Out-of-the-inkwell-2He invented the Rotoscope for integrating cartoons and live footage, and came up with the follow-the-bouncing-ball technique, but his greatest contributions to American culture were cartoon characters, making today


What would America be without Popeye the Sailor man, Betty Boop, Koko the Clown and Fitz the Dog?

A poorer place is what, but thankfully Max Fleischer had the presence of mind at age 4 to convince his parents to move from Krakow, Poland to the United States of America. They settled in New York City, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, where Max attended public schools and received training in Commercial Art at Cooper Union.

By 1912, he was the Art Editor of Popular Science magazine, and experimenting with animated cartoons for the brand new medium of motion pictures.

Max Fleischer (7/19/1883 – 9/11/72) was an innovator, and his creation Betty Boop became a popular attraction in the 1920s and 30s. When he bought the rights to animate the newspaper character “Popeye The Sailor Man,” Fleischer Studios had its own cartoon superstar to compete with Disney’s Mickey Mouse.

Fleischer’s cartoon world was very different from Walt Disney’s squeaky clean animated paradise, with a grittier, more urban feeling, often interspersed with Rotoscoped images of the popular jazz stars of the day.

Modeled after sexy Black popular singer Baby Esther (Esther Jones), Betty Boop was considered too adult and racy by industry censors and, after the Hayes Code of 1934 was instituted, her overt sexuality and double entendres were toned down, and the cartoons lost much of their popularity.

He was also asked by Paramount Pictures to produce animated Superman cartoons, which were more technically advanced than any cartoons of the day. Max Fleischer, pioneer, inventor, and a bit of a Brooklyn wiseass.

•Suggested Activities: Jumping out of the inkwell.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top