Growing up, I fell in love with animation. The Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were among my favorites, but I also loved the more formal animation of Disney's movies. It wasn't until I became an adult that I discovered Max and Dave Fleischer and their animated adventures of Superman.
Created for theatrical release, the Fleischer Studios produced nine Superman cartoons (distributed through Paramount Pictures) in 1941 and 1942. Simply titled, Superman, the first short in the series, at $100,000 had one of the highest budget for a short produced at the time, and was nominated for an Academy Award. Lavishly produced in Technicolor and employing rotoscope techniques, these cartoons still stand among the most visually interesting of any series animated short films ever created. Fleischer Studios was disbanded in 1942 and changed into Famous Studios where the remaining eight shorts were produced in 1943 for a total of seventeen shorts. In 1994, members of the animation field voted the series as #33 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time.
In the 1980's, most of the Fleischers' films and shorts became available on video, and that's when I discovered Superman. Available in department stores, supermarkets, and other low cost outlets, the poor-quality videotapes were unable to diminish the amazing craftsmanship of the originals. Having entered the public domain in the 1950's, the Superman cartoons were released in various forms and lengths, with the final eight of the seventeen episodes difficult to find. The UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with animation fans have been able to restore the cartoons in high-quality editions available in a variety of forms including DVD.
At present, there are three versions containing all seventeen episodes: The Complete Superman Cartoons — Diamond Anniversary Edition (released in 2000 by Image Entertainment) and , the difficult to find, Superman Adventures (released in 2004 by Platinum Disc Corporation)--a third compilation using restored and remastered materials was released in November 2006 by Warner Home Video as part of their DVD box set of Superman films.
Billion Dollar Limited
The Mummy Strikes
The Magnetic Telescope
Terror on the Midway
The Underground World
The Arctic Giant