Friday, December 14, 2012

Krazy Kat and Ignatz

Cartoon Worlds and Gender Ambiguity
(cartoons have)...always carried the potential for divisions of human/animal, naked/clothed, child/adult, and male/female, playing both and neither as the situation warrants. The characters’ fluidity allows not only for transgressive readings of gender roles, as Sam Abel (1995) argues, but implicit or explicit articulations of same-sex identity, behavior, and desire."

Sometimes when you use quotes like this ("have always carried"), people say that you are misinterpreting older material by filtering it through a modern day context. So, to give an early example of a “male” duo and to show how long the tradition of cartoon ambiguity has existed for I wanted to take a quick look at a newspaper comic strip that started in 1913: Krazy Kat.

The comic was set against gorgeous ever changing desert scenery, as surreal and ambiguous as the title character of the strip. The story followed the adventures of Krazy who is madly in love with Ignatz, a mouse who detests the attention and throws bricks at the cat’s head. Krazy thinks the bricks are a sign of Ignatz devotion. The dog Officer of their town (in love with Krazy), constantly tries to arrest Ignatz for his crimes.