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L'il Eightball in "A Haunting We Will Go" (1939)

"A Haunting We Will Go" is a Walter Lantz cartoon that's rarely seen, mostly because of the racially stereotyped main character, a black boy named L'il Eightball. This cartoon is not included in the new "Woody Woodpecker and Friends" DVD collection, and also to my knowledge it doesn't appear on any of the Columbia House Lantz DVDs. Because of that, many people have never got the chance to see it.

This is the first Lantz cartoon made in 3-strip Technicolor. It was directed by Burt Gillett, famous for his previous work at Disney, where he directed a great number of early Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies cartoons (among them, The Three Little Pigs ). In 1934, Gillett left Disney and worked as a producer and director at Van Beuren. He tried to make a major re-organization of the studio, but things didn't go very well, mostly due to Gillett's difficult and volatile personality.
After the not so fortunate Van Beuren adventure that gave few interesting cartoons, Gillett was back at Disney, directing three extremely successful shorts: "The Moth and the Flame", "The Brave Little Tailor" and "The Lonesome Ghosts". Finally, after leaving Disney for the second time, Gillett found a new employment at Walter Lantz where he stayed for two years. These were his last theatrical cartoons, and the rest of his life remains a big mystery (according to some sources, Gillett spent many years in a mental institution).

It's interesting to note that beside Gillett himself (under the pseudonym Gil Burton), another credited co-writer of this cartoon is Kin Platt , a cartoonist and acclaimed writer. Another curiosity: the ghost characters are nearly identical to the ones that appeared in Gillett's Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoon "The Lonesome Ghosts". L'il Eightball appeared only in three cartoons, but remained a character in comics, during the 40s.

And here are the screenshots from this rare cartoon. I apologize for the prominent logo on these screenshots. The only copy I have was recorded ten years ago, from an European TV station.

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