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Review: Superman: Max Fleisher cartoon shorts

Superman - 1941 Fleisher cartoonIn 1941 and 1942, Superman showed up in some great Max Fleisher cartoons. I just picked up a Volume 1 DVD at the Dollar Store and it was a bargain.

These old cartoons are great. In some ways I thought they were superior to our current cartoons. Certainly the lighting and shading of these classics are more dramatic and cinematic. The characters also look more like real humans than today’s typical animations. They even take the time to have Clark take his pants off when he’s changing into Superman! (It’s also obvious that the look of some of the scenes in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (2006) emulate the look of these shorts – and appropriately are some of the better shots in that movie. Some scenes from “The Bulleteers” for example, are very reminiscent of the crashing plane scene at the beginning of the recent movie.)

Each short is around 8-10 minutes long. There is surprisingly little dialog in most of them, which I found actually drew me in more and kept me paying attention to the visuals. Some of the plot points are rather silly by today’s standards – for example, an overpowered “magnetic telescope” bringing a comet to earth – but they are treated with total seriousness and the show never loses its charm. After all, in 1942 this kind of stuff was still being explored and who knew what was really possible?

I’ll be on the lookout for Cartoon Craze presents Superman, Volume 2.

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