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MoMA bringing the Fleischer Brothers’ animation classics back to life

NY’s Museum of Modern Art is bringing some iconic favorites back for a theatrical experience, including Superman and Popeye.

Rotoscoped heaven

Max Fleischer, American Animator and Inventor

Remember those stunning Superman cartoons that made the rounds on social media a few years back? Actually, we probably don’t have to ask that question, since at this point they seem to make the rounds every few months. If you’ve seen ’em, then you know the animation is flat-out incredible, and doubly so when you consider the shorts were created back in the early 1940’s.

That’s mainly thanks to the mixture of traditional animation and rotoscoping that they employed, the latter being a technique that can provide incredibly natural movement for cartoon characters. As great as they were though, those films and shorts that spun out of Max Fleisher’s studio (Fleisher Brothers) haven’t been in theaters for a good, long time.

While you can see some of them online, if you’ve always wanted to view them in their original glory, you’re going to get your chance. That’s to say, if you’re in New York City, you are. A special event is coming up next month courtesy of the famed MoMA institution, which’ll be presenting a retrospective on the (mostly) family-friendly fare starting next month.

Fleischer Cartoons: The Art and Inventions of Max Fleischer, will be running March 7th through the 13th, only at the Museum. Fans of the medium will be able to catch a mixture of matinee’s and “programs historical… and thematic”. As for the character slate, you’d best believe the Man of Steel will be there, along with Popeye, Betty Boop, and… Cab Calloway? Yep, he featured in the studio’s Minnie the Moocher.

Check out the full details below, on this rare opportunity to catch some classics on the big screen.

As America approaches 100 years as an animation powerhouse, MoMA is thrilled to present a comprehensive survey of classic cartoons by the Fleischer Brothers, most famous for their Jazz Age creations Betty Boop and Koko the Clown as well as their wildly popular screen adaptations of E.C. Segar’s Popeye and DC Comics’ Superman. This retrospective will include family-friendly matinees, but also programs historical (spotlighting Max Fleischer’s very early Koko the Clown silents, which famously combined live-action hijinks with hand-drawn animation) and thematic, all too appropriate given the Fleischers’ merciless sense of humor and profound eye for anything phantasmagorical and transgressive – including sound-era triumphs like the Betty Boop headliner Minnie the Moocher, featuring a ferocious rotoscoped performance from Cab Calloway, or the Technicolor two-reeler masterpiece Popeye The Sailor Man Meets Sindbad the Sailor ManMuch of the material in Fleischer Cartoons draws from a wealth of new 4K restorations supervised by Max Fleischer’s granddaughter Jane Fleischer Reid, many of which will be making their world premieres at MoMA.

MoMA press release

About Jason Micciche

Jason's been knee deep in videogames since he was but a lad. Cutting his teeth on the pixely glory that was the Atari 2600, he's been hack'n'slashing and shoot'em'uping ever since. Mainly an FPS and action guy, Jason enjoys the occasional well crafted title from every genre.

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