Monday, February 06, 2006

Boop and Death

Ann Althouse links to the obituary of Myron Waldman, an animator who worked for Max and Dave Fleischer and helped to create Betty Boop as we know her today.

He's also responsible for one of the saddest cartoons I ever saw. It's an early Casper The Friendly Ghost cartoon called "There's Good Boos Tonight" (1948) where Casper makes friends with a little fox and the fox is killed by hunters, but he gets resurrected as a ghost.

This may actually be the first Casper cartoon, since there's a narrator and a little exposition at the beginning, as if we didn't know who Casper was. He looks different, too: Not as rounded as he was in the late '50s Harvey cartoons. Also, when people and barnyard animals see Casper, they just flee--The cow jumps over the moon, the dogs turn white with fright--and they're not saying, "A go-go-go-go-ghost!"

I can remember this cartoon from when I was four or five years old, the music and Casper crying and holding the lifeless body of his little friend. It's sadder to watch now than it was when I was a kid! Maybe because you don't have a real concept of death and eternity when you're four. Also, Ferdy the Fox looks like an infantilized version of our cat Chico.

When I was a kid, I was more anxious over the fact that everyone would run from Casper and not give him a chance to prove himself. "But he's a friendly ghost!" Death and eternity may be unfathomable concepts in kindergarten unless you're some preschool Jean-Paul Sartre, but being lonely and wanting friends is a very real part of your life.

PS: Waldman also animated another Chico manque, "Muggy Doo, Boy Fox."

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