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.