For someone who doesn't really collect home movies, I seem to have an awful lot of them. Sure, there was a brief period when I did actively seek out 8mm and 16mm home films. But once you get a reputation as a home-movie aficionado, other folks do your collecting for you -- either by bringing you films that have been sitting in their attic or picking them up at antique stores and flea markets. And so, without quite trying to, I've ended up with the cornucopia of cartoons that form the basis for this exhibition.
I've written about home-movie cartoons before, but this show is wholly devoted to their box art. I won't claim that home-movie cartoon boxes are an artform to rival the movie poster or the movie poster. In fact, there's something cheesy, even disreputable, about some of the boxes here. But it's a good-natured cheesiness, and a refreshing contrast to the antiseptic, corporate-approved packaging of today's cartoons on home video.
Disclaimer: I don't know very much about the topic of this exhibit. The dates are my best guesses at when the boxes were designed, and in some cases they may be off by a decade or more. I haven't a clue who drew them, and I can't tell you anything about the history of Castle Films, Ken Films, or the other titans of the home-movie cartoon industry. And that's okay. The fact that these boxes are forgotten, vaguely enigmatic, and (let's admit it) ultimately insignificant is part of what makes them fun.
I first posted this exhibit in February of 1999; on January 1st, 2002, an updated version went up, with a bunch of new boxes from the collection of Jerry Beck, plus a few of my own acquisitions. Many thanks to Jerry for his contributions.
-- Harry McCracken, January 2002
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