Fleischer is important in the study of the development of animation technology because he was virtually the only rival to Disney that existed in the early part of animation history. While other studios mostly concentrated on animal figures that could talk and had human features, Max and his studio were one of the first to use actual human cartoon figures including such classics as Gulliver’s Travels. Although the owner of Max’s studio, Paramount Pictures, eventually called in their loan to the subsidiary and then later reorganized the studio, Max Fleischer and his group were an important developer of many famous cartoon icons such as Superman, Betty Boop, and Popeye the Sailor. This analysis will look at some of the major works of the studio as well as some of the lessor known works that eventually made the company too unprofitable to continue under the Fleischer Studios brand.
History and Works
Max Fleisher’s background before he turned to animation was being an illustrator for the widespread magazine Popular Science. This experience gave him not only the necessary artistic abilities, but also the technological knowledge and network that allowed him to explore some of the developments in animation technologies. While other animators such as Disney were using animal characters, Fleischer Studios was human figures such as Superman, Betty Boop, and Pop Eye in their cartoons. These characters were the main rivals to the industry leader.
Figure 1 – Remastered DVD (Amazon, N.d.)
The film Gulliver’s Travels was one of the studios first successes and was released in 1939. The movie portrayed a giant who gets washed up on the shore of a village that has its own drama going on. However, the first series that was produced was called Out of the Inkwell by Bray Studios in 1919 before Fleisher Studios was funded by Paramount. Bray’s dominance in the field was based largely on patents for cel animation production; patents that he controlled along with another cartoonist, Earl Hurd, under the (Pointer, 2011).
Figure 2 – Out of the Inkwell (Pointer, 2011)
Fleischer Studios is often credited with creating the first sound cartoon in 1924, one of a series that had song lyrics on the screen with the now-familiar “follow the bouncing ball” technique… The studio also made other features, including a movie explaining Einstein’s theory of relativity and a movie explaining Darwin’s theory of evolution (Infoplease, N.d.). Max Fleischer and his associates were certainly ahead of their time in many regards and this was one of the primary reasons that they were able to compete with Disney Studios and their industry dominance.
Amazon. (N.d.). Max Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels (1939). Retrieved from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fleischers-Gullivers-Travels-Jessica-Dragonette/dp/product-description/B001M6SH6K
Infoplease. (N.d.). Max Fleischer. Retrieved from Infoplease: http://www.infoplease.com/biography/var/maxfleischer.html
Pointer, R. (2011). Max Fleischer’s Series. Retrieved from The Bray Animation Project: http://brayanimation.weebly..html