Bray Animation Project Rolls Out

Max Fleischer creates "The Tantalizing Fly," 1919, at Bray Studios
Years in preparation, the Bray Animation Project has rolled out as an extensive research tool devoted to animated films from Bray Studios made between 1913 and 1927. The studio was headed by J.R. Bray, a pioneer of early comics who opened the New York facility as the first successful commercial animated-cartoon studio.

Creator, researcher, and curator Tom Stathes recently reported to members of the Association of Moving Image Archivists that he hd spent years preparing the site, which combines imagery, videos, essays, and the most complete filmography published to date.

The project, he said, “pays overdue homage to an early New York City film studio whose product has been painfully understudied.”

Film and comics historians David Gerstein, Charlie Judkins, Mark Newgarden, Ray Pointer, Jack Theakston, and Stathes, himself, have provided informative texts for the site. The filmography can be viewed either chronologically or by series, and establishes whether each film is lost or survives. It also specifies which items the Bray project currently holds.

A discussion board on the site invites film scholars, historians, fans, and surfers to post messages.

As Fox News Latino reported back in February, the Bray Project collection is extraordinary not only for its scope, but how it came to be collected. Tommy José Stathes, now only  21, first learned of the cartoons, and became hooked, at the age of 5. The Queens, New York, college student began to collect the films and memorabilia several years late, at the age of 11, when he discovered that it was impossible to rent most of the early cartoon films, he set about collecting them. His collection of over 1,000 films includes classic figures of cartoon history like Koko the Clown, Felix the Cat, Baby Peggy, and Farmer Alfalfa.

Once the technology that would wed sound to film was perfected, the early cartoon silents were often thrown away; that has permitted collectors like Stathes to continue to locate them. He has been hosting screenings at venues around New York city for the last eight years.

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