The Art of the Charles Mintz Pinback Button

Back in the 1930s, a company called Western Theater issued pins of cartoon characters, which I presume were intended as movie-theater giveaways. It did an impressive job of lining up licenses, producing pins featuring everybody from Harold Teen to Betty Boop to Oswald the Rabbit. And — as you’ve already surmised — the Mintz characters.

Here are Scrappy, two slight Yippy variants, Vontzy and, for good measure, Krazy Kat.

Mintz buttons

These being Mintz characters, it’s not surprising that the approach to naming is…well, surprising. We all know that Scrappy’s dog is Yippy, but he’s usually a pint-sized, terrier-like pooch. Except when he’s a big old hound dog, as he is here. (This pet was also known to go by the name of Woofus.)

Scrappy’s brother Vontzy, meanwhile, was generally known as Oopy — in fact, this is the only piece of merchandise I know about which calls him Vontzy. Eighty years later, this is still a point of confusion: The Big Cartoon Database thinks that the Scrappy series involved bullies named Vonsey and Oopie.

Unlike a lot of Scrappy merchandising art, these pieces were done with care, apparently by a Mintz artist. Here’s the original art for the only Mintz-related Western Theater pin back I know of that’s not shown above:

Kitty Kat

That’s Krazy Kat’s girlfriend, Kitty Kat, who seems to be a dog. I hope that George Herriman didn’t know about this — or, if he did, that he was amused rather than outraged.

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