The Sunshine Makers -- 1932 cartoon about happy mutants versus sourpusses

200712121507When I read the grumpy comments regarding Mitch O'Connell's beautiful glitter GIFs, I pictured the commenters to look like the sour creatures in "The Sunshine Makers."

This 72-year-old cartoon is about fun-loving elves who drink bottled sunshine and a neighboring tribe of truculent, belicose, heliophobic grumps (their mantra: "We're happy when we're sad") who want to kill the happy elves with chemical weapons.

Finally, the happy elves resort to chemical warfare of their own -- they dose the sourpusses with sunshine juice and turn them into happy elves. (Of course, this violates Timothy Leary's First Law of the Molecular Age: "Thou shall not alter the consciousness of thy fellow man.")

The print quality of the video is poor. Amazon sells a DVD compilation of Van Beuren Studio cartoons with "The Sunshine Makers" on it, but I haven't seen it so I don't know if the quality on it is any better.




  1. Mark, thanks for the nightmares I’ll be having because of this cartoon.

  2. As I watched this I immediately recognized the melody of the little fella’s song: Pompton Turnpike , covered by Louis Jordan in the 40’s, written earlier by Charlie Barnet. Just swap out the “sunshine” lyrics with:

    Ride your bike or if you like just hitchhike,
    Come to

    Random, but true…

  3. Leonard Martin discusses this short in quite a bit of detail in his Of Mice and Magic book. If you’ve never checked it out, it’s really a great overall intro to American cartoon animation.

  4. Wow. They just happened to show this cartoon on the local community college cable channel a couple of weekends back. I assume they were using the commercial DVD. If so, the quality wasn’t too bad for a cartoon of this age.

  5. Heh, the first time I saw this on channel refrederator, the only thing I could think about was that it was how parents explained war to the youngins’

    now all I think about is neoconservatives.

  6. @#6, or so-called “Xeni:” Whatever! You won’t last long around here! Go back to Something Awful!


  7. ll ths stff s ttlly gy…

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    Cn y tk dsgrmnt nd rlly llw ppl t pst wht thy thnk nbd fl wtht mkng thm fl bd bt t?

    T mch snshn blchs y t, tk cr.

    Hw bt vtng systm , whr psts cn b vtd p r dwn?

    W r ll hr bcs w fnd sm f th bst (nd wrst) n th nt hr, s , d y wnt gnn sr npt r nly bck-pttng?

  8. When I first saw this cartoon (probably about 25 years ago) it was the first time I became consciously aware of the existence of sponsoring product placement (Bordens -> milk bottles) in entertainment.

    A formative experience, though certainly a minor one.

  9. Mark: “…a tribe of truculent, belicose, heliophobic grumps (their mantra: “We’re happy when we’re sad”) who want to kill the happy elves with chemical weapons…”

    A fairly accurate description. Of course, all the other commenters are on cuteoverload right this second, thinking of innovative ways to make words more saccharine through intentional misspelling and passive-aggressively criticizing each other for not being twee enough.

    A week of facing that every day and you’d be running back to us grumps, I imagine. And we’d be here, waiting to welcome you back, our chemical weapons ready to chase them back into that frilly, pink hellhole of lolcats and big-eyed hamsters.

    And then we’d criticize your posts again.

  10. I have that cartoon, in that exact same print quality, on the Van Beuren collection DVD available at the 99 Cent Store. My Gran’Daughter absolutely adores those old cartoons, like Molly Moo Cow and the original Tom & Jerry, although she prefers the Fleischer Studio’s work (she prefers the Betty Boop version of Cinderella to the Disney one!) and old Gumby cartoons.

  11. If Cory blogs from a hot air balloon while wearing goggles and a cape, Mark blogs from a cricket-drawn sunshine cart wearing clogs and a red elf hat.

  12. !! WOW
    I used to watch this with my sister all time as kids along with many other old cartoons! I thought it was so obscure I would never find it! I didn’t even know where to start! btw, I’m not like 72 years old either… I’m 20.

    Nonetheless, THANKS BOING BOING!

  13. Maybe they just have vitiligo. All the signs are there: the lurking in the shade; the dark, full-coverage clothes; the pale skin and big0 hats. They even have a giant vat of coal tar. And let me tell you, a few applications of that and you’d be pretty grumpy, too.

    I keep imagining all the top hat guys dying of melanoma 14 months later.

  14. “The Sunshine Makers” was on (b&w) TV constantly when I was a kid in NYC, along with the other Van Beuren cartoons. (For some reason, on TV, their Farmer Alfalfa character was always called Farmer Gray.)

    In the late 60s, the light show people at Fillmore East would occasionally run “The Sunshine Makers” between sets, to the glee of the often very sunshiny audience.

  15. the sourpusses look too much like emo phillips. well, before he cut his hair. or i guess, vice-versa. sunshine bores the daylights out of me…

  16. ” I wonder what the point of allowing user comments is, when comments that give the thumbs down and criticize your pet topics are sneered at and the posters are called sourpusses?

    “Can you take disagreement and really allow people to post what they think anbd feel without making them feel bad about it?”

    BOO-HOO!! Someone replied to criticism with more criticism! MOMMIE!!!

  17. I remember watching this when I was a kid. We used to have it on a VHS cartoon compilation.

    Now that I watch it over again, I notice the blatant stab at prohibition. The year the cartoon was released coincides with the twelfth year of prohibition in the United States. Why were they bottling “sunshine?” Probably because the elves couldn’t stay up late enough to bottle moonshine instead! The rest of the cartoon is pretty self explanatory (especially the part where the sourpuss people only need one drink to lighten up).

    Seeing this brought back a lot of childhood memories. Thanks for posting it.

  18. Vote posts up and down? There’s ALREADY a site like that…it’s called Digg.

    Oh, and Bat Guano, you just cracked me up. I’m probably going to get fired now. :)

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