EEK! THE CATOriginal medium: Television animation
Produced by: Savage Studios Ltd.
First Appeared: 1992
Creators: Savage Steve Holland and Bill Kopp
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American cartoon characters of the 1970s and '80s, when "parent action groups" were at the zenith of their power, tended to emphasize kindness, sharing, helpfulness and other allegedly
benign qualities, over the more anarchic traits of their forebears. Examples include Fat Albert, My Little Pony and The Get Along Gang, but television was rife with them.
Eek! the Cat, who began when this era was well into (if not beyond) its waning phase, is also kind, helpful, etc. — but he isn't so much one of these characters, as a comment on them. If there is a message in Eek!'s cartoons, it is that his motto, "It never hurts to help!", is a bald-faced lie.
Eek! is a purple house cat who, like most cats who live with human families, has adventures of which his co-habitants are utterly unaware. In Eek!'s case, tho, the adventures are more likely to involve pirates, alien invaders or evil geniuses, than neighborhood dogs, garbage cans, or cats of the opposite sex. Also unlike real cats, he's always ready to help a pal, a worthy party in distress, or, when you get right down to it, just about anybody. And he usually pays a painful price for his altruistic deeds.
When adventuring, Eek! functions on a quasi-human level, but at home with his humans, Mom, J.B. and Wendy Elizabeth, he's just a cat. He's the opposite of Buster Brown's Tige, Barnaby's Gorgon and Davey's Goliath, in that he communicates freely with everyone except his family. His other associates include Annabelle (his one true love, an incredibly obese she-cat), Shark Dog (an incredibly vicious dog who lives next door, and has a shark fin on his head. and no relation) and Elmo the Elk (the incredibly pitiful plight of whose unseen little brother, Timmy, never fails to elicit Eek!'s sympathetic assistance). His favorite TV show is Squishy Bears, who are very much unlike the Care Bears that inspired them.
Eek! the Cat debuted as a half-hour weekly on Fox TV, on September 11, 1992. It was created by director Savage Steve Holland (whose other credits are mostly in live action) and animator/voice man Bill Kopp (whose varied animation credits include part of the writing on Mad Jack the Pirate and the Roger Rabbit cartoons Tummy Trouble and Roller Coaster Rabbit). Besides Kopp as Eek!, voice credits include (among others) Dan Castellanetta (Homer Simpson, Earthworm Jim) as Eek!'s pal Mittens, Elizabeth Daily (Tommy in Rugrats, Buttercup in Power Puff Girls) as Wendy Elizabeth, and Charles Adler (Cow & Chicken, Mighty Ducks) in various roles. It was produced as a collaboration among Nelvana Ltd., Fox Productions, and Savage Studios Ltd.
After one season (13 episodes), the show's format was changed with the addition of a second segment, The Terrible Thunder Lizards, about a couple of cave men living in a world of dinosaurs. After two seasons of that, it was changed again with the addition of a third segment, Klutter, about living junk that lurks under a bed; and the title was changed to Eek!-Stravaganza. It lasted five seasons in all. Fox re-ran the series during the late 1990s, but it hasn't been seen in the U.S. recently.
Unlike most TV cartoons from the 1970s and later, Eek! the Cat was licensed to a comic book publisher. Hamilton Comics, an imprint of Gladstone Comics (which published the Disney characters during the 1980s and '90s) did it as a three-issue series in 1994. Writers and artists included Noel van Horn (Mickey Mouse, Uncle Scrooge), Nat Gertler (Elfquest, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and Don Markstein (Bucky Bug, Comics Revue).
Also unlike a majority of recently defunct cartoons, Eek! the Cat retains a following of enthusiastic fans, who cite appealing characters, bizarre situations, and outrageous humor among the reasons for their continued interest. Eek! the Cat will undoubtedly be seen again; and when it is, it will have a ready-made audience.