Above, a Nick Tafuri drawing of Mr. Bumble and C. Bagley Beetle from Mr. Bug Goes To Town. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.
Newsarama's second installment on Max and Dave's amazing Florida adventure.
... Then Mr. Bug came out. It was originally supposed to be released in October, but Paramount moved it back to the first week of December, 1941 in order not to go head-to-head with Disney’s Dumbo. The decision was disastrous as Mr. Bug came out two days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. No one was going to the movies that week...or for the rest of the month from the sounds of things ...
Mr. Bug Goes to Town was ... what's the technical term I'm searching for? ... a box office bomb.
And that pretty much was that. The brothers weren't talking to each other, their studio -- despite the success of Superman -- was a well of red ink, and Paramount ultimately pulled the plug.
The mythology is: the canny Disney brothers made their animation studio work, while the inept Fleischers, marooned in sunny Miami, went down in flames.
But that's not quite the actual story. The Fleischers were doing credible cartoons right to the end, and Disney was in serious financial trouble as World War II reared its steel-plated head. Disney just had the good sense to turn out a lot of wartime training films that went a looong way to keeping the studio in Burbank afloat.
Makes you wonder about those twisty turns in the long road of history: If Walt had moved to Florida?? ... If Max and Dave had shifted to California and gotten into government work?? ...
We might now be talking about the Fleischer conglomerate.