Monday, June 26, 2017

Dorothy and the Wizard of OZ on Boomerang

For those of you who have not heard Boomerang now has a streaming service online. On this service you can watch a great variety of cartoons including Looney Tunes, Popeye cartoons, Droopy and many of the early Hanna-Barbera TV shows. However as well as this the streaming service will introduce new shows. Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz is an Australian nd New Zealand co-production which premieres today on the Boomerang TV channel in Australia. However in the U.S. this show can currently only be found on the Boomerang streaming service. This show liberally combines elements of the OZ books, the 1939 movie and other OZ lore.

 The first episode (now up for streaming) is called Beware the Woozy and is written by Jack Ferraiolo (WordGirl, Home Movies) and directed by Jeff DeGrandis (God, The Devil and Bob, Dora the Explorer).   

-Michael J. Ruhland

Popeye and Donkey Kong

Did you know that if it wasn't for Popeye we may not have the characters of Donkey Kong and Mario? Well t this time Nintendo was trying to get the rights to make a game based off the Popeye characters. This game would have been much like the original Donkey Kong game. Bluto would have kidnapped Olive Oyl, and Popeye would have fought through various obstacles to save Olive (also instead of the hammer there would have been a can of Spinach).. However when the company was not able to get the rights new characters had to be created. Shigeru Miyamoto, a video game designer working for the company created Mario, Donkey Kong and Pauline as replacements for these characters. So if the idea for having a Popeye game actually happened when it was supposed to or if the idea have never come up at all, none of the Popeye or Mario games would exist.
While Donkey Kong came out in 1981, Nintendo would actually be able to make an actual Popeye arcade game just a year later.

Here is that game:

and here is Donkey Kong:

-Michael J. Ruhland

Friday, June 9, 2017

Happy 83rd Birthday Donald Duck

Today is the birthday of one of Disney's best and most iconic animated characters, Donald Duck. Though these years his quick temper and love of fun have entertained us all (as well as his trademark voice provided originally by Clarence Nash) So it is only natural to pay tribute to him here.

Donald's film debut was in a 1934 Silly Symphonies cartoon called The Wise Little Hen. The Silly Symphonies were a series of musical cartoons that usually starred one shot characters. Donald was one of the very few characters from this series to really take off and get his own series. In this debut cartoon Donald was animated by Art Babbitt and Dick Humer. This also marks one of the few times where Donald's sailor suit actually makes sense. Donald's friend Peter Pig was also voiced by Clarence Nash and this cartoon was directed by Wilfred Jackson.

Despite this though Donald's real breakthrough as a cartoon star was as a supporting player in the 1934 Mickey Mouse cartoon Orphan's Benefit. In this film directed by Burt Gillett, Donald as animated by Dick Lundy does his first angry pose. With this quick little bit of animation the character was fully formed. As Mickey Mouse was becoming much more viewed as a role model for kids, he could no longer engage in any negative behavior making him harder to write as a comedy character, however Donald, who could never be confused for a role model, could get away with this stuff, allowing much more comedy to flow out from him. This cartoon also introduced the character of the hen Clara Cluck. It was remade shot for shot as a color cartoon in 1941, but here we have the original Black and White short.

Next up comes one of my favorite Disney cartoons of all time, a 1943 wartime film called Der Fuher's Face. This short was originally to be called Donald Duck in Nutzi Land. The title was changed when studio musician Oliver Wallace wrote a catchy song called Der Fuher's Face. This film was directed by Jack Kinney, who was a master at slapstick comedy and probally Disney's greatest answer to the wild crazy and very funny cartoons coming out of Warner Brothers and MGM at this time. While many people refer to the Disney cartoons as cute while Warner Brothers cartoons are truly funny, Jack Kinney (as well as Jack Hannah and Ward Kimball) proved that that wasn't always the case. This is one of the fastest paced, cleverest and all around funny cartoons to ever come out of the Disney studio.

Last but not least we have another wild and crazy Disney cartoon, that easily stands against the crazy comedy coming from other cartoon studios at this time. We are going to look at Clown of the Jungle. This film was directed by Jack Hannah, who was also a master of fast paced wild slapstick. Donald's adversary in this film is the wild and crazy Aracuan Bird, who had previously appeared in the Disney feature, The Three Caballeros. This cartoon released in 1947 is a very funny short that never fails to make me smile.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Animation and Gaming Today

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