Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cartoon a Day: Superman

Directed by Dave Fleischer
Available on: The Complete Superman Collection

I really wiped out on sticking with my "Cartoon a Day" last week. The craziness of being at a conference all week, combined with being without internet service conspired against me. I tell ya, the Town and Country resort in San Diego is a nice place for a convention, but a rotten hotel. $10 a day for internet, they are out of their minds. Not to mention the fact that the rooms are tiny and the decor is stuck in 1978. I have seriously stayed in nicer Super 8's. Anyway, back to the cartoons. Let's take a look at the first Fleischer Superman short, simply called "Superman" though sometimes referred to as "The Mad Scientist."

This is a great introduction to the series. It gives a brief back story on the blue boy's Kryptonian origins before going into a story about a mad scientist terrorizing Metropolis with a huge laser. The great angles and layout design that can be seen throughout the other Superman shorts is here in all it's glory. Just check out that great shot above, which is our first introduction to the villain.

Superman's final destruction of the weapon is pretty spectacular. He twists the barrel of the laser gun into a knot causing the weapon to bubble, melt and explode. It's not just a simple explosion. That's one of the things that is great about this series, there are often so many levels to the animation of explosions, crashes, and the like.

The only part of the cartoon that is a bit out of place is the mad scientist's bird companion. At first he looks like he's going to be creepy, which would've been great. Instead, he ends up being comic relief, that is if he were funny, smirking and gawking at various events. He's more like a character you would expect to see in one of Fleischer's Popeye shorts, but he's all wrong for this short. Still, this is a great kickoff to this short-lived cartoon series.

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