In 1929, Eveready Harton was having al fresco sex in the animated film Buried Treasure, one of the first pornographic cartoons. Possessed of a cock large enough to supply a Colonel Sanders franchise, Harton was drawn in the US for a private party in honour of Winsor McCay, creator of the Little Nemo comic strip.
Disney animator Ward Kimball has more, telling Karl F. Cohen in Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America (2014) how the film is the product of Consequences, the old parlour game where each player is given a sheet of paper and instructed to write down a word or phrase before folding the paper over to hide the most recent line and handing it to the next person. At the end of the game, the stories are read out. To make Buried Treasure, players exchanged words for pictures.
"The first porno-cartoon was made in New York," says Kimball. "It was called 'Eveready Harton' and was made in the late 20s, silent, of course - by three studios. Each one did a section of it without telling the other studios what they were doing. Studio A finished the first part and gave the last drawing to Studio B. Involved were Max Fleischer, Paul Terry and the Mutt and Jeff studio. They didn't see the finished product till the night of the big show. A couple of guys who were there tell me the laughter almost blew the top off the hotel where they were screening it."
When a copy of the short was screened in San Francisco in the late 1970s, the program notes attributed the animation to George Stalling, George Canata, Rudy Zamora, Sr., and Walter Lantz. The short circulated informally, shown only at small underground festivals or parties, until 2002 when it was included in the theatrically released compilation The Good Old Naughty Days.
Buried Treasure was made for group watching. It's sex for laughs, which is pretty much what the best sex ends up as.
And so to the film's plot, which all good, bad and indifferent porn has. Eveready, naked save for a vest, socks and shoes, notices that every living creature around him is making like the birds and bees. Frustrated and stirred, he sets off in search of love and, as luck has it, meets a naked woman sat on a rock masturbating. "Oh sweet maid for once I will be big hearted," says Eveready in the silent film's only intertitle to feature any dialogue. "Will you share my treasure?" She accepts. And with that we are off and running - as is Eveready's penis, which after a few thrusts emerges from fair maiden in the claws of a large insect, which drags it off. This surreal case of severe erectile dysfunction leaves our hero half the man he was - literally. Eveready gives chase and soon reunited with his best pal seeks safe haven in which to bury his treasure (geddit!?) and thus save it from further harm.
What follows is a madcap festival of accident, anger and desperation. In order, Harton's treasure ends up inside a man he mistakes for a "subterranean passage", impaled on a prickly cactus, in a duel with a goat-loving farmer - a fight that gives new meaning to the term 'pork swords' - a hole in the wall and ultimately a cow.
It's a freewheeling fantasia that, though lacking the traditional Pixlar ending, shows us how animation can make it up as it goes long, and in the hands of brilliant and daring artists be all the more entertaining for it.