You are on page 1of 3

Cartoon Roots a history lesson on silent animation

4/10/15, 2:46 PM

! Login/Register

Submit News (https://www.thereminder.com/submitnews/) Post Events


Our Publications (https://www.thereminder.com/publications/) Advertiser Info (https://www.thereminder.com/advertiserinfo/)

Place a Classied (https://www.thereminder.com/classieds/placeaclassiedad/)


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/)

Contact Us (https://www.thereminder.com/contactus/)

Enter Keywords

(https://www.thereminder.com/)

search

Read Our Paper (https://www.thereminder.com/publications/readourpaperonline/) | Archives (https://www.thereminder.com/archives/) | Search


(https://www.thereminder.com/sitesearch/) | Our Newspaper Ads (https://www.thereminder.com/ads/) | HG413.com (http://www.hg413.com) | PrimeOnTheWeb.com
(http://www.primeontheweb.com)

(https://www.facebook.com/ReminderPublications)
(https://twitter.com/TheReminderMA)

Cartoon Roots a history lesson on


silent animation

View Archives (https://www.thereminder.com/Dining/movieguide/archive

" March 20, 2015 | ! G. Michael Dobbs


news@thereminder.com (mailto:news@thereminder.com)

Facebook (

Twitter (htt

LinkedIn (h

Google+ (h

(http://springelddowntown.com/events/)

Music, Arts and


Community Events
(https://www.thereminder.com/events)
Date

Event

11/11/14- Somers Congregational Church Annual Christmas Baza


11/6
(https://www.thereminder.com/events/somerscongreg

11/11/14- Somers Congregational Church Annual Christmas Baza


11/6
(https://www.thereminder.com/events/somerscongreg

(https://www.thereminder.com/dining/movieguide/cartoonrootsahisto/DVD-Review.jpg,9)
Im always amazed when I encounter young lm fans and they have little idea that lms
existed interesting, compelling lms prior to 1980.
When I taught lm classes at Western New England University in the 1990s, I was always
surprised when otherwise open-minded students were aghast and agog at the thought of
watching old movies. Their reactions to silent movies were magnied.
Im happy to say that through skillful selection I managed to coax them into actually paying
attention and perhaps enjoying many of the lms I forced upon them.

https://www.thereminder.com/dining/movieguide/cartoonrootsahisto/

4/10

Fresh Organic Veggies Available in Bulk from Red Fire F


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/freshorganicveg

4/10

Fresh Organic Veggies Available in Bulk from Red Fire F


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/freshorganicveg

4/10

"Expert Gardeners Share Tips and Answer Your Questio


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/expertgardener

4/10

Welcome Baby
(https://www.thereminder.com/events/welcomebaby//

4/10

Line Dance and Partner Dance Lessons


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/linedanceandpa

4/11

Fresh Organic Veggies Available in Bulk from Red Fire F


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/freshorganicveg

4/11

Fresh Organic Veggies Available in Bulk from Red Fire F


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/freshorganicveg

4/11

Glenbrook Middle School Bulldog Dash 5K and 2 mile w


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/glenbrookmidd

4/11

Shredding for Shriners


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/shreddingforsh

Page 1 of 3

Cartoon Roots a history lesson on silent animation

4/10/15, 2:46 PM

Silent lms were where so much of the language of cinema was created camera and editing
techniques. It was also the period in which story archetypes were developed. What might be
considered hackneyed in a newer lm was original during the 1920s.
A new compilation of silent cartoons shows just how much was developed for that medium
during the period from 1907 to 1926. Cartoon Roots is an education in silent animation.
Archivist Tommy Jose Stathes presents a carefully archived selection of his extensive collection
of silent animation.
By the way, Stathes is a young man in his 20s.
Sold as a Blu-ray and DVD combination, the discs include a great selection of extras including
galleries of production materials such as scripts as well as vintage promotional items. It is a
great package.
Serious animation fans and some attentive Baby Boomers should recognize names such as
Max Fleischer (the producer of Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons among others); Walter Lantz
(best known for Woody Woodpecker); animator and writer Dick Heumer (a major gure at
Disney); and Paul Terry (the head of Terrytoons, the home of Mighty Mouse and Heckle and
Jeckle).
The early work of these artists is presented along with some of the earliest American
animation by J. Stuart Blackton, Raoul Barre, Earl Hurd and John Bray.
The result is a mini-course in the development of animation. The discs come with an insightful
booklet and Stathes includes three early sound cartoons, none of which this animation fan has
had the opportunity of seeing before. I was impressed.
Three of these shorts feature a combination of live action with animation that shows just how
early that technique originated. As Im a Fleischer loyalist, Im partial to how the technique was
used in The Circus (1920) with Ko-Ko the Clown attempting to train a horse. Fleischers
invention of the rotoscope is on display here as the technique allowed an animator to use live
action footage as the reference for a cartoon character. The device also assisted in the
blending of live action and animation.
Silent animation can be very surprising in its content. In the 1923 short The Jolly Rounder by
Terry, a married hippo is in trouble with his wife. His buddy decides the way to cure that is for
him to dress in drag and appear with his married friend to make the wife jealous and forget
why she is angry with her husband really.
Silent animation reected as did live action cinema of the time the use of politically
incorrect ethnic humor. Although the collection is not dominated by such material, it is there
and should be considered within the context of the cartoons and the time in which they were
produced.
The wonderful design of Felix the Cat, superbly directed by animator Otto Messmer, is seen in
the 1922 short Felix Comes Back. Messmer, one of the animations great talents worked
anonymously while his producer Pat Sullivan, who owned the character, took all the public
credit. Felix has been cited by some animation historians as an example of the humor coming
out of the established personality of the character rather than just a series of gags.

