Letters

Click here to drop us a line–we’d love to know what you think about Scrappy, Scrappyland, or related matters. (We may publish your letter here unless you request otherwise.)

And now let’s dip into Scrappy’s mailbag:

Updated August 2012

From Andrew Offiler:   I just wanted to congratulate you on the Scrappyland site. It’s great! I’m a lifelong fan of 1930’s cartoons and it’s terrific to learn more about Scrappy.

From Kevin Butler: I remember watching “The Scrappy” movie cartoons on a weekday evening cartoon show: “Merrytoones Circus.”

“Merrytoones Circus”was seen weekday evenings on WOR TV Ch.9 in NYC back in the early 1960′s. Claude Kirchner (the first ringmaster/announcer of ABC TV’s”Super Circus” and NBC TV’s”Marx Magic Midway!”) was the show’s host and head puppeteer.

“Scrappy”..along with The Columbia/Charlie Mintz movie cartoons “Prof. Small & Mr.Tall,””Lil Abner,” and the Paramount/Famous movie cartoons became a big hit with the kids of the TV generation…myself included.

According to an interview that I conducted with Mr.Kirchner back in the 1980′s..he told me that “MerryToones Circus” beat out the network TV news in the local NYC TV ratings.Which didn’t endear this local kids TV cartoon show to the news dept heads at the three major tv networks.

“Scrappy” was the little boy who tried to get his chores done and have the kind of fun that a lot of kids would like to have? But? His miserable little brother and an obnoxious little girl did everything that they could to make his life..lousy. I can relate to a kid like that..since I have a younger brother. Who is even more of an obnoxious creep that poor “Scrappy’s”little brother.

It’s sad that “Scrappy” only performed in a few movie cartoons. But..for the few films that we did see this little guy in. He gave us all a lot of laughs. Thank you for remembering “Scrappy.”

From Sergio Rodriguez: I had discovered this website just prior to hurricane Katrina, and I had meant to write a letter to this wonderful website back in the summer, but then came Katrina and I who have lived in New Orleans since 1964, had to evacuate and temporarily relocate along with my family. Since we are heading back to my beloved New Orleans this December, and since we will be having a very “Scrappy” holiday season at best, I being an amateur artist decided to use an old Columbia Pictures drawing as the inspiration for my card this year.Of course, I redrew the picture with obvious changes as you can see and I added color too. I hope I do not offend anyone, it is meant to be a personal tribute to this beloved and forgotten cartoon, a cartoon that since my childhood has meant a lot to me.

Let me digress, my name is Sergio G. Rodriguez, and I was born in Ciego de Avila, Cuba in 1952. By 1957, Cuban television stations were showing Scrappy and Betty Boop cartoons daily, Betty Boop was my favorite and Scrappy a close second. The baby boomer generation of Cuba was raised on the wonderful U.S. cartoons of the 1930′s and 1940′s. One of my favorite cartoons of all time by any character is Scrappy’s ” The Bad Genius”, (I hope I have the name right) the images of Scrappy running along a roof edge being pursued by the bad genius and the images of the futuristic world were everyone could fly with propellers on their heads fascinated
me since childhood. I guess we all dream of flying and Scrappy made it look so easy.

Suffice to say that Castro not unlike Katrina came along. Many of us had to flee our beloved Cuba and luckily got a chance to make a new life in the U.S. Unfortunately, no one here in 1960 was playing Betty Boop or Scrappy cartoons or even remembered them, at least not kids. Consequently, these two characters became edged in my mind and soul as icons of my lost Cuban childhood. Since I had been drawing since childhood, I became an “animation aficionado” early on. I searched high and low for anything having to do with them. Today my wife who is also Cuban, along with me enjoy collecting Betty Boop and some Scrappy items. We have a huge collection that fortunately survived Katrina, I am also a proud owner of an almost mint “Scrappy Puppet Theater”. I also have some “Scrappy” cartoons on VHS, a private collector of films put them on tape (shame on Columbia Pictures for not releasing “Scrappy” on DVD). I wrote them many years ago requesting that they put the cartoons on tape and release commercially but my request went sadly ignored. My passion for these icons of my past led me to design Betty Boop Christmas cards, I’ve designed one each year since 1989. This year I decided to give Scrappy star billing, and I included Betty Boop as a prop, Margy who is a very hip 1930′s little girl ;o) is carrying her “hot” Cameo jointed Betty Boop doll (these were very popular back in the 1930′s and highly sought after by collectors today).

This website is such a great tribute! I commend you (Harry McCracken) and all those who contributed to its creation. What a labor of love it is! It was high time that Scrappy have a place were he could be honored and remembered, and not only is there
one now, but it is designed with such taste and class. For those who never heard of him, it offers a fascinating window into “Scrappyland”.

I have one humble request, I would be honored if you would post my Christmas card on the website for all to enjoy.

