I’ve decided to start slowly making my way through the Otto Messmer’s Felix the Cat cartoons that have been posted online that I can find in the order they were released. Here is Felix’s first cartoon, Feline Follies, from 1919. Technically, it isn’t even a Felix cartoon… he is referred to as “Master Tom” in this one. I don’t know if Messmer had much experience animating before this, but it sure looks like he must have. His proficiency for showing character in his characters is already apparent… look at “Master Tom’s” vanity as he checks himself out in the mirror. It is often noted that Felix was the first cartoon character with a well-defined personality. His personality is definitely what made him the most popular animated cartoon character of the twenties.
Besides the wonderful Felix animated cartoons, Messmer was a fantastic comic strip and comic book cartoonist. The ASIFA Animation Archive recently had a generous post of Felix Sunday newspaper comics which can be seen here. If you dig these comics, you won’t want to miss the excellent reprint book that came out from Fantagraphics a number of years ago, Nine Lives to Live.
I wish someone would do a huge reprint series of Messmer’s comic book work like the great Little Lulu books from Dark Horse… I can’t think of a better comic book to read to my almost 2-year-old daughter.