Tuesday 10 July 2012

Classic Cartoons #9 - Superman/The Mad Scientist

Today's classic cartoon is the first from a series of widely successful short films produced by the Fleischer Studio in the early 1940s, the Superman short films. The Fleischer Studios, founded in 1921 by brothers Max and Dave Fleischer, were the most significant competition for the Disney studio during the Golden Age of Animation.

Most notable for their Betty Boop and Popeye cartoon shorts, the Fleischers' Superman cartoons are also revered. The short that started that off, eponymously titled Superman - or The Mad Scientist - was even nominated for the 1942 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject, losing out to the Disney propaganda short, Der Fuehrer's Face. The Fleischer shorts are also purportedly the inspiration for Superman flying - up until then he had only lept, but the brothers deemed this 'silly looking'.

Incredibly high budget - at about $50,000, twice the cost of an average Fleischer cartoon - and filled with spectacle and awe - if a little old by today's standards - Superman and the subsequent shorts in the series were, and are, great testaments to storytelling and animation, and you can definitely the Fleischer inspiration in Robb Pratt's brilliant new Superman short films.

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