I spent a lot of years watching Casper. In New York, before every channel was a national network, we got a lot of locally-made animation. Terrytoons (Mighty Mouse) or Paramount (Casper, Popeye and Baby Huey) were the predominant fare of the NYDaily News owned Channel 11 or the even lower-rent Channel 9. The Warner shorts were the B&W ones on Channel 5. The same was true of theaters. It was infrequent that a Warners or Disney short played on those Saturday morning marathons where 10 color cartoons played with Francis the Talking Mule.
(Click images to enlarge.)
I didn’t really choose Casper, and I never really liked the cartoons, but I was an animation addict and had to watch. Looking back at these shorts, it’s amazing how good they are in comparison to the nonsense we’re fed and make these days.
All that watching paid off years later when I worked alongside Johnny Gent, Izzy Klein, Marty Taras or Nick Tafuri. There are so many more: Bob Little, Cosmo Anzilotti, Gerry Dvorak, Jim Logan and others. I was able to talk intelligently about their work. I already knew their names before I met them.
Casper is also the focus of an upcoming book by Jerry Beck and Leslie Carbaga. This collects the Casper comic books in a 400 page tome. It’s available from Dark Horse comics and can be ordered in advance of its April 2007 publication date.
It’s amazing how many of these same artists did a good share of moonlighting on these comics. It was their night job.
The comic strip I do love is Polly and Her Pals. Cliff Sterrett never failed me; I love everything about his strip. Once again the ASIFA Hollywood Animation Archive comes through with some more first rate images. From Kent Butterworth’s collection they have 5 beautiful Sunday pages newly posted.
– Something else I love are the films of Japanese animator, Koji Yamamura. His short, Mt. Head, was nominated for the Oscar a couple of years back, and another, The Old Crocodile, was a hit on the festival circuit the past couple of years. Apparently, there’s a recently released video collection of his work. I found this interesting review on the Senses of Cinema site.
Incidentally, if you’re not familiar with this site, stay there and take a look around. It’s one of those high-minded, intellectual magazine sites with lots of well written reviews and information. I can’t get enough of them.