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Craig Yoe’s FELIX THE CAT book

Craig Yoe’s latest book is a beautiful love letter to the comic book legacy of Otto Messmer/Joe Oriolo’s Felix The Cat. As usual, Yoe has produced an art book that is unto itself a thing of art, a 226 page celebration of Felix’s four-color career. Previously John Canemaker covered the animated films and David Gerstein collected selected Sunday newspaper strips. Here, Yoe focuses on the Dell/Toby/Harvey periodicals created by animators Messmer, Oriolo and Jim Tyer. The book itself is lavishly produced (which is standard for Yoe’s publications) starting with the classy black and white cover – a clever contrast to rainbow-hued Messmer end papers and content to come. It begins with a 35-page introductory text, liberally illustrated with original Messmer/Oriolo art, rare photographs and odd-ball historical material (my favorite is a 1925 Photoplay magazine spread featuring a Ziegfeld Girl teaching Felix the latest dance craze, The Black Bottom). And then the real fun begins: twelve choice Felix stories, originally created between 1946 and 1954.

The Felix comic stories were always quite “trippy” (to use the 60s expression), usually starting off normally then drifting into worlds of giants, oversized talking vegetables, robots, magic carpets and trips into space. The artwork is always imaginative and very cartoony. This is a wonderful tribute to a cartoon super-star’s most neglected – but still significant – work. As far as I’m concerned, Yoe’s Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails is another must-have.

  • Craig and Clizia have raised the bar when it comes to book production ! Their last year has produced some mighty fine tomes !!

  • This is such a great book!

  • Hey Jerry! I’m deeply grateful for the support you’re giving this Felix book as well as past great reviews of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics and The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story! It’s much appreciated and many animaniacs have told they found out about my books through Brew, thank you! Your quote, “This is a wonderful tribute to a cartoon super-star’s most neglected – but still significant – work.” Are we talking Otto Messmer or Felix here–or both?!? ;)

    • Yoe- I was referring to Felix. He’s a “cartoon super-star”. Messmer would be considered an “animator super-star”.

  • The Gee

    Felix the Cat was one of earliest and best inventions in cartoons. I’m definitely curious to see this book, and the other two, too.

    Is it fair to state that people who work on productions featuring Felix aren’t ashamed of the words Zany or Wacky?

    Anyways, congrats and thanks to Craig Yoe for yet again filling in the blanks.

  • i was reading an old comic book yesterday called “happy comics”. i commented to my wife that nobody today would publish a comic with such a preposterous title. or they would say “i mean ‘happy’ in an ironic way.”

    i’m so thrilled and proud to be producing books filled with zany, wacky and even…HAPPY comics. there, i said it!

  • Rooniman

    Craig Yoe, your my hero.

  • awwwww,thanks, but you’re ROONIMAN!

  • Felix comics are often zany and wacky—but that’s not to sound trivial. They’re zany as in madly inspired; wacky as in cheerfully outrageous. And on top of these external creative excesses, Felix is still a relatively realistic personality with genuine life, joy, imagination, and bristling angst. Great, isn’t he?

    Craig, Don—glad the book is out. Everyone else—go get one.

  • I’ll be curious to see whether Australian Pat Sullivan gets the credit he deserves in this book? By the looks of it I’d say he doesn’t.


    • Charlie Judkins

      Why would Sullivan get any credit? He’d been dead for years when these comics were drawn. It’s ludicrous enough that some people still hang on to the ancient notion that he created the character.

    • B. Gelman

      Wasn’t Sullivan a convicted rapist? Come on, “Creator of Felix” was clearly a title that he could get away with back then. It was business as usual. Just like Bud Fisher who was more busy with floozies and booze by the time Mutt and Jeff were animated to actually be involved with making the films. These kinds of grandeur titles were just part of the business and the attitudes of these imperialist producers. Get real, Australia!

      • What is wrong with these people? Why on earth is a convicted rapist the sort of man you want to be championing as a a national icon? Even if he did “create” Felix, he “created” him in America.

  • the Gee

    Yeah. I do agree with Jerry that Felix is a neglected work. Though that is odd to say, there is so much more which I am just finding out about nowadays. But, I’ve known of various forms of Felix since I was a kid.

    It hasn’t been til recent years that I realized just how “big” the character was over the decades.

    And, thanks for the back ups on Zany and Wacky. sometimes I believe folks cringe when hearing or reading those words as being associated with cartoons, in general. That’s a bummer. Every incarnation of Felix I’ve had the pleasure of seeing and reading plays with the absurd, emphasis on plays. It’s fun stuff.

  • Pat Sullivan ran a studio and probably partially animated some pre-Felix cats, but Messmer certainly formulated the Felix character as we know it to be. The movements to have Sullivan credited with more than that seem to be more nationalistic than fact based, and that is undoubtedly poor ethic when applied to researching history.

  • Nhicely put, Tom.

    The Sullivan link provided by Vixen Magazine considers average 1920s Sullivan interviews to be proof that he created the character. But period interviews where Sullivan took credit were a dime a dozen.
    Vixen also represents a daily strip as containing Messmer’s lettering when it’s actually from the period written, inked, and lettered by Jack Bogle.

    I hope to present some research soon that might define a little more carefully what Sullivan and Messmer were each responsible for. I’ve made some discoveries—in part due to certain films in the Stathes collection.

  • Mike Matei

    Shullivan whas a convicted rhapist. He was chonvicted for rhaping the letter “H”. Whatch out Dhave, we don’t whant to shee you end up in jhail for grhammer molhestation.

  • i talk about who’s behind felix very carefully in the book. i have my own opinions based on my research and actually am a bit sympathetic to pat making very important contributions to the creation of felix (NOT to his sex proclivities). he was a very talented cartoonist IMHO. both pat and otto, i think, were influenced by the great billy marriner–maybe pat even turned otto onto his work. i see the marriner style in felix. i’m quick to point out, otto is a genius, a brilliant, top pf the line incredible draftsman and super imaginative idea man. make no mistake, i’m a huge fan of the great otto messmer, and also the artists that worked with him like joe oriolo and jim tyer–hence the book! get it to learn more about the creation of felix (there’s nothing, i’m afraid, about anybody;s sex life)!

  • oh, but mostly get it because of the great comics, and because jerry proclaims “must have!”

  • Hear, hear!

    Certainly Pat’s dark sexual past is nothing to champion, but his input to Felix is definitely worth noting.

    Sorry, Craig- haven’t read your chunky, pretty tome so any thoughts on what’s in it is speculation on my part but damn pleased you’ve gone and done the hard yards to get all those strips printed! Love your work!