy these posts. Now I have something bigger to live up to! We’re all in the together as longtime fans of animated films. Seeing Pinocchio in 1978 was a similar experience for me, one of the most influential in my life- my eyes have never gotten over that day either.

      Again, thanks so much for your response- it’s really made my week.

      • steve wow you read my message thanks to you for me thanking you an alphone and gaston moment cant wait for flip comicolors and any and every bluray you guys are wonderful brings me back to a summer day 1978 when the mail brought me my blackhawk print of yes SUMMERTIME my first super 8mm in magnetic sound anytime i get one of your blurays im right back in the 70s youf work is of course a labor of love with all our thanks and love right back at ya thanks again walt

  • You may be Scrappy’s number one fan, but I think you’re a little harsh on this cartoon. Yes, it’s a bit anti-climactic, but there were laugh-out-loud moments all the way through. There are many parallels to the Iwerks ComiColor cartoon “Mary’s Little Lamb”: two main characters who come to school with very different attitudes, a one-room schoolhouse, the last day of school, a battleaxe of a schoolmarm, a “Good morning” song, a kid named Elmer, etc.

    The kids-in-an-overcoat-pretending-to-be-an-adult gag was recently revived in the Netflix cartoon series “BoJack Horeseman” — and hilariously, absolutely everyone except BoJack falls for the ruse.

    A Scrappy cartoon every week for the next two years? Sure, I can do that!

  • Oopy corrupting Scrappy’s audio files sounds like a good plot for a modern-day series reboot. Get to work on it!

  • Steve, haven’t I spent years and years telling you the evils of having cats for pets?
    So, what do I do? I marry a cat lover and my son loves the danged critters! Ahh, well! I hope you get the print back and can transfer it properly! Dogs – most of the time – should be the pets of choice! Columnist Mike Royko of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES – and later the CHICAGO TRIBUNE – did a whole column on the evils of cats, and siting movie villains like Boris Karloff, etc. having evil cats for pets. Maybe there’s something to that! (Heh, heh! Just kidding! Maybe!)

  • Oh the trials and tribulations of having anxious and eager cats as pets! Steve, I have three, and I spend a lot of time keeping my collectables out of the reach of curious and playful paws! Ouch! I really feel your pain that you lost a cherished transfer, but hopefully Mark Kausler will understand and want to see his terrific print captured digitally so we all can enjoy the results. FLIP THE FROG is so high on my list right now and, as always, I look forward to receiving my copy! You have proven time and time again that hard work pays off, because your collections have no equal!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *