DANISH CARTOONS 1919 – 1930
One of the glorious drawings Storm P. made as a slightly ironic commentary on his work with cartoons. To the right, Storm is seen sitting on an office chair, which has the advantage that the seat in this case can be made lower as the stack of sheets of paper becomes smaller and smaller, as the animation drawings float down in front of Karl Wieghorst's hand-powered camera. Storm is wearing the characteristic Sherlock Holmes symbols: the special hat and pipe on which he steams despite the sign "No smoking". - Drawing: © Storm P. Museum.
The history of Danish cartoons begins with the small entertainment and advertising cartoons, which in the years 1919-25 were drawn by Robert Storm Petersen (1882-1949), best known under the artist name Storm P. During the mention of the Cartoon's History in the previous chapters, set up a depiction of the pioneering efforts within Danish cartoons that Storm P. accounts for. When this chapter is therefore entitled “Danish Cartoons 1919 - 1930”, it is primarily due to the fact that Storm P.'s total cartoon production took place within the mentioned time period.
In the years 1919 until about 1925, Storm P. made both short entertainment cartoons and commercials. The cartoons were made on a homemade, very primitive trick table and including photographed by the technically experienced and professional film photographer Karl August Wieghorst (1871- 19??). The entertainment cartoons were produced by Storm P.'s own company, while the commercial cartoons were produced by Industrifilmen, which in 1922-27 was directed by Sven Holm (1902-1976), the later nationally known author and radio host with the nickname Farmaceuten. (Note 1)
Robert Storm Petersen around 1913, when he had created his cartoon The Three Little Men and The Number Man. Photo: © Storm P. Museum. To the right Storm P. with his The Three Little Men, but without the Number Man, who first appeared in the comics six weeks after its start on March 14, 1913. - Drawing: © Storm P. Museum.
Robert Storm Petersen was born on September 19, 1882 in Valby, and after his schooling and confirmation in 1896 he was apprenticed in his father's butcher shop in Copenhagen. Next door he drew and painted, and in 1899 he went for a season to technical school in Frederiksberg. He was also busy composing poetry and writing stories, a profession he had begun in his school days and which he also continued with for the rest of his life. (Note 2)
As a draftsman, painter and author, Storm P. was largely self-taught, and he made his debut as a draftsman in Dansk Slagteritidende in 1902. But he was also interested in antics and acting, and in 1903 he was accepted as an acting student at Casino in Amaliegade. The theater's director, director and first actor, who was also director of the Dagmar Theater in Jernbanegade, was the legendary Martinius Nielsen (1859-1928), and the theatre's first lady was his wife, Oda Nielsen (1851-1936). This couple were the parents of the cartoonist Kay Nielsen (1886-1957), who in the late 1930s was employed by Walt Disney, as described elsewhere here on the website. (Note 3)
Another of Storm P.'s great interests was Sherlock Holmes, and together with the somewhat older actor and author Holger Rasmussen he wrote a book entitled The Night of Copenhagen. A novel about crime and love. A Danish Sherlock Holmes. Storm was paid DKK 7 for each chapter that was handed in for printing.
Storm P. and a couple of friends had started publishing the magazine Skalk, which he was the editor of and wrote and drew for. Along with these comrades, he also founded the Oncle Sam Club, of which he was "president". It was the interest in the land of great opportunity, America, that was the background for the club. Already while he was an apprentice butcher, Storm P. had had some of his drawings printed in various Copenhagen magazines and newspapers, and he had even become an employee at Middag Posten. In addition, he became a drawing employee at the dinner newspaper Klokken 12.
On February 12, 1904, the daily newspaper Politiken published an extra magazine, which from January 1, 1905 was simply called Ekstra-Bladet. From the beginning, the magazine became extremely popular in all circles, especially because the editor, Frejlif Olsen, knew how to associate talented employees. Storm P. also became an employee of the newspaper 1905 to 1910 and again later from 1914 to 1916. Ekstra Bladet became especially known for its socially critical attitude, and especially the conditions of the socially disadvantaged, it became a matter of honor for the magazine to point to and try to get politicians to do something about. It was therefore natural for a humorously minded, but at the same time also humanistically minded artist like Storm P., to make drawings with a social purpose. (Note 4)
Robert Storm Petersen was a complex man, on the one hand full of humor and life poetry and on the other hand of gallows humor and deep melancholy. This is clearly seen by his total production of drawings and paintings. He was immensely productive throughout his life and overcame the most incredible, especially as a humorous cartoonist and joker who was here and there and everywhere at about the same time. As a younger man, Storm P. often drew and painted motifs with life versus death, social distress, and injustice versus the luxury life and bourgeois indolence of the affluent.
