t-b: Flop, Flippity, Sam.


Original Medium: Theatrical cartoons
Released by: Columbia Pictures
First Appeared: 1945
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In the classic era of theatrical animation, not all studios were producing classics. Whereas Disney had Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Warner Bros. had Bugs Bunny and …

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Porky Pig, and MGM had Tom & Jerry and Droopy, Charles Mintz's Screen Gems Studio (which released its cartoons through Columbia Pictures) had very little besides a kid named Scrappy and a few newspaper comic licenses like Barney Google and Li'l Abner. Its most enduring characters, The Fox & the Crow, owed their longevity to comic book adaptations, not the original cartoons. Even Terrytoons, with Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle, outshone Mintz's operation.

So it's a little surprising that Mintz, not Warner, was the first to make a series about a cat and a canary. Warner's Tweety Bird did appear as early as 1942, but it was five years before Tweety met his favorite adversary, Sylvester Pussycat. Meanwhile, Mintz's Dog, Cat & Canary, in which all the elements of the brief series were in place, came out January 5, 1945. The director was Howard Swift, who also directed two of the three subsequent releases in the series. The director of the remaining one was Bob Wickersham.

The cat's name was Flop and the canary's was Flippy. Unlike Tweety, Flippy wasn't clever and ruthless enough to fend off Flop's advances, but had to rely on a powerful protector, Sam, the household dog. The last of the four cartoons about Flippy, Flop and Sam, Big House Blues, was released March 6, 1947. Only a lucky break kept them from being completely forgotten.

In 1945, Whitney Ellsworth of DC Comics decided what his company needed was licensed cartoon characters. Unfortunately, most of the desirable ones had been snapped up by Western Printing for Dell Comics and the Terrytoons were being published by Marvel, so Ellsworth wound up signing with Columbia. DC's Real Screen Comics #1, containing The Fox & the Crow, another minor pair called Tito & His Burrito, and this bunch, debuted with a cover date of Spring, 1945. Flippy's name was changed to something a little catchier, so in comic books, they became known as Flippity & Flop (with Sam, the only real hero, denied title credit).

The artwork, like that of the other Columbia/Screen Gem characters at DC, was handled by animator Jim Davis's studio. Davis's other credits include many of the Jiminy Cricket shorts made for TV during the 1950s (but they don't include Garfield, which was created by another Jim Davis). Aside from Real Screen Comics, his version of Flippity & Flop also appeared in a few later issues of Comic Cavalcade, which switched from superheroes (such as The Flash and Green Lantern) to funny animals (such as Nutsy Squirrel and The Dodo & the Frog) in 1948.

They also had their own title, starting with a cover date of January, 1952. It lasted 47 issues, ending November, 1960. By that time, Comic Cavalcade was long gone, leaving TV Screen Cartoons (as Real Screen had been renamed in 1959) their only remaining venue.

TV Screen Cartoons folded with #138 (February, 1962), and Flippity & Flop were gone for good.


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Text ©2005 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Columbia Pictures.