Superman (The Mad Scientist) Product...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionSuperman (The Mad Scientist) Production Cel Setup with Key Master Background (Max Fleischer, 1941). WOW... this is really something – an original Key Master setup from the very first Superman cartoon! In 1941, the Superman comic book character was only a few years old, having been introduced in Action Comics #1, cover-dated June, 1938. The feature was an instant hit, quickly spawning a newspaper strip and his own titled comic book series. When Paramount contacted Max and Dave Fleischer about producing a high-quality theatrical cartoon series based on Superman, the Fleischer brothers were busy working on their second feature-length animate film, Mr. Bug Goes to Town, but didn't want to turn down their distributor's offer, so they agreed – providing they got a budget of $100,000 (that's pre-World War II dollars, about $1,700,000 in today's money). They were sure Paramount would turn this down, but instead, they agreed! And so was created some of the finest short subject films of the Golden Age of Animation, and this cartoon, alternately called Superman and The Mad Scientist, began the series. In this original hand-inked, hand-painted 16 field setup, we see three separate elements that all come together at the climax of the short, all taking place on the spiral staircase in the Mad Scientist's lair. First is the Mad Scientist as he dashes down the stairs; see this at the 9:26 mark in online viewings. Next, we see the Scientist's pet bird – a buzzard, as it tumbles down after the Scientist; see this a second later, at the 9:27 mark. Finally, at the 9:28 mark, we see Superman as he carries Lois Lane to safety while the mountain laboratory crumbles around them. Ever since collecting animation art has become a serious hobby, any and all production art from the Fleischer Superman cartoons has been high on many collector's want lists, with precious little actually turning up on the marketplace. Finding anything from the first short in the series has been incredibly tough; finding complete setups featuring Superman, Lois, and the Mad Scientist has been pretty much a "pipe dream" but here we have the goods! The cels have been combined and affixed to the background by black tape, which has been applied to all four sides. The cels exhibit some paint loss, most notably in the bird's beak and feet, with cracks in the paint in other places. We'll call the condition Good, but considering the rarity, maybe we should call it "Wonderful" instead!
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