Ever since their theatrical cartoon debut in 1940, no one can seem to get enough of Tom and Jerry. The cat and mouse, created by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera at MGM, have chased their way through decades of animated shorts, TV shows, comics, and feature films, and are still popular today.
This little 4-by-7 inch storybook from 1949 gives us not only some nice color and black and white illustrations, but a storyline based loosely on two theatrical cartoons. While only referred to as “the baby” here, the little orphan mouse is Nibbles (later named Tuffy), and the plot is taken from his first cartoon appearance The Milky Waif (1946). The book also uses some plot elements from Mouse Trouble (1944). The author and artist are unknown, but the publisher, Whitman, was a subsidiary of Western Publishing, which also published “Tom and Jerry” comic books under their Dell Comics banner.
Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera and their team of animators at MGM often experimented with adding new characters to keep the “Tom and Jerry” series fresh. Interestingly enough, the “Nibbles” character appeared in the comic books first, as early as 1942, serving as a sidekick for Jerry. That lead to his animated debut in 1946. A second cartoon appearance, The Little Orphan (1949) won an Academy Award, cementing the character as a regular in cartoons, comics, and merchandise like this book.
It should also be noted that unlike the largely pantomime humor of the cartoons, print adaptations of Tom and Jerry usually feature dialogue.
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