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Gene Deitch Jazz Comics Collected in Book

In the 1940s there existed a magazine called The Record Changer. Its pages were filled with essays on jazz that ranged in tone from fanatical to scholarly, much like the jazz magazines of today. From 1945 to 1951, most Record Changer covers were graced with a drawing by Gene Deitch, a jazz fan who later found fame in the animation industry. Deitch’s covers were subtly humorous images geared toward the jazz geeks of his day: an inking of a bassist in the rain covering his instrument with his topcoat, or a drawing of a church janitor improvising on his employer’s pipe organ, done up in a dramatic, bird’s-eye perspective. Deitch also created a jazz comic called “The Cat” that appeared regularly in the Changer and poked fun at the neuroses of obsessive record collectors. In one installment of the comic, the Cat (pictured) stands before a 78 rpm disc locked in a glass display case and tells a friend: “Here it is. My original ‘Happy Brass Deceivers.’ I can hardly wait for the reissue to come out so I can hear what it sounds like!” Sound familiar?

Funny as hell, Deitch’s “Cat” was, and every comic printed in The Record Changer will be included in Fantagraphics Books forthcoming coffee-table volume The Cat On a Hot Thin Groove. The book will also include reproductions of all the Deitch Changer covers, in color, and commentary written by the artist. But alas, just like the Cat had to wait for his Happy Brass Deceivers reissue, you’ll have to wait for the Deitch book, as it will not be published until April of next year. Until then, check out fantagraphics.com for other music-related titles they’ve produced and if you just can’t wait to bust a gut over more of the Cat’s antics, visit www.2multiples.com/hotdance/catcovr.htm.

Originally Published