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Encyclopedia > Koko the Clown
Koko the Clown and Fitz
Koko the Clown and Fitz

Koko the Clown was an animated character created by animation pioneer Max Fleischer. It is disputed whether the character's name is spelled "Koko" or "Ko-Ko" as it varies between films. Image File history File links Koko the Clown and Fitz File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Koko the Clown and Fitz File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. ... Max Fleischer (July 19, 1883–September 11, 1972) was an important pioneer in the development of the animated cartoon. ...

Koko was created when Max Fleischer invented the rotoscope, a device that allowed for animation to be more lifelike, by tracing human movement. To test out his new invention Fleischer photographed his brother, Dave in a clown suit. After tracing and animating the footage, Koko the Clown was born. Using this device, the Fleischer brothers were able to secure a contract with the John R. Bray Studios in 1919 to produce their own series called Out of the Inkwell. Aside from the use of the rotoscope, the new series also offered a combination of live-action and animation. The films usually were centered on Max Fleischer as the creative cartoonist who would always have to keep Koko in check. Koko would often slip from Max's eye and end up either going on an adventure of some sort or pulling a prank on his human superior. The series became very successful and in 1921, Fleischer Studios was born. Rotoscoping is a technique where animators trace live action movement, frame by frame, for use in animated films. ... David Fleischer ( July 14, 1894 - June 25, 1979) was a German-American animator, film director, and film producer, best known as a co-owner of Fleischer Studios with his older brother Max Fleischer. ... Bray Productions was the dominant animation studio based in the United States in the years before World War I. // History The studio was founded in December of 1914 by J. R. Bray, perhaps the first studio entirely devoted to animation, and series animation at that (he was probably beaten a... Year 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... Year 1921 (MCMXXI) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for full calendar). ... Fleischer Studios, Inc. ...

Throughout the 1920s, the studio proved to be one of the top producers of animation with clever humor and numerous innovations. In 1924, Fleischer decided to go a step further and introduce a new series called Ko-Ko Song Cartunes, sing-along shorts (featuring "The Famous Bouncing Ball"). These early cartoons were actually the first films ever to use soundtracks (three years prior to The Jazz Singer and four years prior to Steamboat Willie). Sadly, the sound shorts attracted little interest at the time, in part because only a small number of theaters were equipped with electronic speakers at the time. The Fleischers would not venture into the sound venue again until 1929, and by that time, could make the transition with relative ease. 1924 (MCMXXIV) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar). ... The Jazz Singer (1927) is a U.S. movie musical and the first feature-length motion picture with talking sequences. ... Steamboat Willie (released on November 18, 1928), is an animated cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse. ... 1929 (MCMXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ...

Eventually, a new character, Fitz the Dog (later known as Bimbo) was added to the series. Together, Fitz and Koko would wreak all sorts of havoc on Fleischer and anyone else would just happened to be in the cartoon studio with him. So, in 1927, the series was renamed Inkwell Imps. Chemical Ko-Ko (1929) would be the last of these shorts. Bimbo is a cartoon dog created by Fleischer Studios. ... 1927 (MCMXXVII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar). ... 1929 (MCMXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ...

In 1931, Koko was taken out of retirement and became a regular in the new Fleischer Talkartoons series with contemporary costars, Betty Boop and Bimbo. After Fleischer was bought out by Paramount Studios, Koko continued to be revived periodically for made for television cartoons into the early 1960s (Larry Storch provided the voice of Koko in these later cartoons). 1931 (MCMXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link is to a full 1931 calendar). ... Bimbo in the 1931 Talkartoon Silly Scandals. ... Betty Boop from the opening title sequence of the earliest entries in the Betty Boop Cartoons Betty Boop is an animated cartoon character appearing in the Talkartoon and Betty Boop series of films produced by Max Fleischer and released by Paramount Pictures. ... Bimbo is a cartoon dog created by Fleischer Studios. ... The Paramount Pictures logo used from 1988 to 1989. ... The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. ... Larry Storch (born January 8, 1923) is an American actor best known for his comedic television roles, including voiceover work for cartoons, and his live-action role the bumbling Corporal Randolph Agarn on F Troop. ...


  • Cabarga, Leslie (1988): The Fleischer Story. DaCapo Press.
  • Crafton, Donald (1993): Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928. University of Chicago Press.
  • Maltin, Leonard (1987): Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. Penguin Books.

See also

Animation Before Hollywood: The Silent Period During the beginnings of the silent film era, the central location of the motion picture industry had not yet relocated to Hollywood. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Clown (662 words)
A clown today is one of various types of performer in the circus and rodeo, normally appearing in makeup, costume (typically large footwear, oversized clothing, bright colors and patterns), wig and fun nose, and enacting humorous sketches, usually in the interludes between major presentations.
Bongo, Bongo the Clown of the duo Bongo and Clownzo, is an Auguste clown.
The Auguste is zaniest and most foolish of the clown's group, yet attempts to look dignified, and thinks of himself as smart and superior and wise, which only lends to the comedic effect when he receives his inevitable comeuppance.
Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Koko the Clown (Out of the Inkwell) (653 words)
Koko was the first toon to be rotoscoped, with Max's brother, Dave, acting out the Clown's part for animators to trace.
Koko was also the first to mingle on-screen with the real world — starting with his emergence, at the start of each cartoon, from a photo of an actual inkwell.
Since Koko was mostly a silent star, it's one of the few classic-era cartoons in which he had any voice at all.
  More results at FactBites »



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