070402 Outtheinbox P233Here’s a somewhat epochal story we’ve managed to miss until now: Downloadable animated New Yorker cartoons on iTunes.

Everyone knows that downloadable ‘toons to iPods and Wiis and cell phones and what not are the future, but even so it’s a little surprising to see the venerable New Yorker jumping into the fray. The toons are free, sponsored by advocacy site drugfree.org.

The New Yorker has partnered with RingTales, which “animated print comics for ad-supported syndication across all digital media” for the venture. RingTones has indeed animated the familiar figures of Barsotti, Shanahan and company. A trip to the main New Yorker page for the animations reveals a gallery of familiar images: bespectacled scientists, talking dogs, elephants, a kitty by the litter box — but then they begin to move and talk! A miracle!

New media thrives on quality content — and the podcast version is in the Top 20 of the iTunes podcast listing. Will it be enough to move the needle on a system of toon delivery that in its infancy?

You can read a bit more about it at paidcontent.org, and the complete PR from earlier last month is in the jump.

But before you go, here is the most famous New Yorker cartoon of them all.

RingTales today announced the debut of animated versions of the world famous cartoons from The New Yorker on the magazine’s newly redesigned web site (www.newyorker.com). New cartoons will premiere three times per week on the site’s home page, then be archived within the site.

RingTales has the exclusive license to animate and distribute The New Yorker’s library of over 70,000 cartoons. “In making the transition from page to screen, we’re building upon the already strong tradition of New Yorker cartoons,” said Robert Mankoff, New Yorker Cartoon Editor and President of The Cartoon Bank. “It’s been an absolute pleasure to see our 20th century tradition come to life in 21st century technology. It’s an opportunity to expand our audience – and have fun in the process.”

Santa Monica-based RingTales L.L.C., is a new-media company that creates animated versions of popular print cartoons for syndication across the internet, mobile, broadcast and portable device markets. RingTales was founded by two industry veterans, Jim Cox and Michael Fry, who last collaborated on the hit DreamWorks animated feature “Over The Hedge.” “Our goal is to replicate and expand the print comic experience across all digital platforms,” says Cox. “The animated New Yorker cartoons are just the start,” adds Fry. “We will soon be adding a number of the world’s most popular comic strips to our animation library, as well as our own original content.”

“We have created a unique content niche that appeals both to the viewer and the advertiser,” explains Fry. “The viewer,” Cox adds, “gets the same free, habit-forming gift of humor they now enjoy with print cartoons, and advertisers get higher view rates than they would with normal video ads.” Fry says, “We’re testing a number of ad formats. We’re developing a high-impact video post-roll. In our experience, viewers are happy because they get immediate access to the content. Advertisers are happy because the content has a great payoff. In fact, we’re seeing people watch the clips multiple times – it’s an advertiser’s dream come true.”

Jim Cox is a long-time feature animation writer and producer. His credits include co-executive producer on the 2006 DreamWorks feature animated hit “Over the Hedge,” writer/producer on “Ferngully,” story on Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” and screenwriter on “The Rescuers Down Under” and “Oliver & Company.”

Michael Fry is a four time internationally syndicated cartoonist. He currently writes the comic strip “Over the Hedge,” which inspired the DreamWorks film that earned $335 million dollars in worldwide box office.