Let's start with animation. While a picture isn't always worth a thousand words, classic Felix creator/director Otto Messmer crafted beautiful, artistic acting that really does defy description now and then. Here's a special Ramapith birthday tribute just for our hero—oops! Looks like Felix's pals Kitty, Inky and Winky (and Dinky), Laura, and Skiddoo got into it too...
(Music: Scott Joplin's "Pineapple Rag"; Itzhak Perlman, violin, and Andre Previn, piano)
Longtime Otto assistant and Magic Bag inventor Joe Oriolo came aboard in the 1940s (at right: probable cover collaboration with Jim Tyer, 1949). While we can never forget Oriolo's most famous creations, odd-couple bad guys The Professor and Rock Bottom, I'm sharing a different side of Oriolo today. His circus story "The Big Finale," below (from Harvey's Felix the Cat 106, 1959) is one of my favorite Oriolo works—with its 1920s-style mayhem, inimitable punning, and a great one-off female lead. Joe cut his artistic teeth at the Fleischer Studio, and the Betty Boopish "Katrina" is a sweet tip of the hat to his old mentors.
By the time of "The Big Finale"'s publication, Oriolo had taken over creative control of Felix and launched his famous TV series. But I'm not sure everyone at this particular circus considers our hero a "wonderful cat"...
Today Felix keeps on walking, as Joe's son Don plans new projects at Felix the Cat Productions—including a few that I think fans of the classics will appreciate! Don is also personally taking oil to canvas to paint Felix modern art, visible now on the studio's Facebook page.
Special thanks to Don for encouragement in the course of prepping today's little tribute. And props to the unsinkable Tom Stathes and Mark Kausler for providing select source materials. On his own blog, Mark is also celebrating Felix with classic 1930s daily strips right now... don't miss them!
(Magazine spread courtesy Cole Johnson; art attributed to Dana Parker)