Wednesday, July 7, 2021

QUICK SHOTS: T.H.E. Cat - Dell Comics

"T.H.E. Cat" was a one-season wonder starring Robert Loggia in 1966. Loggia starred as Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat (get it?) a former high-wire acrobat/jewel thief turned bodyguard/crimefighter. The show was created Harry Julian Fink who later gave us Dirty Harry, so yeah give the dude a medal. T.H.E. is a bit of a odd duck, it's a 30-mintute B&W in the era of longer adventure series like "The Wild, Wild, West," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and "I Spy." It's more in the 50's style of adventure show like "Peter Gun" (actually it borrowed a good bit from Peter Gunn) with its shorter format and moody atmosphere. Still there are decidedly 60's touches i.e. a martial arts-using anti-hero, the James Bond-espionage flavor and the Barris-customized Corvette Stingray that's too cool for school. Sadly it's never going to officially released on home video, the original negatives have been lost to the sands of time, leaving only a few rough prints that are on YouTube (that's how I watched it) which is all sorts of terrible. It's a good companion series with "Honey West" which rides the same line of crime/spies/adventure it does. (Honey West plays in later in the story)

Being in prime "tie-in novel" time it's odd that "T.H.E. Cat" didn't receive at least one adaptation or original tie-in book. The character really would have lent himself to novels. Too bad Ace didn't pick up the license so it could share spinner racks with "It Takes a Thief" and "Man from U.N.C.L.E." novels. Thankfully Dell comics did step-up and release 4-issues of the further adventures of Cat.

Besides the first issue each comic contains two stories pretty much splitting the book down the middle. The entire run was written by Mickey Spillane's buddy Joe Gill and the art was handled by Jack Sparling and Tony Tallarico, who obviously had only a couple of images of Robert Loggia at their disposal. Sometimes it a fairly good likeness but a lot of the time it's generic-almost-Loggia-hero-type. I've read quite a bit of Joe Gill's comic work like "The Peacemaker," "Judo Master," "Sarge Steel" and "Vengeance Squad." The latter being a favorite, as the back-up feature is Nicolas Cutti and Joe Stanton's Michael Mauser, P.I. which is my favorite comic private eye. Gill is a really solid writer of comic high-adventure and tough guy antics. Throughout of the stories T.H.E. Cat is thrown up against Russian spies, mob bosses, and crime czars. Plus there's baddies with names like King Leer and Goliath Byrne. He saves his girlfriend Maria, like, a lot but also stops sabotage and murder attempts, recovers stolen paintings from dirty beatniks, breaks INTO prison and even does some mountaineering. Cat's swings around like Batman throughout most of the stories; Gill takes full advantage of Cat's acrobat background. Since you don't have to worry about things like stunt-men, physics and TV budgets in comics Cat's death-defying is much grander with wild stunts, helicopters, boat explosions, high-steel fights, etc. etc. Even if it's a much freer interpretation in terms of action, the comics capture the noir-ish-swashbuckling tone of the show very well. Each issue was cover-to-cover fun, if you like action comics without folks in silly costumes I think you'll enjoy them immensely. 

The comic really makes me yearn for a series of paperback originals staring T.H.E. Cat full of exotic locales and deadly villains. Maybe in some alternate dimension. We get get a Moonstone Comic team-up with Honey West which I need to get, they seem like a natural duo. There WAS a novel from Moonstone where Win Scott Eckert and Matthew Baugh partnered the pair up again, but it seems to be nearly impossible to track down. SIGH. 

1 comment:

  1. I have copies of the novel A Girl and Her Cat for sale. Email me at