Well, we're coming up again on probably my favorite pseudo-holiday all year long. No religious affiliation required (unless you're one of those wackos who run around in the woods) - everybody can join in! As a kid I couldn't believe there was actually a day dedicated to Frankenstein. It was as though the contents of my head were suddenly appearing in department store windows and shelves everywhere! Cartoons benefitted greatly from this coincidental 'holiday' and, in fact, many of the best cartoons ever made (in my opinion) were those which in some way revolved around the supernatural. It was ready made material for animation. I've covered a number of these in previous years and, although the list is dwindling, I hope to get a few more examples up this year. Enjoy!
One of the things that I love so much about the New York school of animation was their total misunderstanding of cuteness. Cubby Bear, the unforgettable star of the Van Bueren Studios from 1933-1934, was just such a creature. A look at the only existing poster (that I know of) for Cubby reveals two glaze-eyed characters, mid twirl, punctuated psychotic animals and the disembodied head of an expressionistic horse!
The merchandise from Van Beuren wasn't much better. Can you imagine any kid wanting to snuggle with these? Talk about Halloween Horrors! "Mommy, my stuffies smell like ashtray and yelling!"
'The Nut Factory', which was released Aug. 11 1933 and directed by future Terrytoons animator Mannie Davis, perhaps owes a mild debt to the earlier Fleischer cartoon 'The Herring Murder Case' but is so completely off the wall that you really have to see it to believe it. While the similarity to Mickey is obvious so too is the similarity to Bimbo: star of just-across-the-street Fleischer Studios. In terms of narrative (?) structure if there ever was an heir to 'The Male Man' at a studio other than Fleischers this is it! It's all about the dentures!
How do you top a ladies room gag? Follow it with an outhouse gag!
Oh, by the way, there's a haunted house. The logic is sound: ladies room + out-house + haunted house=perfection. Class dismissed.
Bats and another Fleischer influence: the multiple doors of 'Bimbo's Initiation'! Van Beuren rain is great isn't it? Moody and wonderful.
and fantastic ghosts!