Monday, January 9, 2017

Original Production Popeye Animation Background from "We Aim To Please," 1934

Original hand painted production animation background from "We Aim To Please," 1934, Fleischer Studios; Production numbers upper left; From Popeye's 17th theatrical cartoon; Pictured in "The Fleisher Story" by Leslie Cabarga, page 108; Size - Background: 8 3/4 x 11 1/2", Image 7 3/4 x 9 1/2"; Unframed.

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"I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." - Wimpy

Fleischer Studios was founded in 1921 by brothers Max and Dave Fleischer. The animation studio was located at 1600 Broadway in New York City; and it was the premier producer of animated theater cartoons. The Walt Disney Studios would not become its chief competitor until the 1930's.

Fleischer Studios created the most famous cartoon characters of it's time including: Koko the Clown, Betty Boop, Bimbo, Popeye the Sailor, and Superman. Unlike other studios, whose characters were anthropomorphic animals, Fleischers' most successful characters were humans. The concept and animation was unique and has resulting cartoons were rough rather than refined, and commercial rather than aesthetically artistic. The studio's approach was sophisticated and focused on surrealism, dark humor, adult psychological elements, and sexuality. The backgrounds were grittier, urban, and often set in poor environments; which was a reflection of the Depression as well as the German Expressionism art movement. 

Original production animation background from "We Aim To Please," 1934 showing entire sheet.

"We Aim to Please," 1934 is Popeye's 17th theatrical cartoon by Fleischer Studios. The black and white film is seven minutes long and was released on December 28, 1934. "We Aim to Please" was Wimpy's first appearance in a Popeye cartoon, and the short was animated by Willard Bowsky, Dave Tendlar,  and Charles Hastings. William Costello is the voice of Popeye and Mae Questel is the voice of Olive Oyl. Costello originated the voice of Popeye in 1933 and would go on to voice 24 Popeye shorts. Mae Questel was the voice of Betty Boop before originating the voice of Olive Oyl in 1933, and she continued the role until 1938. Questel would go on to provide the voices of  Little Audrey and Casper, the Friendly Ghost.

The story of "We Aim to Please" is that Popeye and Olive Oyl have opened a diner, and they both sing they "aim to please" their customers. Olive notices that the street corner would be a much better location for their restaurant, so Popeye slides it there! Wimpy and Bluto watch from across the street, and plot on how they can get food without paying. Wimpy tries first, and convinces Popeye that "I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

Next Bluto, demands half a dozen ham sandwiches which are quickly made by Olive. After eating them, he is given the bill by Popeye; but Bluto tears it to pieces and throws mustard into Popeye's face. Soon a fight breaks out between the two, and food and condiments begin to fly around the room. Wimpy returns and is able to eat another hamburger that flies past him. When Bluto gains the upper hand, Popeye is given a large can of spinach by Olive; which gives him super strength allowing him to turn Bluto into a big baloney sausage.

Verso of original production animation background from "We Aim To Please," 1934.

This is an extremely rare original production animation background from Popeye's 17th theatrical cartoon "We Aim To Please," created in 1934. All original artwork from Fleischer Studios is rare, with the rarest being the original production backgrounds. This piece is pictured in "The Fleisher Story" by Leslie Cabarga on page 108, further enhancing it's importance. Note that all the signs painted in the background have fuzzy text, so that the film could be shown in foreign markets without the backgrounds having to be painted again in another language. Just a fantastic piece of very early animation artwork!