Superman is flying again. And this time it’s thanks not to DC, but to a little company called Gaiam. Thanks to Gaiam, Max Fleischer’s classic Superman cartoons have been restored and made available once again to the public. These classic cartoons are an example of everything that was once right with animation. And now not only can the generation that grew up with these classics enjoy them once more, but so can a whole new generation. At a time when DC and Marvel are increasingly going toe to toe with one another, churning out feature after feature (both on the big and small screen), this double disc collection is a welcome breath of fresh air for comic book fans the world over.
While there may have been only a grand total of seventeen episodes of Superman created by Max Fleischer between 1941 and 1942, those seventeen episodes are some of the finest animation to ever grace any television screen. As with so many early pieces of animation, Fleischer and his team of nearly six hundred (yes, nearly six hundred) animators gave Superman its own identity through their work. This is something that has so sadly been lost in today’s “animated” features. Being that so many “cartoons” are created via computer, they all look alike. They’re sterile. They have no real identity, compared to the likes of Superman. Sure, older cartoons such as these took massive amounts of time, money, and staff. But the end result is well worth it. That is evidenced here.
One might ask how it’s known that Fleischer used nearly six hundred animators and large amounts of money to create Superman. The answer to that is simple. The commemorative booklet included in this double disc set gives a full in-depth history lesson on how Fleischer came to ring one of the greatest superheroes of all time to the small screen. Dr. Thomas R. Reich, Ph.D. explains in the culled information that the shorts collected in this set were the result of discussions between Paramount and Fleischer Studios over a Superman movie. Because of the costs that the movie would have incurred, the two sides agreed that instead of a Superman movie, Fleischer would break up its movie proposal into what is now one of the earliest of the Superman TV series. Dr. Reich explains with excruciating detail how the series eventually came to life, and just as soon came to its end. There are also discussions on Fleischer Studios’ early days creating the likes of Gulliver’s Travels, Betty Boop, and even Popeye. The bonus booklet even includes a full episode listing with equally in-depth synopsis for each episode.
The bonus booklet included in this new Superman Set offers loads and loads of trivia for audiences. The story of how these seventeen shorts came to be is enlightening to say the least. Just as enlightening is the revelation that it’s Fleischer and company who are to be credited with the now famous lines, “Faster than a speeding bullet” and “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” This is just one more example of the value of this set to audiences. Valuable information such as this, along with the equally impressive animation and storylines make this Blu-ray re-issue of Max Fleischer’s one of the best kids’ releases of the year. It also makes it one of the year’s best in the category of general DVD’s and Blu-rays. It will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, October 30th.
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