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Archive for the tag “Felix the Cat”

Bungle In The Jungle

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

A couple weeks ago we covered SNUFFY SMITH, and a fortnight earlier we hit BEETLE BAILY. These two were part of King Features Syndicate’s follow-up to their successful batch of made-for-television POPEYE shorts, created to capitalize on the popularity the Sailor Man had enjoyed with the release of his earlier Paramount theatrical pictures to TV. Now we see KRAZY KAT, the third wheel of the “King Features Trilogy”, and it’s an odd one for a couple reasons…

First, Snuffy and Beetle were current funny papers strips in the ’60s. (And still are today, for that matter!) The KK strip ended almost two decades before these cartoons were produced. Kids had no clue who these characters were.

Second, KK was just odd by nature. The cat was non-binary gendered way before it was trendy. Mostly treated as female here, it was way more ambiguous in the source material… Instead of chasing and trying to exterminate the mouse (Ignatz), the cat is in love with the rodent, and takes his constant attempts to murder her with a brick to the braincase as some kind of S&M show of affection. Meanwhile, the bulldog, rather than menacing the cat like a normal canine, is in love with KK, and acts as a cop to protect her from the mouse!

This weirdness predates the start of the KK newspaper strip in 1913, as the Krazy and Ignatz were spun-off from the earlier DINGBAT FAMILY strip, where they were originally a fringe element. Never a huge hit, their series managed to stand-out with its avant-garde content and format. Maybe that’s why KFS decided it was suitable for TV in the Beatnik-Early Hippie era.

KK’s history in animation goes back the to the primordial silents in 1916. These early works reflected the general weirdness of the comic strip. But, in the 20s, animated KK devolved into a knock-off of FELIX THE CAT, who was the first really big animated cartoon series star. Despite transitioning to talkies, these ‘toons petered-out at the end of the ’30s.

Aside from a few tribute cameos, this series was the last new KK material created to-date. From 1963. More from The OldHorseman.

From The Memory Hole

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

Last week I featured Barney Bear, MGM’s first original cartoon star, created by Rudolph Ising. Of course, Ising and his partner Hugh Harman had been in the biz since the early silent era, working for Disney when young Walt was making Felix The Cat knockoffs in Kansas City, ultimately winding-up with him in California making Oswald the Lucky Rabbit pictures for Universal. Seeing how Walt lost Oswald to his distributors, Harman and Ising made sure to copyright their own character creation for themselves.

The character they created is of considerable importance to the history of American animation. But, due to the cancer of Political Correctness, has been downplayed and subjected to revision for decades. For, you see, Bosko was a little n*gger… Back in the 1980s I saw an early model sheet at a museum exhibit, and that’s exactly how he was identified on the page. (Minus the asterisk, which is for BitChute’s censors.)

A Negro caricature wasn’t considered offensive in the early 1930s, when people were too busy surviving the Depression to be a bunch of oversensitive snowflakes. Mickey Mouse and many other ‘toons were basically minstrel show blackface as well. But Bosko didn’t have the fig leaf of being a non-human in later years.

He was the first star of the LOONEY TUNES before Bugs, Daffy, or even Porky had been thought-of. When things went sour between Harman-Ising and the middle-man selling their shorts to Warner Bros., they were able to walk and take Bosko with them! They then used him in some of the HAPPY HARMONIES pictures they made for MGM distribution… Now with Bosko in color, for what little difference that made. His ’20s design didn’t benefit much from the added spectrum, and was becoming dated pretty quickly. So he got a major redesign…

And here’s where all the later apologists who claimed he was a “living inkblot” of no particular race, ethnicity, or even species fall on their faces. In ’35 Bosko got updated with far more realistic detail, and was undeniably a negro boy.

That redesign lasted just seven outings. But he got yet another over half a century later, when he and his girlfriend Honey made a comeback in an episode of TINY TOON ADVENTURES on TV. For that appearance, they retconned the couple into anthropomorphic animals of vague species.

Here are his first WB and MGM pictures, along with his 1935 MGM new look. More from the OldHorseman.


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