PIGGYMedium: Theatrical cartoons
Produced by: Warner Bros
First Appeared: 1931
Creator: Rudolph Ising
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In the early 1930s, it was the custom to design animated characters so they could pass for the medium's reigning superstar, Mickey Mouse (just as Mickey himself had been designed
to look like Felix the Cat). The most Mickey-like of them all was Warner Bros.' Foxy. In fact, so Mickey-like was he that Walt Disney himself, who had endured Cubby Bear, Bosko and all the rest with equanimity, personally asked Foxy creator Rudolph Ising to stop.
Ising, a former Disney employee, was willing to comply, but had two more Foxy cartoons already in the works. He got around that by creating a new character, if "creating" isn't too strong a word, who would look enough like Foxy to be easily inserted into the artwork as a replacement for the older one, but enough unlike him appear less of a direct plagiarism. The new guy was called Piggy, and the inevitable female version who served as his girlfriend was called Fluffy.
Piggy and Fluffy made their debut in You Don't Know What You're Doin', released October 21, 1931 as the fourth entry in the "Merrie Melodies" series. The Merrie Melodies were a counterpart to the Looney Tunes, which the earliest Warner Bros. cartoons had been called. Their function was to double the studio's output while avoiding over-exposing Bosko, the Looney Tunes star. (Both series names were imitations of Disney's Silly Symphonies.) This cartoon explored the common theme of having the characters put on a neighborhood variety show, if "explored" isn't too strong a word.
The second of the Piggy cartoons that started out featuring Foxy was Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land, released on the 28th day of the following month. In this one, Piggy is cast as a riverboat captain. It's very rarely seen these days, not only because it (like the first) was made in black and white, but also because of its racial stereotypes.
But after the Foxy cartoons were both converted, it was decided to stop using continuing characters in the Merrie Melodies on a regular basis. Goopy Geer was introduced a few months later, but his tenure was brief, and the Merrie Melodies went back to eschewing series characters until the 1937 introduction of Egghead.