Friday, June 13, 2008

Classic Cartoon Super Sites

Executive Producer Ron Hall presents the next in our continuing series spotlighting inspired blogs and websites devoted to vintage films.

Is there a site out there devoted to Comedy Shorts? How about Newsreels? B-westerns? Mystery or horror movies? Tarzan? The answer is yes. But what would you Google to discover the wonders of John McElwee’s Greenbrier Picture Show – a site primarily dedicated to movie exhibition, but with so much more to appreciate? We are particularly interested in active sites like Greenbrier’s that have new articles weekly, or The Serial Squadron - aka “The Academy of Cliffhanger Arts & Sciences” - that sells rare serials, has years of serial discussions, plus a chat room and new posts daily.

We already list many of our favorites in the column on the right. However, these permanent links may be forgotten or ignored since they are always there. Our goal is to make each site so exciting that you will bookmark them on your own computer and then re-visit them frequently. If you have a vintage movie-related site that fits into the Bijou world of cartoons, shorts, serials and features, please email me at

Enough rambling. On to the main attraction this week -- CARTOONS! We are especially fond of two superb and active must-visit sites should you want to do research, be entertained, watch cartoons, buy cartoons or simply find out “What’s New” in the world of animation.

The first of these is Dave Koch’s The Big Cartoon Database (BCDB): “Providing an In-Depth Look at your Favorite Cartoon Classics and Animated Films." The site attempts to include all theatrical and TV cartoons from the silent era to the present.

One section posts the latest cartoon and animation news, home video and DVD releases. Another section lists all Academy Award Winning Cartoons. You can read the various discussion forums for free, or sign up to be a member for free and then comment on anything at all or start your own discussion. You can describe cartoons you fondly remember as a child and find out the title. The most guests ever at the site was 1,449 on Jan. 20, 2005, at 7:49 am. What the heck happened that day, Dave?

An article this week in the “Cartoon News” section includes information on an upcoming “Wonderful World of Animation” live auction being telecast from Las Vegas on Sunday, June 22. The article includes a link to the “Auction Channel” where you can watch the action in high definition and bid for rare animation treasures.

A favorite BCDB section here at Matinee at the Bijou is the sites “Searchable Database of Cartoon Information, Animated Guides, Cartoon Character and Crew Lists; everything from Disney Cartoons to Adult Cartoons.” The major studios have their own sections -- MGM, Disney, Warners, Columbia, etc. -- with 65,513 cartoons left over for the “Other Studios” category. Let’s say you’re curious about the cartoon team of Heckle & Jeckle. Simply enter the characters names in the BCDB search engine and instantly you get three pages listing titles and descriptions for all 53 Heckle & Jeckle cartoons produced from 1949-1956. Truly the BCDB is a monumental work of interest to all cartoon fans.

Next up is Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research. We suggest you meet Jerry first off by watching him plug his DVD of “Worst Cartoons Ever.” Be warned that the video starts playing without clicking on it and will repeat forever without urging. The top attraction on the home page is Cartoon Brew, a daily animation blog with commentary, news and reviews. Next, check out Jerry’s very own cartoon short “Hornswiggle.” You will not only watch for it on Nickelodeon later this year after you see the two snazzy lobby cards, you will be calling Nick and demanding it weekly! The lively “Animation History Forum” is personally moderated by Jerry Beck. The 172 pages of posts include numerous comments by Bijou friends Ray Pointer and Steve Stanchfield. Jerry’s latest book is “The Animated Movie Guide of U.S. Theatrical Releases.” All 369 features are listed from 1937 through 2008 complete with production credits. We suspect if one looks hard enough, one will find how to buy the book online. (Hint: Try the “Buy My Books” section on the home page.) Jerry also sells rare cartoons on DVD at his “Garage Sale.”

We love the special articles noted in the left hand column about Original Titles from various studios; David Gerstein’s fascinating research on The Winkler Oswalds, the 1930s incarnation of Tom and Jerry and The Cartoon Pop Music Page, about the use of 1930s pop music in cartoons. Other gems to be discovered at the site include a video of Jerry with Joan Rivers in 1994, the Jerry Beck Wedding and bizarre links galore.

So just who is this Jerry Beck, you might ask? He is an animation historian and cartoon producer who has written twelve books on the subject, including The Animated Movie Guide, Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide and The 50 Greatest Cartoons. Jerry is a former studio exec with Nickelodeon and Disney, and is currently a consulting producer to Warner Bros., Universal and Disney for their classic animation DVD compilations. He is the host/producer of the annual “Worst Cartoons Ever” screening at the Comic-Con International: San Diego. His latest animation project: ”Hornswiggle” will air on Nickelodeon in 2008.

In Jerry's own words: "Once upon a time, JERRY BECK studied at The School Of Visual Arts in New York City intent on becoming a great animator. But his interest in animation's history led him down another, darker path. In 1977, Beck began his cartoon research with Leonard Maltin as 'research associate' for his landmark book, OF MICE AND MAGIC: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN ANIMATED CARTOONS (McGraw Hill/Plume 1980)...." The sordid story continues here, and we will have more about Jerry next Friday.

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