Tom And Jerry #344
Whitman Comics (1981)
It’s kind of strange to see a creditless four comic (and one prose story) book coming out of the 1980s. And yet the two issues from Whitman that aren’t reprints of DC comics are just that. Tom And Jerry is of course based on the famous cartoon franchise, but there’s also a comic with “Little Quacker“, and I didn’t even know the duck that showed up in the early comics a few times had a name. The prose story features another MGM cartoon, Barney Bear. They’re short stories so let’s take a short look.
- “School Of Hard Knocks”: After Jerry uses Tom to keep Tuffy studying, Tom has a nightmare that Tuffy comes home smart enough to defeat him in his old age. He coaxes Tuffy out to play, which causes Jerry to have a nightmare that Tuffy grows up to never study. So the battle is on for the future of Tuffy’s education. I’ve seen complaints that the full-length Tom and Jerry movie has the two title characters talking (although that actually started in a Christmas special, not counting the occasional line or giggle for comedic purposes) but they’re talking here. While I don’t know if it needed to have Tom and Jerry talk (Tuffy could always talk), it does benefit the telling of the tales in this comic.
- Little Quacker: “Daddy Long Legs”: Quacker gets into the old “my dad can beat your dad” argument with a young coyote, so they go to get their dads. However, Quacker’s an orphan, and his possum friend tries to find someone who can beat coyote dad. When no good prospects show up, a leftover duck decoy and some stilts provides the solution and Quacker ends up with a new friend. It’s a cute little story.
- The Mouse Musketeers: “To The Rescue”: One of the recurring plots in the MGM cartoons have Jerry and Tuffy as musketeers and Tom protecting the King’s banquet…showing that they possibly didn’t know what a musketeer was. In this story they’re all on the same team…sort of. Tom is still the villain, as the king sends Jerry and Tuffy to rescue his kidnapped princess. (Seven identical princesses. I think we can guess why the Queen isn’t in this story.) Tom tries to rescue her himself and get to be the hero for a change, which means tricking Jerry and Tuffy. It ends up with them working together…sort of…and Tom becoming a princess. It makes sense in context. I don’t know if Sir Ruffstuff is supposed to be Spike or not, but it’s a fair story.
- Barney Bear: “In The Swim”: Barney and his housemate, Benny Burrow, decide to dig a swimming pool. Their mooching neighbor, Mooseface McElk, tries to come up with a plan to use the pool without helping dig it. It’s a one-story prose tale and I hate when the baddie wins, even on something like this.
- “The Ship’s Cat”: Tom comes up with a scheme to get a free cruise by using Jerry and Tuffy to become the ship’s cat, offering to catch the mice in return for the trip. If Jerry and Tuffy had snuck off after that, I think Tom would have had his cruise. Instead the typical hi-jinks (or typical at the time, as even the newer Tom & Jerry cartoons were lighter on the violence than the classic theatrical shorts) occur as they try to keep the anti-seasick pills from him until all three are kicked off of the boat. Personally I don’t mind Tom getting a partial victory on this one, if only for all the cartoons in which Tom was simply protecting his master’s food only for Jerry to try to steal what doesn’t belong to him. Tom deserves a win now and then.
I’m not usually a Tom & Jerry fan but I honestly enjoyed the comic and plan to hold on to it. It’s worth a look if you don’t mind a more kiddiefied take on the characters (at least compared to the old material). If you do mind that, you really won’t like this comic.