Nine Classic Superman Cartoons Restored and Now on YouTube

At the top of this post, you can watch 1941’s Super­man, a short nom­i­nat­ed for an Acad­e­my Award and (accord­ing to 1,000 ani­ma­tion pro­fes­sion­als) the 33rd great­est car­toon of all time. When you’ve done that, how about eight more of the Man of Steel’s most aes­thet­i­cal­ly dis­tinc­tive, pristine­ly restored ani­mat­ed adven­tures? Warn­er Broth­ers has just post­ed them, free for the watch­ing, to their YouTube chan­nel. They orig­i­nal­ly came out of Fleis­ch­er Stu­dios, which ani­ma­tion buffs will know meant a true mark of qual­i­ty back then. “Then,” in this case, means the ear­ly 1940s, and these Fleis­ch­er-pro­duced Super­man shorts brazen­ly bear the styl­is­tic mark of that era. But if their rich, clean-lined look burst­ing with Tech­ni­col­or strikes our eyes today as vin­tage, it also has a cer­tain retro time­less­ness — if that does­n’t sound like too much of a con­tra­dic­tion in terms. No won­der they call this the Gold­en Age of Ani­ma­tion.

Just below, you’ll find Fleis­cher’s sec­ond Super­man short, Mechan­i­cal Mon­sters, in which our hero bat­tles exact­ly those. After it came Bil­lion Dol­lar Lim­it­ed, The Arc­tic GiantThe Bul­leteers, The Mag­net­ic Tele­cope, Elec­tric Earth­quakeVol­cano, and Ter­ror On The Mid­way and more— all with­in a span of under two years.

After 1942, Para­mount hand­ed the Super­man con­tract to Famous Stu­dios, which rose out of Fleis­cher’s dis­so­lu­tion. Eight addi­tion­al shorts emerged, none now held in regard near­ly as high as any of the Fleis­ch­er pro­duc­tions.

Where Fleis­ch­er pos­sessed a sur­feit of imag­i­na­tion, Famous seemed to suf­fer a deficit. (Their Sec­ond World War-themed Super­man debut was titled Japo­teurs.) But those first eight have enjoyed a long lifes­pan, par­tic­u­lar­ly as high-pro­file influ­ences. The Super­man ani­mat­ed tele­vi­sion series of the 1990s owes them a debt, as does even that same decade’s Bat­man series. Fans of Japan­ese ani­ma­tion will rec­og­nize the lar­ce­nous robots of Mechan­i­cal Mon­sters in Hayao Miyaza­k­i’s series Lupin III and fea­ture Cas­tle in the Sky, and even the thor­ough­ly irrev­er­ent Fox car­toon The Tick paid them homage. So, Hol­ly­wood types strain­ing to dream up the next Super­man fran­chise reboot: spend time with these still-enter­tain­ing, still-impres­sive pieces of ani­ma­tion, Hol­ly­wood car­toons like noth­ing Hol­ly­wood has put out since.

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via Car­toon Brew

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Best Ani­mat­ed Films of All Time, Accord­ing to Ter­ry Gilliam

When Super Heroes Get Old and Retire to Mia­mi

Free Gold­en Age Comics

Free Vin­tage Car­toons: Bugs Bun­ny, Bet­ty Boop and More

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (3)
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  • Dex says:

    The Fleis­ch­er Car­toons are awe­some! First time i saw em I was real­ly awestruck, con­sid­er­ing it’s age. Tru­ly a work of art. This is good news. Most peo­ple did’nt know these exists. Thanks for post­ing.

  • Avi Burstein says:

    I found it inter­est­ing that the child­hood part was dif­fer­ent in these tellings. No Jonathan and Martha Kent who found the space­craft land­ed in a farm. I won­der when that sto­ry­line came about.

  • Neva says:

    Very cool! Loved it.

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