#34: Wheel of Soapy

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Yesterday’s strip was inspired by this classic Felix the Cat strip by the wonderful Otto Messmer… one of the funniest strips ever drawn, in my opinion.

Messmer is definitely somewhere in my top 20 cartoonists of all time… I wish someone would reprint all of his comic book and strip work. Messmer created and drew Felix for years… the cartoons, the comic strips and then the comic books. He did all of this anonymously… a scoundrel by the name of Pat Sullivan took credit for all of his work. Wonderful surrealistic stuff full of life and character. I particularly dig his comic books with Felix taking rides on his magic carpet, which was a pretty frequent event, and always seemed to get particularly crazy. They are some of the best comics for small children ever done, I think… Messmer didn’t write with the same sophistication and depth of Carl Barks (Uncle Scrooge) or Walt Kelly (Pogo), but he’s still in their league for sheer enjoyable comics in my book.

The only book that I know of that is currently in print reprinting Messmer’s comics is Nine Lives to Live: A Classic Felix Celebration. Fortunately it is an excellent reprint…
Fantagraphics Books, the publisher, always takes great care in providing high-quality reproductions of whatever they are reprinting. However, it only reprints his newspaper strip, which is just as great as the comic books, but is a different thing… the newspaper strips often have extended storylines, but they flow much differently in the comic books. Hopefully someone will reprint them one of these days.

They are currently publishing reptints of the complete Peanuts, Dennis the Menace, and, my favorite strip of all time, Krazy Kat… previously they have done reprints of numerous other great strips as well, many of which can still be purchased on their website. Besides that they are also one of the best publishers of new comics around… you’re really missing out if you haven’t perused their publications.

There is also one dvd available of Messmer’s fantastic animated Felix cartoons, Felix the Cat (1919-1930 collection), which is great too. Felix the Cat was the most popular cartoon character in the world before Mickey Mouse and sound came into the picture. These are a good sampling of what made him so popular. Silent Felix has far more personality and charm than Mickey Mouse with sound.

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