Hunky chastizes Spunky for a donkey-style infraction.


Medium: Theatrical Animation
Produced by: Fleischer Studio
First Appeared: 1938
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The Max Fleischer Studio is remembered as the producer of the old black & white Popeye cartoons (since colorized), which a majority of animation buffs consider the best ever made; the mostly black & white Betty Boop series; and completely black & white work such as Koko the Clown

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… and Grampy. But it did field a few Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons made in color and even, toward the end of its existence, did a few all-color series such as Gabby and the adaptations of Superman into that medium. The first Fleischer series characters to debut in full color were a relatively obscure pair named Hunky and Spunky.

These two began as the eponymous stars of an Oscar-nominated "Color Classic" (as the studio called its polychrome productions), released June 24, 1938. In it, Hunky (a mother donkey leading a human-free life in the American Southwest) protected her young offspring, Spunky (no relation), from enslavement by a prospector looking for a pack animal. Needless to say, the man's plot netted him nothing more than farmer Si Keeler used to get on a regular basis from Maud the Mule.

After Hunky & Spunky, Fleischer made an additional half-dozen cartoons about the small family, all in color. The last of them was Vitamin Hay, released August 22, 1941. The following year, the studio folded and its assets were taken over by its distributor, Paramount Pictures, which continued its operations under the name Famous Studios.

Famous continued the Popeye and Superman series, and added new ones such as Little Lulu and Casper the Friendly Ghost. But new ones about Hunky & Spunky were few and far-between, and incomplete even at that. Spunky, at least, turned up once in 1944, and there was one final outing almost a decade and a half later (Okey Dokey Donkey, released May 16. 1958); but as a regular series, Hunky & Spunky were through.


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Text ©2007-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Max Fleischer Productions.