Superman saw a lot of firsts in the early days of his career. Unfortunately, being the first superhero (as the term is popularly defined) in movie theaters wasn't to be one of them. He was beaten to the punch by his arch-rival, no less, when The Adventures of Captain Marvel live-action serial hit the screens in February of '41.
But Superman wasn't far behind: In September of that year, the first of what would be seventeen animated shorts made it's debut.
The first nine cartoons were produced by Fleischer Studios. In 1942, Fleischer Studios was dissolved and reorganized as Famous Studios, which produced the final eight shorts. These cartoons are seen as some of the finest, and certainly the most lavishly budgeted, animated cartoons produced during The Golden Age of American animation.
Rotoscoping, the process of tracing animation drawings from live-action footage, was used extensively to lend realism to the human characters and Superman.
The first cartoon in the series, simply titled Superman, was released on September 26, 1941, and was nominated for the 1942 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons.
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You can also watch all seventeen of the 1940s Superman Cartoons @ AOL Video in much better quality than that one up there!
Superman (1940s cartoons) @ Wikipedia
Superman: The Fleischer Cartoons @ Filmbuffonline
Fleischer Studios Episode Guide @ Filmbuffonline
Famous Studios Episode Guide @ Filmbuffonline
Rotoscoping @ Wikipedia
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