Thursday, 22 January 2015

Ub's Goofy Fish

If a huge corporation won’t restore and release all its cartoons featuring the iconic Bugs Bunny, what chance to do you think the forgotten-by-all-but-diehards Willie Whopper stands?

Actually, a better chance than the wabbit, thanks to Steve Stanchfield, a true historical animation hero.

Steve’s Thunderbean Animation has brought us lovingly refurbished cartoons that, frankly, no one else would bother with. Thanks to the efforts of him and his friends, you can watch great collections of Snafu cartoons and Van Beuren cartoons. Now he’s turning his attention to two of Ub Iwerks’ series, Flip the Frog and Willie Whopper.

Theatre audiences in the 1930s weren’t all that enthusiastic about either character but they’re both worth a look. Some of Flip’s cartoons have funny moments and the animation’s enjoyable in the first few Willie entries. Steve’s documenting his progress at Jerry Beck’s Cartoon History blog every Thursday and you should really stop in and have a peek.

This week, Steve has footage of part of “Davy Jones Locker,” released in January 1934. The basic plot was already a cliché, and I can’t get enthused about Willie himself, but there are some fun sea-character transformations. And it has a gooney looking fish with a hat.

If you think the fish is familiar, you’re right. The same one was featured, with different colours, in Iwerks’ “Tom Thumb” (1936).

Why the fish is swimming around Willie Whopper is, I suppose, Iwerks’ idea of humour.

We’re looking forward to reading about the restoration and word when the DVD/BluRay will be available to buy. It’ll be worth the price.


  1. 1/22/15 Wrote:
    Notice that the mermaids resemble Betty Boop? I wonder if the Fleischer Brothers took notice of this. Also, that fat, round flounder with the big red nose sort of resembles Jimmy Durante.

    1. Grim Gatwick worked for both studios. The Betty Boop influence probably came from him.