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Sunday, August 14, 2011

COMIC BOOK COMPULSIVE — Muggy-Doo Boy Cat

Among comic book collector’s Muggy-Doo, Boy Cat is legendary (or perhaps notorious) for it’s singular title.  I’ll confess; for the longest time it was the only thing I knew about it. But I’ve learned that behind the title is an interesting comic, and an even more interesting story.

Muggy was the creation of Hal Seeger, animator, scriptwriter and comic book writer for DC Comics in the late 50′s on titles such as Leave It To Binky and drawn by animator/artist Irv Spector.  Along with his work for Fleischer/Famous Studios and Hanna-Barbera he was a prolific funny animal artist and from 1951 to 1954 drew the syndicated strip Coogy.

His art style has been called a cross between Milt Gross and Walt Kelly, which I see.  But I also agree with those who say it looks a bit like the Howard Post when he was drawing funny stuff.

Four issues of Muggy-Doo, Boy Cat were published in 1953 by Stanhall…

…and a decade later two issues were published under I.W. Publishing’s infamous Super Comics imprint.

Muggy-Doo (no relation to Scooby) is admittedly a perfectly standard issue funny animal character of the screwball variety, though one with a unique job form of employment; he buys and sells junk.  But that of course is only his job; like so many funny animal characters of the 50′s his true calling was pulling scams on his mark of preference.  In this case a hound dog named Osh who sported a fez.

The other funny animals appeared in Muggy-Doo, Boy Cat were, in their own ways, more interesting than the title’s headliner.  As far as I can tell Elmer the Elk and Orry the Orangutan were the only representatives of their respective species working in funny animal comics.  And if you think that Muggy-Doo is a strange name for a funny animal,  the covers of #3 and #4 promised “Also in this issue…Stuffy Derma”.

Stuffy Derma?

OK, he’s, you know, a pig, so “Stuffy”, as in “stuffed”, makes a certain amount of sense.  And it doesn’t take a genius to figure “Derma” sounds an awful lot like “dermis”, the layer of skin beneath the epidermis.  So in other words, skin, “pigskin”, yeah, that tracks as a name for a pig, but still, it’s still just so odd.  But thanks to the Internet (blessings be upon it) it only

(Jewish) Kishke is traditionally made with bee...

Image via Wikipedia

took a few minutes to determine “Stuffy Derma” is a Jewish in-joke; “stuffed derma” is better known as kishka (literally “gut” or “intestine” in Yiddish) a dish made from beef intestine stuffed with matzo meal, rendered fat and spices.  I’ve never had it, but it probably say all you need to know about me I’d really like to.

I acknowledge this digression is completely gratuitous but then, so is the Internet; but if you are only interested in comic books you might want to skip the following paragraphs:

The weirdest thing about this whole thing is I grew up regularly hearing a song called ”Who Stole the Krishka?” with absolutely no idea what a “Krishka” was. It’s a traditional Polish polka written by Walter Dana that’s best known in this country for the 1963 version recorded by Frankie Yankovic (no relation to Weird Al) and his Yanks.  That’s the version I repeatedly heard on The Ghoul, a horror host from Cleveland, heir to the legacy of the legendary Ernie Anderson’s Ghoulardi.

Like his mentor The Ghoul got laughs making fun of the inhabitants of Parma, a Cleveland suburb whose residents were predominately of Polish descent.  The jokes weren’t of the “boy them Pollacks sure am dumb” variety of Polish Humor that was making a resurgence back in the 70′s.  Rather, they revolved around the oddly specific characteristics an inhabit of Parma supposedly processed, like a predilection for liking Cheese Whiz a little too much or decorating their lawns with decorative chrome balls.

And as incidental music The Ghoul liked to play “Someone Stole the Kriska”, because well,  you’d have to ask him.  But I assume it was because it was (a) a Polka, a form of music considered old and lame (what probably made it particularly egregious to him though was a rival Cleveland channel ran an hour of polka music a week on a program called Polka Variety — if you need a point of reference think of the SCTV’s sketches featuring the Shmenge Brothers).  And (b) “Kriska” was a foreign word that sounded funny mostly because it wasn’t in common parlance and in the 70′s most foreign words were reflexively considered “funny”.

