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 2000
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 the Space Jam sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy, released in July 2021.
Back when the series was on its first legs in the 1930s, it chronicled the adventures of a character named Bosko, who first appeared in Sinkin' in the Bathtub, released on April 19th, 1930, alongside the lost film Song of the Flame. However, this was not Bosko's first actual appearance. He first appeared in a pilot film created in 1929. It was one of the first animated films with sound, but not the first; Disney had already released a few sound cartoons by the time Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid was made, and the Fleischers' Sound Car-Tune My Old Kentucky Home had preceded all these cartoons, having been made in 1926.
Rudolf Ising, the director of a few Looney Tunes and all of the Merrie Melodies during the first three years, is shown drawing. He sketches Bosko, who comes to life and introduces himself. Ising asks Bosko, "Well then, now that you're here, what can you do?" Bosko starts to sing, dance and whistle.
After finishing, Bosko breaks the fourth wall by asking "Who's all them folks out there in the dark?". Ising tells him that the "folks" he mentioned are the audience, and asks Bosko if he can make them laugh. Bosko thinks over this for a short while, then asks Ising if he can draw 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.
Bosko attempts singing for a final time, holding a very long, off-key note, 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, and 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, therefore starting the Bosko era of Looney Tunes. 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 theatres and was unknown to the public.
In the 1950s, the 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 in full on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume One on Disc 3. Then in 2014, the short would be released unofficially on the Thunderbean Blu-Ray release Technicolor Dreams and Black and White Nightmares. This release is notable for being the first time the short was released in HD, with it being a 1080p scan from a 35mm film print. It is unknown how Thunderbean got their copy of the short, as the pilot was supposedly never released in theatres.
- Big Cartoon Database page for the cartoon. Retrieved 21 Jan '19
- The cartoon's IMDb page. Retrieved 21 Jan '19
- 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