The Two Mouseketeers from a comic book cover.


Original Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: MGM
First Appeared: 1952
Creators: Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera
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MGM's Tom & Jerry series, directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, was wildly popular from the beginning — and critically acclaimed, as well, winning more Academy …

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…Awards than any other cartoon series in history except Silly Symphonies, which didn't feature regular characters.

But it was also more formula-driven than most cartoon series, and therefore harder to keep fresh — especially with a new one coming out every month or so. After a dozen years, Hanna and Barbera were glad to seize on an occasional variation to the well-worn theme.

Two Mouseketeers, released March 15, 1952, made a big hit with audiences, as well as bringing the directors their sixth Oscar. Therefore, its basic premise was repeated — not to the point where viewers became as familiar with it as with the supporting characters Little Quacker or Spike & Tyke, but it was seen again … and again … Others in the series included Touché Pussycat (1954) and Royal Cat Nap (1958). There would undoubtedly have been more, but the series-within-a-series was interrupted by the closure of MGM's cartoon studio.

The schtick was to dress the characters as Musketeers, and set them in a 16th century French castle. Their relationship remained the same as always, Tom endlessly chasing Jerry, but with swords thrown in to liven it up. The second "Mouseketeer" was Jerry's diaper-wearing friend, introduced in The Milky Waif (1946) as Little Nibbles, but more frequently (especially in comic books) called Tuffy.

Dell Comics produced a sequel to the cartoon even before MGM did. The Two Mouseketeers starred in the 475th issue of Four Color Comics (Dell's catch-all title that featured everything from Turok, Son of Stone to Popeye), dated June, 1953. They returned in #s 603 (November, 1954) and 642 (July, 1955).

In 1956, possibly in response to complaints from Disney (whose Mickey Mouse Club, replete with regular performers called "Mouseketeers", debuted in 1955), the word "Mousketeers" was dropped from the title. However, under the name Mouse Musketeers, it continued in several more issues of Four Color, then moved out into its own title. There, it ran until 1960, 24 issues in all. (DC Comics' The Three Mouseketeers also ran during that time frame — but then, DC may not have been as sensitive to complaints from Disney as Dell, which published the Disney characters in comic book form.)

Since "The Two Mouseketeers" wasn't an actual cartoon series, it tends to be mentioned only in passing in most histories of the medium. Nor did the comic book version make a very big splash. But the Mouseketeers starred in more cartoons than Elmer Fudd (who was almost exclusively a supporting character), and the comic book series lasted longer than those of Gerald McBoing-Boing, Tom Terrific and Speedy Gonzales all put together. So how minor could it have been?


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