Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Playing Kat and Mouse

by Connie Cortright

For many years this antique rested on my husband's dresser. The wooden toy, in the shape of a mouse, is held together by elastic strings allowing it's arms and legs to move in any direction. My husband told me his father played with this toy when he was a boy, which means that it is from the 1930s.  It has now been passed down to my son to sit on his dresser. We need to keep it in the family.

I recently learned that this is Ignatz Mouse, a cartoon character from the 20s and 30s.

Krazy Kat and his sidekick Ignatz Mouse were created by George Herriman around the year 1910 after he had an accident, leaving him unable to continue his job as a house painter. Switching careers, he tried his hand at cartooning and became successful with the creation of Krazy Kat, drawing 3,000 cartoon strips over the next thirty years.

The basic plot of Krazy Kat was rather elemental. A simple-minded, innocent Krazy Kat was in love with Ignatz Mouse, trying to show her love to Ignatz in many ways. However, the mouse would have none of it. During most cartoon strips, Ignatz Mouse ended up throwing a brick at the head of Krazy Kat to try to knock some sense into the cat. Krazy took this brick-throwing as a sign of returned love by Ignatz so did not try to escape the thrown brick.

Herriman added another character to come to the rescue of Krazy Kat. Offissa Pup often arrested Ignatz Mouse, leading him off to jail by the end of the strip. In the latter years of the strip, Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse became more friendly, even ganging up against Offissa Pupp to keep him off their track.

Krazy Kat cartoon strip was first published in the William Randolph Hearst papers in 1913 and ran continuously until the mid-40s. In the last couple years, the cartoon was published in the Sunday edition in full color.

The comic strip was animated several times in shorts starting in 1916. During the 1930s another animator worked with Krazy Kat cartoons changing them significantly from Herriman's original plot line and mimicking the Mickey Mouse plot that had also started about that time. When Herriman died in 1944, Hearst also stopped the newspaper comic strip to honor the original creator.

I hope my son has more respect now for the little toy mouse sitting on his dresser. He'll have to watch his back when he walks past him just in case he tries to throw a brick at his head.

Information taken from Wikipedia: Krazy Kat

No comments:

Post a Comment