Articles on Animation 25 Jan 2009 09:22 am

At Last – Color Cartoons

- History isn’t always kind.

Here’s an article from Modern Mechanix January 1932. Ted Eshbaugh seems to have invented the first color cartoon, or at least he thinks he did. (Wasn’t Lantz’ titles for The King of Jazz in two strip technicolor color in 1930?) Eshbaugh, out of Boston, began his series, featuring Goofy and Nanny Goat, in 1932. This was the same year that Disney reworked his in-production B&W cartoon, Flowers and Trees to three strip technicolor. He had secured the exclusive rights to this newly patented innovation. Perhaps this article pushed Disney into rushing this film into color production.

At any rate, Eshbaugh’s film – and Eshbaugh himself – have been relegated to history’s darker bin. The article’s fun, anyway.

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(Click any image to enlarge to a legible size.)

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4 Responses to “At Last – Color Cartoons”

  1. on 25 Jan 2009 at 10:35 am 1.Richard O'Connor said …

    What a great find! It’s encouraging to see these records from the darker bins.

    This is still a two strip process, so not yet up on the Technicolor level which was the real achievement; full spectrum.

    Regardless, the dominant hegemony writes history -which is why “Steamboat Willie” is still called (by many who should know better) the first sound cartoon.

    The other point I like, and I think you’d also appreciate, is when he talks about color design. Even with the entire rainbow color design for cel animation was difficult. I imagine this technique was even more challenging if the aim is any sort of realism.

    Those challenges led to better color design on cel than we’ve seen (with exception, of course) in the Photoshop era.

  2. on 25 Jan 2009 at 12:16 pm 2.Steisha Pintado said …

    I’m surprised not to see any of your Sunday scenery photographs, but the copy of this article was worth it.

  3. on 25 Jan 2009 at 2:44 pm 3.Mark Newgarden said …

    There’s nothing better than a technical illustration of Ted Eschbaugh under the 2-color camera except a technical illustration of Ted Eschbaugh under the 2-color camera by Norm (MARS ATTACKS, WACKY PACKAGES) Saunders!

  4. on 27 Jan 2009 at 1:45 am 4.Mark Kausler said …

    “Goofy Goat” or “Goofy Goat Antics” as it was called in the Official Films home movie version, remains a favorite cartoon of my childhood that really scared me more than made me laugh. (Especially when the Pelican turns inside out!) I visited the Los Angeles Natural History Museum in Exposition Park many years ago and on one of the lower floors there was an illustrated exhibit called “The Making of an Animated Cartoon”. The cels and equipment used to demonstrate were from Ted Eshbaugh and “Goofy Goat”. The cel set-up from the original main title was there, as were several of the cels with Goofy playing the accordion and that scary Pelican. I’ve been back several times to the Natural History Museum since then, but the Goofy Goat cels and equipment (including Eshbaugh’s animation stand) have disappeared. I hope someone at the Museum has archived them properly!

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