It was while Storm P. was an actor at the Casino Theater that Ole Olsen (1863-1943) began his work as a film producer out on Mosedalvej in Valby. The first director was Viggo Larsen (1884-1957) and the film photographer Rasmus Bjerregaard (1882 - 1917). The latter, however, was soon transferred to the newly established technical department in Frihavnen, and his work as a film photographer was taken over by Aksel Sørensen Graatkjær (1885-1969).
Before Ole Olsen had founded Nordisk Films Kompagni and established himself in Valby, the films were shot in various places around the city. This is called filming on location. So no decorations were used in the company's first film. The films were primarily melodramas, which experience knew appealed to a large audience, but occasionally adventure films and farces were also recorded. The films usually had a playing time of approx. 6-8 minutes.
At that time, it was not well-liked among actors to take part in the "film fair", which was considered inferior and unculturable. However, there were a number of actors who still dared to star in films, not least because of the excitement of the job, but also because it usually gave a much-needed extra penny.
Storm P. was one of the actors who dared to wear a fur coat, and with the usual fervor he threw himself into the new-fashioned phenomenon of the film, which he, as always curious, of course already knew from visits to the city's many cinemas. But there was probably another reason why Nordisk Film could use Storm P., and that was his ingenuity and drawing and painting talent. The place's first and actual decoration painter was Robert Krause, and he was assisted by Storm P. and Gustav Lund. But all the staff worked in virtually all the functions that were part of a filming at the time, including not least as actors.
The first film in which Storm P. participated in Nordisk Film was "The Robber's Bride", 1907, but he probably also helped in the production of the decorations for the film, if otherwise such were used. However, the action takes place mostly on location. Storm played the role of robber and cowboy.
The next film in which Storm appeared was "The Lady of the Camellias", in 1907, in which he played the role of Gustave. For this film, Storm has probably also been a decorative painter with Robert Krause. (Note 5)
Scene image from the adventure film Lykkens Kalosker, 1907. This included Oda Alstrup and Gustav Lund, as well as Storm P., who is seen on the far right. - Photo: © The Danish Film Museum.
But just as interesting is that Storm P. starred in a couple of the H.C.Andersen adventure films that Nordisk Film produced in 1907. This was the case in Lykkens Kalosker, but what role he played in it has not been established. But Arnold Hending also describes this film as "The World's First H.C. Andersen Film."
Storm P. also appeared in the feature film "Fyrtøjet", 1907, which had a playing time of 8 minutes. In it he played the role of servant at the tavern where the soldier lodges. But I wonder if he also assisted with the decorations.
Storm P. appeared in several other films at Nordisk, but then took a break from filming until around 1913, when he was hired by the newly founded Dania Biofilm Kompagni, of which the publisher Gyldendal was a partner. which was a dramatization of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "Little Claus and Big Claus". The fairy tale had been adapted into a film by Gyldendal's then director, the author Peter Nansen (1861-1918), while the instruction was placed in the hands of the actor, theater director and author Elith Reumert (1855-1934).
Storm P. and Benjamin Christensen in a scene from the adventure film Little Claus and Big Claus, 1913. It is Storm P. on the left. © The Danish Film Museum.
The roles of Little Claus and Big Claus were played by Henrik Malberg and Benjamin Christensen, respectively. Also starring were P. S. Andersen (the clerk), Martha Hegner (the clerk's wife), Peter Malberg (the Galan), Victor Neumann (the old grandmother), Valdemar Willumsen (a farmer's wife), and Storm P. (a farmer's boy). (Note 6)
But with this film, Storm P.'s film career was tentatively over. Among other things, he has pronounced:
“Filmed,” Storm said many years later, “no, we did not film, but we made live images. One day I was told that now we should have an instructor. Then I said goodbye to the five kroner that was the fee for painting decorations, dragging costumes in the tram from Casino and playing the lead roles! ” (Note 7)
However, there are probably exaggerations - or understatements - in the quoted quote by Storm P. because he actually worked under a director in every single one of the films he recorded at Nordisk and later at Dania Biofilm.
