Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment will release Max Fleischer’s Superman 1941-1943, a collection of classic animated shorts, on Blu-ray Disc and for digital purchase May 16.
With the growing popularity of Superman following his debut in Action Comics #1 in 1938 and a subsequent radio program, animator Max Fleischer produced 17 theatrical animated shorts that were released between September 1941 to July 1943, the first nine by Fleischer Studios, the next eight by Famous Studios.
Actors Clayton “Bud” Collyer and Joan Alexander reprised their “The Adventures of Superman” radio show roles as Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane, respectively. Jackson Beck provided the voice of Perry White and was the show’s primary narrator. Additional voices, many of whom had participated in the Superman radio program, were provided by Jack Mercer, Grant Richards, Julian Noa, Lee Royce, Max Smith, Sam Parker and Carl Meyer.
The shorts proved highly influential, expanding the character’s profile and adding new aspects to his lore, including a number of catchphrases still attributed to him today. The animation style would also be used as a template 50 years later for “Batman: The Animated Series” and its expanded universe, which included “Superman: The Animated Series.”
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Warner Bros. Discovery’s advanced remastering process for Max Fleischer’s Superman 1941-1943 began with a 4K, 16-bit scan of Fleischer’s original 35mm successive exposure negative. Staying true to the original 1.37:1 aspect ratio, the highest quality raw image was then scanned and then entered into the recombine process — utilizing special proprietary software to merge the successive exposure Technicolor negatives into a single RGB color image.
The bonus materials will include the new featurette “Superman: Speeding Toward Tomorrow,” which explores the visual storytelling and lavish animation of the shorts, with special attention paid to all the atomic age technology. Additional extras include the featurettes “First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series,” in which contemporary animators, comic book and animation historians, and legendary Fleischer artists discuss the shorts; and “The Man, the Myth, Superman: Exploring the Tradition of Superman Heroes on the Page and Screen,” a study of Superman-esque characters throughout history — in ancient myth, literature and film.