This week’s Sunday Evening Video is an encore from September, 2017. We’re running it again now because your PopCulteer is still working on a top-secret project, and besides that, it’s really, really cool. So watch it again.
Tonight we take you back to the days before the proliferation of cable television channels and the existence of the internet, when folks like your loyal PopCulteer, who were obsessed with seeing anything new and different in the world of animation had to scrounge to find anything new and exciting.
Animation fans basically had the PBS program, International Animation Festival, hosted by Jean Marsh, which only ran for a few weeks during some mid-70s summers to expose us to then-new works by independent animators. At some point in the late 1970s many of the shorts that were shown on that program were compiled into a theatrical feature-length collection that was designed to be shown at midnight movies and in art-houses. Fantastic Animation Festival was a hodge-podge of unusual and psychedelic imagery that show the true potential of animation as an art form at a time when most people knew animation as badly-produced, cheap-looking and disposable children’s entertainment.
Fantastic Animation Festival began with the briefest of voice overs, “Welcome to the world of animation,” by legendary voice artist Paul Frees, and then launched into a series of short filmes that included: French Windows by Ian Eamesm which used rotoscope animation to bring Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days” to life; Icarus, clay animation by Mihail Badica; A Short History of the Wheel by Loren Bowie; The amazing Cosmic Cartoon, animated and directed by Eric Ladd and Steven Lisberger; The Last Cartoon Man by Derek Lamb & Jeffrey Hale; Au Bout Du Fil Cradle (Cat’s Cradle) by Paul Driessen; Moonshadow, Cat Stevens’ story of Teaser and the Firecat, narrated by Spike Milligan, animated by Charles Jenkins; Oiseau de Nuit (Nightbird) by Bernard Palacios; Room and Board by Randy Cartwright; the infamous Bambi Meets Godzilla by Marv Newland; Mountain Music, very early Claymation by Will Vinton; Light by Jordan Belson; The Mechanical Monsters, a 1941 Fleischer Studios Superman Cartoon; Stranger, a 1971 Levi Strauss Jeans commercial; by Snazelle Films, narrated by Ken Nordine; Uncola, a 1975 7Up commercial; by Robert Abel and Associates; Mirror People by Kathy Rose; Kick Me (film) by Robert Swarthe, a 1975 Best Animated Short Film nominee and Closed Mondays, more very early Claymation by Will Vinton that won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
At the time this was a godsend for animation buffs. The inclusion of a Fleischer Superman cartoon was a real treat because those were rarely seen back in the day. The animated commercials were terrific since commercials were considered disposable and weren’t readily available to be watched again in the days before home video.
Home video did change things, and this YouTube video is obviously a VHS copy, but it’s still cool a just a little bit nostalgic to see so much great animation collected in one place. Of course, nowadays more quirky, independent animation gets posted to the internet every day than you see in this collection, but this was back in the dark ages of media distribution, when people would toil over a film for months or years, with no hope of it ever being seen by more than a handful of people.These were the pioneers of independent animation.