Ub Iwerks Studio






Ub Iwerks Studio was a short lived animation studio in the 1930s.  Ub Iwerks, one of the closest partners of Walt Disney in the 1920s, decided to open his own animation studio after he was offered financial support from Pat Powers. Flip the Frog was Iwerks’ first creation. Even though the first two cartoons in the series were made in two-color Technicolor, Powers was not impressed with them, and Iwerks was forced to change the look of the main character. Despite the changes, the series did not become popular, and lasted only two years.

In 1933, Iwerks created even less popular series starring a boy called Willie Whopper, which run only until 1934. Due to the disappointment with the lack of success of the series, MGM decided to end a distribution contract with Powers and Ub Iwerks Studio. As a result, Powers had to look for another distributor for a new series created by the studio. Comicolor Cartoons, produced in two-color Cinecolor, were distributed by Celebrity Productions. The studio managed to produce only 25 cartoons in the series before Ub Iwerks Studio was closed down. Due to the problems with securing the distributor combined with the mild success of the Comicolor Cartoons series, Powers withdrew his support in 1936, and forced Iwerks to close his studio the same year. 

The lack of popular and critical success of Ub Iwerks Studio’s cartoons is often attributed to Iwerks’ lack of interest in creating innovative stories, original gags, and stand-out characters with distinguish personality and design. Even though the cartoons produced by the studio are generally praised for their visual attractiveness, striking designs, and interesting animation, the lack of strong characters and stories is blamed for the fall of Ub Iwerks Studio. Some writers also point to the lack of strong leadership from Iwerks over his studio, like in the case of Walt Disney Animation Studios. By the third year of Ub Iwerks Studio’s existence, Iwerks became more interested in technical innovations than in overseeing the production of his cartoons. Iwerks, as a talented innovator, developed a horizontal multiplane camera in 1933, couple of years before Disney debuted his vertical multiplane camera in The Old Mill (1937). This invention, however, did not solve the other pressing problems within the studio.


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Lenburg, Jeff. Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2006.

Lenburg, Jeff. The Great Cartoon Directors. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1983. 

Maltin, Leonard. Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980.