From Dewey Webb: My God! It’s been so long since I’ve thought about Scrappy, finding your site was like uncovering a suppressed memory! Does anyone know the last time (roughly) these cartoons appeared on US TV? Here in Phoenix, I’m guessing it was the early-mid Sixties. He’d been on since I was a kid; who knew I’d never see him again?

[Scrappyland replies: We don't know when Scrappy was last a staple of local programming--we don't remember him from our own mid-to-late sixties youth. But he was seen, in hisrare color appearances, on the short-lived Voom HDTV satellite service. The Dish Network picked up Voom's Animania channel, so it's possible that he's still showing up sporadically. We hope so.]

From Audrey Gleske: I was getting ready to post a punch out set “Scrappy’s Puppet Theatre” on eBay when I decided to do some research to see what I could find out about this cartoon character when I came upon your site. I absolutely loved the information that you have compiled and while I was born in 1959 and I have some vague recollection of seeing the Scrappy cartoons growing up, I’ve decided NOT to sell my set because of the nostalgia and history behind this cartoon that you have compiled. You’ve done a wonderful job and I think I’ll hang on to my puppet theatre for a while.

From Dimi Dumo, in regards to our Gallery’s Scrappy soap, which was sculpted by famed soap artist Lester Gaba: Just like Lester Gaba, I’m a soap sculptor. I dedicated some pages to his work on my Web site. They might interest all soap sculptors (young and old), because they give a clear and simple guideline to the question “how to sculpt in soap”, including many photographs of his work. Please check it out here.

From Carl Sneyd: Thanks for reminding me of the days when we got our first TV, around 1955. Our local TV station in Hamilton Ontario, CHCH, was just starting and used to run a half hour compilation after school, and as my parents had not yet come home from work, I was able to watch Scrappy and Oopie at my leisure. They used to run the Krazy Kat cartoons as well but certainly not as often as Scrappy. I remember my favourite being an episode in which time stopped for everyone except Scrappy. I found the idea fascinating and the animation using drawn figures moving over still photos quite amazing. Keep up the great work!

From George Evelyn: Great Web site, beautifully designed! There was this Scrappy cartoon I vaguely remember seeing with my brother (on TV, about 1959) in which Scrappy got blamed for something the baby (Oopie, I guess) did. Broke something, and had to stand in the corner, or stay inside on a sunny day. What was memorable was the baby taunting Scrappy about it, singing some little song or something. My brother got really worked up over this, got REALLY mad at that baby, saying: “I’d bash that baby’s stupid head and throw his dress in the garbage.” Do you guys happen to know what cartoon that was, by any chance?

[Scrappyland replies: We're not sure which cartoon you're remembering. Anyone out there know?]

From Dr. Richard Huemer (son of Scrappy creator Dick Huemer): Thanks for Scrappyland! Rarely has serious research on an obscure subject produced so risible a result. Thanks, too, for the link to huemer.com. In return, I’m offering my web guests an invitation to Scrappyland, straight from Scrappy’s mouth. What’s next? Toby-the-Pup Land? Talk about obscurity!

From Richard Sutor: I’m a 64 year-old retired educator who first became acquainted with Scrappy via home movies. Back in the early 1940′s my dad had a Univex 8mm camera and projector. He also had several reels of commercially made films. One of these was Scrappy Trailer. I still have the film. It’s on a 100 foot reel which was rare for films of those days as this is almost the equivalent of the complete 35mm release. Of course the film is silent and runs at the slower 18fps of the silent equipment giving all the cartoon movements a kind of sliding gracefulness. My brother and sister and I saw this cartoon many times and especially liked the “futuristic” gadgetry Scrappy had in his trailer.

Years later, when I was in my teens I bought a 16mm movie collection from a store that formerly had used these prints in rental service. I was delighted to find copies of Scrappy Rodeo and Holiday Land. These, unfortunately, were also silent.

I would love to see prints of these films with their original soundtracks.

Thank you for setting up the web site. I will be returning to it frequently to become re-acquainted with an old friend.

Another letter from Paul Etcheverry: Kudos on your fun and most pleasingly designed website. You turned up some amazing stuff! Appropriately, Scrappy merchandising is, 70+ years later, disturbing, odd, and inexplicable. Could the irate Cantonese fellow in the puppet theatre be the star of the seventh cartoon in the series, The Chinatown Mystery (one of the prime titles that, incidentally, NOBODY has seen)?

From Peter Mork: I stumbled onto your website and spent a pleasant evening with it. You obviously put a lot of care into the presentation, and the black-and-white look really makes it stand out. Thanks for not putting a bunch of Scrappy faces as wallpaper behind the text and making it completely unreadable.

As a tyke in the 50s and 60s I saw a LOT of Scrappy cartoons on television. The bits and pieces I remember about them are mostly disturbing. Wasn’t there one set in a dark house, where the figures on the wallpaper bounced up and down? That one gave me bad dreams. (There was also a Krazy Kat episode involving scary bomb-throwing Bolsheviks that has lingered in my mind.) I have only once since my childhood gotten a chance to see any of these films (along with the Walter Lantz Oswalds I was also heavily dosed wiith), and I hope I’ll be able to again some day.

