Saturday, March 18, 2023

More Comics To Cartoons: Otto Soglow's Little King on Blu-ray

Since writing the last post, have been enjoying Little King cartoons, as well as R.C. Harvey's Comics Journal article Otto Soglow And the Little King: The Silent Runs Deep.

We are pleased as pomegranates to hear that the Van Beuren Studio's Little King cartoons will be released on Blu-ray!

The Little King was created by Otto Soglow and first appeared in the New Yorker in 1931. When Soglow's contract with the New Yorker expired in 1934, he took The Little King to King Features.

The animated Little King series, distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, was produced by Van Beuren Studios in 1933-1934. The Van Beuren Studio, known as the "Fables Studio" - the animation producers split into two studios when Paul Terry left to found Terrytoons in New Rochelle - made the Aesop's Fables, Tom & Jerry and Cubby Bear series, primitive and at times crude yet often extremely funny animated cartoons.

The focus on Van Beuren cartoons and The Little King means two consecutive blog posts featuring the blazing animation genius of Jim Tyer (1904-1976).

Jim Tyer is noted and celebrated by animation buffs for his wild, wooly and way-out animation on numerous Terrytoons, especially Heckle & Jeckle. Jim puts the extreme in the word extreme with his imaginative approaches to character animation and the staging of action.

Preceding those stints as an animator with Terrytoons (Paul Terry, oddly enough, left Jim alone to express a highly original, unfettered and uninhibited imagination) and before that, with Famous Studios, were Tyer's years working on Van Beuren's various cartoon series. Some of the Incredibly Strange Cartoons quality in the Van Beuren Aesop's Fables can definitely be traced to Jim Tyer's unique drawing style. His wacky humor can be seen in the "Dancin' Farmer Al Falfa" segment (at 2:01), among innumerable bits that emphasize the "cartoony" in cartoons throughout Tyer's career.

The Little King series was preceded by two animated cartoons, A.M. TO P.M. and A DIZZY DAY, featuring Otto Soglow’s lesser known character Sentinel Louey. He's not as charming a guy as the Little King - actually, Louey's a bit of a dick - but the cartoons successfully immerse the viewer into Otto Soglow's universe and very specific graphic art milieu. Love how the opening music of A.M. TO P.M. is the Boswell Sisters' classic Crazy People.

While only ten Little King cartoons were produced, they will all be on the upcoming Blu-ray set. Here are a few of them, which successfully blend some of the more weird, bizarre and irreverent permutations of the Animated Cartoon Universe with the goofy charm of Otto Soglow's character.

The Thunderbean press release adds: This special collector’s edition ‘Official’ replicated Blu-ray features the complete series, including the pre-Little King Sentinel Louey cartoons, plus Fleischer Studio’s 1936 Betty Boop cartoon featuring the Little King, restored from the best available original 16mm and 35mm film prints from collectors and archives around the world. This set has been in progress off and on for five years and is finally coming together. We anticipate a summer release. Pre-orders will get a special bonus disc featuring raw scans of the cartoons from various source materials.

Marching Along is one of the very best Great Depression-themed cartoons.

Again, we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog are pleased beyond measure to hear that the Van Beuren Studio's Little King cartoons will be released on Blu-ray later this year. The gang at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, among the numerous movie buffs and collectors to use Official Films 16mm prints of public domain Van Beuren cartoons as aces in the projection hole in screenings and film fests, are happy to give Thunderbean a plug for this Little King Blu-ray and upcoming compilations of Ub Iwerks Studio cartoons!

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