Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Mega Collector presents Mr. Bug Goes To Town

... a/k/a Hoppity Goes To Town. Below, some stunning artwork from Fleischer Studios's last theatrical feature.

Click the thumbnails for larger images

For those who think Disney blew it by putting Bolt up against Twilight, that's nothing. Mr. Bug Goes To Town was scheduled to come out in November 1941, but to avoid going up against Dumbo the studio changed the release date to ... December 9, 1941.

Here's a Nick Tafuri drawing of Mr. Bumble and C. Bagley Beetle:

Below, in eight segments, the entire feature:

In addition to Tafuri, sections of the film were directed by Shamus Culhane, Al Eugster, Reuben Grossman, Abner Kneitel, Hal Seeger, Dave Tendlar, John Walworth and Bob Wickersham.

Mr. Bug was originally meant to be an adaptation of Maurice Maeterlinck's The Life of the Bee, but the Fleischers were unable to get the rights to the book, and the studio came up with its own story inspired by Maeterlinck instead.

Fleischer was the first U.S. animation studio to sign a union contract, after a bruising strike in 1937. The Fleischers responded by moving the studio to Miami, to save costs and in hopes of breaking the union. As Tom Sito relates in his book Drawing The Line, the move actually increased costs and set the pro-union and anti-union employees even farther apart.

In May 1941, faced with bankruptcy during production on Mr. Bug, the Fleischers were forced to sell the studio to Paramount, who kept the brothers on but forced them to sign undated resignation letters. By the time Mr. Bug was released, Dave Fleischer, who was credited as director, had moved to Hollywood to head up the Screen Gems unit.

Paramount closed the Miami studio and set up Famous Studios back in New York to continue the Popeye shorts that had made the studio's reputation. Of course, they signed a union contract.

Appreciations to Jeff Massie, Tom Sito, and of course Mega Collector for their contributions to this post.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Stephen Worth said...

I believe the B&W layout is by Anton Loeb, not Nick Tafuri. I bought a similar one from a relative of Loeb's many years ago at comiccon. Mine is of Snoop and Snitch about to get shocked in the jitterbug sequence.

Jeff Massie said...

Click the thumbnail for the larger view and you'll see that Tafuri signed it.

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