Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Superkatt by Dan Gordon

Have another helping of some good ol' Dan Gordon funnies!

I love how Superkatt and the other animals assume that super-powers come from costumes...and of course those "costumes" are basically just human clothes. I wonder if Gordon was consciously spoofing the fetishistic qualities of superhero costumes, when he decided to have Superkatt dress up as a big baby? In this issue, though, Our Hero takes a break from his infantilism to indulge in a little cross-dressing. Enjoy, kids!

Gordon's expressive characters are always a joy to see. Everyone is so anxious or angry all the time. Junior's expression and pose in the first panel of page four just kills me!

Here is Superkatt from Giggle Comics #27 (March 1946):


  1. Doug: More beautiful Gordon! Thanks so much for sharing this. There is something missing from today's comics, and that is sheer lunacy for lunacy's sake. This era of comics had that quality in spades and then some. The sequence when the funny animals work together to steal the pants of little boys, etc., to put together a costume is a masterpiece of comic art! Plus, Gordon could make a very full and lush panel without a moment of strain. Great, great stuff!

    PS: Are these your scans? Gorgeous! -- Mykal

  2. Mykal: The sequence you mention brings up another good point of Gordon's artwork...the clarity of the cartoon antics in each panel really shows off his animation background, doesn't it? Nice clean silhouettes, strong poses, no tangents, no background clutter. You understand everything that's happening easily.

    Yes, I scan everything on my blog from my own comics. I've gotten pretty good at cleaning the pages up in Photoshop!

  3. Doug: Animation background! Absolutely. Great point. So many of the greats were probably animators first and foremost, but none showed his animation chops quite like Gordon, right? In that one sequence under discussion, I most love that dog jumping in the air to snatch the lady's hat. Is that an animation cell or what! As you say, no background clutter. Background artists did that stuff. -- Mykal

  4. I also admire Gordon's "quiet" scenes, such as page two, where the two dogs just sit and talk. That's all about pose and expression. He doesn't just settle for talking heads.

    His work has a lot of the same qualities that I love about Walt Kelly's comics...I think that may account for why I've embraced his work so quickly!

  5. Great stuff!
    There's at least a pair of gags per page in this atypical story. Quite a top-of-the-range comic, right?
    Not to mention the gasping artwork. Everybody's about to burst with life, getting about to and fro, but the events take place in a natural way despite all that lunacy.

    I think you're style comparison between Gordon's and Kelly's is quite a good idea! Just perhaps Gordon walks on a darker side.
    I keep thinking there's something sinister in some of his stories, but I don't why--

  6. Gabriel: Oh, I agree there is a "darker" element to Gordon's work (compared to Walt Kelly); but I think it stems, again, from his connection to animation...his comics have the same violent slapstick that was in full force at Warner Bros and MGM cartoons of the time.

    In Pogo, the characters are all bark and no bite; in Superkatt, it's only a matter of time before someone gets flattened by a sledgehammer or shot in the face!

  7. Cool conversation, guys. I think you're both on the money with regard to Gordon's shades of darkness (something I hadn’t thought about until reading your comments). I think Gordon’s work with shadows and blacks adds something to his cartoony style - gives him a wider range of possibilities with expressions and moods. As Doug says, it's nearly impossible to imagine Pogo or Albert going postal or demonic. Superkatt? He's always a slight nudge away from homicidal! -- Mykal

  8. Yep, the animation background you brought up into the open before! You're right, for sure!
    Anyway, I meant I see a certain "deviation" in his stories. As if he walks on the right track reluctantly or some such a thing.

    Milt Stein or Sheldon Mayer also came from the anime, but their stories looks to me straight and clear comparatively. Quite paradoxical, taking into account Stein took his own life...
    Probably it's more related to me as a reader than Gordon as an author... Take no notice of me! ;)

  9. That's true, Gordon was hardly the only cartoonist with an animation pedigree. Kelly and Barks both spent time at studios, as well as Gabriel's examples. Superkatt, to me, just seems more of a direct connection. The characters don't seem as fully developed** as Pogo or Uncle Scrooge or Scribbly. The cast feels more at service to the gags, which to me makes the comic closer in spirit to animation directors like Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, and Frank Tashlin. Barks and Kelly, like John Stanley, excelled in character-based comedies.

    (**I should point out, though, that I have not read nearly as much Superkatt as I have the other examples...but it doesn't seem like he needs to function as anything other than a character in an animated short.)

    On the other hand, some "darkness" does pop up in the other creators' work as well: Kelly tended to use suspicious newcomers to the swamp to guise his critical political commentary (Joseph McCarthy, Trotsky, etc), while Barks liked to parody society by filling his animal characters with every human frailty imaginable: greed, envy, pride, anger, sloth etc. Just about every cartoonist I like cooked from the same recipe: Bolling, Stanley, Kurtzman, Schulz, Segar, and on...

    But all great comedy has its roots in misfortune and narcissism and stupidity, doesn't it?

  10. Doug: I haven't read much Superkatt, rather a little indeed. It was Sherm Cohen from his blog Cartoon Snap who make it good to me discover Dan Gordon's works.

    Love your insightful comment about Superkatt characters at service to the gags, and your comparison with Kelley, Barks and Stanley can't be clearer. That's quite a disclosure to me!

    And running the risk of looking a pain in the neck (and bridging the distances), John Stanley can be useful to explain what I mean with that gloomy touches I see in Gordon's Superkatt.
    For me, death's floating in the air in a compulsive way in his stories. I never thought before that this could be an animation influence, but it looks quite reasonable. I'll watch Tex Avery's films in a different way from now on!

    "He's always a slight nudge away from homicidal!" I like really that, Mykal. When the swine leans out of the Wolf's cabin window-- It's really a scary moment! Looks like he was a witness of a slaughter!

  11. Wow! The comments are as interesting as the comic! Great post, Doug!

  12. Thanks, Apocolyte! I know what you mean, the folks who comment here are an insightful bunch! I sometimes look forward to the feedback more than the actual posts!


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