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December 6, 2017:

Porky Pig 101 Revisited

Jerry Beck, who with George Feltenstein herded the Warner Archive set of 101 mostly black-and-white Porky Pig cartoons into existence, wrote in response to my November 29 post about that set. I’m posting his message here, instead of as a comment, because of the importance I attach to preserving classic Hollywood animation and presenting it with the fullest possible respect for its creators’ intentions. Here’s Jerry:

You’re right that I haven’t weighed in much since the set was released; but beforehand, George Feltenstein and I tried hard to be clear about the quality of the cartoons’ presentation. In venues like Stu’s Show (a podcast), I openly explained the set was being done on a minimal budget, using “down and dirty” vault fine-grains, with almost no clean-up.

Porky Pig 101 was designed and advertised solely as a comprehensive collection of the black & white Porky Pig Looney Tunes cartoons–and that’s what it is, pure and simple.

Here’s the thing about the Porky set (and the point I made elsewhere) – it was partially created to gauge if there is still an audience for such “physical” product.

In comic book terms: Porky Pig 101 was an “ashcan issue”. A test. A canary in a coal mine. Warner’s hadn’t done a set using down and dirty copies before. There are no plans to ever do it again (that’s one lesson we’ve learned).

People clamoring (as I am) for a Tex Avery set–this is the reason Warner’s hasn’t released one. They will only do it when they can loosen corporate funds to do full restoration (a project made particularly difficult when 90 percent of the original negatives no longer exist).

The heyday of the “Golden Collections” or “Disney Treasures” on DVD is over. There is no “financial incentive” for the major studios to restore and release classic cartoons from their library. Especially large numbers of black-and-white cartoons.

Through the Warner Archive Collection we had an opportunity to release the 101 as we have. Should we have waited until some far future day that might allow us to restore them properly (a situation which we cannot foresee happening anytime soon)? We took a chance to release them now–and to test the waters.

I mentioned on Stu’s Show that if the set sells well, I’ve been told it will lead to proper restoration for all future Warner Archive classic cartoon releases.

I stand proudly behind Porky Pig 101. Do I wish the cartoons were perfectly restored? Of course I do! Despite some of these issues, the overall effect of watching and owning all these otherwise uncensored cartoons, in one package, is still exciting to me, and seem to be exciting to many who have written to me in support. Warner Archive is assessing the sales data and critical feedback now.

I can only suggest that everyone check it out and judge the set for themselves. I predict that most (like you) will find it a worthwhile purchase.–Jerry Beck.

Found this on Michael Barrier. It bears repeating and spreading.


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