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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 8
Mickey Rat 1 _ Mickey Rat 2 _ Mickey Rat 3 _ Mickey Rat 4
Mickey Rat #1
Mickey Rat #2 Mickey Rat #3 Mickey Rat #4
Mickey Rat

1972-1982 / Los Angeles Comic Book - Kitchen Sink - Last Gasp

He started as a t-shirt design. Nothing but a crude rip-off of Mickey Mouse, not so close in design to Disney's character that he'd get in trouble, but close enough to be obvious. His name was Mickey Rat.

The Mickey Rat t-shirt sold a lot of cotton at the dawn of the '70s. Sales were so good that when Chester Crill, member of the psychedelic rock band Kaleidoscope, suggested to rat creator Robert Armstrong that Mickey Rat would be great in a comic strip, the idea was instantly embraced. And so in 1971, Mickey Rat appeared in L.A. Comix #1, in a seven-page story appropriately titled "The King of Rotten Stuff."

The persona of Mickey Rat fit perfectly with his appearance: rough at the edges and leering at objects of his desire through a stubborn hangover. In 1972, L.A. Comic Book Company featured Mickey in his own comic book, which apparently failed to sell out. But Denis Kitchen at Kitchen Sink believed in the uncouth rat and published the second issue in the series. Both issues featured stories written by Crill, but he was not impressed by the financial rewards of comic book publishing and soon stopped writing for them. After the second issue there was an eight-year gap between issues before Armstrong ended up with Last Gasp, which published the final two issues of the series in 1980 and 1982.

By those last two issues Mickey Rat's exploits were even more reprehensible than before, as he added pedophilia to his arsenal of lewdness. Mickey is usually hung-over, on drugs or otherwise incapacitated and lost in his own world. For someone who never seems to get much done he manages to sustain quite a superiority complex, always conveyed with a wickedly rude sense of humor. He is crass, raunchy, and tacky; capable of performing any act of filth. His mind is seemingly always on one track and incapable of growth or sustained comtemplation. Mickey Rat seems entirely unmotivated to accomplish anything but chase down his next piece of ass or a decent-size roach.

Mickey Rat's appeal still endures some 40 years after his inception and his book remain popular among underground enthusiasts, though he has now come full circle and appears mostly on t-shirts. Of course, today he has more of an excuse to exist than just ripping off Mickey Mouse. He's a nostalgia item in his own right, who once had his own comic book.