Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Invicible Hand

Sunday Surprise Day.

When I was assembling panels for my post on Herriman's Emberrassing Moments, I got an unexpected bonus in the form of the daily vesrion of Felix the Cat. I have shown some of the Sunday pages here, but I had never actually seen a daily sequence and it is delightful. These dailies seem to have been set up as seperate reel, eaxh one running for a month or so. The artist even shows his hand at the beginning and the end of the story, but all comic strip historians know tht is not his actual hand - or name. The strip was prodcued and signed by Pat Sullivan, who became very rich and famous for it. But the actual work on the strip and the theatrical cartoons was done by his assistant Otto Messmer. How much Messmer actually did is still in dispute (since Sullivan signed everything and Messmer only claimed to have done the bulk of the work after Sullivan died). But here is what Wikipedia has boiled it down to: "Felix was the first cartoon character created and developed for the screen, as well as the first to become a licensed, mass merchandised character. Sullivan took the credit for Felix, and though Messmer directed and was the lead animator on all of the episodes he appeared in, Sullivan's name was the only onscreen credit that appeared in them. Messmer also oversaw the direction of the Felix newspaper strip, doing most of the pencils and inks on the strip until 1954". But whoever did it, or even if Messmer had his own assistants, the work itself is... mesmerizing.

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Digital Cartoon Data Bank

Saturday Leftover Day. Those of you who know me from the various Facebook Groups I frequent, wil know that I have been trying to collect all of Mort Walker's published cartoons ever since the family gave me copies of Morts 1947/1952 ledgers - where he noted all of the cartoons he drew, those that were teken in to have a look and those that were sold. He did not note if and when they were published, so there was a lot to do. I have not done a complete counting, but I believe I am at 500 of the roughly 700 sold. To try and find the three cartoons he sold to 'King' I went through as many of the Laf-A-Day cartoons as I could find online with my account. In fact, I am not yet done. I decided to pull every cartoon, so I could show them here. Well not actually all, every once in a while one was missing even from the online micrifiche files and I only decided to pull them all (and not only the best ones) after I reached December 1948. But the resulting collection is a huge one and once I am finished it will probably be the largest collection of 'second tier cartoonists' on the internet. The 'second tier' of cartoonists is a term of my own, which describes all those who sold cartoons to the mid range paying magazines. So, not the New Yorker and Esquire crowd (thoug some overlap exists) or the sexy cartoons sold for a pittance to the owest paying magazines. Mort Walker belonged to that crown, which als had such famous names such as Chon Day, Hank Ketcham, Virgil Partch, Gene Carr, Lamb, Kirk Styles, Reamer Keller, Henry Boltinoff and many more. They are also the artist whose work was often not collected in single artist books, although they do appear frequntly in subject oriented books (cartoons of fishing, accountancy, doctors, etc) and the Year's Best books of Lariar. Oddly, by the way, Mort Walker often does not appear in Lariar's selection. He must not have liked his work. 

Oops, I saw I left out a few of the panels in my file. I have added them before th other ones.