It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! No, it’s… Supercat?!?
Sometimes the Silver Age of superhero comic books, specifically the various series published by DC Comics, is considered by contemporary readers to be too silly. Of course, in the last quarter century the pendulum has swung much too far in the opposite direction, with both DC and Marvel taking everything way too seriously. They’re often afraid to have any sense of fun about their stories. I really think you need to have a balance between those two extremes. Anyone who follows my blog has no doubt noticed that I have very diverse interests, and my tastes run, as the saying goes, from the ridiculous to the sublime.
And so, even though there was a great deal of nonsense to DC’s books in the 1950s and 60s, I think there is quite a bit that’s fun & charming about those comics. That includes Streaky the Supercat.
Making his debut in Action Comics #261 (Feb 1960), Streaky was designed by artist Jim Mooney, who in later years would say the character was one of his favorites. Streaky was one of the only non-Kryptonian members of the “Superman Family” (there was also Comet the Super-Horse, but he’s much too weird to get into right now). An ordinary Earth cat, Streaky was the pet of Supergirl in her civilian guise as Linda Lee. In a failed attempt to find a cure for Kyrptonite, Supergirl accidentally created “X-Kryptonite.” She carelessly tossed it away, but when Streaky later came across it, the substance imbued him with Superman-like powers.
Here’s a page from “The Battle of the Super-Pets,” which originally appeared in Action Comics #277 (June 1961). Streaky, jealous of the attention that Supergirl is giving to Krypto the Superdog, begins a rivalry with the Kryptonian canine. To avoid the inevitable property damage, Supergirl takes them off-world to resume their contest on a small planetoid. You can see from the artwork that Mooney really invested Streaky with a great deal of personality. As someone who loved cats, he must have known all about feline “cattitude.” (I scanned this from a reprint of the story that ran in the somewhat more affordable and easy to locate Action Comics #373, a giant-sized special which collected together several earlier Supergirl tales).
Although Streaky was never a major fixture of the “mainstream” DC titles, he eventually went on to make appearances in stories that were, appropriately enough, geared towards a younger audience. Streaky was one of the main characters in the Krypto the Superdog animated series which ran from March 2005 to December 2006. Streaky has also popped up in the Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures comics by Art Baltazar & Franco Aureliani.
It was probably inevitable after Michele and I adopted our two cats Nettie and Squeaky that I would become a fan of fictional felines. And that includes Streaky the Supercat. Although not a major theme for me like Beautiful Dreamer, I have obtained a few sketches of the heroic housecat.
Scott Cohn is a versatile artist who has worked on such comic books as Army of Darkness, Ben 10, Justice League Unlimited and Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He has also done licensing artwork for various properties, including the Krypto the Superdog series. So I asked him to do a sketch of the animated version of Streaky. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to get some other sketches by Cohn. He does nice work.
Independent creator Alisa Harris has self-published several comic books. One of these, Counter Attack, is a whimsical look at the antics of her cats Fidget and Moe. Harris recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the hardcover publication of The Collected Counter Attack! I’m looking forward to receiving a copy in the mail later this year. Harris has drawn a couple of cat sketches for me, including this cute Streaky.
When I met Franco Aureliani at the 2013 New York Comic Con, of course I had to ask for a drawing of Streaky. I requested that he draw “Streaky vs. Darkseid,” because the lord of Apokolips is a frequent fixture of Tiny Titans as the evil lunch lady. Franco knows his cats very well, because faced by Darkseid’s menace Streaky simply can’t be bothered and decides to take a nap.
Last but certainly not least is my girlfriend, the beautiful and talented Michele Witchipoo. I was friends with Michele for several years before we started dating. During that time, she began self-publishing two comic book series: Psycho Bunny features the misadventures of an antisocial alcoholic rabbit living in Astoria, Queens, and Babalon Babes is a collection of sexy pin-up girl illustrations. Over the past decade Michele has really developed as an artist. She is constantly creating better and better work.
Michele has loved cats since she was a little girl, and grew up with them. When I first told her about Streaky the Supercat in 2009, she did this charming drawing of the Silver Age version of the character for herself.
A couple of days ago, I mentioned to Michele that I was going to do a blog post about Streaky. She insisted that she wanted to do a brand new illustration of him in my convention sketchbook. Michele decided to draw the animated version of Streaky this time. And here he is, attempting very much to look like the Cat of Steel. Michele definitely captured Streaky’s personality in this piece. The “super tuna” was certainly a cute touch.
Perhaps I’ll get other Supercat sketches in the future. I have to see which artists I run into at conventions. I just hope that Nettie and Squeaky don’t mind. They tend to get jealous, but that’s cats for you!