Who Were Itchy & Scratchy Modeled After?

There's something hauntingly familiar about Itchy & Scratchy. Mr. Groening attributes that cognizance to I&S being an amalgam of several old cartoons, most prominently "Tom and Jerry" and "Herman the Cat". We here at the Krusty the Clown homepage don't entirely agree with that...

Tom and JerryI mean, perhaps the first guess most people have is that Itchy & Scratchy have their roots in Tom & Jerry. Although cat and mouse violence partners are pretty common now, T&J were the ones who made it mainstream. John Rastad calls attention to the fact that both character sets can talk but rarely do and both are watched by little children (as opposed to being read in comic strip or book form). Douglas Hurd wants us to also note that Itchy starts with "I", the letter before "J" for Jerry. Scratchy starts with "S", the letter before "T" for Tom. Of course, we can't forget the tons of merchandise created for their popularity and the fact that both have been in movies at the box office. Tom and Jerry started out on the Bozo the Clown show (were on it for one month before Paramount bought the rights to them, see Krusty's Origin) and Itchy and Scratchy on Krusty's show...

Doug Buell has a different theory. Doug told us that he feels that "Kit n' Kaboodle" could be the source for I&S. "Kit n' Kaboodle" was a comic strip in National Lampoon (first appearing in the late 70's) in  which Kit (the cat) was repeatedly maimed by Kaboodle (the mouse). Kaboodle would, for example, tell Kit his cat toy was in the aquarium and when Kit reached in the tank, the Piranhas ate it to the bone. In another strip, Kaboodle dropped an anvil on Kit, and in thoroughly incapacitated state on the ground, Kit would utter, "Ouch, my spine!" The only difference between the two pairs was that Kit had more opportunities to retaliate then did Scratchy. Doug is adamant that when he was a National Lampoon reader, Kit & Kaboodle was the funniest comic strip anywhere. He wondered how long it would take before something like it came to television.

Part of the reason we aren't so ready to accept Matt Groening's quick response to the roots of I&S is the overwhelming evidence of the writer's familiarity with Nat Lamp. Harry Shearer was an editor/contributing editor at National Lampoon, along with John Hughes and Harold Ramis. Also, Krusty may have had his origins in the feature called "The Evil Clown Comics", again see Krusty's Origin. Another reason, Matt Groening went to college at a time when National Lampoon was the most popular magazine with college stoners and party goers alike. And we all know what an animal Mr. Groening was in his day...

Dank Rimski feels that Itchy and Scratchy are definitely lifted from Nat Lamp's Kit and Kaboodle. He tells us he has a few old Lampoon comics and Kaboodle could have been Scratchy's twin! Matt Crawford agrees, reminding us not to forget that Conan O'Brien was president of the Harvard Lampoon before joining the Simpsons crew.

Ed O'Rear recognizes another possible inspiration for I&S: "Herman and Katnip", a Harveytoon from the 40's or 50's. He saw one recently on Dutch TV and it was remarkably violent for its day (including slicing knives and sticks of dynamite in predictable places). Ed had assumed this was one of the cartoons satirized by "Kit and Kaboodle".

Ren and StimpyWe shouldn't forget Ren & Stimpy, at least according to Michael Hollmann. Remember, we can't rule out suggestions that postdate I&S, evidenced in part by the tenuous nature of all characters on the show (if you need further proof, compare Homer '90 to Homer '98). Both cartoons are not drawn that skillfully and in both series their violent behavior is disturbingly funny . Ren and Stimpy appear at least twice in The Simpsons TV-Series, once on screen (in place of I&S) and once when Abraham Simpson wins the award for the best cartoon script (Ren and Stimpy are the runner-ups). Hmm... Could be.

Michael suggests the names may have come from "The King Leonardo Show", a low-budget, early 60's cartoon. King Leonardo's arch enemies were named Biggie Rat and Itchy Brother (they were a rat and a mangy lion, respectively).

Mark has suggested that perhaps "Itchy and Scratchy" was modeled after Squeak the Mouse, the xxx-rated comic released in book form. The comic book featured violent interplay between two eerily similar characters to Itchy & Scratchy. This comic was imported to the United States from Italy and was originally banned by US Customs. The comic came out 1985-86, just one year before "The Simpsons" first appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show.

Dave Jester Hanauer has an interesting take on it all. Perhaps the core of Itchy and Scratchy is a demented stab at the Disney empire. He bases his theory on the episode in which we learn the beginnings of Itchy and Scratchy. Steamboat Itchy, Pinnitchio and Scratchtasia are just a few clever Disney parodies...

We want to hear your theory! Email it to us!!

the preceding was written by "Sideshow" Mike of the Krusty the Clown Homepage.
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