The Two Sides of Tom & Jerry, Part 1

This is part one of a two part series. The second part will be posted tomorrow morning.

Welcome to Cartoon Appreciation Week here in the Swamp. I grew up watching the cartoon, Tom & Jerry, and for me it was pure entertainment. In case you're too young or lived in the wilds without a TV to entertain you, Tom & Jerry is a cartoon about a cat and mouse who get along like, well, a cat and mouse. Every cartoon is pretty much the same plot outline, Tom chases Jerry, Tom catches Jerry, Jerry hits Tom with heavy, blunt object, hilarity ensues. It's not quite educational, not quite politically correct, but it is a lot of fun.

Tom & Jerry debuted in 1940 and was directed by Hanna-Barbera until 1958 as theatrical shorts. This was the best run for the cartoon ending after 114 shorts. These were the funniest cartoons in my opinion. They intro such characters as Spike and Tyke, Butch the Cat (black, raggedy-looking cat), Jerry's nephew Nibbles (known earlier as Tuffy) and Mammy Two Shoes who would later be edited out and replaced with a thin white woman and then restored with an overdubbed voice. MGM decided to close the animation studio after revenues decreased and Hanna-Barbera started their own studio. It would be two years before another cartoon short would be created

1960-62 would see the 13 shorts of the Gene Deitch era. These are possibly the worst cartoons of the original Tom & Jerry run. Gene Deitch was a Czech cartoonist whose studio was in eastern Europe. These cartoons are easily distinguishable by their erratic animation, oddball sound effects and different overall look and feel. Thanks to Wikipedia I found out that this transition was parodied in The Simpsons, "Krusty Gets Kancelled" episode when Itchy and Scratchy (already a parody) was replaced by the eastern European, low-budget equivalent, Worker and Parasite. Luckily, there are only 13 shorts, so actually being tortured by one in any given hour is rare.

Chuck Jones would return the cartoon to the United States, but would add his own style to them. In this way, they would end up resembling Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner (which he created) and other Looney Tunes characters. These cartoons were better drawn and funnier than the Deitch years, but they would not compare to the original Hanna-Barbera years. Jones would produce 34 shorts at his Sib Tower 12 studios. This would be the end of new cartoons for quite a while, but....

....that will have to wait for tomorrow.