However, it is not known who the director was possibly when Nordisk Film's director, Ole Olsen (1863-1943), in 1907 tried to launch the original comic Storm P. in a series of farce films. Under the name Happy Bob (Bob for Robert), a total of 6 films were recorded in the series, starting with "Happy Bob on rat hunting". Then followed the films in which one could experience Happy Bob on the bowling alley, respectively, as a boxer, waiter, suitor and cyclist, but the films, which unfortunately are not preserved, are not believed to have been any audience success, which is why the series was abandoned. (Note 8)
Alongside the film work, which in reality only played a minor role in his life, Storm was still an acting student at the Casino Theater in 1905-07 and at the Dagmar Theater 1907-09. At the same time he continued to draw for various magazines 1910-14, and also performed in the artist cabaret “Edderkoppen” ("The Spider") 1914-18. (Note 9)
But it was first and foremost as a humorous artist and writer, and secondly as a serious painter, that Robert Storm Petersen became world famous in Denmark. In 1913 he created his first cartoon, "The Three Little Men and the Number Man", which began in the weekly magazine "Verden og Vi" on March 7, 1913. The series, which had previously been called "Kan De det?" (Can you this?), ran in this magazine to the end of 1916. The latter year began the morning newspaper B.T to be published, and the always enterprising Storm P. immediately connected with the magazine. However, the cartoon "The Three Little Men and the Number Man" appeared only occasionally in B.T.'s columns. The series, on the other hand, continued in the Swedish weekly Vecko-Journalen in the years 1916-23. (Note 10)
The three little men originally appeared in the cartoon "Can You Do It?", From which the picture above comes. But on March 7, 1913, a coat-clad Storm P. introduces the three little game makers as an independent cartoon in the weekly magazine Verden og Vi. - Drawing: © Storm P. Museum.
First picture of four. Note the Number Man and the 1 behind him. Storm is sitting in a café reading a newspaper, while the three little men are having fun with, among other things, to paint a face on the back of the powerful gentleman in front. The World and Us, No. 21, May 22, 1914. - Drawing: © Storm P. Museum.
The Three Little Men and the Number Man began as supporting characters in the cartoon "Can You Do It?", but on March 7, 1913, Storm P. introduced them as main characters in a new, independent cartoon in the magazine The World and Us. On the same occasion, however, he occasionally introduced the so-called "speech bubbles" in the series, which had hitherto been without words or text, an actual "pantomime" comic, which suited perfectly to the then dumb and therefore international cartoon medium. However, it took a few more years before Storm P. transferred the three rogue thieves to the film strip.
Storm P. appears as a cartoonist during a performance in Malmö in 1918. The action takes place around the meeting of the three little men with a lion (top). At the bottom, the lion is caged, and with a few strokes, the facial expressions of the three men change.
(Photos: © Storm P. Museum. Caption: © Museum Director Jens Bing).
On the other hand, he performed on Christmas Day 2 in Cirkus Varieté on Axeltorv as a fast artist with The Three Little Men on the program. Here he was on ‘home turf’ as a draftsman and joker, and the number began with him drawing on large, white sheets of paper placed on an easel on stage. All the while he was talking, and Storm could talk like a waterfall, and with his very special, crunchy and jovial voice, he commented on his drawings of the three little men and a lion, as these quickly appeared on paper. It was done in such a way that with quite a few strokes he could change the facial expressions of the characters along the way. In this case, the three little men first look startled at the lion, but Storm quickly turned their anxiety into a big laugh, first drawing a cage around the lion, which was thereby locked inside, and then changing the mouths of the three little men. (Note 11)
When Storm P. from October 3, 1915 published his own magazine, "Storm", the three little men were with from the beginning, but now as a continuing cartoon that stretched over the total of 27 issues of the magazine that appeared before the magazine walked in. In 1917 this series was published in booklet form under the title "The Three Little Men and the Number Man's Legacy".
Idrætsparken's lottery on Sunday June 14, 1914, where Storm P. was responsible for the publication of the main issue, no. 1170, painted on the main prize, a four-bucket. Sitting on the tailgate Storm P. with nephew Svend Thaarup as number man, standing below from left Carl and Aage Thaarup and a playmate as the 3 little men. - Photo and caption: © 1980 Storm P. Museum by Jens Bing.
