April 27, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Thunderbean Thoughts — and a few required animation history viewings!

I always feel a little guilty having the bully pulpit here on Thursdays. There’s so many good stories about collecting, and so many things that could show up or be discovered by so many people that I feel a little bad about having a forum to chat about them without everyone being able to — so today, if you have any good stories about stuff you’ve found please add them. I know some of you have *many* of those stories! Still, that said, once they’re found and available, I’m pretty happy they get shared. A lot of things are now available from better materials – and we can all be glad about that.

Still, there’s a lot of things that still aren’t. When something surprising is restored from really good material I’m honestly thrilled since it sort of evens the playing field a little. Then even less-known things can be enjoyed as well as evaluated historically. So many things seem long overdue: series like Fleischer’s Color Classics or the Puppetoons have been pretty hard to see in decent prints- or Columbia’s Scrappy and Krazy Kats and so many others. I’ll keep trying to be a champion for these things and, hopefully more get out there. It was a pleasure to work on the Puppetoons 2 with Arnold Leibovit since there was so many beautiful elements directly from Paramount — and others from really excellent prints from archives and other collections.

As the school year was ending here I’m just more excited about the possibilities in these next few months. I’m not sure how everything will turn out quite yet, but it’s pretty promising— if only the few projects that are basically done can get out the door!

Here’s the current goings on:

On Van Beuren’s Technicolor “Rainbow Parades”
I’m about to be really immersed in this series. We’ve scanned some things already (35mm Technicolor prints that have been the ‘masters’ since the 40s) and have kept them under wraps, but it looks like I need to take a trip out to Los Angeles to work on evaluation and cleaning of several elements and check to see if some of the myriad but incomplete black and white separations are actually usable. It’s a rare shot to get to do this sort of thing, so we want to get it right.

On the Fleischer restoration project:
I’ve been working on cleaning up some of the “Inkwell Imps” for the Fleischer Studio restoration project, and working from the master materials is really incredible. The 35mm masters (from Paramount) on these are in beautiful condition- and they really deserve to be seen by a wider audience— and will be sometime in the not-too-distant future. The future looks great for these films.

On Felix the Cat:
Mickey Mouse-ologist David Gerstein and I started down the path of scanning and finding all the known Felixes, working with Felix the Cat productions, back in 2010. The project fell apart in 2014 because of circumstances beyond our control (including the most Hollywood-esque meeting I’ve ever had, in a Marie Callender’s over a piece of pie) but hope springs eternal for that little cursed black cat! We’ll be talking extensively about the project over the summer and see where we land. We have scanned over 100 Felix shorts, many of them rarely or not seen since their creation.

On the long-in-the-tooth Bunin project:
I have great hope to wrap this project this year. That is looking more likely with additional material available more recently and additional pieces moving around. A trip to New York is in order sometime soon.

Some Technicolor Dreams:
One of the other projects this summer that I’m excited about is the More Technicolor Dreams set. This set will contain some rare promotional cartoons, including some of the more extravagant Technicolor Jam Handy shorts. These have long deserved to have high def versions available.

And… onto today’s— animation!
Tomorrow is the last day of the animation history class at CCS, so I thought I’d share a few things that I think are must sees, even though they’re a little out of the usual 20s to 60s eras often highlighted here. We show tons of things in the history class, ending this year in 2012. Maybe next year I’ll be less than 10 years behind!

Father and Daughter (2000)
I think this is one of the most perfect animated shorts ever made. The metaphors throughout the film require multiple viewings to understand completely, but it can also be enjoyed without thinking about any of them. The ending is one of the simplest of any short film, but so profound.

Ann and Bella (1986)
Borge Ring’s sweet little short is a classic, and touches on classic animation throughout in many ways. A favorite of mine.

Flebus (1957)
Ernie Pintoff’s classic short, produced by Gene Deitch, is an absolute must in any history class. I skipped showing it this year since time ran out that particular day (!) so on the last day I’m running it since it’s really required viewing. Also incredibly simple in content and design (and basic human psychology!) it keeps as fresh as books like ‘I Can Fly’ and ‘Go Dog Go!’. I know there’s a few people here that don’t like this period of Terrytoons, but it’s still a great crowd pleaser half a century later.

Move Your Feet (2002)
Using the suddenly retro 8 bit graphic style of the 80s and 90s, this video (produced by GB’s Shynola Studio collective) was immediately popular in a time just before Youtube would dominate internet video. Everything would change in 2005, opening an even bigger door.

Have a good week all!


  • That was one of the Flescher characters talked about at the New Yotk Comic Con some time ago when Ray Pointer and his new business partner the collectible pin we’re talking about the rotting Koko films except whoops, now here they are from the masters which is a little “ko-konfusing” (maybe Gotta smoke some grass to understand the California approach lol!)

    They would not say what they are doing with these “now really cool” old cartoons. The old fans know Koko well, now there is a new push to make collectible “merch “ out of him. Bet the films look good though. Ray Painyer was the first to discover them back in the 1940s when he was a kid, and he wrote a lot about it on the internet. Now he has made the right idea to go into the merch business with these new friends in California. Making the comic convention rounds together to spread the Gospel of Uncle Max. They did not have any film cans at the convention only digital files. It feels a bit cold that way. We all watched this stuff on TV way before the digital revolution. Then they made the new Betty Boop merchandise when Papa Max died, the lawyer realized they had a cash cow on their hands. But it was nice to see new interest in Betty, don’t think it ever went away since then. Don’t see Dave Fleischer’s family doing this, but he was the partner in the studio. Does any readers know if his grandkids are still around

    • What language is this?

  • Really great list of shorts! I myself have only seen the last one, but the others definitely have my attention!

  • I’m hoping that this will be the year that my pre-ordered Bunin restoration will ship out. Thanks for mentioning it.

  • Will Columbia’s Krazy Kat and Scrappy ever be available on DVD or Blu Ray? I know people hate it when this question is asked, but I’ve really been getting into these shorts and would love to have them on disc. They’re pretty entertaining!

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