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100-Year-Old Felix the Cat

Although there were earlier cats animated by the Pat Sullivan Studios, it is generally agreed that Feline Funnies, released on November 9, 1919, is the first appearance of Felix the Cat.
And the cat became the world’s first animated superstar.

 

Although Pat Sulivan is officially credited as the creator of Felix the Cat,
it is generally agreed that Otto Messmer was the actual creator.

Sullivan was the studio proprietor and—as is the case with almost all film entrepreneurs—he owned the copyright to any creative work by his employees. In common with many animators at the time, Messmer was not credited. After Sullivan’s death in 1933, his estate in Australia took ownership of the character.

It was not until after Sullivan’s death that Sullivan staffers such as Hal Walker, Al Eugster, Gerry Geronimi, Rudy Zamora, George Cannata, and Sullivan’s own lawyer, Harry Kopp, credited Messmer with Felix’s creation. They claimed that Felix was based on an animated Charlie Chaplin that Messmer had animated for Sullivan’s studio earlier on.

Animation historians back Messmer’s claims. Among them are Michael Barrier, Jerry Beck, Colin and Timothy Cowles, Donald Crafton, David Gerstein, Milt Gray, Mark Kausler, Leonard Maltin, and Charles Solomon. No animation historians outside of Australia have argued on behalf of Sullivan.

As mentioned above, Australia backs their native son as the creator.

Feline Follies was produced by Pat Sullivan Studios in New York. Sullivan was an Australian-born animator who started his career as a cartoonist before setting up his own animation studio in 1916.

There is still much debate over who originally created Felix the Cat. Many animation scholars attribute the character to Otto Messmer, one of Sullivan’s animators. However, Sullivan’s supporters claim Felix evolved from an earlier character of his who appeared in a short film titled The Tale of Thomas Kat (1917), two years before Feline Follies.

 

Being the first superstar of animation, a comic strip was not long in coming.
Mark Johnson, of team Otto, gives us a look at the long-running comic strip.

Felix has also been a hit in comic books for decades.

 


In the 1980s (1984-1988) Felix partnered with Betty Boop and returned to the funny pages.
The creators of this team-up were “The Walker Brothers,”
Mort Walker’s sons Neal, Greg, Brian, and Morgan did the strip with Mort supervising.

 

Today day Felix the Cat is still a valuable property.

 

 

 

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