Krazy Kat: The Mouse Exterminator


Previously in Krazy Kat cartoon adaptations:

Don’t think I’m not extremely agitated at how the subject lines aren’t consistently formated.


I confess I don’t have a particularly strong historical reason for including this week’s example of Krazy Kat cartoons. This isn’t from a different studio or even a different run of cartoons from the earlier examples; it’s another Charles Mintz-produced cartoon, distributed by Columbia Pictures, and like nearly all the cartoons that preceded it any link to George Herriman’s comic strip is theoretical.

But I felt like it belonged anyway. The previous examples have been from the mid-1910s to the mid-1930s, an era showing animation being discovered as an art form. The cartoons were still experimental, sharing a certain vitality, but that also shows some crudity. The drawing wouldn’t be as refined or the animation as smooth as could be. Even sound was still learning the grammar of the animated cartoon.

So I’m putting “The Mouse Exterminator” out as a statement that, yeah, the Mintz studios got better. The cartoon looks and moves well: the animation is full, the backgrounds as lovely as anything you might expect in 1940, the camera moves with ease, and the story makes sense. The cartoons made for Columbia Studios have, it seems to me, been pretty well forgotten, surely the result of Columbia/Screen Gems not thinking much about them; but just because they’re forgotten doesn’t mean they couldn’t be competent.

But that competence … This cartoon’s theatrical release was the 26th of January, 1940. Fifteen days later MGM would release Puss Gets The Boot, later recognized as the start of the Tom and Jerry series. That wouldn’t be the best Tom and Jerry, but it was already an order of magnitude better. It’s a bit sad that the final theatrical Krazy Kat cartoon was merely a competent but unremarkable cat-and-mouse cartoon, but, it’s also not the end of the story.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

7 thoughts on “Krazy Kat: The Mouse Exterminator”

  1. This one suffers from a really frequent problem of old cartoons — actually, of cartoon shorts generally — of just ending at a random point instead of concluding the story in a satisfying way. I call this the “We ran out of gags” ending.

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    1. That’s true; although the vacuum cleaner gag is probably the biggest and best of the sequences, there isn’t any logical in-universe reason that it should be an end (it’s not, like, when Tom and Jerry accidentally blow up the house for the final gag). At least if the Goofy-In-Drag woman who’d phoned Krazy in the first place had reappeared there’d have been some bookend.

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