A Muskegon Magazine.com Tradition: Christmas Cartoons
BY GARY SCOTT BEATTY, WRITER AND ILLUSTRATOR OF BOOKS, AND PUBLISHER AND EDITOR, MUSKEGONMAGAZINE.COM
Happy holidays! Enjoy these cartoons from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s.
Rudolpn the Red-Nosed Reindeer was the creation of a copywriter at Montgomery Ward. In 1948 the Jam Handy Organization, a Detroit-based producer of some fine promotional and educational films, and legendary animator Max Fleischer, produced this cartoon version to be shown in theaters as yet more advertising for Montgomery Ward. Presented here is a beautiful Technicolor nitrate print from the AFI/Columbia Pictures Collection, the original produced before the re-release in 1951 containing the famous Johnny Marks song from 1949. What a find! Enjoy.
Jack Frost helps a bear cub combat Old Man Winter in this 1934 Ub Iwerks ComicColor cartoon. The song "I Don't Have to Worry, I Don't Have to Care" was written by Carol Stalling, who would become best known for his Warner Bros. cartoon orchestra soundtrack work. Note to children: the wringer washer is how people used to wash clothes.
1936's Christmas Comes But Once a Year comes from Fleischer Studios, with a strangely adult-absent orphanage and Jack Mercer (Fleischer Studios voice of Popeye) as Grampy. Max and Dave Fleischer had decided years prior to tone down Betty Boop to make her more family-friendly, and her invention-creating grandfather was one of the additions.
Otto Soglow’s The Little King first appeared in 1931 in The New Yorker magazine, was licensed for animation by the Van Beuren Studios, and became a King Features Syndicate newspaper strip in 1934. Here the King invites some down-and-out friends to sleep over Christmas Night (1933) and, after Santa delivers, they proceed to tear up the palace.
Skating Hounds, from 1929, is perhaps more focused than many of the Van Beuren Studios shorts made before they brought in Disney alumni Burt Gillett and Tom Palmer in 1933. At least they are more linear than Gypped in Egypt (1930)! I think these cartoons’ oddly rambling storytelling style has a charm all its own. Don't bother to figure it out, just enjoy!
These Works are in Public Domain and not Derivative as specified by U.S. copyright law (title 17 of the U.S. Code).
Gary Scott Beatty, editor and publisher of Muskegon Magazine .com, is a guest writer at Dread Central and also writes and illustrates graphic novels, like the strangest zombie apocalypse story ever written, "Wounds," now available here on Amazon.