The always enterprising and self-promoting Storm P. did what he could to make his characters nationally known, as he i.a. appeared as a so-called fast artist with "The Three Little Men" on various varieties in Denmark and Sweden. On the second day of Christmas 1913, he made his debut with this number in "Cirkus Varieté" in Copenhagen. But also in another way, Storm P. sought to make himself and his series known. On Sunday, June 14, 1914, he had thus undertaken to publish the winning number in the Sports Park's lottery, and for this purpose he had had two of his little nephews and one of their playmates dressed as the three little men, while a third nephew was dressed as the number man. Sitting on the tailgate of a horse-drawn team of fours and with the winning number clearly painted on the sides of the carriage, Storm P. and his famous figures came driving onto the track, much to the surprise and jubilation of the full audience. (Note 12)
Storm P. had already become a drawing contributor to the daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende in 1913 and to the Sunday edition of the magazine in 1914. Therefore, it was natural for him to be on the spot when Berlingske on August 31, 1916 published the first issue of the dinner newspaper B.T. And of course he took the opportunity shortly after to introduce himself and his The Three Little Men and The Number Man to the readers. It happened with a drawing, which depicted himself and his then partner, Ella Dyberg Heiberg, walking on the square in Rødby, followed by the Number Man and The Three Little Men. The drawing was accompanied by a cheerful and characteristic text by Storm P. (Source: "B.T. p.t." 50th anniversary publication for B.T., published by Interessentskabet Berlingske Tidende 1966. Page 15.)
Here is Storm P.’s first drawing for B.T. He drew himself and his then partner, the singer Ella Dyberg Heiberg, and The Three Little Men and the Number Man, in front of the town hall in Rødby in the summer of 1916. - Drawing: © Storm P.-Museum.
So Storm P. did pretty much everything in his power to make himself and his cartoon famous. On the one hand, he wanted to help secure a fairly steady income, and on the other hand, he knew that without the audience's favor, neither he nor his comics and other drawings would have any success. But perhaps it was already at that time also beginning to dawn on him that his cartoon characters and their game-plays would lend themselves even very well to the new-fashioned medium of cartoon, which then began to win out.
However, it would be another few years before Storm P. realized the idea of transferring The Three Little Men to cartoons. In the meantime, there had been an opportunity for him to watch cartoons in the Copenhagen cinemas, for such small entertaining films were usually included in the so-called weekly shows or film journals that early belonged to the cinemas' regular repertoire. It was mainly cartoons of American and English origin, as previously mentioned, already in the first two decades of the 20th century, a significant cartoon production had emerged in the two countries, and especially in the United States. (Note 13)
Especially in America, it was common for cartoon characters to also be transferred to the cartoon medium, which helped to spread the knowledge and popularity of many both then and later well-known comics. Especially during the First World War, the need for entertainment cartoons increased, and probably therefore the magazine king William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) also set up the cartoon company International Film Service in 1916, which primarily aimed to transfer some of the otherwise world-famous comics from Hearst's newspapers and magazines for cartoons. (Note 14)
In Denmark, in the early summer of 1919, the probably first Danish authored book on the film's history, technique and application, namely "Filmen, dens Midler og Maal" was published. It was written by Peter Urban Gad (1879-1947), who in 1910 debuted as a film director with the erotic film melodrama "The Abyss", for which he had also written the script. In his historically valuable, but in many ways outdated book, the author also enters into a brief description of the trick films, puppet films and cartoons of the time:
"The trick photography must also include the well-known and rightly so of many admired, grotesque-comic cartoons in which the Americans are masters.
It is an unprecedented amount of individual drawings that must be performed to produce such a film; it is usually 1,000 feet long, and 16,000 individual images are required for this, each of which must contain both artistic value, dramatic depiction and the closest connection with the previous and the following in order to give as smooth a movement as possible.”
The caption reads: Production of the c. 16000 drawings required for an ordinary comic cartoon. (See text). - © 1919 Urban Gad, cited work.
"The master of such a film then usually has to simply indicate the movement in each image and leave his helpers to perform the details, as each of them then works with his character. The background landscape is drawn on a transparent Celluloid surface or by lithographic transfer onto the sheets of paper; if the figures are to move behind tree trunks or the like, one must even proceed to cut them out. The drawing is placed on an easel, resting on a glass plate illuminated from below, so that a new paper can always be placed on top of the last drawing, and the desired movement in the Figures is thus continued by direct comparison (see illustration).
