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Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation

Nicholas Sammond, Author
Labor, page 1 of 21
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Labor, Page 88

The Fleischer short Cartoon Factory (1924) parodies the intensive labor of animation while celebrating the Fleischers' fascination with the technologies of industrialization. It opens with Max Fleischer using an electric current to automate his pen (and torment Ko-Ko the Clown), but the device is replaced by an animated animating machine. This automated drawing device then wreaks havoc in Ko-Ko's world, so the clown turns the machine against Max, who then has to resist Ko-Ko's takeover of a rapidly fragmenting multi-dimensional space created by the machinery of/within the cartoon.

This sort of a struggle between producer and product was replayed over and over again in early American cartoons. It  underlined a fantastical performative relationship that was grounded in the tedious labor of animation.

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