Register Tuesday | September 22 | 2020

Alley Cats

Favourite target of a well-hurled bootjack, alley cats are one of the most punished cartoon creatures.

THE ARCHETYPAL CARTOON CAT is scrawny, disheveled, and black, though (except for anonymous bit players whose sole function is to bring bad luck) not entirely black, but black with white jowls. That’s how Rube Goldberg drew cats. It’s how Ernie Bushmiller drew them, to say nothing of George McManus (Bringing Up Father), F. Opper (Happy Hooligan), Fred Willard (Moon Mullins), Milt Gross (Dave’s Delicatessen) and C. L. Sherman (Pete), to name a few. It’s the color scheme of Krazy Kat, Felix the Cat, the Cat in the Hat. In reality, such cats are uncommon—have they been hunted to extinction by shoe-throwing louts?—but in comics and cartoons they’re everywhere. Sometimes the cat has a white belly too, like Tweetie’s nemesis Sylvester, or Pepe le Pew’s unwilling inamorata, Penelope Pussycat, though the white patch that gets her in trouble is the misleading streak ...

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