The work is immense in comparison to the brief moments in which such a film entertains the audience, but they often contain so much grace and mood that they form a beneficent contrast to many a fateful drama. "In a similar way, films are made using small wax figures, the position of the limbs and the expression on the faces can be changed for each image (see illustration)." (Note 15)
The caption reads: “As a variant of the comic cartoons, wax dolls have also been worked on in America. (See text) ”. - © 1919 Urban Gad, cited work.
Apart from the fact that there are a few technical misunderstandings in Urban Gad's description of the cartoon process, it must by and large be said to be true. It is not entirely inconceivable that the inquisitive Storm P. may have read Urban Gad's book and attached himself to the section on tricks and cartoons before he even began experimenting with the medium. In any case, it is a fact that Storm P. notes in his diary for June 6, 1919: "Today begins the preparations for my first cartoon (The Three Little Men)".
On the 23rd of the same month he notes: "Has handed over my film to Fotorama for development", but only on the 4th of August does he return to the film and note: "The cartoon was good - but still had some shortcomings. Willum and I to America. " (Note 16)
It appears indirectly from the stated diary notes that Storm P. and his partner, the pianist Valdemar Willumsen, had plans for an American tour with their variety number "Willum and Storm Music-Comedy - Merry Makers". America stood for both of them, as for so many other Danes at the time, as the adventurous land of great opportunities, where you could realize your dreams and ideas. Based on what Storm P. had read about America and heard from Danish-Americans visiting their old homeland, Storm P. felt akin to the special blend of crazy humor and tear-jerking sentimentality that was expressed. in American magazines and movies. Therefore, it was important to leave as soon as possible, and Storm P. had also drawn up drafts of posters to be used during the trip to America some time in advance. (Note 17)
One of the first days in August 1919, Storm and Willum sailed with the American boat United States from Copenhagen's Freeport with a course to New York. told the following in his own special way:
“My berth turned toward the shore south of New York as the ship lay still waiting before we reached the entrance, guarded by the lady with the torch. I thought we had come to Rungsted coast, so beautiful was the sight I saw through the porthole.” (Note 18)
Storm P.'s second cartoon: "The Three Little Men - The Goose Thief", premiered in the Palace Theater up to Christmas 1920. The above drawing, which according to Lars Jakobsen is not drawn by Storm P., was in the theatre's film program for the performance in question. Designer name not specified.
Director Jens Bing, Storm P. Museum, has informed me by telephone that Storm P. brought his very first small cartoon, "The Three Little Men", on the trip to America, for which he had placed great hopes and expectations. The documentation can be found according to Jens Bing in Storm P.’s diary from the trip. But otherwise it is clear from Storm's statements to e.g. the press that he had actually dreamed of creating an international career as a magazine cartoonist, especially with comics such as "The Three Little Men and the Number Man". When this was successful, he and Willum would seek to get engagements with their combined drawing and music number in the large varieties and music halls. And although it does not appear directly, it is conceivable that Storm P. might also have dreamed of a career as a cartoon producer in God's own country. Once all this was successful, Willum and Storm P. and their families would settle on Long Island near New York. But it was all going to go completely differently than hoped and expected.
It turned out very soon that Storm P. was an incarnated Copenhagener and that he could not thrive for very long at a time outside Sokkelund County. Moreover, he was not well versed in either the English or American language, which soon proved to be a major impediment because he usually had to use Willum as an interpreter. It meant something in relation to the American media and the public, who of course wanted to see and hear the "giraffe" himself and not his deputy. On the other hand, Storm P. could unfold better when he performed for Danish-Americans, who for many had not yet forgotten to speak and understand the Danish language. This part of the America tour was also fairly successful, because everywhere where Storm and Willum performed, there were full houses and thus financial success. On the other hand, it was not always that the Danish-American audience understood to appreciate Storm P.'s special kind of humor.
But even though Storm P. had a lot of success during his and Willum's tour around the big American cities, he still could not in the long run reconcile with the American mentality and lifestyle, when he first really got to know it. It seemed to him cynical and inhuman. He was therefore soon saddened by his stay in America and longed for home for his daily, peaceful work and loved ones.
