I never realized how many of these there were. I caught a couple here on TV where I'm housesitting. I don't get the cartoon channels at my house anymore so it was a pleasant suprise to see some good cartoons. Now that I'm trying to think of them all, I can name more than a few, and it's safe to say that I haven't seen them all.
Another thing I never realized is that while other cartoon studios made a serious cartoon every now and then, they didn't tackle some subjects that Popeye tackled. Popeye took to task spanking children, animal abuse (not typical cartoon animal sob story routines, but real life abuse that made you think), smoking, and nutrition.
This is another example of how all Popeyes are not the same.
Most of the Color Classics were serious but they were cartoon serious, which can get pretty deep, but nothing like how Popeye did. I should have named the thread serious "Popeye" cartoons because they came first and they were what I had in mind.
A real serious Color Classic that did push the envelope though was Somewhere In Dreamland. Wow.
All of these cartoons were made at a time when major studios could insist on padding out their feature films with newsreels, cartoons, serials, travelogues, and other distractions. Dave and Max Fleischer knew that studios were hungry for more content to add to their features. However, the Fleischers were visionary, and believed that while studios would buy adequate cartoons, audiences would want to stay and watch good cartoons.
Theater owners would routinely complain when some of the content added to a feature made audiences fidget and squirm or outright venture out of the theater. A captivated audience is a bankable audience. Rather than make mindless fare that would be engaging only to children, the Fleischers dared to make cartoons with depth and darkness and drama. Both children and adults stayed in their seats to see well-made cartoons, and that made theater owners happy. Which in turn made studios happy. Which made Fleischers Studios highly marketable.