The Little Prince and the Tiger Cat – Mischa Damjan & Ralph Steadman

Some more cute cat illustration.  This time its from “The Little Prince and the Tiger Cat” written by Mischa Damjan and illustrated by Ralph Steadman.


This is rather a change for “gonzo artist” Ralph Steaman, better known for his work with Hunter S Thompson, producing images like this:


The story is set many years ago in Japan, when the Japanese first came into contact with cats.  They had heard that cats were very good at getting rid of mice, but were not clear on how this worked.  There were not many cats in Japan, and they were precious.  That meant their owners always kept them on leash:


They thought that the cats got rid of mice by a sort of mysterious magic – that it was enough to have a cat in the house for all the mice to disappear.


This belief in the cat’s anti mouse magic was so strong that they even made “scare-cats” out of cloth and straw:

The mice, of course, found this very amusing and had a great deal of fun at the expense of both the scare-cats and the real, leashed ones.


The Emperor of Japan also got a kitten.  His son, the little prince, was charmed with the kitten but was never able to play with him properly.  The kitten was unhappy because he was always on leash.  And who can play properly on the end of a leash?


Time passed, and winter turned into spring – and there were more mice than ever in Japan.  This image of Japan in springtime reminds me of some of Emile Nolde’s paintings:


Luckily for the Japanese cats,  the little prince’s mother lost her pearl earring, and a mouse got hold of it.  The sight of the mouse boldly rolling the pearl across the throne room floor was too much for the little kitten – leash or no leash.


So at last, the Emperor got a first hand look at the famous “anti-mouse” magic of cats – and saw that it would work better without the leash:


A proclamation was sent out that all cats were to be unleashed – to the joy of the little prince, who could play with the kitten to his heart’s content.

A little bit about the author: Mischa Damjan is  Yuguslavian  – you can see another of his books here, illustrated by Dussan Kallay.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Victoria
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:16:54

    I stumbled accross your blog while Googling Stepan Zavrel and I can’t believe how similar our tastes are in illustrators(Charles Keeping, Dusan Kallay, John Burningham). I always thought Ralph Steadman did more “grown-up” art, so I’m pleasantly surprised to see this other side. I love cats and his illustrations here are so great. I’m off to buy it on Abebooks. Thanks for sharing.

  2. mashadutoit
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 08:49:08

    Hi Victoria- I’m so glad! I haven’t looked, but I wonder if he did any other similar children’s book illustrations. He seems to like cats, at any rate 🙂

  3. Victoria
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:42:44

    I found two other Ralph Steadman kids books: “Emergency Mouse” by Bernard Stone and “Two Cats in America” another cat title by Mischa Damjan. There’s a lot of affordable copies of “Emergency Mouse” on ABE but “Two Cats in America” is going for some hefty sums. Not sure why.

  4. mashadutoit
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 18:01:27

    Those sound like fun. I’ll have a look. Thanks!

  5. Victoria
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 19:38:54

    I found another two, again both by Mischa Damjan:
    “False Flamingoes” and “Big Squirrel and the Little Rhinocerous”. You just have to be careful when searching, because both these titles were later redone by different illustrators.

  6. mashadutoit
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 19:57:42

    I like the look of the “big squirrel” 🙂

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