The tour had begun and ended in New York, but by the time Storm and Willum reached back here in late October, a harbor strike had broken out. This meant that the return journey to Copenhagen was somewhat delayed. But finally, on November 6, Storm was able to note in the diary: "Nov. 6 Last day in New York. Tomorrow at 7 o'clock we travel to Philadelphia and then - Goodbye America - but not see you again." On Saturday November 9, the passenger ship "Frederik the Eighth" sailed from Philadelphia with Copenhagen as its destination.
Storm P. spent the last time in New York waiting for the last time before returning home, spending every day a few hours in the Broadway movie theater just around the corner from 47th Street, where he stayed at the Hotel St. Margaret. The hotel, which had several hundred rooms, was mostly inhabited by artists, impresarios and people of indefinite profession. It is part of the story that the cinema was on the 10th floor. Storm P. has told the following about these cinema trips:
“We are 12-14 originals that every day at 5 exactly rises up to the first performance. Gradually we get to know each other, nod kindly and exchange a few words. ” (Note 19)
Although Storm P. does not directly mention anything about it, it is likely that during these cinema trips he must have seen quite a few of the popular commercial and entertainment cartoons of the time, and that this may have contributed to him some years after returning to Copenhagen itself began to make especially advertising cartoons.
But before it had come this far, Storm P. could around Christmas time 1920 premiere in the Palace Theater on the second Danish entertainment cartoon, "The Three Little Men - The Goose Thief". According to Niels Plaschke, this film was so connected that after returning from the America tour, Storm P. succeeded in raising a capital of DKK 10,000 to establish his own cartoon production. It was wholesaler Dethlef Jürgensen who shot money into Storm P.'s cartoon business, and in return, Storm P. undertook to make four small entertainment cartoons. (Note 20)
There is some uncertainty about the extent to which the photographer Karl Wieghorst photographed Storm P.'s first cartoon, "The Island" (1919), but he was at least a photographer on "The Goose Thief" (1920) and on the following of Storm P.'s entertainment cartoons. (Note 21)
During the First World War, Karl Wieghorst had been engaged in making animated films about war tactics for the German General Staff. He apparently then settled in Denmark, more precisely in Copenhagen, where he continued his career as a film photographer. The contact between Storm P. and Wieghorst came about through a job advertisement that Storm's company had placed in Berlingske Tidende. The four small entertainment cartoons that the two had committed to producing, starring the three little men, are known under the titles "The Goose Thief" (1920), "The Rejuvenation Cure" (1920), "The Clarinet Player" (1920), and "The Iron Mix ”(1921).
The technique that Storm P. used to make the entertainment cartoons with The Three Little Men was mainly to draw and animate on paper. But for the commercials he produced for Industrifilmen, he made extensive use of the economical cut-out and moving-film technique. But even his cartoon production Storm P. could not refrain from commenting in drawings and text, of which there are several glorious examples, such as. following:
“You take Edgar Allan Poe's collected works and sit out in Vestre Kirkegård without an umbrella. A few hours later you have a humorous idea, and then you start carrying stones to the pyramid, a wear and tear that is devoid of all bright spots.”
One of the drawings where you see Storm P. draw and animate for his cartoons with "The Three Little Men", while photographer Wieghorst stands ready at the camera. - Drawing: © Storm P. Museum.
Storm P. also described the work on cartoons as "a wear and tear, devoid of all bright spots." To the daily newspaper Politiken, Storm P. says in 1921, among other things:
“Wieghorst and I sit all day with black glasses bent over white sheets, shone with bright artificial light, we are quite calm, mumbling numbers to each other, moving in the higher mathematical spheres. When making such a film, it is important to figure it out. Any superfluous image means a wasted effort and a loss of money.”
Here is a cartoonist Storm P. and his photographer Karl Wieghorst in the process of recording cartoons on the very primitive trick table, which the two gentlemen probably themselves designed for the purpose. Note the caption: "Do It Now". - Photo: © Storm P. Museum.
About Storm and Wieghorst's work with cartoons, director of the Storm P. Museum, Jens Bing, among others. written the following:
"Over a period of only a few years, Storm P.'s cartoons went through the techniques that the media had at that time. The work with the film camera was safely in the hands of Wieghorst, while Storm P. took care of all the drawing work. The set-up was as primitive as the method was simple. As can be seen from a simultaneous photo (see ill.), The camera was mounted on a small table with a hole in the plate for the lens, which pointed directly down to the image field between the table legs, where Storm P. took a seat. From a visit to the studio, a reporter states that the drawings were made on paper on top of a glass plate illuminated from below. However, the light source during the filming was two sets of bulbs, attached to the chair legs above the drawing, which suggests that the transillumination had a different function.
