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‘Deitch’s legacy will remain alive through Tom and Jerry series’

Chennaiites, who mourn the death of Gene Deitch, the man behind the legendary animatedseries, share with us how people across generations could identify with the series

‘Deitch’s legacy will remain alive  through Tom and Jerry series’
(Left) Gene Deitch (Right) Tom and Jerry


The death of Gene Deitch, the Oscar-winning animator of Tom and Jerry, Popeye cartoons, was shocking news for comic lovers across the globe. Many took to social media to express their love for the animator who delivered some wonderful cartoons. For comic book illustrator Gaman Palem, Gene Deitch was his favourite animation director after Chuck Jones of the Tom and Jerry fame. “Gene Deitch’s take on slapstick comedy and taking the genre to new heights by adding the ‘innocent violence’ part into the otherwise mundane ‘cat chases mouse’ animated shorts was something extraordinary. The featuring of ‘innocent violence’ triggered much apprehension among peers and initially, there was a visible resistance. However, the audience loved them shorts and it resonated quite well with kids! I guess that was the visible addition the man has added into his craft. And of course, phrases like’ bam bam’ and ‘pow pow’ gained new heights,” says Gaman. He observes that there was also a visible influence of the Laurel and Hardy on Gene’s early career and that carried through into all the series directed by him.

“Slapstick comedy which defied physical barriers and gravitational forces was indeed created. He defied logic and created animated shorts with full of life and zest. High powerpacked energy bursts, the high octane chases, the emotions though Western, could be read on a scholarly Indian context (nava rasas) as well. Such was the greatness of Gene Deitch. He delivered a global franchise and took it to a greater level,” he points out.

Born in the 90s, artist Varshini Ramakrishnan is a huge fan of the cat and mouse series as the animation, the story, and the characters were really simple. “It is like a separate world of those two as there was hardly any human interference in it. There’s something that everyone could relate to in this series. It’s about a small creature that outsmarts the bigger creature, but usually, that isn’t considered the norm. You are always made to believe the bigger creature to be more powerful. Maybe, that’s why even the mild violence in this series looked comical in their own way,” shares Varshini.

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