I didn’t recall Oopy as having a name; me and my brother just called him Baby.

From Ed Golick (www.detroitkidshow.com): I’ve only seen one Scrappy cartoon in my 49 years on this earth. Believe it or not, it was in a drive theater in in the late 1970s. It was a beautiful, splice-free color print. The only thing I remember about it was that Scrappy kept singing “I’m the bird man.” Would you happen to know the title of this cartoon?

[Scrappyland replies: We ran your question by several Scrapologists, and the consensus is that you're thinking of the 1935 cartoon The Bird Man. However, this was a Krazy Kat, not a Scrappy--and if you saw it in color, you saw one of those crummy recolored jobs of then-recent vintage.]

From David Gerstein (via Harry-Go-Round): A laurel and a hearty handshake to you, Harry…great Web resource you’ve built here. A proper tribute to the round, lovable, occasionally disturbing mass of contradictions that is His Scrappiness.

All together now, a round of “Scrappy’s Theme Song” — no, wait, I don’t remember it! All I seem to be channeling is Barney the Dinosaur’s theme (which as I recall is uncomfortably similar!).

From Don Markstein (of Toonopedia): An ENTIRE DOMAIN just for SCRAPPY!!? Yow! (Do you get some kind of discount on hosting? Multiple small domains for the price of one big one or something?)

I’m really going to enjoy going through this over the next few days. And when it comes time to write my Scrappy article for the Toonopedia, this ought to make it easy to dig up the facts. Problem is, I hate to get al my info from one source, and I suspect it might be hard to find a factoid you haven’t covered.

Good job, as usual. Thanks for putting it up for us.

From Gordan Calma (of the Fleischer Popeye Tribute site): What a fantastic website!!! Thank you so much for making such a beautiful tribute to until now a marginalized and almost forgotten classic cartoon character–Scrappy.

From Dewey McGuire: I just re-emerged from Scrappyland. Having read it all, I can only say I want a permanent visa to this land right away. Naturally, I remain entranced by Scrappy’s Puppet Theatre, and the original works of drama performed in it. However, I see no need to remain limited to the Scrappy repertoire… I’d like to see the cast try putting on a performance of, say, “Death of a Salesman.” I favor casting the Chinaman in the lead.

Seriously, this site is really a terrific piece of design work. I applaud your decision to make it monotone, although a color annex would be welcome as well

From B. Baker: I simply wanted to congratulate you regarding your new “Scrappyland” website. I am also grateful–I haven’t even seen the Animania articles on Scrappy since they were published; it was a pleasure to re-read them after all these years. I know a lot about these shorts — but I’d forgotten that most of what I know about them, other than personal observation and appreciation, is derived from [this] work. Thank you.

In the ’70s and ’80s I would periodically see a variety of Columbia shorts–in beat-up 16mm prints, of course- at college screenings and in annual animation programs at revival houses. I’m pretty lucky –thanks to my good fortune to have been up and around back then — and to have read Mindrot/Animania, Funnyworld, the wonderful Maltin book and other scholarship. I’m familiar with the Mintz pictures and have seen many of the black & white shorts. (As you note, the Phantasies and other color specials are much easier to see.) They are the product of some unique talents, and I look forward to the development of “Scrappyland”– your knowledge and insight on these films is of great value. (Somewhere Dick Huemer is smiling.)

From Paul Etcheverry: A few reasons why one should be interested in Scrappy, for starters:

–Scrappy predates James Dean, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Lenny Bruce as antisocial anti-heroes by two decades!

–Scrappy cartoons made in 1931-1934 rank atop that list of the funniest films you’ve never heard of.

–Best cartoon picks to complement an Andy Kaufman TV special or Pee-Wee’s Playhouse episode.

The first season of Scrappies, stylistically speaking, are the closest thing to a Robert Crumb animated cartoon–much more so than Fritz the Cat. (one wonders if Mr. Crumb, as a tot, sat in front of the boob tube in the mid-50′s for hours and hours and hours viewing Scrappy cartoons repeatedly)

For film buffs and animation historians:

–Consider who made these cartoons: Disney animator and story guru Dick Huemer, WB director and animator Art Davis, legendary animator Emery Hawkins, etc. . . And then there’s Sid Marcus…far and away the most underrated, unjustly unheralded of Golden Age cartoon directors.

Let’s Ring Doorbells and The Puppet Murder Case are among the first cartoons to feature montage sequences. I’m not sure who got there first – Hugh Harman (Circus Daze) and Frank Tashlin (almost every B&W Porky Pig he directed) were also working concurrently along similar lines. In any case, you have to reach back to the most far-out segments in the Fleischer and Messmer silents to come up with anything like what these guys were doing.

1 comment on Letters

  • ed

    My little brother and I used to watch Scrappy when we were 6 and 7 (back in the 1950′s). “Scrappy’s Ghost Story” scared the daylights out of us.

    We imagined we were the Scrappy brothers.

    GREAT site!

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