Felix the Cat was created by Pat Sullivan in 1919 and became the animated superstar of the 1920s.
The public’s desire for all thing Felix led to lucrative licensing early on – in 1923 it led to a comic strip.
William Randolph Hearst, hoping to cash in on the cat’s popularity, signed on to distribute a Felix the Sunday page through his King Features Syndicate beginning in August 1923. For some reason the strip first appeared in London England’s The Daily Sketch on August 1, 1923.
Later that same month “Felix” began syndication in the United States. Officially the debut of the Sunday strip was/is August 19, 1923 but only one newspaper, Hearst’s Boston American, ran that first strip and that was printed in the following Friday’s edition.
Above is the first Felix Sunday page that was used for the August 1 Daily Sketch issue, though it wasn’t the first Felix strip published in the United States:
August 26, 1924 KFS Sunday strip, penciled by Otto Messmer and inked by Pat Sullivan. (Equivalent to the August 1 Sketch strip and published in the Boston American August 31, but I can’t help that.)
What would become America’s Felix Sunday newspaper comic strip debuted in England’s Daily Sketch on August 1, 1923. The series ran weekly for twelve episodes, all of them pencilled and inked by Otto Messmer.
Starting Sunday, August 19, 1923, King Features syndicated the twelve Sketch strips in the United States—reinked, for whatever reason, by studio boss Pat Sullivan. They were also published in a different order: the first strip syndicated in the USA had been the third strip in the UK series.
The saga doesn’t stop there. The only Stateside paper to run Felix from the start was the Boston American, which published Sunday strips five days late. So while King syndicated Felix’s debut on August 19, Felix didn’t actually appear in an American newspaper until Friday, August 24.
By the end of the year things had calmed down. Sullivan’s involvement was over; King followed up on the twelve Sketch strips with Sundays both penciled and inked by Messmer. And multiple papers were printing the Sunday strip properly by now—that is to say, on Sunday.
On September 2, 1923 (a Sunday) E. W. Scripps’ The Pittsburgh Press began running the Felix strip.
The September 9th issue above corresponds with The Daily Sketch edition of August 23, 1923.
The comic strip was never as popular as the animated shorts though Otto Messmer was in charge of both.
According to Allan Holtz the Sunday page ended on September 19, 1943.
A daily strip was added on May 9, 1927 (above) and ran until January 14, 1967 (below).
In 1984 Felix returned to the funny pages as a partner with Betty Boop. The strip was by Mort Walker’s sons Brian, Morgan, Neal, and Greg signing the strip as “The Walker Brothers” It ran for a few years daily and Sunday.
Felix the Cat is © and ™ Dreamworks