In his first cartoon with Wieghorst, Storm P. performed predominantly one drawing per. shooting equivalent to one image on the film strip. This time-consuming working method compared to the untraditionally sore paper format he used - 56 x 76 cm format drawings. Preserved - gives an impression of how unmanageably difficult it can be to maintain continuity in an uninterrupted movement. One method of checking the coherence of a motion sequence was to illuminate the newly photographed drawing, then place a new sheet on top and whitewash the previous drawing with small adjustments. The solution here is timing: a movement made neither more snatched nor more protracted than the illusion suggests.” (Jens Bing in the introduction "Storm P.'s cartoon" to Kunstmuseet Køge Sketch Collection 1986).
What Jens Bing actually points out regarding Storm P.'s working method in connection with the production of cartoons is that Storm P. actually drew and animated on a kind of horizontal light console, which since very early in the history of cartoons had become a commonly used work tool for animators and interpreters, however, as an inclined drawing desk, as previously described here on the website. The immediate difference between the latter's and Storm P.'s working method was in particular that they made the animation before it was filmed, while his animation was allegedly filmed successively along the way as the drawings were completed. But the same for both Storm P. and other animators was, of course, that cartoons made with cut-out and moving film technique were in any case shot directly under the camera. However, there was usually a work prior to drawing the figures and parts for figures that were to be used in the 'moving films'.
Isolated drawing from Storm P.’s first cartoon “A Duck Story” from 1920, where the three little men witness the vagabond being carried away on the wings of the stolen duck. - Drawing and caption: © 1986 Storm P. Museum by Jens Bing.
Preliminary studies for the vagabond clown in "The Clarinet Player" - Drawing and caption: © 1986 Storm P. Museum by Jens Bing.
Below are a few examples of one of the methods that Storm P. used in his mixed technique in producing his cartoons:
Animation drawing of a cross section of a multi-storey house with fixed figures. The animation is done by inserting a strip of paper through cracks in the paper, whereby the table is led up through the floors of the house (here reconstructed). Drawing and caption: © 1986 Storm P. Museum by Jens Bing.
Animation head where the mustache can be rotated and the lower lip move through an opening in the face. Drawing and caption: © 1986 Storm P. Museum by Jens Bing.
In his introduction to the exhibition "Cartoons - from Storm P. to Valhalla", museum director Jens Bing has, among other things. presented the following interesting information and comments:
“On Nov. 13, 1920, the first film was submitted for development with a premiere on the second day of Christmas in the Palace Theater after a preview in the Odd Fellow Palace in Bredgade. In ads, it has no title, but often goes by the name "A duck story" or "The Goose Thief". It incorporates a number of the gags found in Storm P.'s contemporary comics of The Three Little Men. In an interview after the premiere, Storm P stated: “Wieghorst and I sit all day with black glasses bent over white sheets, shone by a strong artificial light, we are quite calm, still mumbling numbers to each other, moving in the spheres of higher mathematics . When making such a film, it is important to figure it out! Any superfluous image means a wasted effort and a loss of money. It is still about finding the shortest path to the goal and at the same time exploiting the current situation to the extreme. I first write a draft of the film, but during the making I still improvise, and it is these improvisations that throw mood and brilliance all over the place (…). Only situations that would be impossible to portray in any other way can be portrayed on a cartoon ”(Politiken, December 22, 1920).
The first cartoon was poorly finished before Wieghorst and Storm P. embarked on the next: "Professor Steinach's method" or "The Rejuvenation Cure". A professor Steinach had found a much-debated remedy for achieving youth, and from here Storm P. saw the comic possibilities of showing the consequences the remedy would bring. At that time, he seems to have become aware of the futility of repeating the frame of the characters in drawing after drawing, instead of establishing a fixed frame for each action plot - not different from the scenes he was familiar with performing for the scene. The animation was then concentrated on the figures, where Storm P. does not seem to have made use of the cell technique (i.e. the drawing performed on transparent foil for successive movement for each shot). The film premiered at the Palace Theater on February 21, 1921. After his premiere, Storm P. confided in his diary: "- it was well received - but something is missing - what the Americans have in their cartoons is missing - surprises". From this statement one reads both what Storm P. associated with the medium and what he would like to achieve himself. ” (© Jens Bing: "Storm P.'s cartoon". Introduction to the Kunstmuseet Køge Sketch Collection's exhibition etc. "Cartoon - from Storm P. to Valhalla" Oct 17 to Nov 9, 1986).
