The Inkwell Imps in Koko's Earth Control
By Fleischer Studios, 1928
So, for the first cartoon, I thought it'd be fun to to revisit the cartoon master list I was hosting over on dA and pick out the one cartoon I had that featured that was apart of the series that I took this blog name for.
The Inkwell Imps (or at least the version I'm talking about) was a series of animated shorts from 1919 to 1929 featuring the adventures of a clown called Koko and his best friend Fritz the dog. The series was the first work to be produced by Max Fleischer, and is notable because it was one of the first to feature live action and drawn animation together- several decades before the more commonly associated major feature of Who Framed Rodger Rabbit.
I picked this cartoon at the time, because it’s a part of the Fleischer history that I skipped over quite a bit during my essay at college, and I was actually rather afraid of. The cartoons I usually prefer from the studio are the more refined and well-developed era of 1930 to 1934. The characters by this point are fleshed out (to the extent they were ever going to get, but I'll get to that later), the animation has settled into a beautifully surreal stride and the backgrounds are lushly painted, even for a black and white cartoon (again more on that in later posts) But I was actually pleasantly surprised with this short.
For one thing, the Interaction is limited and in a way that’s good. There’s a much later short, where Betty and a (horribly racist stereotyped) Janitor share words, and its poorly done and I didn't really care for it. There’s also the famous Rise to Fame short that’s included on every dvd release has, that seems cute at first, but it is after all, a clip show.
The interaction in these early shorts are limited usually, and in this case, to the human hand drawing out the characters. And I really love how it looks. Obviously very inventive in its day, in retrospect it looks almost phython-esque. Creator/creation relationships are hard to establish, whether it’s real or not (ala Duck Amuck for instance), and keeping it so limited is a nice way to start a cartoon.