Friday, November 27, 2009

Superkatt by Dan Gordon

I'd love to see a collection of Dan Gordon's funnies someday, but I'm really not sure how to package the Superkatt tales. The problem, obviously, is the depiction of Petunia. Unlike the housekeeper in the old Tom & Jerry shorts, you cannot simply overdub her voice and be good to go. Petunia is, bluntly, a demeaning racial caricature. Now, the argument has been made in similar cases for old theatrical cartoons, citing the "humor of the times", and the "absence of malice"; but that will never fly in the present day. It's just unacceptable, and rightly so. So how do you present a collection of "classic kids' comics" that is available only to "the adult collector"? I suppose it can be done...after all, the classic horror comics with their bloody dismemberment and gruesome rotting corpses were once available to any kid with a dime, and now come packaged for adults. So I guess expensive hardcover collections could be the answer.

It's just a little bit sad to think that these lively, wonderfully drawn comics may only be discovered by first-time readers who are well beyond their childhoods.

Here is Superkatt from Giggle Comics #23 (November 1945):


  1. Doug: I, too, would love to see a hard-cover retrospective of Gordon. As well drawn as Superkatt is (or anything ever drawn by Gordon), what really gets me in Giggle or Ha-Ha comics is the coloring. I guess the name of this artist will be lost for all time, but wow, what beautiful work. More? -- Mykal

  2. Hi Mykal,

    I agree about the coloring! What bold choices...I mean, who colors a house that shade of red? I wouldn't have tried it. But it manages to work without being garish. I do think, though, that the color in the dialog balloons is sometimes too dark.

    I have more Superkatt coming! I'm going to spend a portion of this weekend scanning them in, then start posting them next week.

  3. I agree with you, fellas! Coloring here is just amazing. It lend the story an air of sinister distinction that in other way it would never have had. Characters here look like trapped in a perpetual twilight indeed. And I can't help to read the tiger as a replacement of death. I know it's a tale for kids but this is the power of color!! That constant red throughout the story is really bloody, isn't it?
    In the end, it all seems to come down to Survival. All the characters yield to their fears... Hamilton Hare and his wife and sons, Petunia, Porknose, even the tiger--
    Just Superkat remains brave! Otherwise, this wouldn't a super-heroic story--

    By the way, what a lovely touch when the aching tiger throws himself to the tamer arms. It all becomes kindest thank to this charming panel!

    Thanks again, Doug!

    I hope also to see this hardcover retrospective on the stands someday. We have your site for the meantime--

  4. Great blog, Doug! Thanks for the great Gordon art. I first saw SUPERKATT at Pappy's blogzine, then recently at Mykal's blog, and now here! Thanks to all, and yes! More, please!

  5. Apocolyte: Thanks for visiting! I learned Gordon's name and background thanks to Sherm Cohen's blog and an article he wrote for the Comics Journal. If you like Superkatt, check out all the goodies he has at Cartoon Snap:

  6. Gabriel: That's an interesting assessment of the color...I will have to look over the story again with your notes in mind!

    Another thing that impresses me about the use of color, is the way the colorist ignores continuity between panels for a more balanced color scheme for the entire page...Look at page 7 for example: the house and door change color in every panel. If the house was blood red in every panel it would look "correct", but that color would then overwhelm and flatten the page. By using the same palette of primary and secondary colors in every panel, but in different places, it actually puts the whole page into balance. it shouldn't work, but it does!

  7. Thank you SOOO much for bringing back more Dan Gordon comics into the world. His comics are the cure to anything that's wrong with comics. Joyful and energetic and just plain FUN, Dan Gordon's comic are always a joy!

  8. Thank YOU, Sherm! I wouldn't know anything about Gordon (probably not even his name) if not for your article and posts about him! And I agree, his stories are a good cure for bad comics (or at least a good way to cleanse your palette)

  9. Because of sensitive racial issues, many libraries store "Tintin in the Congo" in special collections.

    By the way, one could make animated updated versions of Superkatt but rewrite the maid into being the lady of the house, and giving her a more realistic and less demeaning appearance. She could be an insurance executive who has to leave the house frequently, or something.


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