In 1959, Western Publishing Company held the license to produce comics based on the properties of Walter Lantz, such as Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy, and Andy Panda. Western realized that they were paying a lot of money to Lantz for the rights to his characters, but they weren't getting as many different titles out of the arrangement as they would have liked. Western's execs instructed their senior editor, Chase Craig, to launch another comic book based on a Lantz property. He looked over the available characters and decided that none of them could sustain their own series.
Chase then spotted a press release from Walter Lantz Productions that indicated they were producing a cartoon short entitled "Space Mouse". He imagined a Buck Rogers style strip, starring a mouse in a space suit, and felt it would make a great comic. Chase called Lantz's office and had them send over a copy of the "Space Mouse" storyboard. It turned out that the cartoon was not what Chase had been expecting at all. It was merely the title of the first cartoon in an intended series, starring Earth-bound characters named Hickory, Dickory, and Doc. Believing that a sci-fi mouse was still a great idea, Chase got together with his writers and artists and began working on the comic book he had in mind.At that time, Dell Publishing paid Western to prepare and print the contents of their Dell Comics line, while Dell controlled the distribution. Throughout the years of their business arrangement, almost all of their comics featured licensed material. However, a small battle was going on between the two companies over the ownership of properties appearing in the non-licensed comics. Dell claimed to own them because they were financing the books. Western felt that these were creations of their employees, and thus belonged to them. As a result of these squabbles, there were periods when Western decided they would not create any new characters, and Space Mouse was conceived during one of those periods. Not wanting to find himself in the middle of an ownership fight, Chase decided to simply turn the concept over to Walter Lantz. After a few pages of the new strip were completed, Chase took them over to Lantz's office and asked for permission to publish the comic as a Lantz property. Lantz, who would own the copyright, of course agreed.
Following the publication of the initial issue, Four Color, Series II #1132, Walter Lantz produced a Space Mouse pilot entitled "The Secret Weapon". The short was directed by Alex Lovy and featured the voice of Johnny Coons as Space Mouse. It was released in theaters in 1960, and was later shown on television in 1963 as part of The Woody Woodpecker Show. Unfortunately, the character failed to graduate to a regular animated series. However, Space Mouse did continue to appear in a handful of Dell Comics from 1960 through 1962. Then, following a dispute about money, Dell and Western finally parted ways. Afterward, Western essentially kept the same comic book lines going, now financing the various series themselves, labeling their comics with Gold Key Comics logos. Gold Key continued publishing the adventures of Space Mouse at least into 1965.The introductory story of the Walter Lantz Space Mouse is "The Secret Weapon". Space Mouse lives on the planet Rodentia, but he prefers to spend his time flying around the galaxy in his Lunar Schooner. The planet is ruled by King Size, who lives in Camembert Castle, located in Miceapolis, the capital of Rodentia. One day, the king receives an urgent message from his secret operator on his super-private inter-cosmic radio. King Size informs his Secretary of Finance, Count de Penny, that he has been warned that the cats on the planet Felinia are planning to invade Rodentia. The king contacts Space Mouse for help. The hero dons a disguise, posing as a Siamese-type cat named Charlie Chin, and lands on the outskirts of Catolina, the capital of Felinia. He soon investigates the headquarters of the dreaded Meow Meows, the gang behind the planned invasion. Inside is Black Tom, the leader, with a beautiful but mysterious girl named Persian Pearl. Space Mouse poses as their waiter, and learns about a fleet of rocket ships at a secret base near the Catnip Works. When his disguise tears at the pants, he is discovered. As Black Tom attempts to capture Space Mouse, he is hit over the head with a chair by Persian Pearl, who then helps Space Mouse escape. She reveals that she is in reality a mouse, King Size's secret agent. Later, when Space Mouse is surrounded by Black Tom and his gang, the hero swallows a pill given to him by the king, which renders him invisible. He makes it to his ship, but has failed in his mission. He radios ahead to Rodentia to warn them that the cats are on their way. The mice go underground and the invading cats soon take over the city. The cats then surround the castle. Inside, King Size receives a call from Space Mouse on his super-private inter-cosmic radio. The hero tells the king that he is coming with his secret weapon. Space Mouse's ship lands and the cats race towards him. The hero whistles, and four ferocious dogs leap out, chasing the cats away. Space Mouse explains to the king that they are his canine friends from the Dog Star.
Other stories in this issue introduce the king's nephew Rodney and Police Chief Cheddar. Villains include the wolves of Sky Raiders, Inc. and the Vermin Brothers. Space Mouse also visits the planet Goofoffus, home of the laziest characters in the universe. Also depicted are Rodentia's Space Rangers.The plot of Space Mouse's theatrical debut, "The Secret Weapon", is virtually
identical to the initial comic book story of the same name. Minor differences between the two include the change of the Secretary of Finance's name from "Count de Penny" to "Count de Pennies" and the secret agent being given the official title of "Agent X".The animated Space Mouse next appeared in the 1964 Halloween episode of The Woody Woodpecker Show entitled "Spook-A-Nanny". In addition to Woody Woodpecker and Space Mouse, the Halloween party guests included Splinter & Knothead, Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, Smedley the dog, Buzz Buzzard, Wally Walrus, Homer Pigeon, and Sugarfoot the horse.
According to some sources, that wasn't the end of Space Mouse. In 1999, Fox TV aired The New Woody Woodpecker Show, using the traditional format of three segments featuring different characters. Woody's supporting segments starred Chilly Willy and, allegedly, Space Mouse.
List of Cartoons featuring Space Mouse:
- Space Mouse in "The Secret Weapon" is the only Space Mouse short. (Prod #SM-1, ??/??/1960) - Available on Woody Woodpecker and Friends, Vol. 1 (DVD; Columbia House, 01/01/2003?) and Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection, Vol. 2 Disc 2 (DVD; Universal, 04/15/2008)
- The Woody Woodpecker Show episode, "Spook-A-Nanny" (Prod #TC-3, 10/??/1964) - Available on Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection, Vol. 1 Disc 3 (DVD; Universal, 07/24/2007)
- A few sources online state that Space Mouse later appeared on The New Woody Woodpecker Show on Fox TV, which began airing in 1999, however no reliable sources could be located to verify that claim.
Space Mouse's modern appearance is very similar to John 117 "Master Chief" without a helmet and slightly different gloves
Space Mouse appeared in both in the new comics of woody Woodpecker and in Woody Woodpecker Racing
According to his appearance and his love for traveling around the universe it is hinted that he prefers both the Pulse Gun (later named the Link Gun) and the ASMD (later the Shock Rifle) both from Unreal Tournament over the Bio Rifle and the Flack Cannon
Miranda Panda • Poppa Panda • Baby-Face Mouse Charlie Chicken • Milo • Miss Meaney • Mr. Whippletree • Hickory, Dickory, and Doc • Dirty McNasty • Dapper Denver Dooley • Gabby Gator • Professor Dingledong • Hercules • Cuddles the Great Dane • Elmer the Great Dane • Punchy • Fatso the Bear • Homer Pigeon • Inspector Willoughby • Snuffy Skunk • Lil' Eightball • Maggie & Sam • The Bat • The Starvation • Maw & Paw • Fink Fox • Meany, Miny, and Moe • Nellie • Pepito Chickeeto • Peterkin • Pooch the Pup • Sam & Simian • Duffy Dog • Gooney the "Gooney Bird" Albatross • The Taxidermist • Maxie the Polar Bear • Smedley • Sugarfoot
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