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Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid was the first animated short from Warner Bros., produced as a pilot short in May 1929. It features live-action footage of Rudolph Ising drawing Bosko, who comes to life.

Plot

Animator Rudolf Ising is drawing. He’s trying to come up with a character, eventually he creates an African American boy named Bosko. Ising asks Bosko what he can do, and Bosko proceeds to dance and whistle. Bosko stops and notices something asking Ising, “whose them folks out in the dark?” Ising tells him that it’s the audience; he then asks Bosko if he can make them laugh. After some thinking, Bosko asks Ising to draw him a piano and Bosko starts playing on the piano trying to create laughs (Bosko himself laughs), and sings while tongue sticks out. Bosko continues to sing until his head pops up and we see it’s made of springs. He manages to get his head back together and continues to sing; eventually Ising gets annoyed by his singing and decides to use his ink pen to grab Bosko’s pants, eventually sucking him in. Bosko gets out of some ink and says, “Well so long folks see yah later”, as the cartoon ends.

Production

In 1928, when Walt Disney lost control of his Oswald The Lucky Rabbit cartoon series, producer George Winkler hired away several of Disney's animators to continue producing the Oswald cartoons for Universal Studios. These animators included Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising, Isadore "Friz" Freleng, Carman "Max" Maxwell, Norm Blackburn, Paul Smith, and Rollin "Ham" Hamilton. Universal later chose to produce the Oswald series using its own in-house animators headed by Walter Lantz, which left Winkler's animators out of work. The unemployed animators decided to produce their own cartoons and made Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid as a demonstration to show to distributors. Rudolf Ising appeared on-screen as himself in the short and Carman Maxwell performed the voice of Bosko. Harman and Ising shopped for a distributor, but were turned down by both Paramount Pictures and Universal. Leon Schlesinger, head of Pacific Title & Art Studio took an interest in Bosko and used his connections with Warner Bros. to get a distribution deal for a cartoon series that Harman and Ising later named Looney Tunes, a play on the name of Walt Disney's Silly Symphony series. [1]

Preservation

The short was considered lost for many decades, with only the film's Vitaphone soundtrack still in existence. By the late 1950s, when the film was being sold in a package on television, it was transferred into 16mm film by Associated Artists Productions in 1956 and was shown on television.[2] Turner Entertainment had a 35mm, but did not acknowledge its existence until 1999. The short was later restored on DVD.

Availability

Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid was never released in theaters, but it has been included in many public domain video releases. A heavily edited version later appeared in the Toonheads special "The Lost Cartoons", which was also its first public screening in 71 years. 

Gallery

References

  1. Maltin, Leonard. Of Mice And Magic: A History Of American Animated Cartoons, Revised, New York, NY: Plume, page 223-224. ISBN 0-452-25993-2. 
  2. 1957 MOVIES FROM AAP Warner Bros Features & Cartoons SALES BOOK DIRECTED AT TV


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