THERE'S A RIOT GOIN' ON... #1


Over at the Cel Bloc, where I have all the fun to myself, the concentration for the last week or so has been on Max Fleischer's Color Classics, which I have been reviewing from the excellent Somewhere in Dreamland 2 -disc DVD set that I recently procured on the internet. I already owned several of these on some public domain discs of ill repute, so it was nice to locate some slightly finer and, in some cases, even terrific condition. Not that any of the original film elements are on display; those are vaulted away by an evil film studio of whom I wish a pox upon. There are several evil film studios which I wish a pox upon, but for now, I will settle with cursing the likes of Republic Entertainment for withholding important cultural artifacts. Shame...

It is far too common an occurrence these days, where series like the wonderful Fleischer Popeye cartoons are almost wholly unviewable (except for a handful of public domain Squinties that have sneaked through the cracks) because of a protracted dispute between Turner Entertainment, who are apparently preparing to release the films the instant everything clears up, and King Features Syndicate, who own the actual copyright to Popeye and cast. King Features should be forced by the courts to give up their rights for the desecration that they have made of Popeye over the last 50 years via bad television shows and a bland comic strip. I know there is no such law that can retract a character for corporate misuse, but if ever there were a case that could create such a law, this is it.

Now, I own many of these cartoons from taping The Popeye Show and Late Night Black and White for several years on that channel that used to show good cartoons, but now is blustery and whiny in its defense for switching slowly to execrable live-action fare like Saved By the Bell. (I keep waiting For such an animation fan, I watch very little of a station that still shows mostly cartoons. Why is that? Of the current schedule, the only shows that I watch with even middling frequency are Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Home Movies, Full Metal Alchemist, Samurai Champloo, and reruns of Futurama. Most of the rest is crap -- no hold barred -- crap, though occasionally some other decent anime series do get shown, and I still am interested in checking out Moral Orel. But on the whole, the station is, by my count, about 73% unwatchable. But, up until a couple years ago, they still showed the occasional Popeye short, albeit around 4 in the morning, but at least they showed them. But, where does find them now? Nowhere...

Three corporations: Republic Entertainment; King Features Syndicate; The Cartoon Network.
Three poxes wished upon them: 1; 2; 3.

Do right by animation fans, jerks. Your audience is there -- cater to them. In the case of the two studios, you'll make more money releasing Official DVD Editions of the cartoons than you will letting them languish on the shelf gathering more dust. Your profits may be smaller than if you released a huge blockbuster film, but there is a definite audience out there waiting to hop on a Complete Fleischer Popeye set. Check out what Rhino does with their Handmade series of short run CD soundtracks. You don't need to make a run of 836,000 copies; a small, finite run will do, but release something. The fans will appreciate a job well done, and believe me, the animation community will celebrate and, more important to you suity types, we will publicize such an event.

The past week on the Cinema 4: Cel Bloc:

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