Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cartoons - Superman

The Superman character was probably one of the most famous creations in history. Superman first appeared in comic books. But it wasn't until Superman cartoons were made that people really got the chance to see the man of steel in action. We're going to briefly review the history and characters of the Superman cartoon.

It wasn't until 1941 that the first Superman cartoon came to be. Paramount pictures, that year, released a series of animated cartoons that were based on the Superman comic book that was already so popular. The first nine of these cartoons were produced by Fleischer Studios. But they didn't last long. In 1942 Fleischer Studios bit the dust and became Famous Studios which went on to produce eight more of these cartoons. At the time, these were the biggest budgeted cartoons around. This was during what was called the Golden Age of American Animation.

The Fleischer brothers originally tried to discourage Paramount from doing the cartoons by telling them that it would cost over $100,000 per episode. At the time, that was an amazing amount of money that was about four times the cost of a typical cartoon for the times. But Paramount wasn't about to be scared off. They saw something big here and agree to the budget. The Fleischer brothers were now committed to the project.

The first cartoon in the series, which was simply called Superman, was first shown on September 26, 1941. That year it was nominated for an Oscar for best animated short subject. It did not win, however, losing to Lend A Paw, which was a Walt Disney cartoon. But it didn't matter. Superman had left his mark on the cartoon world.

Unfortunately for Max and Dave Fleischer, after the first nine cartoons, Paramount took over production and tossed the brothers out into the street. These were very brutal times. The look of the cartoon itself didn't change but the stories did. The first nine cartoons had a more science fiction feel to them as Superman was seen battling robots, creatures from outer space and a number of other things you don't normally find walking around our planet. After the change, however, Superman started to focus on what was called World War II Propaganda.

The first nine cartoons also used the classic opening lines from the Superman radio series that we all came to know and love. The last eight changed these lines drastically until they were no longer recognizable. But the cartoons themselves were still very entertaining.

The early voice of Superman was supplied by Bud Collyer. He also was the voice of Superman during the radio series. The voice of Lois Lane was supplied by Joan Alexander who also played the same role in the radio series along side of Collyer.

After the 17 shorts, the series was cancelled, but that wasn't the end of Superman. Other cartoons featuring the man of steel were to come, which included the 1990s animated Superman series and the feature length cartoon, Sky Captain and the World Of Tomorrow.

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