The Golden Age of Animation
October 22, 2017 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Mild-Mannered Superman "A weekly project to make the best, most complete version of the classic 1941-1943 Fleischer Studios Superman short films possible."
[All 17 remastered episodes in a single playlist] [A short history of the cartoon] [Previously]
posted by Sibrax (13 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Also semi-mandatory here: Brian Feis' Superman-free (and therefore non-canonical) sequel to one of the toons, "The Last Mechanical Monster" (its original webcomic run; and its current fully-colorized run-in-progress at GoComics)
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:06 PM on October 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

God these are marvelously done...
posted by jim in austin at 5:07 PM on October 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Very well-crafted. The blog entries do a good job of discussing the historical context of these short films.
posted by JDC8 at 5:21 PM on October 22, 2017

These are remastered, but I can still see the film damage caused by wear-and-tear and age...?
posted by Brocktoon at 5:50 PM on October 22, 2017

I wasn't aware there were 17 of them. I have only ever seen four or five of them over the years. I love film restoration projects like this!
posted by briank at 6:04 PM on October 22, 2017

These are remastered, but I can still see the film damage caused by wear-and-tear and age...?

They're "remastered" from second and third generation video sources, and not from original negatives or prints.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:08 PM on October 22, 2017

Thanks for this, I've always loved the Fleischer Superman shorts.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:18 PM on October 22, 2017

These are remastered, but I can still see the film damage caused by wear-and-tear and age...?

"Remastered" does not mean the same as "restored." Remastering is just creating a new master, from which successive copies can be made. Any suggestion of qualitative improvement is entirely inferred by the reader. In this case, they're aiming for a version that is faithful to the original release in its completeness.

(Incidentally, anyone who sees these cartoons for the first time and says, "Hey, Fleischer Studios did some neat stuff," should definitely check out their pre-war Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons and, frankly, everything else you can find of theirs. The Fleischer brothers could really make some dang cartoons. Also, that new Cuphead video game takes *all* its cues from Fleischer, and is appropriately awesome-looking -- they even cribbed Fleischer's unique 3D background technique! Could've squashed-and-stretched the main sprite a bunch more, but, hey.)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:27 PM on October 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Apparently, this Superman was raised in an orphanage. Was this the original backstory?
posted by bouvin at 1:04 AM on October 23, 2017

I'm hoping that Steve Stanchfield at Thunderbean might produce a set of these.

Talking of Thunderbean - This is a nice wee piece on Cuphead's inspirations
posted by gnuhavenpier at 1:43 AM on October 23, 2017

Three things always stand out for me in these Fleischer productions...

1) Colour. The colour has a storytelling function demonstrating how it was carefully plotted at the storyboarding stage, like a Disney feature, rather than a paint-by-book part of post-production beyond direct directorial oversight, like the vast majority of then-contemporary cartoons. The colour is lush, bold, and expressive.

2) Smoothness. A new drawing for every frame, like parts of “Akira”, rather than holding each drawing for two frames (still standard in feature film cel animation today). That 24 drawings per second brings a lifelike fluidity to the animation without sacrificing the snappiness of action we associate with film (as opposed to video). Sadly many video transfers of the Fleischer films were incorrectly or poorly mapped to video frame rates, smudging or ruining the effect.

3) Amazing rotoscopy! Fleischer did a lot of photography of objects/architecture and filming of live models for the animators to trace, to nail perspective and motion. I generally find the integration of rotoscoped sequences to be more seamless than Disney was ever able to achieve prior to digital clean up/compositing.
posted by Construction Concern at 2:26 AM on October 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

I going to watch these again just because they are so well done... also, I can't remember if the racism was limited just to "Japoteurs" or not.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:32 PM on October 23, 2017

Bouvin, in the original, he's found and dropped off at the orphanage where the Kents later adopt him. For a while, the story was that the Kents found him and dropped him off, adopting him once it's confirmed his parents can't be found, but I don't know when that was established.

Later versions of the story have the Kents find him and just keep him rather than formally adopting him, leaving others to assume Martha bore him (with a convenient extended snowstorm beforehand to explain why no one had seen a pregnant Martha during that time). In this version, it's the fact they find him in a spacecraft that keeps them from handing him over, figuring that anyone who'd test a spacecraft by putting a baby in it shouldn't have that baby back.
posted by Four Ds at 3:51 PM on October 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

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