And since I am compelled to over-share here are the lyrics:

Someone stole the kishka
Someone stole the kishka
Who stole the kishka,
from the butcher’s shop?
Who stole the kishka?
Who stole the kishka?
Who stole the kishka?
Someone call the cops!

Fat and round and firmly packed
It was hanging on the rack
Someone stole the kishka
When I turned my back
Who stole the kishka?
Who stole the kishka?
Who stole the kishka?
Someone bring it back!
Someone stole the kishka

Someone stole the kishka
Who stole the kishka,
from the butcher shop?
Who stole the kishka?
Who stole the kishka?
Who stole the kishka?
Someone call the cops!
Yusef found the kishka
Yusef found the kishka
Yusef found the kishka
And he hung it on the rack.
He found the kishka
He found the kishka
He found the kishka
Yusef brought it back
Heeeeeyyyyyyyy
Hey!
huh-huh-huh-huh

Or you could just click on the link to this clever YouTube video:

Who Stole the Kishka_(medium_H.264-AAC)

But about Stuffy Derma himself, though the story criminally overuses his intended catch phrase of “I’ll say kid” I have to admit I really liked the sweetly innocent Stuffy Derma and the surreal logic upon which “Shipped Ahoy” hangs.

And here’s another Muggy-Doo story, from the Super Comics version of the comic.

Here’s where, in my opinion, the story gets interesting.  In 1963 Seeger made a pilot film for television (though it was also shown theatrically) featuring Muggy-Doo titled Boy Pest With Osh. It was animated by Myron Waldman, a Pratt Institute graduate with an impressive list of animation credits with the Fleisher/Famous Studio. The “I.W.” in I.W. Publishing stood for Israel Waldman,  It is of course entirely possible two completely unrelated people with the same last name could be involved with Muggy-Doo, Boy Cat. But I don’t know how likely that is.  I could find no reference to an Israel Waldman in any of Myron Waldman’s online obituaries — and I found no online obituary for Israel Waldman.

I suppose what I’m trying to suggest here is though I.W. Waldman specialized in publishing unauthorized reprints maybe his reprints of Muggy-Doo, Boy Cat weren’t all that unauthorized.

If you’d like to watch three minutes of Boy Pest With Osh (which is where I learned “Osh” was pronounced like “Gosh”, which seems obvious I knew but I was pronouncing  it “Oosh”) just click on the link below:

MUGGY-DOO BOY CAT(medium_H.264-AAC)

In 1965 Hal Seeger created The Milton The Monster Show, a cartoon from my childhood I remember liking quite a bit.  As the title indicates the star was a monster named Milton, but each half hour episode included three 7-minute segments featuring different characters. One featured a memorable funny animal superhero called Fearless Fly (at least I remember him) while another was a revised species version of Muggy called Muggy-Doo, Boy Fox…

…and another was Stuffy Durma!

Although in this version he was a stereotypical human hobo who had inherited ten million dollars, bought all the trappings of wealth then discovered he preferred his old life.


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6 Responses to “COMIC BOOK COMPULSIVE — Muggy-Doo Boy Cat”

  1. Jerry Beck Says:

    Excellent post on one of my favorite subjects, Muggy-Doo. Thanks!

  2. “Stuffy Durma” animated by Jim Tyer | Cartoon Research Says:

    [...] was first conceived in 1953, as a back-up feature in Seeger’s short-lived comic book, Muggy Doo-Boy Cat. In the original strip – which spelled “Derma” with an “e“; drawn by [...]

  3. Joe Gould III Says:

    Nice to hear the story about Don and Maggie Thompson’s constant name-dropping of ol’ Muggy in the old weekly Comic Buyers’ Guide!!!!!!!!!!! Megasmiles :-)

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