ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.10 - JANUARY 2000
Cartoon Historian Leslie Cabarga Interviews
Famous Animators From Beyond the Grave
Is there life after animation? Is animation dead? Can dead animation be brought back to life? How about dead animators? These are some of the questions I attempted to answer as I took on the ambitious assignment from Animation World Magazine of psychically channeling the spirits of dead animators.
In 1971 I began researching my first book, The Fleischer Story (Nostalgia Press, 1976; DaCapo Press, revised edition 1988). By that time, octogenarian Max Fleischer had already suffered a stroke and though still alive, was not capable of being interviewed. I later interviewed the Fleischer brothers Lou, Dave and Joe, but Max died in 1972, and I regretted having missed the chance to talk with him.
In 1979 I became intrigued by the idea of spirit channeling and within a few years felt that I had become adept at it. Since then, enough people have come away from my channeled sessions astounded by the insights I'd offered them -- things that I could not have known about their lives -- to even convince a skeptic like me that I had become a true spirit channel. At some point I remembered my wish to have interviewed Max Fleischer. I sat down at my computer, said a small prayer to help me connect with Max's spirit, and I began our interview -- from beyond the grave!
Are the following interviews with dead animators real? How can I, or anyone, be sure? All I know is what I hear -- don't shoot the inbetweener (an apt metaphor in this case)! Many years of spirit channeling have familiarized me with the process enough to know when I'm truly in my zone as stenographer to the spirits. Yet I still find myself doubtful at times. Am I really hearing the thoughts of spirits or have I simply a wild imagination?
I harbored such doubts throughout my interview with Max. That is, until I stopped for a moment to "command z" (Mac for undo) something and I heard Max say, "I'm enjoying watching you utilize this computer. It is my first chance to get up so close and see with my own `eyes.'" At that point, knowing him to have been a lifelong technology buff and holder of dozens of diverse patents, that I said to myself, `Yeah, this must really be Max Fleischer I'm talking to!'
Have I hit the targets as well in the rest of my interviews with "the dead animators' society?" You readers must judge for yourselves, but keep an open mind, and a sense of humor!
A note about these spirit interviews: When a soul is no longer enmeshed in physical life and burdened with fleshly concerns, interest in such ephemeral pursuits as cartoons may ebb with the life. My understanding is that in the afterlife one takes up the activity of assessing the past life (as well as the other past lives the entity has had) and coming to terms with one's personality, its defects, its longings and its aspirations for lifetimes to follow. The disembodied spirit of a dead animator may therefore have little interest in checking out each new Disney flick as it is released. I have heard that spirits have access to portals that enable them to check out what's happening in the world they left behind, but I doubt they would spend all their time doing so or it would hamper their onward progress, growth and learning. These, I believe, are the reasons we are born into bodies in the first place and are later reborn into other bodies specifically chosen to facilitate our next needed lessons.
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