What's Up with Upshaw? Friendly Enemies

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Right now I am illustrating my friend Bertha Phillips' children's book "God Made the Cats."  It's the story of the funny animal residents of Happy Point who are complaining about the Cat Family's constant singing--all the time, when they just want to settle down.  The Cats' allies are three songbirds: Ms. Bluebird, Ms. Red Robin and Lady Chickadee.  They understand why the Cats sing so much and are their staunchest defenders.

Recently this got me to thinking:  songbirds being friends with cats?  I know I'm illustrating children's fiction but in real life, cats eat songbirds.  I'm sure Bertha wasn't thinking of real life when she created her characters; she just wanted funny animals who acted like humans.  And there are plenty of other examples of cartoon animal friends who should be mortal enemies.

Hanna-Barbera cartoons have pairs like that.  There's Ruff and Reddy, a smart little cat and a big dumb dog.  Shouldn't Reddy be chasing Ruff?  How about detectives Snooper and Blabber?  Snoop's a cat, Blab's a mouse, and the worst Snoop does is lord it over Blab like a boss does.  And Breezly and Sneezly, a polar bear and his seal pal.  Breezly would be eating Sneezly in real life.

There are examples from other cartoon companies.  Disney did an all-animal cartoon version of "Robin Hood" where Robin and Maid Marian were foxes.  But Robin's ally Alan-A-Dale was a rooster, and Maid Marian's lady-in-waiting was a hen.  Chickens are whom foxes feed on; they would never really serve them.  Think of Crusader Rabbit and his pal Rags the Tiger, the stars of the first made-for-TV cartoon.  Rags should be hunting down Cru, but then he was a big dummy.  Speaking of big dummies, Rita and Runt, the cat-and-dog pair from "Animaniacs", are only friends because big, stupid Runt doesn't realize Rita is a cat.  This happens in anime, too:  Kimba the White Lion's good friend Bucky is a kooky gazelle.  As any fan of motivator Eric Thomas knows, lions chase gazelles and eat them.  But then, Kimba was all about establishing peace in his jungle.

I know that cartoons are all about imagination, especially in America.  We have a rabbit with a New York accent outwitting a lisping human hunter.  We have cave people who act like they live in the 20th Century.  We have a dog named Pluto who acts like a dog and a "dawg" named Goofy who acts like a human.  In cartoons, anything and everything is possible.  Even songbirds who like cats.

I leave you with Page One of "God Made the Cats."


About the author


I call myself a 'tooner--one who cartoons. Animated shorts, single-panel gag cartoons and celebrity caricatures are my specialty!

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