Cat-apulting into the Limelight

While my last visit to these pages, offering a tribute to comic strip canines during the Dog Days of Summer, gained no comments from readers who also appreciate man’s best friend (what? no supporters of Marmaduke, Howard Huge, or the MetLife spokesbeagle, Snoopy?), I did hear a few remarks via e-mail from a segment of our audience — the cat-loving crowd.

Was I giving short shrift to the cartoon feline population just because my own household includes a dog, but no cats (my wife is heavily allergic — I’ve seen the results of her asthma tests)? Was I blind to the contributions the noble cat has made to comics history? Pointing out that there are no “cat days of summer” (or cat days of any part of the calendar, for that matter) did nothing to still some friendly-but-insistent voices.

So, without further ado, under the fairness doctrine that cats deserve equal billing, I offer you this tour of some of my favorite comics kitties …

From December of 1985, a Bloom County Sunday page featuring Berkeley Breathed’s tatty little furball, Bill the Cat (well, Opus gets a wee bit of play, too). Immediately below, you’ll see an article from Florida Today that references this strip, and points out that Bill may be smarter than some Sunshine State residents.
Fifty-one years before that Bloom Sunday, perhaps the most revered of all comics strip felines, Krazy Kat, starred in this wistful April 23, 1934 daily. (Michael Tisserand’s Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White is must-reading for any comic strip fan, by the way.) Since I love Krazy and her Coconino world at least as much as everyone else, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to present Krazy and Ignatz in their earlier home — at the bottom of Herriman’s earlier series, The Dingbat Family:
Do these two fat cats — Heathcliff and Garfield — really need introductions? Somehow, I thought not …
Not every comic strip cat is lovable, of course. Walt Kelly’s Wiley Catt was trouble from the git-go, but in this October, 1951 Pogo, he gets at least a momentary (if accidental) comeuppance.
Finally, back to 1927 for a visit with one of my all-time favorite strips, Polly and Her Pals. In this extended sequence of dailies, the Perkins clan is shipwrecked on a tropical isle — shades of Gilligan’s Island! The every-present Kitty is along for the adventure, serving as comic observer of and sometimes counterpoint to the actions of those wacky humans.

Here’s hoping I’ve succeeded in giving cartoon cats their just due! But now if I hear from the bird-lover segment of our audience — oh, boy, will I be in trouble!

2 thoughts on “Cat-apulting into the Limelight

  1. Olaf says:

    Dear LoAC, This question is totally off topic of this blog post, but I do wonder about this so now when your Corto Maltese line is finished(I think, correct me if I am wrong I am not the most familiar with the series,). Will you compile all the softcover volumes into a bundled box set? Or perhaps reissue the series in a box set of hardcover volumes? I would be very keen on either alternative. What do you think of the idea? Best regards, Olaf

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