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What if Fleischer Studios Remianed a Major Player in the Animation Industry to Present Day?

     Well, I've finally been been accepted into the Dieselpunks forum. Here's my first post. Since I'm an alternate history enthusiast with a soft spot for fallen empires and assorted lost causes, let me propose a diesel age alternate history. You've probably heard of Fleischer Studios, the Carthage to Disney's Rome. Back in the 1930's, characters like Popeye, Betty Boop, and Koko the Clown were giving Mickey, Donald, and Goofy a run for their money. Sadly, today Fleischer Studios, much like Carthage of old, lies ruined and buried by the sands of time, it's name surviving only in the form of thrift store VHS compilations and ghostly whispers in the minds of independent animators. But this, my friends, is but one of the innumerable islands in the great sea of time. Let us now set our sights on another timeline, where Fleischer Studios doesn't have to settle for past tense on its Wikipedia page. My question for you, fellow dieselpunks, is; How would the landscape of animation be changed if Disney and Fleischer both remain strong competing companies into the present day?

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There would have been a much longer "golden era" in the Disney animation catalog.

Fleischer relied a lot on rotoscoping, as did Disney, which resulted in the fluid, human-like animation you see in the earlier films like Cinderella and Snow White.  After the competition was gone, Disney reused a lot of their classic rotoscope footage, then abandoned it entirely due to budgetary reasons.  If they still had competition from a big studio like Fleischer, it could have gone much differently.

Not to mention, I think Disney would have leaned harder on pleasing children while Fleischer pleased the adult audience.  Without a course correction, this is probably where Fleischer's studio would have fallen if given a second chance.

I like where your last thought was going. Fast forward to present day, would Fleischer Studios be doing adult content cartoons? And if so, how adult would they be? Would they be doing Richard Linklater "Waking Life/A Scanner Darkly" type of animation, or perhaps they would have turned to seedier content to find a new audience?

Tome Wilson said:

There would have been a much longer "golden era" in the Disney animation catalog.

Fleischer relied a lot on rotoscoping, as did Disney, which resulted in the fluid, human-like animation you see in the earlier films like Cinderella and Snow White.  After the competition was gone, Disney reused a lot of their classic rotoscope footage, then abandoned it entirely due to budgetary reasons.  If they still had competition from a big studio like Fleischer, it could have gone much differently.

Not to mention, I think Disney would have leaned harder on pleasing children while Fleischer pleased the adult audience.  Without a course correction, this is probably where Fleischer's studio would have fallen if given a second chance.

The  Hays Code killed Betty Boop and consigned Popeye the Sailor to a more pre-adolescent character.  Expungement of art with moralistic justification.  Sounds like the 40's. 

How do you think Fleischer might have adapted to the rise of television?

I am a student of history and know that any prognostication of this sort is pure speculation.

But if I was pressed to make a prediction I would say that Fleischer Studios would fill the niches in television that seemed to be most beneficial to Fleischer Studios, just like Disney did.  What is interesting is what they would do with those opportunities.  I don't think they would have bought into the utopic idealism that Disney did.  When I watch the informative films put out by Disney they smell of propaganda for the American social superiority much like Nazi propaganda.  After being able to detect the demagoguery in they informative films you will also see it in their cartoons targeted to children.

It is unfortunate that other competitors like Warner Bros (Harmon-Ising and the later Merry Melodies "Looney Tunes") were definitely sympathetic with Fleischer but when the market was swaying towards the Disney camp they followed the leader.

I, for my part, respect that Fleischer Studio's tried to stayed true to their vision but in the end rotoscope artwork in animated features lost to mass produced Saturday morning dreck and cartoon as an art form took several steps backward.  Unfortunately since then the cartoon industry has been further debased by Japanese and Korean animation which is even a poorer art form done on even a lower budget.

If you want to see true art in the cartoon industry you still have to look back to Fleischer Studios Superman series.  The production values truly made this the Golden Age of animation.  I wish the spirit of Fleischer's creations could have lived through to Doug Wildey's production of Johny Quest.

I do have misgivings though.  Like any company, they do their best work when they are struggling.  Once they have conquered their opposition, they become the Goliath that they would have fought against in the past.  I guess I am trying to say that I like Fleischer's body of work because it never became the Disney that I have grown to despise. 

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