"I invented the whole concept of cartoon violence. Before I came along, all cartoon animals did was play the ukulele. I changed all that." - Chester J. Lampwick, "The Day The Violence Died"
As revealed in The Simpsons
episode "The Day The Violence Died
", before Walt Disney
came up with Mickey Mouse
and Steamboat Willie
, Chester J. Lampwick (voiced by Kirk Douglas
) was making cartoons of his own. Creator of the timeless character Itchy the Lucky Mouse
, Lampwick spent much of his time and personal finances to create such animated shorts as Manhattan Madness
in which Itchy
runs afoul of an Irishman and beheads Theodore Roosevelt
. In 1919 Lampwick befriended a man who had his heart on creating his own cartoons, Roger Meyers
, but all the man could come up with were little stick figures that he called Manic Mailman
and so forth. In 1928 Meyers stole the Itchy
character from Lampwick, teamed him with a cat named Scratchy
, and produced Steamboat Itchy
Needless to say, Lampwick was furious. He sought out Meyers at the new Itchy and Scratchy Studios and demanded royalties from the use of his character. Meyers countered by throwing Lampwick out of the building and dropping an anvil on him (luckily Lampwick was carrying an umbrella at the time). His beloved Itchy and his own funds gone, Lampwick was reduced to living in the gutters of the Bumtown area of Springfield until 1996 when a young Itchy and Scratchy fan by the name of Bart Simpson crossed into Bumtown in pursuit of a parade honoring the cat and mouse duo's fiftieth anniversary.
Lampwick, now an old man, explained his role in creating Itchy and how Meyers refused to pay him royalties. At Bart's behest Lampwick met with the current president of Itchy and Scratchy Industries, Roger Meyers Jr., who also refused to pay royalties. With the aid of attorney Lionel Hutz and funding from Homer Simpson, Lampwick went to court against the animation studio, suing for the royalties he so richly deserved. Judge Snyder ruled that Meyers Sr. did, in fact, steal Itchy and the damages awarded to Lampwick put the studio out of business. With the millions of dollars he collected as a result of the lawsuit, Lampwick retired in style, moving into a solid gold house, eating liver and onions, driving a rocket car, and sitting on his front lawn in his shabby bum clothes while offering to shine people's shoes as they walked by. It would seem that some habits really are hard to break.
Incidentially, the animation studio went back into business thanks to a plan from fans Lester and Eliza. New cartoons continue to be produced and Lampwick still receives royalties.