With the Orson Welles’ panic broadcast of 1938 proving such a seismic event in the annals of radio history, it hardly seems surprising that references to it have cropped up in other productions, the earliest of which seems to be a Porky The Pig cartoon by the renowned animator Robert “Bob” Clampett. Made in 1946, Kitty Kornered is widely held to be one of Clampett’s finest cartoons, a freewheeling and anarchic flow of wacky ideas that pits Porky against a gang of fractious felines who are determined to stay in the warn on a cold winters night.
There is no plot as such. Porky is trying to put his four cats out for the night, including one with a striking resemblance to Sylvester the cat, but they are not keen on spending a night in the snow, so battle Porky for control of the house. There follows a series of ever more outrageous confrontations, with Clampett’s trademark irreverence much to the fore. Clampett was renowned for his almost surrealist style, which was heavily influenced by Salvador Dali, and here his characters routinely twist and bend into outlandish shapes and inanimate objects blithely defy the laws of physics. In the midst of all this craziness, the cats hatch a plan to oust Porky from his house once and for all, by dressing up as Martians and pretending to broadcast a news story that Mars has invaded the Earth.
The cartoon is also significant as one of the last Bob Clampett worked on for Warner Brothers, and the first and only time he featured Sylvester the cat in one of his cartoons.
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It would be intriguing to learn what had prompted Clampett to feature his reference to The War of the Worlds in Kitty Kornered, but perhaps a clue comes from an earlier project that Clampett had worked on. In 1931 Clampett has approached the author of the John Carter Of Mars books, Edgar Rice Burroughs, for permission to attempt a groundbreaking series of cartoon shorts based upon his Martian stories. Clampett received an enthusiastic reception and together with Burroughs son Jack, worked for a number of years to bring the idea to fruition. They got close, producing much material including a superb test reel, but alas the project was sunk by a nervous studio. Perhaps then Kitty Kornered was an oblique nod to that earlier Martian experience.