27. Ko-Ko’s Earth Control – Dave Fleischer

KoKo

SUMMARY: Koko and his dog Fitz stumble upon the control centre of the earth and end up bringing about the apocalypse.

WHY IT’S HERE: This superbly surreal and imaginative cartoon is yet further proof of how undervalued the Out of the Inkwell series is. In the year that Mickey Mouse debuted and made cinema history, the brilliant Koko shorts somehow got swept under the rug, with Koko gradually being reduced to Betty Boop’s sidekick and a footnote in animation history. ‘Ko-Ko’s Earth Control’ also stars an early incarnation of the Fleischer’s dog character Bimbo, at this stage called Fitz and designed slightly differently.

The plot of ‘Ko-Ko’s Earth Control’ is simple but brilliant. The end of the world is brought about when Fitz pulls a lever that clearly states it will cause the apocalypse. The rest of the cartoon sees Koko and Fitz helplessly flailing around as the world ends around them. This includes moments of virtuoso surrealist animation that predates Bob Clampett’s classic ‘Porky in Wackyland’ by a decade. There’s also a hint of Daffy Duck’s early personality in Fitz’s disturbing wilful destruction, 9 years before the duck’s debut, and the final live action scenes of Koko and Fitz stumbling around the animator’s drawing board and office as their world crumbles around them makes me think of the ending of Don Hertzfeld’s ‘Rejected’ some 72 years later. Not bad for a cartoon that has been largely and bewilderingly forgotten.

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