The Cartoon Kit

Anything worth doing is worth doing meta. And Tom and Jerry is no exception.

I've been trying to learn a bit more about the various eras of the Tom and Jerry cartoon, from the mega-racist Hanna-Barbera originals to the extremely stylized Chuck Jones episodes.

Somewhere in the middle are the truly odd Gene Deitch-directed Tom and Jerry cartoons, where Deitch criticized the violence and monotony of the cartoons using the cartoons themselves.

This self-critique reached its apotheosis with The Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit from 1962. In it, Deitch spells out the formula for a rote cartoon while deconstructing it. I'd only ever seen this once as a kid, on TV at a friend's house, but it left an impression as if I'd seen it in a full-size theater during its original presetnation.

Here, see it for yourself. It's less than 7 minutes of your time, and has aged surprisingly well.