Bray Productions: First Studio Devoted to Animation 1920s

Bray Productions was the dominant animation studio based in the United States in the years before World War I. The studio was founded in December 1914 by J. R. Bray, perhaps the first studio entirely devoted to animation, and series animation at that (he was probably beaten a few months earlier by Raoul Barré’s studio).

Its first series was Bray’s Heeza Liar, but from the beginning the studio brought in outsiders to direct promising new series.

In 1919, the rival International Film Service studio folded and owner William Randolph Hearst licensed Bray to continue the IFS series, which included Jerry on the Job films adapted from Walter Hoban’s comic strip.

Bray was constantly looking to expand his studio. Of the units, one produced his Colonel Heeza Liar, one produced Hurd’s Bobby Bumps, and one produced non-series cartoons, usually topical commentaries on the news directed by Leighton Budd, J. D. Leventhal, and others.

During World War I, he assigned Leventhal and Max Fleischer’s units to create training and educational cartoons for the U.S. Army. Dr. Rowland Rogers became educational director, while Jamison “Jam” Handy was put in charge of a Chicago–Detroit branch for creating films for the auto industry, Bray’s largest private client.

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