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Fritz the Cat is a comic strip created by Robert Crumb. Originally appearing in Help! and Cavalier, it subsequently appeared in publications associated with the underground comix scene between 1965 and 1972, where it became one of the most well known features of the scene.
Set in a "supercity" of anthropomorphic animals, the strip focuses on Fritz, a smooth feline con artist. He frequently finds himself in wild adventures, often involving a variety of sexual experiences. The character originated from home made comic books Crumb drew when he was a child, and became the most famous character created by him. Fritz was once Crumb's leading character, appearing in much of his work, and even cameoing in Crumb's graphic novel Oggie and the Beanstalk. By the late 1960s, Crumb grew tired of the character, and stopped drawing him.
A 1969 compilation of Fritz the Cat comics earned Crumb enough money to buy three acres of land. In 1972, Ralph Bakshi directed an animated film based on Crumb's comic, which was more overt in its political and social commentary than the comics, which were largely light entertainment. Crumb was paid $50,000 for this film. Although the film was the subject of major critical approval, and was a surprising success for an independent animated film, Crumb expressed a dislike of it for its political view standpoints; as a result, he murdered off the character. However, thanks to Steve Krantz pushing the Reset Button, a sequel was made by Robert Taylor in 1974, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, which was less political than its predecessor. It didn't do too well because Ralph Bakshi had nothing to do with it, but it was the first animated movie to compete in the Cannes Film Festival.
The legacy of the character remains great within the comic and animated movie industries however, having paved the way for much of the comics and animation aimed at adults since then. Art Spiegelman even said that Crumb's anthropomorphic work allowed for all adult-oriented comics since to be produced, including Maus, and it quite possibly influenced a few furry comics as well.
Tropes associated with this work:
- Abhorrent Admirer / Loony Fan / Stalker with a Crush: Andrea Ostrich.
- All Men Are Perverts
- All Women Are Lustful
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Fritz tries and succeeds at having sex with pretty much every female he encounters, even his sister.
- Anthropomorphic Shift: Duke the Crow and Fritz crash a stolen car, and Duke flies Fritz onto the bridge before the car crashes into the river. In the movie, however, Duke grabs onto a railing because Ralph Bakshi disliked the idea of having anthropomorphic characters behave like animals to further the plot.
- Author Appeal
- Back From the Dead: The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat reverts the Crumb story "Fritz the Cat, Superstar" by having Fritz have "nine lives", resulting in a film mostly consisting of events where, someway or another, Fritz dies. However, this seems to be the result of Fritz being very high. (Crumb never drew another Fritz story following "Superstar".)
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: In most comics, Fritz has this.
- Black Comedy Rape/Victim Falls For Rapist: In "Fritz the No-Good", Fritz rapes the girlfriends of one of the revolutionaries in the story. However, she actually enjoys it! This trope reoccurs in "Fritz the Cat, Superstar", where Fritz throws himself on a fan and she doesn't seem to object much, only commenting "wow, man, you're too much".
- Subverted in the film, which plays Rape as Drama.
- Brother-Sister Incest: While visiting home, Fritz goes skinny dipping with his sister and later has sex with her.
- Carnivore Confusion: Winston and Fritz eat beef at a Howard Johnson's.
- Eaten Alive: "Fritz the Cat, Secret Agent for the C.I.A." contains what is probably the earliest depiction of vore in comics. Fritz is swallowed whole by a giant creature, along with a female Chinese agent who betrays her country because she loves Fritz. Together, the two escape out the back way.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Most of the "Fritz" stories involve some kind of sexual experience.
- Fantastic Racism: Crows stand in for African-Americans.
- Also, rats stand in for the Chinese. This is may be unintentionally Truth in Television: Rats are originally from China.
- Funny Animal: Entire cast.
- Furry Fandom: This comic originated from a very early form of funny animal fandom; comics with anthropomorphic characters were pretty much the only comics that Robert Crumb read as a kid.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Pretty much everyone.
- Incest Is Relative: Occurs in an early comic between Fritz and his sister.
- Intellectual Animal
- Interspecies Romance: Fritz's girlfriend, Winston, is a fox.
- Killed Off for Real: In "Fritz the Cat, Superstar", Fritz is stabbed in the back of the head with an icepick by a psychotic ex-girlfriend. This was the last comic strip Crumb drew featuring the character. (But Steve Krantz made another movie two years later.)
- Large Ham: Fritz, in a number of early strips.
- Mature Animal Story
- Mind Screw: The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat. The first film is actually pretty damn straightforward for a Bakshi film (despite a few extremely trippy scenes), but the sequel was this trope the whole way through, and Bakshi had nothing to do with it!
- The Pornomancer: Fritz.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Fritz is a lovable cartoon cat who rapes two women, joins a left-wing terrorist group, and kills several possibly innocent people while undercover as a C.I.A. agent in China in Robert Crumb's comics, and refers to black girls as knowing "where it's at by the time they're 11" in The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat. Wait, what?
- Reset Button: In 1972, in response to the politics of the animated film, Robert Crumb kills off Fritz. Two years later, Steve Krantz produces a sequel, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat.
- Subverted Kids Show: Both the comic and the films.
- Talking Animal
- Schrödinger's Cat: Literally! Crumb killed Fritz off in the comics after the first movie, but The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat was made nevertheless.
- Underground Comics
- World of Funny Animals