The Animated Krazy Kat


         The Krazy Kat comic strip was animated several times. The earliest Krazy Kat shorts were produced by Hearst in 1916. They were produced under Hearst-Vitagraph News Pictorial and later the International Film Service (IFS), though Herriman was not involved. In 1920, after a two-year hiatus, the John R. Bray studio began producing a second series of Krazy Kat shorts. These cartoons hewed close to the comic strips, including Ignatz, Pupp and other standard supporting characters. Krazy’s ambiguous gender and feelings for Ignatz were usually preserved; bricks were occasionally thrown.

Hearst International Pictures "Krazy Kat" (1916)

Here’s a link to the Library of Congress version of Krazy Kat in “Bugologist” (1916)

          In 1925, animation pioneer Bill Nolan decided to bring Krazy to the screen again. Nolan intended to produce the series under Associated Animators, but when it dissolved, he sought distribution from Margaret J. Winkler.

KKK ~ The Krazy Kat Klub

 Here’s a link to the Winkler-era silent Krazy Kat in  “Searching for Santa” (1925)

          Unlike earlier adaptations, Nolan did not base his shorts on the characters and setting of the Herriman comic strip. Instead, the feline in Nolan’s cartoons was a male cat whose design and personality both reflected Felix the Cat. This is probably due to the fact that Nolan himself was a former employee of the Pat Sullivan studio. Other Herriman characters appeared in the Nolan cartoons at first, though similarly altered: Kwakk Wakk was at times Krazy’s paramour, with Ignatz often the bully trying to break up the romance. Over time, Nolan’s influence waned and new directors, Ben Harrison and Manny Gould, took over the series. By late 1927, they were solely in charge.

Krazy Kat Talkies!

          Winkler’s husband, Charles B. Mintz, slowly began assuming control of the operation. Mintz and his studio began producing the cartoons in sound beginning with 1929′s Ratskin. In 1930, he moved the staff to California and ultimately changed the design of Krazy Kat.

The "Mickey Mouse" Krazy Kat!

Mintz's New Re-Designed "Krazy Kat"

           The new character bore even less resemblance to the one in the newspapers. Mintz’s Krazy Kat was, like many other early 1930s cartoon characters, imitative of Mickey Mouse, and usually engaged in slapstick comic adventures with his look-alike girlfriend and loyal pet dog.

Here’s a YouTube link to see the Krazy Kat soundie, “Seeing Stars” (1932)

          In 1936, animator Isadore Klein, with the blessing of Mintz, set to work creating the short, Lil’ Ainjil, the only Mintz work that was intended to reflect Herriman’s comic strip. However, Klein was “terribly disappointed” with the resulting cartoon, and the Mickey-derivative Krazy returned. In 1939, Mintz became indebted to his distributor, Columbia Pictures, and subsequently sold his studio to them. Under the name Screen Gems, the studio produced only one more Krazy Kat cartoon, The Mouse Exterminator in 1940.

          King Features produced 50 Krazy Kat cartoons from 1962–1964, most of which were created at Gene Deitch’s Rembrandt Films in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), whilst the rest were produced by Artransa Film Studios in Sydney, Australia.

Krazy Kat (1963)

          The cartoons were initially televised interspersed with Beetle Bailey (some of which were also produced by Artransa) and Snuffy Smith cartoons to form a half-hour TV show. These cartoons helped to introduce Herriman’s cat to the baby boom generation. The King Features shorts were made for television and have a closer connection to the comic strip; the backgrounds are drawn in a similar style, and Ignatz and Offissa Pupp are both present. This incarnation of Krazy was made female; Penny Phillips voiced Krazy while Paul Frees voiced Ignatz and Offissa Pupp. Jay Livingston and Ray Evans did the music for most of the episodes. Most of the episodes are available on DVD.

Here is a link to Krazy Kat 2x in “An Arrow Escape/ A Star is Born ” (1963)

There is also a very impressive computer animated promotional short on YouTube at the following link. I don’t know much about who made this, but it’s got the right Coconino Vibe!

That’s about 100 years of animation folks! Not bad for a kat that’s krazy.

~ sidestreetsam

About sidestreetsam

Sam Hallmark ~ Graphic Designer ● Conceptual Design ● Animation ● Multi-Media ● Music ● Desert Wind Graphics was established in 1994 as an affordable graphic design solution for a wide range of clients. From conceptual media, storyboards, print collaterals, logo design, multi-media presentations, animation, engineering, technical, marketing , advertising and corporate image packages, Desert Wind Graphics will fulfill your design needs for projects both big and small. With over twenty-five years of design experience I can provide you with access to a unique skill set that will deliver your project on time, within budget and on target! Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have regarding your graphic design needs.
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