Scrappy’s Important Message for America’s Camp Directors

Scrappy's Camp Letter

August 2005
On June 25th, 1936, Eli Gottlieb, a merchandise counselor in Columbia’s Scrappy Franchise Department–yes, Columbia had a Scrappy Franchise Department, and yes, it employed a merchandise counselor–wrote an unknown number of camp directors. (His office, incidentally, was at 729 Seventh Avenue, which was at the most cartoon-oriented intersection in Manhattan–the same building housed the Van Beuren studio, and it was across the street from the Fleischer studio.)

Gottlieb had several pressing points to make:

  • “The value of cartoon drawing for children is widely recognized.”
  • Therefore, he was enclosing an instructional booklet on cartooning, along with “drawing models” (which happened to be of Scrappy).
  • In a major competiton, autographed pictures of Scrappy (“suitable for framing”) would be sent to the ten children who drew the best likenesses of him.
  • The three best Scrappy portraits would win visits to Columbia’s “private projection room” to preview Scrappy cartoons, as well as feature films, for three months.
  • Radio City Music Hall had recently agreed to devote one-third of its playing time to Columbia films (presumably including Scrappy cartoons).
  • The Boys & Girls’ News magazine had recently published an editorial that apparently spoke approvingly of Scrappy.

Here’s the letter, on letterhead featuring Scrappy, Yippy, Margy, and Oopy–click on it to get a larger, more legible version:

Scrappy's letter to camp directors

Tragically, Scrappyland’s copy of this packet doesn’t include the instructional booklet or editorial. It does, however, have the (extremely tattered) envelope the materials came in–and the “drawing models,” which consisted of an array of action-packed pictures of Scrappy, Oopy, Margy, and Yippy. (Many were based on scenes from specific cartoons.) Here are some examples of the drawings which Columbia hoped would be copied by many an aspiring cartoonist:

Scrappy pictures

We at Scrappyland have the following questions about all this:

  • If Columbia succeeded in turning American summer camps into Scrappy art schools, do any of those kid drawings survive? (Boy, would we love to see them.)
  • Are any of the fortunate small fry who won private Scrappy screenings still with us? Do they remember any of this?
  • What other activities did the Scrappy Franchise Department engage in? Did they also involve deadpan explanations of the educational value of Scrappy?
  • Wouldn’t the world be a better place if Radio City Music Hall still showed Scrappy cartoons from time to time?

1 comment on Scrappy’s Important Message for America’s Camp Directors

  • I wish they showed Scrappy on Boomerang or TV Land (or whatever the Retro cartoon channel is called now). These were the innovators of cartoons and should be seen by all generations!

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