Disambiguation: MGM Cartoon Cat and Mouse
Genre: anthropomorphic-funny animals
Created in: 1940
- Tom and Jerry are the best known and most classic of the many cat-and-mouse-pairings to appear in animation.
Created for the 1940 MGM theatrical animated short “Puss Gets the Boot” by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Tom the Cat was originally called “Jasper” and Jerry the Mouse began as “Jinx”. When Hanna and Barbera created their own cat-and-mouse series for television, the cat was dubbed “Mister Jinks” – perhaps owing in some small way to glories past.
The Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts often demonstrated some of the very best slapstick cartoon violence ever seen in the medium. If to accentuate the physical comedy all the more, both Tom and Jerry were mostly silent characters – save an occasional “gasp” or shout of pain provided by Bill Hanna, and other rare occasions where limited dialogue was employed.
In comic books the feature took a somewhat different path, as many Dell Comics adaptations of theatrical animated properties did. On the printed page, Tom, Jerry, and a second mouse, Tuffy - smaller than Jerry and clad in a diaper, became quite verbal, the probable assumption being that comic books were to be “read”, and had to exhibit more than just entertaining pantomime.
While slapstick remained a Tom and Jerry hallmark to be sure, more intricate comedy plotting, and super-snappy dialogue were exhibited in each issue of the comic, elevating this series well beyond the comic book norm of the late 1940s-on, into a stratum that could run with “Carl Barks’ Donald Duck Ten-Pagers” of the same period.
And, as Barks brought new and dynamic visuals to the Disney Ducks, Harvey Eisenberg made the Tom and Jerry comics just as uniquely delightful, serving well the plots he illustrated. Eisenberg was the primary artist on Tom and Jerry for most of its original run in Western Publishing’s Dell and Gold Key Comics, until reprints of Eisenberg’s work began in 1965. Other artists of note were Lynn Karp and Phil DeLara.
First comic book appearance of Tom and Jerry (as well as Tuffy): Our Gang Comics (Dell, 1942 Series) #1 (August-September 1942)
- 1940; 1942; cat-and-mouse; Joseph Barbera; MGM; theatrical animation; William Hanna