Fox Lorber presents
Cartoon Crazys: Comic Book Heroes (2000)
"Faster than a streak of lighting, more powerful than the pounding surf, mightier than a violenthurricane; this amazing stranger from the planet Krypton, the man of steel: Superman!!"- Narrator, Underground World
Stars: Superman, Popeye, Betty Boop
Other Stars: Dodo: The Kid From Outer Space, Tobor The 8th Man
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (cartoon action)
Run Time: 01h:40m:00s
Release Date: 2000-10-03
DVD ReviewTime for some more archival, cartoon goodness with another volume of Winstar's Cartoon Crazys series. This volume, Comic Book Heroes focuses on more recognizable, classic characters from the history of cartoons. Superman, Popeye, Betty Boop, and even Raggedy Ann make an appearance, all of them looking not a day over 50! Restored video and audio work is the central feature and, overall, Winstar makes good.
As one might expect, the general tone of these cartoons is one of classic adventure and goofiness. Even though I'm no animation scholar, it's pretty easy to appreciate how much time, money, and effort went into many of these works, some of which were radical for the day. The Superman cartoons still stand as some of the most detailed and elaborate animation of the day, costing hundreds of thousands dollars sometimes. The subtle adult themes in cartoons like Popeye and Betty Boop are, of course, another interesting facet here. In a way, I think classic animators were sort of akin to the European experimentalists of film in the 20's and 30's. The challenging imagery is similar at times, and the pursuit of the surreal was an important element here.
The most striking feature of Comic Book Heroes, is the presence of some truly obscure and revolutionary work. For example, a Tobor: The 8th Man cartoon; one of THE first Japanese anime ever produced, along with Astroboy and Kimba. Viewers will note the similarity between Tobor and Speed Racer, including a similarly awful English dub. Other shocking pieces here include 2 works by Van Beuren studios (a Felix The Cat toon and a Toonerville Trolley cartoon) who were among the first to use truly vivid Technicolor in a cartoon, and did so with amazing results. Perhaps the most fascinating piece, in terms of animation history, is an original Winsor McCay Little Nemo toon, featuring early animating techniques using many of the characters from the original strip, which dates back to the 1910's.
Overall, the disc is a mixed bag of genres. While kids might enjoy Superman, Popeye, and that sort of thing, it's doubtful that the some of the more obscure cartoons will entertain those uninterested in the historical element, especially in the case of Little Nemo and maybe Little Audrey. It does, however, make a nice way of permanently saving these gems.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: My rather negative experience with the Cartoon Crazys disc Spooky Toons has been well forgotten here. Visually, these cartoons actually live up to the term "restored." Although the Superman cartoons seem to have some slight edge enhancement problems (they look very video tape-esque), every cartoon has a great transfer, with only minor, forgettable compression artifacts or unwanted pixel movement; probably not an easy feat considering the color usage in many of these toons. Now, there ARE age problems with some of the material, but obvious steps were taken to make sure the transfer didn't aggravate this. As it is, all the cartoons are perfectly watchable, with none having any kind of problems that would make you skip over them. The Van Beuren cartoons are the most striking of the disc, with amazing color depth and clarity.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The complete audio restoration features Dolby 5.1, Dolby 2.0 Pro-Logic Surround, and Dolby 2.0 Stereo mixes. While most of the soundtracks have retained their original mono information, many sounds contain re-recorded Foley. Lots of bass has also been added to impact noises (objects falling, people getting slammed around, etc.) The 5.1 and Pro-Logic mixes have tons of directionality and surround effects. It is very strange, but the mixes are far more subtle than the Spooky Toons disc, and don't sound quite as exaggerated, though I could have done without the massive bass information in the LFE channel. Some of this new, expanded frequency response is in the stereo mix, but not much. If you want to hear these cartoons as close to the original soundtracks as possible, use the stereo mix. My only big complaint is that often times the new Foley and sound effects stand out like a sore thumb, since they sound so much better than the original audio tracks. You may also wish to turn off your subwoofer to get rid of the bass track.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues
- Historical notes on each cartoon
- Plot synopsis for each cartoon
- Cartoon Memorabilia Photo Gallery
On the positive side, the menu for selecting cartoons allows you to view information regarding the history of the piece and its origins. Credits are also included, sometimes with original release dates. This feature adds nicely to the historical aspect of the toons.
The memorabilia gallery is a series of photos using various subjects. Some pictures are of old toys; others are rare storyboards and production sketches of the cartoon characters. This is another nice feature. Not being able to find the missing material does take a bite out of the final score, though.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsAnimation fans can't go wrong with Comic Book Heroes. The restoration is good and the overall quality is worth owning. Highly recommended.
Dan Lopez 2000-09-28