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Mickey Mouse celebrates Cat Day

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Mickey Mouse celebrates Cat Day

Malachi is not Pluto. He is not just a “non-speaking” animal in a world, the Disney one, in which the others are all (or almost all) anthropomorphic. It’s different, also because it’s a cat, not a dog. It was created (its original name is Tabby) in 1964, sixty years ago, by the brilliant Jack Kinney (lyrics) and Hal Hubbard, also authors of Paperoga, Donald Duck’s slightly weird and very alternative cousin.

If Pluto is Mickey Mouse’s faithful and affectionate dog, Malachi, as a good feline, does not have a real “master”: in recent decades he has been housed, alternating between them, partly by Donald Duck and partly by Paperoga (from the latter especially in the stories created in Brazil) and his thoughts, unlike Pluto, are known: he would like tranquility, but the crazy ducks who host him rarely leave him in peace.

Malachi is the protagonist of the TopoLibro (same format, but hardback) attached to Mickey Mouse (but can also be purchased separately at comic shops) on newsstands from 14 February, entitled ‹‹The cats told by Mickey Mouse››: with the preface by Licia Colò, it celebrates the Cat Day (or Festival), the 17th, collecting a series of recent stories featuring the cute feline.

In 2020, the weekly magazine (published by Panini Comics since 2013) began the series of short stories ‹‹Miao – Cronache Feline›› which sees him as the absolute protagonist, and about fifteen adventures are published in the volume, all drawn by Enrico Faccini (of some also signs the screenplay, others are written by Giorgio Salati, Roberto Gagnor and Pietro B-Zemelo). We see Malachi, who has returned to stay with Donald Duck, clash with Fluffy, the biggest cat in the neighborhood, be annoyed by the unbearable (although well-disposed) dog Sissy, end up by chance in the warehouse of the very rich Uncle Scrooge and save his Number One (the first dime he earned) from the witch Amelia, or dealing with the (dreaded) vet or with Chip and Dale, the squirrels who (as in the stories of the Sixties) have returned to live inside a tree in Donald Duck’s garden.

Stories in which Faccini’s graphic creativity is unleashed, even breaking the classic table cage (the page of a comic book) of six cartoons in three strips, with full-page images or with cut-out cartoons, especially when he visualizes the cat’s dreams (sometimes pharaoh, sometimes film noir character) or when he is hypnotized and finds himself in a surreal world..

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‹‹Malachi is the ideal cat – says Faccini. – A discreet presence, but one that speaks volumes about everything that happens around him. About him, he would be very peaceful: above all else he longs for tranquility (which automatically puts him in crisis every time Paperoga appears), tranquility which (alas for him but good for us readers) is always very precarious ››.

Like many artists, Faccini feels a bit “cat-like”. ‹‹In a previous life I must have been a cat – he continues – I am shy, individualistic, a bit lazy and a dreamer. But if I put something in my head it’s difficult to take it away, a bit like Sylvester the cat when he chases the mischievous canary Tweety. I had a wonderful, very long-lived kitten (19 years old), of whom I have very fond memories. At the moment I would be tempted to get a cat, but I don’t do it out of respect for the animal. Even though she has the reputation of being more independent than a dog, I remember how my cat suffered when left alone for hours, and as the family is not always present at home I don’t want to repeat this. But there is always the possibility that he will change his mind››.

The great screenwriter and comics scholar Alfredo Castelli, who unfortunately died last February 7, was also linked to cats. Creator of Martin Mystère in 1982, the scholar and archaeologist expert in “mysteries” such as Atlantis and UFOs was also a Disney author (his 1977 story ‹‹Mickey Mouse and the Bermuda Triangle››, drawn by the great Massimo De Vita, it was a sort of dress rehearsal for Martin Mystère) and in 2018 an author of Casty’s caliber wrote and drew the parody Topin Mystère for Mickey Mouse.

Among the bookstore volumes that reprint the adventures of the character published by Bonelli there is ‹‹The cat who used the computer and other stories of impossible animals››, which collects past adventures of the character with animal protagonists.

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‹‹Cats are incredible animals – says Martin Mystère in one of the stories. – I’m not surprised that in the past they thought they were linked to the supernatural world. They seem to possess a different intelligence, sometimes even alien››.

Malachi would certainly agree.

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