Honestly, the best part about doing Thunderbean sets is putting the first cover and the first booklet into a case with a disc removed from the first opened spool. We assemble everything at the office rather than have them done at a replicators (we don’t have the room for 1,000 of each replicated title in cases!). I was just able to do that for the long-in-progress Stop Motion Marvels Blu-ray revision, and I love seeing it come together knowing these films will now be part of all sorts of different blu-ray collections.
Stop Motion Marvels, as a set, really dates back to 2002, as artist and professor Stewart Mckissick, my partner on putting together this set, relates in the original booklet (and now, the revision). I had lent prints to show at Cinevent in Columbus Ohio of several of the Kinex shorts. They were (and still are) a pretty rare find, but they exist in enough numbers that they’ll show up every once in a while. I had traded the prints I had with a semi-local collector, Ralph Spitulski, who lived in Toledo, Ohio, a little under an hour away from Ann Arbor. Ralph and I would often lend or trade prints, and they would arrive the next day via UPS. I was both thrilled and a little scared of these first Kinex shorts when I first got them; they were on ancient stock (from 1928 or 29) and smelled like mothballs! It turns out the stock is actually cellulose diacetate, something I could never have known way back then, and the small is pretty usual.
In 2005, We set out to find as many of the Kinex shorts as possible and Stewart and I started in earnest to put together a set of stop motion shorts, with the Kinex shorts at the centerpiece. Over the course of the the project we managed to get shorts from private collections as well as from several archives. Three sound shorts produced after the initial Kinex Studios ones rounded out the picture, and we were able to find out more about the studio, including a list of every Kinex short made, from D.J. Turner, a Canadian archivist and longtime lover of film. D.J helped us borrow films from three archives, bringing us much closer to having a majority of the shorts.
The final disc included four sections: Early Experiments, All Sorts of Shorts, Commercials and the Kinex collection. We now have all but two of the Kinex shorts on the revised set, partially from 20 years of hunting them down, with many additional shorts from Tommy Stathes’ collection and several archives. The other sections contain a majority of the films on the first set, although several didn’t make it on. Commentaries by Larry Larson, Ken Priebe, Jim Danforth, Seamus Walsh and Mark Cabellero (and myself) give additional information. Larry was a good friend and beloved animator/artist who taught at CCS. He passed a few years back, and it was wonderful to hear his commentary again on one of Willis O’Brien’s films.
Even though it took a lot longer than I thought (don’t they all?) I really like how the set has turned out and am looking forward to checking more of the long-in-progress sets off the list. Let’s hope at this point next week Flip the Frog is an actual finished project!