Aesop's Film Fables

Aesop's Film Fables

"Aesop's Film Fables" was a series of animated short subjects, created by American cartoonist Paul Terry. Terry came upon the inspiration for the series by young actor-turned-writer Howard Estabrook, who suggested making a series of cartoons based on "Aesop's Fables". Although Terry later claimed he had never heard of Aesop, he felt that Estabrook's idea was something worthwhile. Terry immediately began to set up a new studio called "Fables Studios, Inc." and received backing from the Keith-Albee Theatre circuit.

The series launched on May 13, 1921 with "The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg". Only the earliest films were loose adaptations of the actual Fables while later entries usually revolved around cats, mice, and the disgruntled Farmer Al Falfa. Each short concluded with a "moral" that usually had nothing to do with the actual cartoon itself. Terry staffer Mannie Davis once remarked that the morals were even "funnier than the whole picture itself." "The fact that they're ambiguous is the thing that made 'em funny," Terry once said. Morals included "Go around with a chip on your shoulder and someone will knock your block off" or "Marriage is a good institution, but who wants to live in an institution?"

The series proved to be enormously popular with the public during the 1920s. Walt Disney admitted that his earliest ambitions was to produce cartoons of comparable quality to Paul Terry. With the popularity of Al Jolson's part-talkie "The Jazz Singer" in 1927, as well as the huge success of the first all-talkie "Lights of New York" in 1928, producer Amadee J. Van Beuren realized the potential of sound films and urged Terry to add the new innovation to his films. Terry argued that adding sound would only complicate the production process, but ended up doing so anyway (the series would now be renamed "Aesop's Sound Fables").

Released in October 1928, "Dinner Time" became the very first cartoon with a synchronized soundtrack ever released to the public. (From May 1924 to September 1926, Max Fleischer had released the series Song Car-Tunes made in DeForest Phonofilm but only the music, not dialogue, was synched to the Bouncing Ball gimmick.) However, the film was overshadowed when Disney, after viewing "Dinner Time" decided to convert one of his silent Mickey Mouse cartoons into sound. Disney's "Steamboat Willie" was released on 18 November 1928 and Paul Terry's cartoon was forgotten.

In 1929, Terry quit and John Foster took over the series under the Van Beuren Corporation, formally "Fable Studios, Inc." The series finally came to a close in 1933.

ee also



* Crafton, Donald (1993): "Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928". University of Chicago Press.
* Gifford, Denis (1990): "American Animated Films: The Silent Era, 1897-1929". McFarland and Company.
* Maltin, Leonard (1987): "Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons". Penguin Books.
* Solomon, Charles (1994): "The History of Animation: Enchanted Drawings". Outlet Books Company.

External links

*imdb name|id=0856056|name=Paul Terry
*imdb company|id=0028853|company=Terrytoons
* [ Aesop's Fables] at the Internet Movie Database

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