I sometimes despair that people younger than a certain age will think that the generally terrible state of current television animation is what 2-D or hand-drawn animation is limited to.
True, many of them have been introduced to the high-points of Japanese anime as exemplified by great directors like Hayao Miyazaki, but how many more think the warmed-over examples of anime available on TV are the height of that genre as well?
It seems that everyone knows, through cultural osmosis if by no other means, about Bugs Bunny and some of the Disney classics, but how easily the actual achievements of great hand-drawn animation are submerged beneath the waves of over-hyped 3D features.
Even more overlooked are some of the cinematic gems of the mid 20th Century that were shown as featurettes before feature films in the 1940’s, and later shown on television in the 1950’s.
A shining case in point are the wonderful 8-minute Superman cartoons created by Max and Dave Fleischer’s studio. For more detail, see my previous post about Max Fleischer.
As I mentioned in that post, the cartoons themselves can be viewed online via the Internet Archive or purchased on DVD. (You can also find some of them on YouTube in varying degrees of quality, or lack thereof.)
Hans Bacher, on his terrific blog One1more2time3’s Weblog: Animation Treasures, which I also wrote about before, has posted a wonderful set of screen shots from 4 of those classics in an article titled up in the sky…, which allows you to stop and appreciate the beautiful drawing, backgrounds, composition, lighting, staging and “cinematography” that made these cartoons mini-masterpieces of animation.
This is a film noir Superman, and still the best version of the character ever brought to the screen.