Before today’s age of digital computer animation, cartoons were made the old-fashioned way with pencils and paintbrushes. An animator would sketch each and every movement of a character on drawing paper. These rough drawings would then be traced onto transparent sheets of celluloid so that a color key artist could paint them. Finally, each completed “cel” would be placed over its matching painted background and photographed by a special camera. Combining thousands of these frames together gave life to Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and countless other cartoon creations.

DiC Entertainment produced all of the major American Nintendo-themed Saturday morning cartoons of the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, Captain N The Game Master, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World, using this very same technique.

In 1995, Disney purchased DiC and turned the company into a subsidiary. Five years later, DiC was freed from Disney’s control and returned to its original founders.

At that time, a California dealer, who goes by the name “dadiskguy” on eBay, acquired a large warehouse lot of DiC artwork before Disney destroyed the rest of the archives.

Animation art has turned into a big business, as cels have since become collectible items. The aforementioned seller proceeded to auction off the formerly warehoused artwork.

In December 2006, he placed the original art that was used to create the video tape sleeve of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!‘s “Mario Meets Koopzilla.” In this episode, King Koopa devours Super Sushi and grows to Godzilla-like proportions.

This photograph does not do the piece justice–the colors are striking in person. The Mount Fuji matching master background is hand-painted on an 18 x 12-inch illustration board. King Koopa, Mario, and the crushed Japanese house are all painted on an oversized cel overlay. As a post-production item, there are no registration peg holes or animation sequence numbers. An official DiC Entertainment seal accompanies the piece.

The same seller later offered the original artwork used for the front cover of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! 1989 home video release “Butch Mario and The Luigi Kid.” This time, King Koopa kidnaps Princess Toadstool and hides her in an old Wild West mine shaft.

Just as with the “Mario Meets Koopzilla” piece,  the matching master background here is painted on an 18 x 12-inch illustration board with an oversized cel overlay. The artist never bothered to paint the legs of Luigi’s Ostro, since they would be cropped out during printing.

The Crescent illustration board has “40870” and “45.2%” inscribed on the verso.

Finally, this smaller 9 x 9-inch cel and matching master background appears on the back cover of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! home video release “The Bird! The Bird!”

The illustration board has “#41341 A” and “55.5%” inscribed on masking tape.

The vividly abstract artwork shows Toad and Little Cheepy, a baby Birdo, meeting on a grassy field under an orange-red-dyed sky with a chain of green canyons towering behind them.

The very first VHS tape of the cartoon series distributed by GoodTimes/Kid Klassics, through the marketing partnership of Nestlé Quik, this mail-order-only cassette collects the aforementioned animated episode (with its “Surfin’ Bird” cover song intact) and two live-action segments starring Captain Lou Albano and Danny Wells (“Neatness Counts” and “Bats in the Basement”).