Tuesday, April 2, 2013
TOM & JERRY COMICS
in my December 1951 birth month. However, unlike most comic books
from that month, I actually own a copy of this one. Unfortunately,
the Grand Comics Database doesn’t have any artist or writer credits
for this issue. But I will be able to share my impressions of the
issue with you.
Tom & Jerry Comics continued its numbering from Our Gang With Tom
& Jerry which continued its numbering from Our Gang Comics. Dell
published 153 issues of Tom & Jerry Comics (#60-212) from July 1949
to May-June 1962.
This issue is packed from cover to cover with comics starring M-G-M
cartoon characters. As you can see, the cover shows Tom imperiling
the lives of Jerry and Tuffy. I wonder how many of my younger-
than-Tony bloggy thing readers have ever seen such a wash tub and
clothes wringer. I have a childhood memory of one from my family’s
first home on Cleveland’s Detroit Avenue - we shared a two-family
house with my maternal grandmother - but I don’t think we had such
a contraption at the Peony Avenue address where I wrote my fanzine
articles and letters to editors in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The inside front cover of this issue has a one-page pantomime gag
strip starring Droopy. Disturbed by a flea roaming his backside,
the sourpuss pooch flicks the insect from his person, grabs it and
locks it in a wall safe. Maybe you had to be there.
Tom and Jerry lead off the issue per se with a brutally funny ten-
page story. Grumpy Tom wants to nap. Having read that a purring
cat is a contented cat, Jerry decides he and Tuffy should make Tom
purr. Tuffy figures out early on that this is not a good idea, but
Jerry is determined to make this work. Tom isn’t quite killed with
kindness, but he takes his lumps. Ultimately, the only thing that
makes Tom purr is when he inflicts humiliating physical pain on his
mouse tenants. It’s almost like (fill in the name of your favorite
degenerate comic book writer) was writing funny animal comic books.
Big Spike and Little Tyke, who are father and son, are up next in
a six-page story. Seeing that there are prizes for the winner of
a “trained pet show,” Spike decides to enter Tyke in the contest.
However, to make his son look good for the judges, Spike subjects
the lad to a super-scrubbing in a wash tub. When Tyke gets dirty
before the contest, he endures a second super-scrubbing. The kid
doesn’t want to disappoint his dad - it’s like a canine edition of
Dance Moms - but, in trying to stay clean, Tyke ends up covered in
glue and chicken feathers. Which is when he gets the bright idea
to impersonate a chicken for the contest. The judges are amazed by
a chicken who can do tricks as well as a dog and give first place
to the disguised pup. Unfortunately - spoiler warning - the prize
is a sack of chicken feed. Much gentler than Tom and Jerry’s tale,
this one also made me laugh.
Bertie Bird stars in “Surprise Farewell,” a two-page text tale. I
don’t recall ever seeing this character in cartoons, which leads me
to wonder if he was created for this title. With the exception of
some Tom and Jerry specials, he seems to have only appeared in text
stories. I didn’t read text stories as a kid and that’s still the
case now that I’m a senior citizen.
Wuff the Prairie Dog is another character I don’t recall seeing in
any cartoons. In this six-page story, Wuff and his pal Sammy are
trying to catch the two most difficult creatures on the prairie for
their friend Professor Lem Lizard. The prof runs a roadside museum
of prairie life portraits. One creature is the “Giantus Walleyed
Butterfly Rex” and the other is the coyote. The boys go after the
butterfly and run afoul of Charlie Coyote, who has been wanting to
have them for dinner for some time now. Through a combination of
ingenuity and luck, the young prairie dogs manage to deliver both
specimens to the Professor. This isn’t as good as either the Tom
and Jerry or Big Spike and Little Tyke stories, but it got a smile
or two out of me.
Reading this issue is making me feel cartoon-challenged because I
have also never heard of Flip and Dip. These brother-and-sister ape
kids star in a two-page story. With their parents, they live on a
rickety houseboat and the brief tale ends with Mom chasing Dad with
a rolling pin. This feature isn’t good or interesting in any way.
Barney Bear and Benny Burro star in a five-and-a-half page story.
I know these characters appeared in MGM cartoons - Barney quite a
bit more often than Benny - but have only vague memories of seeing
their cartoons. In this story, the boys are being preyed upon by
a mooching neighbor whose keeping tabs on them via a microphone in
their window. They feed him false information and trick him into
helping them build a mobile home of sorts so they can move far far
away from him. I got a kick out of this one.
A subscription coupon for Tom & Jerry Comics fills the other half
of the last page of the above story. A one-year sub to the monthly
title costs a buck. A two-year sub is $1.85 and a three-year sub
is $2.70. With your subscription, you would also get a membership
certificate in the Dell Comics Club and a full-color “Dell Comics
Family Group Picture” featuring over a dozen characters from Dell
Comics. The back cover of the issue shows the picture and promotes
the comics club.
Droopy makes a second appearance on the inside back cover of this
issue. The one-page pantomime gag strip has the dog trying to get
a look at a passing parade. His shortness of stature works against
him until he figures out he can get a good view by standing in an
open manhole. He even manages a smile in the last panel.
Keep reading this bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from the month of my birth. I’ll be back tomorrow with yet another
installment of our “Rawhide Kid Wednesdays” feature. See you then.
© 2013 Tony Isabella