Thunderbean Update: I spent the weekend working on the authoring of Arnie Leibovit’s Puppetoons 2 set. An extra hiccup on one of the films put things behind, but it’s nearly done now. It’s easily one of the most beautiful Blu-ray sets I’ve ever seen – I’m happy to have worked on it. Then, its back to finishing more Thunderbean by the weekend.I think getting the technical right on these sets is important. Getting up to speed in the world of DVDs, and again learning digital cleanup and all the other stuff in making a Blu-ray, has been a fun challenge through these years.
I wouldn’t have thought that a little company concentrating on rare animation could even do as well as Thunderbean has at this point, and as its grown over these years it’s been hard to keep up with as it stretches. With the product fulfillment now nearly entirely in other, more capable hands, it’s been a time of moving forward and working on a strategy to grow further, increasing the capability of doing bigger projects and expanding the things we’re able to do, in licensing and expanding genres. I’ll always have my heart around the animation side of things, but looking forward to the other projects as we catch up with what we already have on our plate.
The ‘On Hold’ set is getting the attention right now with some additonal things being added, and second to that fixing a few animation hiccups on the Rainbow titles. My perfect scenario is having these projects out the door before the end of this month or a week into October, and it’s looking completely feasible! I had hoped to have ‘On Hold’ ready to go by this point this week, but it will be over the weekend or next week.
Of course, one of the reasons the ‘On Hold’ set exists is because there’s a lot of things that are just beyond our capability at the moment for one reason or another. Some of them have been about size, while others just required more time to be able to get what we’re trying to get for them film-wise. That has been a continuing theme, more than others- although, eventually, we seem to get what is needed, albeit a piece at a time. If we only did one project at a time and waited for pieces before working on other stuff, it would take 43 years to just get the current projects all done!
Many of these projects have been things I’ve always wanted to do. What else would explain a set of all the Cubby Bears or Little King Cartoons? The Cultoons sets were really just a way to get a lot of one-shot oddball things out there, back in the late 80s and then updated again in the mid-2000s. I’d love to get all of those in HD out at some point, but that’s a dream not happening anytime soon.
Of these animation oddballs, the Toby the Pup cartoons have been a quiet obsession for years. I was lucky enough to get some of them by spending a pretty penny scanning a lot of materials in trade with a close collaborator of mine. Various machinations caused that project to be put on hold a bit after getting the first four films. Clearly it just wasn’t my territory at that moment, even after all that expense.
The original negatives for the RKO Toby the Pups remain lost. I really like the series myself and especially love the experimentation in many of the cartoons. Dick Huemer did wonderful things at Columbia, even if he didn’t think so in talking about them in later years. I think its important to have them available in decent editions, where they exist, for all to enjoy.
The first Toby I saw was the first in the series, The Museum, in a very, very incomplete print with no opening. I borrowed and scanned Collin Kellogg’s print that was duped from Mark Kausler’s reduction. That was the version that ended up on all the dollar DVDs, taken directly from one of the Snappy Video VHS tapes, with the little title card. I was still a teenager, and I remember talking to Collin on the phone and asking for it. He said “Whydoya want THAT?”
The rest of this cartoon survived in a rare (only?) French 17mm print. Seeing that scan was really cool- because now parts of that cartoon started to make sense for the first time. I was excited to share it, but I shouldn’t have been quite so enthusiastic in showing a still from it here on Cartoon Research. Lesson learned! There’s more things from various projects that I’m now keeping under my hat until they’re ready to go out. I’m super excited about some of them. I’ll make sure I’m properly dressed for the occasion when they’re ready!
Eventually when all planets line up, I’ll scan the incomplete 35mm print and combine it with the incomplete 17mm. For now, I’ve combined the old SD scan with the print to cobble together the most complete print of the film up until now- so here is a pretty rough version of this little film, but it’s enjoyable! This version is on the On Hold set. More on that soon.
Have a great week everyone!