BUZZY THE CROWOriginal Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Famous Studios
First Appeared: 1947
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Since the very beginning, the eat-or-be-eaten relationship between predator and prey has been a mainstay of the animation medium. MGM's Tom & Jerry is the exemplar, of course, but Disney's Big Bad Wolf/Three Little Pigs is another
classic example. Famous Studios, where Casper the Friendly Ghost and Little Audrey got their starts, didn't emphasize that type of interplay as much as some, but they had Herman & Katnip to display the dynamic on a regular basis. Katnip's potential food also included Buzzy the Crow.
Buzzy (no relation) was introduced in The Stupidstitious Cat, released April 25, 1947. The voice actor who played him, Jackson Beck, was best known as Popeye's antagonist, Bluto/Brutus (no relation), but also did King Leonardo, Superman's villain Luthor, and various others over the years. For Buzzy, he did a take-off on the gravely voice of character actor Eddie Anderson, who played Rochester on Jack Benny's show, with Syd Raymond (Baby Huey) as Katnip, sounding like Benny himself.
The "black bird as black stereotype" schtick was scarcely unique. Just a few years earlier, it had been used in Dumbo, and much later it was a prominent part of Ralph Bakshi's (Mighty Mouse) Coonskin. But it probably doomed Buzzy, whose eight cartoons were finished by 1954, as black stereotypes fell out of fashion in Hollywood.
By that time, Buzzy was appearing in comic books, where a character's voice was less of an issue. Even there, however, he never became a big star. He was a regular in Paramount Animated Comics, which Harvey Comics (Richie Rich) published starting with a try-out issue in 1952, but that ended after Baby Huey completely took over the series in '56. The closest Buzzy ever came to having his own comic book was when he starred in a single issue of Harvey Hits, where the publisher tested titles like Little Lotta and Wendy the Good Little Witch the same way DC used Showcase to test titles like The Flash and Lois Lane. Buzzy was featured in Harvey Hits #18 (March, 1959) — his last major comic book appearance.
Buzzy also appeared in a few titles from Wonder Books, a Little Golden Books knock-off that also licensed properties from other second-string studios such as Terrytoons.
Today, like many of his contemporaries, Buzzy can be found on the occasional videotape or DVD. Sometimes his voice is re-dubbed to conform to modern preferences, and sometimes not.