Thursday 7 May 2020

Little King Designs

The Van Beuren studio wanted to make good cartoons. I really think they did. The studio put out money to buy established properties—and that couldn’t have been cheap—instead of relying on their own characters like Tom and Jerry or Waffles the cat.

They bought the rights to Amos ‘n’ Andy, probably the most popular show on the radio at the time. They even got the stars to supply their own voices. Yet the cartoons were so amateurish looking only two were made and the deal with creators Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll ended up in a lawsuit.

Then they bought the rights to Otto Soglow’s The Little King. The character lasted 10 cartoons and that was it. He wasn’t funny or wry or whimsical. He was, as you might expect in a Van Beuren cartoon, inexplicably weird.

I’m still trying to figure out the plot of Art For Art’s Sake (1934). About the most interesting things are the character designs, based on Soglow’s newspaper artwork. Feet? Who needs them! I like the opening where the guards on the wall look like cardboard cutouts instead of real people.

And there’s a skeleton. Why? Because it’s a Van Beuren cartoon. It doesn’t have to make sense.

George Stallings directed the cartoon and Jim Tyer gets an animation credit. Win Sharples supplied the music.

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