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Sunday, 22 September, 2002, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Cartoon pioneer dog has his day
Jerry the Troublesome Tyke -
Jerry is in demand again after 75 years

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Wales' forgotten cartoon star is returning to the limelight - 75 years after he disappeared from the cinema screen.

Few have ever heard of Jerry the Troublesome Tyke, a pioneering animated dog who graced the big screen at Cardiff's Capitol Cinema in the 1920s.

But now episodes of the unique early work, by projectionist Sid Griffiths, have been rescued and digitally remastered by film archivists.


The growth of our animation industry and its reputation for quality is a source of immense pride

Jenny Randerson, Culture Minister
They are being shown to hundreds of European animators and television bosses on the final day of the Cartoon Forum at Gwynedd and have aired on BBC2W, narrated by actor Rhys Ifans.

Organisers of the European Union programme - linking top cartoonists with possible TV commissions - are also presenting the continent's only awards for animated films.

The five Cartoon d'Or nominations have already won national competitions across Europe and are now aiming to be named king of cartoons.

But on preview screens at the Faenol Estate, modern-day cartoon heroes are rubbing shoulders with Wales' charming star of yesteryear.

Cardiff animator Sid Griffiths and photographer Bert Bilby made 40 amusing tales of the black-and-white cartoon dog between 1925 and 1927.

They were a pioneering mix of live action film featuring Griffiths and a hand-drawn Jerry - the pair interacting at Griffiths' drawing board using the same technique as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Faenol Estate, Gwynedd
Faenol Estate is hosting the Cartoon Forum
Jerry predates by three years Walt Disney's Steamboat Willy - lauded as the single most influential animation ever produced.

The National Screen and Sound Archive - based at Aberystwyth - and British Pathe have resurrected the series.

"It is indeed a story. The Jerrys originally appeared, fortnightly, on screens in the cinema magazine Pathe Pictorial," said archive film officer Dave Berry.

"Griffiths and Bilby were Cardiff projectionists and Sid went on to work in animation for another 30 to 40 years, working with the companies Anson Dyer and Halas and Batchelor...

"... notably with the latter, on the 1954 feature Animal Farm.

"The Jerry episodes are on average three minutes long and about 10 of the restored films are playing at the worlds biggest silent film festival at Sacile, Italy, next month."

BBC Wales has also taken on a two-year licence with Pathe for 14 digitised episodes, which have been aired on digital channel 2W to coincide with Cartoon Forum.

Even new soundtracks have been composed by Welsh composer John Rea and performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Digital channel 2W aired the first batch of four episodes on September 19. Others will follow in 2003.

But the first new outing for Jerry is at the 13th Cartoon Forum, which is in Bangor by the Welsh Animation Group, a 65,000 Welsh Assembly donation, S4C and Gwynedd County Council.

It is testament to the growing talent of the Welsh animation industry, which owes much to the financial backing of S4C since 1982 and is now worth an estimated 5m to 10m.

Six new Welsh pitches are vying for backing alongside 75 other series ideas from across Europe.

Welsh Culture Minister Jenny Randerson is presenting the Cartoon d'Or awards at the forum's closing ceremony at University of Wales, Bangor.


Features

Animated Wales

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