Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid (found pilot film of Looney Tunes animated series of shorts; 1929)
Poster of the short, possibly a lobby card of some sort.
Date found: 12 Mar '00
Found by: Cartoon Network
Looney Tunes was a series of comedic animated shorts that ran from 1930 to 1969, and since the original series' end, has occasionally been making a couple more theatrical cartoons, television specials, and a few films like Space Jam, Looney Tunes: Back In Action, and an upcoming reboot of Space Jam. Back when the series was on its first legs in the 1930s, it starred the adventures of a character named Bosko, who first appeared in Sinkin' in the Bathtub, released on April 19, 1930, alongside the lost film Song of the Flame. However, this wasn't Bosko's first actual appearance. He first appeared in a pilot film created in 1929.
An artist, presumably Rudolf Ising, the showrunner of the shorts during the first three years, is drawing. He draws Bosko, who comes to life. He introduces himself and his name. Ising asks Bosko, "Well then, now that you're here, what can you do?" Bosko starts to sing and dance (while imitating an Asian person, saying "yoy yoy yoy") and he also whistles. After finishing, Bosko breaks the fourth wall by asking "Who's all them folks out there in the dark?". Ising tells him that they're the audience, and asks him if he can make them laugh. Bosko thinks over this for a short while, then asks Ising if he can make a piano, to which he complies. He starts to play it, until one of the keys pops out. Bosko says "Ain't that a heck of a note?" and puts it in its proper place. He plays a bit more before he starts singing "When a Day Has a Great Sky", sliding his tongue out. Bosko takes off his hat and pulls his hair, and his tongue comes out again. He sings another song before his head comes out like a slinky. He attempts singing again before Ising gets greatly annoyed. Having had enough of Bosko, he gets his pen out and sucks Bosko back into it, who screams and takes the piano with him. Then the pen is put into the ink bottle. Bosko pops out, says "Well, so long, folks, see ya all later!", before spitting a raspberry at Ising and going back into the ink bottle.
Leon Schlesinger liked the short, and ordered a full series of shorts, therefore starting the Bosko era of shorts. A sister series was also made, called Merrie Melodies.  They ran for about three years before Harman and Ising left over a budget dispute, taking Bosko with them. He was then replaced by another animated character, Buddy. The pilot film was never commercially released in theaters.
In the 1950s, the 1929 pilot film was shown on television by Associated Arts Productions, who usually made different prints of Looney Tunes cartoons. The short was not seen much after that, and was thought lost until 2000, when Cartoon Network aired an episode of ToonHeads titled "ToonHeads: The Lost Cartoons", featuring many rare installments of the Looney Tunes franchise, including an edited version of Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid. Eventually, it was released on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume One on Disc 3. It was then uploaded to the internet.
- The film on the Internet Archive, available for download.
- Big Cartoon Database page for the cartoon.
- The cartoon's IMDb page.
- Short biography on the Warner Bros. animation studio. Retrieved 21 Jan '19
- A short biography on the Warner Bros. animation studio. Retrieved 21 Jan '19
- Big Cartoon Database page on the first Merrie Melodies cartoon. Retrieved 21 Jan '19
- An archive of the Media History Digital Library that talks about the short. Retrieved 21 Jan '19
- YouTube link to ToonHeads: The Lost Cartoons. Retrieved 21 Jan '19