I’ve set the Wayback Machine to 1975 on a sweltering July day. It’s time to explore some of The Pleasures of the Past via the esteemed Nostalgia Illustrated magazine! Who’s ready for some dog-eared, yellowing, smelly fun?
This old magazine certainly has that vintage aroma. And it’s pages are filled with such old time delights as Marlon Brando, movie posters, King Kong, Fatty Arbuckle (apparently not the nicest of guys), the politically incorrect Charlie Chan, and a touch of Star Trek and Wurlitzers. But what we’re going to focus on is found on page 55: Four Cartoon Favorites.
But first, the cover:
July 1975 Issue for only $1.00
I pick things like this up if I see anything Disney or animated on the cover. The fact that it contained an article by one of my favorite critics was a bonus!
Leonard Michael Maltin (born December 18, 1950) is an American film critic and film historian. He has also authored several mainstream books on cinema, usually focusing on the aspects of history and nostalgic sentiments. He has contributed to many magazines and supplementals over the years, such as this one I found recently at a local antique mall.
Being as Nostalgia Illustrated has the word ‘nostalgia’ in the title, it probably shouldn’t surprise us that Mr. Maltin was tapped to provide an article! The article in question is entitled, as previously mentioned: Four Favorite Cartoons. For some reason, most of the images are out of sequence with the text of the story. Oh well. Editing is such a lost art!
I will discuss each character out of sequence with the magazine text so as to keep my comments with the relevant images.
Bugs Bunny: Maltin points out that Warner Brothers made their cartoons faster and funnier than Disney. This gave them their signature style. The characters were self-aware and often talked to the audience. I would say that Disney characters have a wider audience today than any characters created by Warner Brothers, but saying who’s are better? Now that’s a great way to start an argument!
Donald Duck: It may have all started with a Mouse, but it pretty much finished up with a Duck. Yes, Donald far outdid Mickey in both fan base and prolificity. Maltin mentions that it was his temper that put Donald over the top with audiences and Walt Disney had a new money maker!
Popeye the Sailor Man: This character got his start in comic strips before making the transition to animation in, of all things, a Betty Boop cartoon entitled (wait for it) Popeye the Sailor. He exploded in popularity with his gruff way and catchy theme song. And what’s with that green stuff? Nature’s steroid, I guess. Like all beloved characters, Maltin tells us that with time and studio changes, Popeye’s star power faded away. But the salty sailor is “still shown on television in testimony to (his) matchless humor and originality”.
Gertie the Dinosaur: Okay, you have to be an animation buff of epic proportions to know this character! Pioneering the combination of live-action and animation all the way back in the early 1900s, Winsor McCay gave life and personality to a megaton monster! Maltin postulates that the true legacy of Gertie is that she was first to make us believe in a character that didn’t exist at all. And she did it without speaking a word!
As always, the story is continued somewhere in the back
The page above lists a number of other cartoon characters that Maltin loves. Honorable Mentions, if you will. It should be fun to enlarge the page and see how many of them you remember. But be careful! Such an undertaking could make you feel really, really, really old.
Leonard Maltin at Walt Disney Studios
Leonard Maltin has been a noted Critic for decades and is closely tied to the Disney company, often appearing in promotional materials and as a host for various DVD extras and television specials. I do enjoy his take on all-things theatrical and especially like his coverage of animation history.
Now it’s time to close the magazine before I succumb to the overpowering stench of 45-year-old mold. Be thankful this blog isn’t presented in Smell-O-Vision!