Most of these wonderful strips are largely forgotten today, and many are quite wonderful… examples of some of my favorite header strips are featured… Otto Messmer’s Laura (a header of Felix… which they have attributed mistakenly, although understandably, to Felix credit-stealer Pat Sullivan) and Segar’s Sappo (a header of Thimble Theatre) notably. Cliff Sterrett, Billy DeBeck, Rube Goldberg and many other greats are featured as well. There are no examples of Sterrett’s wonderful silent Dot and Dash topper, unfortunately (another of my favorites), but multiple examples of his variously titled marriage-lament topper strips (all headers of Polly and Her Pals).
TODAY’S FEATURED ITEM:Golden Age Comic Book Stories brings us 60 pages of the 176 page King Features Syndicate 1949 promotional booklet Famous Artists and Writers, featuring bios and rare art from their many fantastic artists at the time. Interesting to see that Otto Messmer was getting full (and proper) credit for Felix the Cat… I had previously been under the impression he had been anonymous for his whole career as creator and primary artist of Felix the Cat (in animation, comic strips and comic books!), with the sinister Pat Sullivan stealing the credit. Mickey Mouse is, however, (unsurprisingly) still credited to Walt Disney instead of the brilliant Floyd Gottfredson. Disney’s personal lack of artistic skill must have led to an awful lot of awkward situations, I imagine. What a phony. Part one here, part two here.
TODAY’S FEATURED ITEM: More amazing classic newspaper pages posted today at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive, courtesy of their MARC DECKTER CHALLENGE… Messmer, DeBeck, Sterrett, Gross and more! Click the image above to go there!
One of our most steadfast supporters is Marc Deckter. Marc is allowing us to digitize hundreds and hundreds of rare 1930s Sunday pages from his extensive collection. Last year, Marc issued a challenge to readers of this blog. Today, he is challenging you to help again.
Contribute $20 to the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive through the PayPal link below, and Marc will provide us with a vintage Sunday page to publish here on the website. Donate $50 and he will share three of them… donate $100 and he will allow us to post eight pages. Purchase one of these hard drives and have it shipped to the Archive, and Marc will post FORTY rare Sunday pages! Marc has classic Otto Messmer Felix the Cat, Chic Young’s Blondie, Cliff Sterrett’s Polly and Her Pals, Milt Gross Sunday and other great pages ready to go. All you have to do to see them is contribute. As the total rises, Marc is prepared to throw in some extra treats, like he did last year. When you contribute, everyone benefits.
They have already posted a huge number of great strips from this promotion… please do give them money! Click the above image to go see some great comics!
Tom Spurgeon points us to this amazing golden age comics download site at goldenagecomics.co.uk Im pretty sure I’ve linked there before, but this is the first time I have explored it in detail… they have a ton of amazing public domain golden age books for free. What a resource!
Note that you will need to create and account to download the comics. Note also that they take down comics if they come to believe they are not in the public domain… many of the Dell comics listed are no longer available for this reason… there is no EC or DC, among other notable omissions.
No matter, they have an utter overload of amazing stuff… don’t miss this site!
Among his usual heap of great stuff he is posting daily on his blogs, John Adcock brings us the full version of the previously truncated Frederick Opper Katzenjammer strip I linked to the other day. Click the above image to see it.
Finally, two more great lists from our friends at another overwhelming site full of old comics, Barnacle Press:
Another unbelievably great selection of new old comics on the web. As has been the case recently, it is hard to pick one to feature… Jack Cole, Frank Frazetta funny animals, comics by Tad, a whole Milt Gross book (!!!) and much more great stuff can be found below. I’ve chosen to feature Otto Messmer’s Felix the Cat. Messmer is another one of the greats of childrens’ comics. He has a beautifully simple style, and I love the way his stories unwind. Although widely acclaimed, Messmer still seems pretty underrated to me, and is really in need of more reprinting (Fantagraphics did do a great reprint of some of his newspaper strips a while ago called Nine Lives to Live: A Classic Felix Celebration). I think his Felix comics could sell like crazy if some good publisher packaged them well and marketed them to children. Click on the image below to read a Felix comic at Comicrazys.
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.