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Inki hunting in Caveman Inki
|First appearance||The Little Lion Hunter (1939)|
|Created by||Chuck Jones|
The character's pickaninny look was designed by Disney veteran Charlie Thorson. The plot of the cartoon focuses on little Inki out hunting, oblivious to the fact that he himself is being hunted by a hungry lion. As such, it is very similar to "Little Hiawatha", a Silly Symphonies cartoon Thorson had worked on in 1937. Technically, he was originally created for the Merrie Melodies series, as all his cartoons until Caveman Inki were issued as part of that series (thus he is one of the few characters to initially be exclusive to the Merrie Melodies series in the Leon Schlesinger era before the full conversion to color, alongside Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and his prototype Egghead, and Sniffles).
Also central to the series is a minimalist and expressionless mynah bird. The bird hops in time to Felix Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave Overture, utterly disregarding any obstacles or dangers. The mynah bird, shown as nearly almighty, appears randomly in the films, always intervening against the other characters. Occasionally, the bird's intervention benefits Inki by stopping Inki's pursuers. Inki then tries to thank the bird, but the latter ends up being disrespectful to Inki, too. He does not talk at all, and is droopy eyed almost all the time.
According to Chuck Jones, this series of cartoons were baffling to everyone, including himself. He had no understanding of what the bird was supposed to do other than walking around. But the film audiences loved the series. According to Terry Lindvall and Ben Fraser, Inki is an Everyman who encounters mysterious forces of life. He serves as a symbol of all humanity, "frustrated and rescued by the wonderfully inexplicable".
- The Little Lion Hunter (1939)
- Inki and the Lion (1941)
- Inki and the Minah Bird (1943)
- Inki at the Circus (1947)
- Caveman Inki (1950) Inki & Mynad Bird's Only Looney Tunes Series.
The mynah bird has had various cameos in later Warner Brothers works.
In 1990, the Tiny Toon Adventures episode titled Buster and the Wolverine featured a passing cameo by the mynah bird, who interrupts the wolverine as it had cornered Buster and friends.
Then, in 1994, episode titled Bad Mood Bobby from the Animaniacs segment Goodfeathers, features a cameo by the mynah bird. Bobby is having a bad day and sees the mynah bird caged in a pet shop. Squit and Pesto think they can cheer Bobby up by laughing at the mynah bird's ugliness. The Fingal's Cave Overture begins playing, the mynah bird lets himself out of his cage, kicks Bobby into a streetlight, then returns to his cage.
Also, in 1999, the The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries titled A Mynah Problem, Sylvester is seen trying to catch the mynah bird.
In the direct-to-video film Tweety's High Flying Adventure (2000), the mynah bird saved Tweety from the attacks of Pete Puma and Leo Lion by wrestling them, enabling Tweety to gather the big cats' paw prints.
The 1986 videotape "I Taw a Putty Tat" included The Little Lion Hunter, Inki and the Lion, and Inki at the Circus. Also, in 2004, the "Cartoon Craze" DVD included Inki and the Minah Bird.
- Cohen, Karl F. (2004), "Racism and Resistance:Stereotypes in Animation", Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0786420322
- Lindvall, Terry; Fraser, Ben (1998), "Darker Shades of Animation:African-American Images in the Warner Bros. Cartoon", in Sandler, Kevin S., Reading the Rabbit: Explorations in Warner Bros. Animation, Rutgers University Press, ISBN 978-0813525389
- Lindvall, Fraser (1998), p. 126-127