The Scrappy FAQ

A Scrappy FAQ

Updated July 2012
What follows is a first stab at recording answers to some of the most obvious questions about Scrappy. There’s a lot we don’t know–and many Scrappy cartoons we haven’t seen–so we could use help here. Let us know if you’d like to contribute.

1. Who is Scrappy?
The star of a cartoon series, produed by the Charles Mintz studio and released by Columbia from 1931-1941. Scrappy is somewhat unusual among 1930s cartoon characters in that he’s a human boy (albeit a human boy with a striking resemblance to Mickey Mouse). It seems safe to assume that Hal Roach’s “Our Gang” shorts, and possibly comic strips such as Gene Byrnes’ Reg’lar Fellers, had some influence on the series.

For way more background information about the character and the series, read this, this, and this. Then come back here–we’ll wait.

2. Who owns him?

The same company that always did–Columbia. Which is, in turn, owned by Sony. They’ve done almost nothing with him for decades, but the good news is that they’ve done some beautiful restorations of the original cartoons. (Sadly, they’re not available on DVD or in any other form, though they were a hit at ASIFA Hollywood’s 2007 Scrappy bash.)

3. Who are the other characters in the cartoons?
Well, there’s his little brother, Oopy, his girlfriend Margy, and his dog, Yippy. And some later cartoons involve a Petey Parrot, whom the Etcheverry/Friedwald Scrappy filmography deems as possibly the most irritating cartoon character of all time. That’s pretty much it.

4. What’s with the inconsistent naming?
The Mintz Studio had a casual approach to its characters’ monikers. As far as we know, Scrappy was always called Scrappy, and Yippy was always Yippy. But Oopy was sometimes Oopie, Poopsie, or (in early cartoons) Vonzey (let us know, by the way, if you’re aware of a definitive spelling of this final name). Margy was sometimes spelled Margie, and in some cartoons, Scrappy’s girlfriend is named Heidi. None of this is all that surprising, given that the studio could barely make the characters look the same from scene to scene.

We’re even inconsistent about the spellings on this site–in part because our articles come from disparate sources–but that seems in keeping with the spirit of Scrappy.

5. Who was the voice of Scrappy?
Animation voice guru Keith Scott recently told us that in at least some cartoons, busy child actor Bobby Winkler (aka Robert Winckler) gave voice to Scrappy. That’s all we know about the cartoons’ vocal cast at the moment. Which probably isn’t a tragedy. Nobody likes Scrappy based on the quality of the soundtracks, although many of them do have a likably hammy quality.

6. Who created Scrappy?
The early Scrappy cartoons were done by Dick Huemer, Art Davis, and Sid Marcus. If one guy deserves credit for creating the character, it was Dick Huemer. His family runs an excellent Web site with a meaty section on his work and some Scrappyana. We regret to report, however, that they’ve said that Dick did not really consider Scrappy to be one of his proudest achievements.

7. I thought his name was spelled Dick Heumor. Or was it Huemor?
It is, sometimes–Scrappy titles and merchandise have the man’s name spelled in multiple ways. But they’re not typos. Richard P. Huemer, Dick’s son, explains:

“Dick was bedeviled by the fact that few people could spell his surname correctly. He tried variant spellings, none of which turned out easier to spell than Huemer. In addition to Heumor (on Scrappy title),he used Huemor on the “Good Time Guy” comic strip in the 1920’s, as well as on an unsold comic about an old lady. I’ve encountered this problem myself. The most common error is transposition of the U and E.”

Here, courtesy of Mr. Huemer, is a panel from the old lady strip, with the Huemor spelling and a dog who looks like a cross between Scrappy’s pal Yippy and Fitz, the dog in the Fleischer studio’s Out of the Inkwell cartoons–which Dick Huemer also worked on.

Dick Huemer strip

8. What was the last Scrappy cartoon?
The Little Theatre (1941). By then, his career had been on the wane for years, with Scrappy (like other 1930s characters such as Betty Boop and Porky Pig) becoming less and less important in his own films; he’s really mostly an early-to-mid-1930s kind of character.

9. Where can I see Scrappy?
Finding Scrappy isn’t a cakewalk, and hasn’t been since TV stations stopped showing off-brand black-and-white cartoons. He hasn’t been on American television in years, although he did show up in Totally Tooned In, which aired in international markets. Columbia dutifully renewed copyrights, so he doesn’t show up on public-domain cartoon collections, either.

The Scrappy ouevre does show up in 16mm on eBay, or you might be able to track down bootlegs if you ask the right people. And this excellent Columbia Web site has been known to host his adventures in downloadable form. But there really ought to be an official DVD release. Anyone want to start a petition?

Last-minute note: The Voom high-definition TV channel is currently showing some Columbia cartoons, apparently culled from the Totally Tooned In package. This selection may include some color Scrappys. Or maybe not. We’ll let you know if we see them there.

[2012 update: Voom is long defunct.]

10. Why is there so much Scrappy merchandise?
Good question. Compared to other forgotten characters such as Kiko the Kangaroo, Scrappy was heavily promoted. (See our National Scrappy Gallery for images of just a small sampling of the stuff out there.)

Part of this is probably just due to his longevity–he had a decade-long career. But it may be that Columbia put more effort into it than most other studios. The 1930s was the heyday of Mickey Mouse’s merchandising career, after all. And given that Charles Mintz had distributed Disney cartoons only a few years earlier, perhaps his ego was invested in the notion that he could out-market Disney.

11. Where can I find Scrappy merchandise?
eBay, of course. At any given moment, there’s usually something up for bid. 16mm films are common, as are Big Little Book-type books. Among the most common merchandise you’ll find are the Scrappy Puppet Theatre and a little book-shaped bank. Please don’t bid against us.

12. Are there other animated Scrappys?
Yes. Hanna-Barbera’s Scrappy Doo, for one. He pretty much stunk. And John Kricfalusi’s Mighty Mouse cartoons featured a mouse kid who was certainly the greatest Scrappy since Scrappy.

13. Who is Sparky?
Another little Mintz kid, who appeared in such cartoons as Bluebird’s Baby and Scary Crows. He didn’t have a name until those cartoons became part of the Totally Tooned In syndicated package. At that point, Jerry Beck dubbed him Sparky, in recognition of his somewhat Scrappy-esque characteristics.

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