Thunderbean News to kick things off:
It’s the last week of classes here- in fact, as of this writing, one more class until the semester is done. At Thunderbean, it also marks getting nearly all the finished ‘special’ discs sent (there’s 7 more to go tomorrow — then onto the Christmas Special disc(s)- and a few other things to get out over the weekend if we can!).
On the ‘Official’ discs, We’re finishing More Stop Motion Marvels right now – and likely will have a master finished next week. We’ll replicate it as soon as we’re able to. Rainbow Parades is a little further back, but not much… just waiting for a piece of the titles to be done, and perhaps a little more work on finding music-only pieces of the soundtracks added. Flip the Frog still waits for a few things to come from two different archives – the other 36 cartoons are all cleaned up and nearly ready. I hope to devote this space to some of those releases next week and other new releases.
Now, onto today’s prompt: Make up a Holiday Special!
When you think about “Christmas Specials”, only a handful really stand out as being the ‘classics’. Looking at the Wikipedia list (of *just* the ones produced in the US) you realize that most of them you haven’t— and probably *never* will actually see. Here — look for yourself!Now, there are quite a few really lovely specials that there’s a pretty good possibility that you haven’t seen. Some sound intriguing to me (like this one The Spirit of Christmas from 1953 with puppets). Then, there’s others that really deserve to be better know (like Ziggy’s Gift).
Reading through the list, there are some ‘classic’ animated characters that have specials, but *many, many more * that do not.
Rudolph (1964) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) are perhaps the most famous of any US specials – but after looking at the list, I couldn’t help but think how much cooler the past would be if some of my favorite characters had managed to get their own special. After all, if Peanuts can have four specials and the Flintstones can have four as well, why can’t a single Terrytoon character get their own special? Mighty Mouse or John Doormat must be spinning in their cartoon graves (or are they still alive?).
Oddly enough, the Disney Studio was pretty restrained in making Christmas Specials, at least until the 80s. One good special would suffice I guess – and it is a pretty good one.
So, in the spirit of improving the past, I call on you to alter history here — and cover the missing Classic Animation Christmas (or other end-of-the-year holiday) Specials. Here alone we can bravely improve the past and magically add vintage films to history.
Each of these specials should follow in the footsteps of the Disney and Warner Bros specials, using classic cartoons with new wraparound segments to somehow tie everything together.
Your rules – or at least things to make sure to include:
A) Name of the special and who made it (you can include the director)
B) Where it first aired
C) What “classic cartoons” are included
D) Whether it was a good special or not
I’ll start with a few (of course, none of these ’really’ existed, but I can’t wait for some industrious future cartoon researcher to actually go searching for them):
Captain Sailorbird’s Christmas around the World (originally Broadcast as Capt’n Sailorbird- Christmas On the High Seas) (Syndicated to UHF Stations, Ted Eshbaugh Productions, 1959)
In this bizarre special, Captain Sailorbird appears with his friends Goofy Goat, Cap’n Cub, Sammy Salvage and The Eskimo from The Snowman. They gather around a fire to tell stories from around the world. Cartoons include Capn’ Cub (1945) (using the factory footage, matting Christmas presents into each plane) Spunky the Snowman (1959, USSR), The Snowman (1932) and footage from Sammy Salvage run in reverse, with new footage of live action children receiving the various metal characters that walked backwards out of the incinerator. The special ends with all the characters riding angry accordions into the sky, knocking Santa out of his Sleigh as Goofy Goat puts on his hat and takes over Santa’s duties. For those with good vision, Otto Knowbetter can be seen running in front of a train in the first few shots of Santa flying over New York. This special has a cult following, oddly, in France.
Bombo’s Very Special Christmas (CBS, Al Broadax/Famous Studios production, 1960).
Since Bombo was the only character that Famous Studio thought they may still own from Gulliver’s Travels, they designed a special around him, using footage from Gulliver’s Travels (1939), Boo Moon (1954) and Gabby in ‘Two for the Zoo’ combining it with new footage featuring Gabby giving presents to all the animals.
The limited animation of the new footage required altering the older cartoons to match, so the frame rate was reduced on the classic cartoon footage from 24fps to 10fps, making for a fairly jerky experience. All prints of the special that have survived have, of course, turned that exact shade of NTA red. Modern Sound Pictures became exclusive distributor of this special for many years. It isn’t highly regarded.
Now, it’s your turn. I’ll be greatly disappointed if Monkey Doodle or Goofy Gus doesn’t make an appearance.
Now — since it’s a near requirement for this column each week – here’s a real cartoon: Alias St. Nick — with a terrific animator’s breakdown from our own Devon Baxter. His article from back in 2015 is here.
..and here’s the toon too!
Have a good week all!