The Frog Pond
Here's another rare Ub Iwerks cartoon: The Frog Pond was released on 12th August 1938, and it's one of 14 Color Rhapsody cartoons made by Iwerks for Columbia/Charles Mintz studio. After the loss of distribution contracts with MGM and Celebrity Productions, and the departure of a major part of his crew, Iwerks has lost his status of the independent producer, and he was forced to find some other ways to make a living. First, he was subcontracted by Leon Schlesinger to produce some Looney Tunes. Only two cartoons were made from this arrangement: Porky and Gabby and Porky's Super Service. Despite carrying the credit "Supervised by Ub Iwerks", these two cartoons were in fact co-directed by Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones.
A contract with Charles Mintz of Columbia (later Screen Gems) studio has proved to be more successful and lasting. Iwerks was responsible for the half of Color Rhapsodies produced from 1937 to 1940. These cartoons were made at Iwerks' new studio at Santa Monica Boulevard, and it's interesting to notice how these cartoons weren't much different from the ones produced by Columbia/Mintz. Two artists most responsible for the particular look and character design of Iwerks cartoons from the first half of '30s were Grim Natwick and Berny Wolf. Without them, Iwerks has lost lot of his distinctiveness. His cartoons for Columbia are still quite good and well done. Some of the very best are Skeleton Frolic, (a remake of Disney/Iwerks classic "The Skeleton Dance"), Midnight Frolics, and Merry Mannequins (a striking art-deco inspired cartoon).
The crew who worked on these cartoons is a complete mystery to me. These cartoons are not carrying any credits, so we can only guess who were the artists. The only certain name is composer Joe DeNat who wrote the music for all Columbia cartoons at that time. Paul Etcheverry has identified one of the animators on "The Frog Pond" as Irv Spence.
So, enough with the talk, here are the screenshots.
And don't forget, for all your Ub Iwerks-related questions and needs, go straight to Bruce's Understanding Animation blog .
I'm planning to make a post about one more Iwerks cartoon this week, and it will be a rarely seen and extremely politically incorrect Flip the Frog cartoon.