Scene from one of Storm P.'s cartoons with The Three Little Men: "The Rejuvenation Cure" (1921). Here it seems that Storm P. has used the cell technique. - Movie image: © Storm P. Museum.
But the extremely time-consuming and meticulous work, such as the making of just a short cartoon, did not fit in the long run with Storm P.’s temperament and desire to constantly get on with other and new projects. Jens Bing has, among other things, the following to report:
"The great effort of filling thousands of sheets of paper with life in an almost slavish repetition of the composition could Storm P., who was inclined to quickly achieve a result (cf. the inscription:" Do it now ", which he put over his drawing board) , only described as “carrying stones to the pyramid”. The films' 10-15 minutes of playing time included between 9 and 10,000 images on a 35 mm screen. film strip (film length for “A Duck Story” approx. 178 m., “Rejuvenation Cure” approx. 167.5 m.). With great ingenuity, he found ways to ease the way for himself and yet achieve the coveted surprises. Thus he drew a fixed frame for the course of action and inserted figures, mounted on cardboard strips, through openings in the paper for successive movement (see ill .; or he drew a head which remained fixed while the mustache could be rotated and the lower lip moved up and down through an opening in the head - a method that warns of the benefits of working with multiplan (see ill.) The two methods each express a solution to the cartoon's hunt for the illusion of movement: in the first, the characters move as in a puppet theater scene , in that they remain unchanged in expression, in the latter the movement is concentrated in the figure as in a model doll or bouncer. It is in the union of the two methods that the life of the cartoon arises, and it was here that fatigue arose for Storm P. , who was alone about it all.
In the spring of 1921, after the "Iron Mix" (approx. 173 m.), Storm P. tried to run from the fourth cartoon. His financier Dethlef Jürgensen had then unsuccessfully tried to sell his films abroad. The lack of results gave rise to this reaction in the diary: "No and again no - no more cartoons". He had then engaged in cabaret again and wanted to forget cartoons that, despite the goodwill of the press, had not been taken for more than children's entertainment. Others picked up the thread, including Storm P.'s characters, with offshoots in advertising cartoons, for which cartoons had proved popular so early on. puppet animation of Peter and Ping from Storm P.'s next major cartoon from March 1922." (© Jens Bing: "Storm P.'s cartoon". Introduction to the Kunstmuseet Køge Sketch Collection's exhibition etc. "Cartoon - from Storm P. to Valhalla" Oct 17 to Nov 9, 1986).
Presumably with Wieghorst as the photographer, Storm P. at one point made a small film that was a mix of real film and cartoon. The film shows Storm sitting at an easel and drawing the three little men standing in a room with a door on one side. One by one, the three little men walk out the door, leaving Storm alone. In principle and technically similar 'cartoons' had been made several years earlier by foreign cartoonists, such as J. Stewart Blackton (1912) and Walter Lantz (1916).
Storm P. and Wieghorst also began making commercials, probably around 1922, when pharmacist Sven Holm had taken over the day-to-day management of the company Industrifilmen. The commercials were usually ordering from different companies who wanted to advertise their product. One of these commercials was made for the taxi company Ring Bilen (1924), which had the telephone number 1420. With Storm P.'s sense of witty humor, one saw in the picture an officer who was in the process of driving some masked thieves into the salad bowl, all the while counting the number of these: “One, two, three, four, etc. to twelve, thirteen, fourteen! Fourteen thieves!” The film was probably originally dumb and with so-called speech bubbles, but much later it was apparently provided with sound.
Storm P. together with his photographer, Karl Wieghorst, in the studio on the fourth floor in Bredgade 25. (The photo must be from around 1920-24?). Published in Berlingske Tidende 19 May 1956 as one of two photos for the article Storm P. was the man behind the world's first cartoon, written by Harald H. Lund.
Peter and Ping, as the comic book's two main characters gradually came to look. - Drawing: © Storm P.- The Museum.