4/11

Shredding for Shriners


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/shreddingforsh

4/11

Wiggles & Giggles


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/wigglesgiggles//

4/11

Wiggles & Giggles ( Mommy and Me Class)


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/wigglesgigglesm

4/11

Dads & Kids Book Club


(https://www.thereminder.com/events/dadskidsbookcl

Post Your Event (https://www.thereminder.com/#)

Local News

Greater Spd
Longmeadow
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/greaterspringeld/)
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/lon
Agawam
South Hadley
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/agawam/)
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/sou
Chicopee
Southwick
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/chicopee/)
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/wes
E.Longmeadow
Springeld
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/eastlongmeadow/)
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/spr
Hampden
Westeld
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/wilbrahamhampden/)
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/wes
Granby
W. Springeld
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/holyoke/)
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/wes
Holyoke
Wilbraham
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/holyoke/)
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/wilb
Submit News
Obituaries
(https://www.thereminder.com/submitnews/)
(https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/obi
Post Events
(https://www.thereminder.com/events/)

Local News (https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/)

Classifieds

This Week's Classieds (https://www.thereminder.com/classieds/thisweeksa


Autos (https://www.thereminder.com/search/?search=Autos_For_Sale)
Jobs (https://www.thereminder.com/search/?search=Job)

Home Improvement (https://www.thereminder.com/search/?search=Home_Im

Real Estate For Sale (https://www.thereminder.com/search/?search=Real_Esta

Cartoon Roots is available from Amazon.


***
Stathes told Reminder Publications that his interest in animation rst came through his
exposure at a young age to classic cartoons of the 1930s and 40s on home video. It was
through his interest in history, though, and reading several books about animation that he
learned about silent era cartoons. When he was able to see some silent animation he said they
fascinated him. They intrigued his intellectual curiosity and he was drawn to their visuals.

! Login/Sign Up to Post an Event

Sports Pic of the Week

His collection of prints started in a roundabout way. He had been given some 8mm home
movie prints of cartoons, but being a child of the VHS era, he really didnt know what they
were. His godfather had a projector and showed him the lms.
I was instantly hooked, he said. He recognized immediately a dierence between looking at a
projected lm and one on videotape.
He began to seek out prints of lms and before the advent of the Internet went to antique
shops and ea markets looking for lms. Now, Stathes works with other collectors and has
assembled an impressive catalog of movies in a variety of gauges: 8mm, 9.5mm, 28 mm,
16mm and 35mm.
Stathes also started an in-depth research project on the John R. Bray Studio, the rst
successful animation studio. Bray was the producer who began breaking down the animation
process into an assembly line, which made producing cartoons aordable.

https://www.thereminder.com/dining/movieguide/cartoonrootsahisto/

Page 2 of 3

Cartoon Roots a history lesson on silent animation

4/10/15, 2:46 PM

Bray and animator Earl Hurd also developed the clear cel on which characters were drawn, a
means that also saved time and money.
Bray always fascinated me, he said.
Stathes said he doesnt have a favorite producer or studio, I love a lot of it, he said.
Share this:

# Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=https://www.thereminder.com/dining/movieguide/cartoonrootsahisto/&t=%E2%80%98Cartoon Roots%E2%80%99 a history lesson on s


$ Twitter (http://twitter.com/home?status=%E2%80%98Cartoon Roots%E2%80%99 a history lesson on silent animation+I’m always amazed when I encounter young lm fans and the

% LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/shareArticle?mini=true&url=https://www.thereminder.com/dining/movieguide/cartoonrootsahisto/&title=%E2%80%98Cartoon Roots%E2%80%99 a hist


+ Google+ (https://plus.google.com/share?url=https://www.thereminder.com/dining/movieguide/cartoonrootsahisto/')

Comments From Our Readers:

Your Comment:

Post Comment

CONGRATULATIONS to the Springeld


Falcons' Sean Collins, our Facebook Pic of
the Week! Photo by George Skovera.
(http://reminderpublications.mycapture.com/mycapture/index.asp

Twitter Feed
Tweets

Follow

ReminderPublications
@TheReminderMA

1h

Whats #craftbeer, whats not, and what dierence


does it make?
thereminder.com/dining/feature #beer
Show Summary
ReminderPublications
@TheReminderMA

2h

.@WestfieldState tapped Jennifer Hixon to set up


2-year #physiciansassistant program. Hixon built
@Bay_Path's program
thereminder.com/localnews/west

Tweet to @TheReminderMA

Home (https://www.thereminder.com) | Local News (https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/) | Classieds


(https://www.thereminder.com/classieds/) | Dining (https://www.thereminder.com/dining/) | Events (https://www.thereminder.com/events/) |
Gallery (https://www.thereminder.com/gallery/) | Opinion (https://www.thereminder.com/opinion/) | Search
(https://www.thereminder.com/search2/) | Sports (https://www.thereminder.com/sports/) | Community Classieds
(https://www.thereminder.com/search/)

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved Terms of Use Privacy Policy Site Map
Web Design by ReminderWebDesign.com (http://www.reminderwebdesign.com) 4/10/2015 Login

https://www.thereminder.com/dining/movieguide/cartoonrootsahisto/

Page 3 of 3