|Superman (a.k.a. The Mad Scientist)||September 26, 1941||The short film Superman is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]|
|The Mechanical Monsters||November 28, 1941||The short film The Mechanical Monsters is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]|
|Billion Dollar Limited||January 9, 1942||The short film Billion Dollar Limited is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]|
|The Arctic Giant||February 27, 1942||The short film The Arctic Giant is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]|
|The Bulleteers||March 27, 1942||The short film The Bulleteers is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]|
There's a lot more to go, and I'll watch a few more before I'm done with the Fleischer/ Famous Studios Superman cartoons.
If you're a Superman fan in any capacity, these early Superman cartoons are must viewing. You have to remember these played in movie houses that might have seen Superman in a comic book, but had never really seen stuff quite like this animated - and it's so amazingly well crafted, it's hard to imagine something like this being made again even today.
The animation is often rotoscoped - a process in which actors are filmed performing the actions, and - much like today's motion capture - art was created that used the frame-by-frame reference of a human in motion, often tracing over the actor onto a cell. It's what keeps Lois's movements so recognizably human and the sudden change from the gravity-bound Clark Kent to Superman, leaping through the air, so dramatic. And, of course, the "otherness" of the villains can be played up with hand-drawn movements.
I don't love all versions of Superman equally, but this one is pretty top notch. It's that early, rabble-rousing, street-fighter Superman who doesn't say much, gets knocked around a bit, and gets back up. Seeing him tangle in the first episode with what we'd now call a laser, then robot thieves, a run-away freight train, a behemoth of a dinosaur, and a sci-fi fantasy vehicle is all pretty thrilling, and the short-form works well to keep the action moving.
But don't listen to me, download these things at the links I gave you.
Also, here's a bit of bonus material!
All of us Super-fans try to see a bit of themselves in Superman, but if I had to pick one take that I think is kinda/ sorta me in a cape and tights, it's the Superman from the Seinfeld webisodes from a few years back.
and in this one, I believe that's a guest appearance by Noel Neill (aka: Lois Lane) at the 1:16 mark