Back in the 1920s and 30s, cartoons were a truly magical experience. Hand drawn doodles danced and sang projected as big as a house on the silver screens of lavish movie palaces. Every short cartoon was a window into a world of its own, and artists were free to use their pencils and paint to make fun of absolutely anything- no rules, no censors.
Today, times have changed. Animation is primarily a children’s medium. It’s made with computers, and the scope of the cartoon world is limited by the size of the TV set in our living room. Classic animated films of the past have suffered the ravages of time, gradually deteriorating, being bumped out of broadcast TV schedules, fading away until they’re little more than just a pleasant memory.
But on June 20th, film preservationist Steve Stanchfield will turn back the hands of time and present a program of newly restored vintage cartoons on the big screen at the legendary Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Stanchfield is a champion of rare and forgotten animation, and his company, Thunderbean Animation is helping preserve our cartoon heritage, utilizing modern digital technology to return these precious films to their former glory. Also on board for this exciting program is Stephen Worth, the president of Animation Resources, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to serving animation artists and researchers. Worth will be sharing the stories of the artists who made the films and providing historical background.
The program will include a little bit of everything, from animation’s biggest stars to its most unusual obscure characters.
There will be silent films and sound films, early experimental color cartoons, as well as good old black & white. Highlights of the program include a newly restored copy of Ub Iwerks’ “Hells Fire”, presented in color for the first time since it debuted in 1934. Felix the Cat, the very first cartoon superstar, will be represented by pristine prints of “Felix the Cat Shatters the Sheik” and “Draggin’ the Dragon (1926). There will be rare stop motion puppet films by Lou Bunin, a wartime training film made by Warner Bros that was never released, and rare films starring the deliciously obscure Mickey wanna-bes, “Cubby Bear” and “Binko the Cub”. The rarest of the rare will be back up on the big screen where it belongs!
In “Hells Fire” (AKA Vulcan Entertains, Willie Whopper and his dog visit Hell where they meet
the likes of Nero, Rasputin, Simon Legree, Napoleon , Antony and Cleopatra
and old man Prohibition is carried around on a rail.
In the 1926 “Felix the Cat Shatters the Sheik”directed by Otto Messmer
Felix lands a job as a mascot for an umbrella salesman, and travels to the Arabian desert. They have a hard time selling umbrellas in the desert, until Felix makes a deal with a bird concerning a cloud above a convention of desert sheiks.
The 1928 Felix in Draggin’ the Dragon, directed by Pat Sullivan
and animated By Otto Messmer, must have something to do with Irving Berlin’s 1927 novelty song Draggin’ the Dragon Drag.
Lou Bunin, the arty American puppetter, who painted murasl in Mexico City, was famously photographed by Tina Modotti ( “The Hands of the Puppeteer”) and made the gloroius stop-motion faeture Alice in Wonderland will be represented by several stop-motion films .
Amedee J. van Beuren’s signature Cubby the Bear and Binko the Cub, the first creation of Bob McKimson and Preston Blair ( the Romer Grey Studio) , will both be appearing on the Big Screen, where they belong!
Steve Stanchfield will have DVDs and blu-rays of restored cartoons for sale in the lobby after the program, and Animation Resources will be on hand to provide info about their organization.
Animation Resources is a 501(c)(3) California non-profit corporation. We are providing self-study resources and training material to animation professionals, cartoonists, designers, Illustrators, students and researchers. Animation Resource’s Director, Stephen Worth can be reached at… firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1982, Stephen Worth was a student at UCLA studying design. He attended an event hosted by The International Animated Film Society: ASIFA-Hollywood and had the opportunity to speak with the organization’s President, the legendary cartoon Producer, Story Man and Voice Artist, Bill Scott. Scott described his plans to create an “Animateque”- a research facility for animation professionals and students. Steve never forgot that meeting. “The resources weren’t there to pull it off during Bill’s tenure as President of ASIFA-Hollywood. But a few years ago, I remembered Bill’s idea and realized that computers had made organizing educational material much easier. The concept of a “digital Animateque” excited me. I guess you could say that when Bill passed away, his passion for the idea was transferred to me.”
After 20 years as an animation Producer, Stephen Worth decided it was time to give back to the muse. He went to work full time at ASIFA-Hollywood to try to build support for Bill’s concept of the Animateque. “The animation business is in dire need of inspiration and new ideas,” Worth explains. “I kept reading in the trades that traditional animation techniques were dead and artists would soon be replaced by technology. But I know from working with innovative filmmakers like Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi that the principles that created Pinocchio and Bugs Bunny are the same ones that will lead new technologies to the same heights reached in the ‘golden age’ of animation. The technology is just a tool. The artist is the one who creates. We need to invest in artists.”
Almost overnight, Worth established a world class facility for self-study and research into the art of animation. Housed in a storefront in Burbank, the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive provided information, digitized animated films, assembled biographical information and prepared high resolution scans of artwork for use by countless animators, educators, art students and researchers. The facility became world famous through its exhaustive website and extensive collection of material from the personal files of legendary animators like Grim Natwick, Les Clark, Michael Lah, Herb Klynn and John Kricfalusi. A dedicated group of volunteers worked tirelessly digitizing and cataloguing the material, guaranteeing that future generations will be able to benefit from the valuable information.
In January of 2011, ASIFA-Hollywood informed Worth that regrettably they were no longer able to sponsor his project. Worth wasn’t willing to let Bill Scott’s dream end there, so he scrambled to create a permanent organizational umbrella for the collection. He established Animation Resources, a 501(c)(3) California non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and encouraging animation education. The core of Animation Resources’ offerings is Stephen Worth’s valuable research and curation efforts and the generous efforts of the dozens of dedicated volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to creating this resource.
I would like to thank the membership of The International Animated Film Society: ASIFA-Hollywood for sponsoring my efforts to get this project off the ground during its first few years. In particular, I owe a debt of gratitude to ASIFA-Hollywood’s president, Antran Manoogian. Without his unwavering support and valuable guidance this project would not exist. -Stephen Worth
To read more about this visionary project, the classes, the archive and plans to syndicate the archive to schools go to http://animationresources.org/about/
Saturday June 20th, 2015 3pm
American CInemateque: Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028
Tickets for this program are $11, and are available for advance sale at the Fandango link below. They will be on sale at the Egyptian Box Office the day of the event.
ORDER TICKETS ONLINE AT FANDANGO
EGYPTIAN CALENDAR LISTING