Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Phenomenon of the Cartoon Nephew

In a strange ending to this cartoon, the stork delivers to Felix seven additional nieces and/or nephews.

My recent Felix the Cat fixation helped me detect a rule of thumb for certain male cartoon characters. They may have girlfriends and/or female relatives, but not wives. And they may have nephews and/or nieces, but not children:

character: Donald Duck
girlfriend: Daisy Duck
nephews: Huey, Dewey & Louie

character:Scooby-Doo
cousin: Scooby-Dee

sister:Ruby-Doo
mother of...
nephew:Scrappy Doo

character: Woody Woodpecker
girlfriend: Winnie Woodpecker
nephew: Knothead
niece: Splinter

character: Felix the Cat
girlfriend: Kitty Kat (nice pull, Felix!)
nephews: Inky & Dinky (sometimes Winky)

Why this rigidity? These characters were created under different studios (including Disney, Hanna-Barbera and Universal) at different times (from 1919 to 1969). I can understand why fans would find real-life stars more appealing as child-friendly but childless bachelors, but cartoon characters? Is this a case of anthropomorphization gone amok, or are these preferences more subtle expressions of the creators of these characters?

Winnie Woodpecker from Wonderful World of Animation; Felix cap from Strictly Fitteds

17 comments:

midnightdrive said...

Whenever my grandpa would take me out for ice cream at the local Thrifty store, I'd become his nephew too.

Unfortunately for him, missing front teeth and broken English got him no attention from the hotties working the ice cream counter.

Josh S. said...

What about Captain Caaaaaaaaaaaaveman...and son?

JBJ-1138 said...

heres another one that popped into my head with this new Cartoon Cousin phenomenon

http://images.nextnewnetworks.com/14814_large.gif

JBJ-1138 said...

http://images.nextnewnetworks.com/14814_large.gif

JBJ-1138 said...

plus these two kryptonian cousins

http://www.comicartcommunity.com/gallery/data/media/148/Superman__Kara_Zor-EL.jpg

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...

Is this thing supposed to be vertical, or is it just me?

Neeebs said...

You forgot about Condorito and his girlfriend, Yayita and his nephew, Cone (Pronounced, ("Co nay")

So it even works in latin american comics.

www.condorito.com

Mr. Customer said...

I always assumed that it was so they their inclusion in a particluar storline was optional. No need have to explain where the kids are while our hero is...

...On vacation
...rescuing the damsel in distress
...saving the world

However, the same circumstance often appears in feature animation, which doesn't quite follow.

Felix Pardalis said...

yeah, what Mr. Customer said. and if these kids (whom the creators are including for some variety) are going to be Donald's/Scooby's/Mighty Man's/etc actual children, there has to be an explanation of why the kids aren't always around their father, where's mom, stuff that kids back in the 60s and 70s would wonder.

rbnlaw said...

Main cartoon characters give up their genitalia in exchange for fame and top billing. Their background siblings are given bit parts and become horrible stage parents.

I thought everyone knew that.

Josh S. said...

Also, in the 90's, Goofy suddenly had a son named Max Goof, which is just about as a Poochie a name as anyone could possibly come up with.

'88 Dodgers Cresting A Hill said...

What about Fry-Prof. Farnsworth on Futurama? Now there's a cartoon uncle-nephew story that actually makes sense

Baseball Cynic said...

How come Winnie and Daisy already have the same last names as their boyfriends?

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...

Story on CBS Sports says Ron Artest is coming to the Lakers.

midnightdrive said...

@Cynic

It's a commonwealth kind of thing. Either that or the face that most animals are incestuous anyway.

Baseball Cynic said...

Thanks Midnightdrive. That explains a lot, maybe Too much....

Eric Karros said...

You know Scooby's got offspring scattered about, including some he's not even aware of.

But in all seriousness I totally agree with Mr Customer's reasoning.