Cat and Mouse


Some time around 1960, shortly after marrying Jane, Jim Henson got a Bolex 16 mm movie camera, which had a side release button and allowed him to immerse himself in artistic pursuits other than puppetry, including the short animated film above, which he referred to as an “animated painting”. In addition to being the ancestor to a lot of the short animated films he would make for the early days of Sesame Street, it’s just a really nifty example of how crafty and ingenious Jim was. With just a few simple, extremely abstract drawings and what seems to be pieces of cloth or paper, working out of his home, he was able to create a fun, jazzy little piece that is experimental, funny, and even has a bit of a mysterious edge. At about 70 seconds, this is practically long-form compared to his 8-second-long Wilkins and Wontkins ads, and shows similar macabre humor, as well as some very clever use of subtle visual gags. I particularly love the footprints and the cat salivating.


I decided to post it here to demonstrate another side to his art that most people today probably aren’t aware of. As I mentioned before, Jim initially considered himself an artist and designer rather than a puppeteer, and that impulse remained throughout his life, even once the Muppets became central in his career.


Speaking of which, check back a little later today for Part 1 of my coverage of his first Muppet show, Sam and Friends!

« »