Thursday, 19 December 2013

Consumer Propaganda the Cartoon Way

John Sutherland Productions grabbed all kinds of great talent from theatrical animation studios and turned out some visually attractive corporate propaganda shorts in the 1950s.

This is from “It’s Everybody’s Business” (1954). I’m a sucker for ‘50s design so long as it doesn’t overwhelm the cartoon (as happened at UPA too often).

Dun’s Review and Modern Industry was delighted with the short. It declared “By coating the economic facts of life with humor and verve seldom found outside Hollywood's entertainment cartoons, John Sutherland ... has created perhaps the outstanding picture of its particular class.” To the right, you see what Billboard magazine had to say about it.

The cartoon was designed by Maurice Noble during one of his sojourns from Warner Bros. The animators were Bill Melendez, Emery Hawkins, Abe Levitow and Bill Higgins; Higgins had worked as an assistant in Tex Avery’s unit at MGM. Bill Scott worked on the story with George Gordon. Carl Urbano directed. Les Baxter and Eugene Poddany provided the score. A top crew. And you may recognise one of the voices as belonging to Herb Vigran, who made the jump from radio to TV playing character parts.

The good news is this is one of a number of Sutherland shorts restored and released on DVD by Steve Stanchfield at Thunderbean. Included on the disc is another great Sutherland cartoon called “A is For Atom” with some fun designs by Lew Keller and Gerry Nevius. Find out more about the DVD on Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research page.


  1. Watching this on Pluto TV Classic Cartoons right now. Love these old shows this one was educational.

  2. Les Baxter was also one of the fifties's top non-rock music masters, both exotica and his many Capitol hits, the most iconic of which would certainbly be the catchy "The Poor People of Paris", one of 1956's top best.:)SC