Friday, November 13, 2009

And Make It Snappy!

Call it "synchronicity."

Call it "serendipity."

Call it "ippity-bippity."

Through a series of events, I managed to score a pile of overlooked "golden age" cartoons on video and meet an interesting fellow in the process.

Back around 1991 or so, I received a copy of "The Whole Toon Catalog." This was an impressive mail order company that handled a pretty comprehensive array of videos. They included the mainstream releases of the day from the likes of Disney and Warners, as well as "niche" producers. (This was back in the days of VHS cassettes, kiddies.)

One of these obscure labels was "Snappy Video." As I went through the catalog, circling titles of interest, their name kept coming up over and over. Clearly, my fantasy shopping list was going to be a budget-breaker.

Also around this time my wife had gone back to school to earn her Radiologic Technologist degree. In order to finance some of the educational costs, I decided to put some films up for sale in "The Big Reel" which was "the" monthly swap-sheet for film collectors.

One of the items for sale was an incomplete print of "Dumbo." It was missing the first hundred feet, so I had it listed at a fairly reasonable price.

Amongst the calls I received in response to the ad was from a fellow named Steve Stanchfield, who was interested in that print of Dumbo. In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he was the guy behind those "Snappy Video" releases.

Oh, WOW!

Long story short, I bartered that print of Dumbo for copies of all his current titles. This was mutually beneficial, as Steve was able to burn off some stock (I'm guessing, maybe $50 worth of raw materials) and I was able to grab maybe $200 worth of videos. Sweet!

One of Steve's releases was an excellent collection of Popeye cartoons that had fallen into "public domain" status. I wrote an enthusiastic review of this tape for the "Official Popeye Fan Club" newsletter and included ordering info.

This served to give Steve a nice spike in sales for this title and it also brought the OPFC to his attention.

Every year the OPFC has a "Popeye Picnic" celebration during Labor Day weekend in Chester, Illinois. This was E. C. Segar's home town.

In 1994 there were particularly big doings at the Picnic and I finally caved in and attended. Who should I meet there by Mr. Stanchfield, himself?

The highlight of the picnic was sitting with Steve, Leonard Kohl and several other spinach-heads at the annual banquet. We drew all over the paper table cloth and had a swell time "geeking out."

I lost track of Steve for about ten years after that. My googling on the internet for "Snappy Video" only served to conjure up page hits for a video capture device with the same name.

Of course, the internet being what it is, Steve eventually surfaced on a couple of cartoon message boards about five years ago, with a new video company called Thunderbean Animation. Once again we resumed our bartering; only this time it was based on my providing cartoons to be included in his new collections in exchange for copies of the resulting DVDs.

Sometimes you never know how these threads are going to weave together in this rich tapestry of cartoon nerdom.