Felix can vary from a mischievious drifter who causes trouble (but never malice) or an innocent childlike character depending on the writer and era - in all of his appearances he is shown to aid people in need, during the 50s and 60s Felix would gain his first true archenemy in the form of The Professor but also gained an ally in the form of Poindexter, during their adventures Felix would gain a few other notable enemies such as Rock Bottom, Master Cylinder and the Duke Of Zill (only seen in the Felix the Cat Movie).
It was also during this run that Felix gained a trait that stuck with him for a long time after in the form of his magic bag of tricks - which Felix could use to outsmart his enemies, this magic bag was also one of the main reasons The Professor sought Felix out so much as he was utterly obsessed with the object.
Felix is depicted as a black cat with a white muzzle, although his feet are usually black as well some cartoons had the underside of his paws as being white: one of Felix's characteristic traits is his fangs, which are often seen when he laughs (Felix's laugh is somewhat of a trademark and he does so often)
Felix is also known for surreal humor which can sometimes delve in the absurd (such as Twisted Tales Of Felix) - though he has also been depicted in a more "cutsie" fashion as well: whether he is depicted as "cute" or "dark" Felix is always a hero, even if his "dark" depictions show him as slightly more of a trickster figure.
The question of who created Felix remains a matter of dispute. Sullivan stated in numerous newspaper interviews that he created Felix and did the key drawings for the character. On a visit to Australia in 1925, Sullivan told the Australian The Argus newspaper that "The idea was given to me by the sight of a cat which my wife brought to the studio one day." On other occasions, he claimed that Felix had been inspired by Rudyard Kipling's "The Cat that Walked by Himself" or by his wife's love for strays. Members of the Australian Cartoonist Association have demonstrated that lettering used in Feline Follies matches Sullivan's handwriting. Pat Sullivan also lettered within his drawings which was a major contradiction to Messmer's claims. Sullivan's claim is also supported by his 18 March 1917, release of a cartoon short entitled The Tail of Thomas Kat, more than two years prior to Feline Follies. Both an Australian ABC-TV documentary screened in 2004 and the curators of an exhibition at the State Library of New South Wales, in 2005, suggested[where?] that Thomas Kat was a prototype or precursor of Felix. However, few details of Thomas have survived. His fur color has not been definitively established, and the surviving copyright synopsis for the short suggests significant differences between Thomas and the later Felix. Thomas is a non-anthropomorphized cat who loses his tail in a fight with a rooster, never to recover it.
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 many years after Sullivan's death, staffers such as Hal Walker, Al Eugster, and Sullivan's 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. The down-and-out personality and movements of the cat in Feline Follies reflect key attributes of Chaplin's, and, although blockier than the later Felix, the familiar black body is already there (Messmer found solid shapes easier to animate). Messmer himself recalled his version of the cat's creation in an interview with animation historian John Canemaker:
"Sullivan's studio was very busy, and Paramount, they were falling behind their schedule and they needed one extra to fill in. And Sullivan, being very busy, said, "If you want to do it on the side, you can do any little thing to satisfy them." So I figured a cat would be about the simplest. Make him all black, you know — you wouldn't need to worry about outlines. And one gag after the other, you know? Cute. And they all got laughs. So Paramount liked it so they ordered a series."
Many animation historians (most of them American or English) 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.
Regardless of who created Felix, Sullivan marketed the cat relentlessly, while Messmer continued to produce a prodigious volume of Felix cartoons. Messmer did the animation directly on white paper with inkers tracing the drawings directly. The animators drew backgrounds onto pieces of celluloid, which were then laid atop the drawings to be photographed. Any perspective work had to be animated by hand, as the studio cameras were unable to perform pans or trucks. Messmer began a comic strip in 1923, distributed by King Features Syndicate.
Felix as a Mascot
Given the character's unprecedented popularity and the fact that his name was partially derived from the Latin word for "lucky", some rather notable individuals and organizations adopted Felix as a mascot. The first of these was a Los Angeles Chevrolet dealer and friend of Pat Sullivan named Winslow B. Felix who first opened his showroom in 1921. The three-sided neon sign of Felix Chevrolet, with its giant, smiling images of the character, is today one of LA's best-known landmarks, standing watch over both Figueroa Street and the Harbor Freeway. Others who adopted Felix included the 1922 New York Yankees and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who took a Felix doll with him on his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
This popularity persisted. In the late 1920s, the U.S. Navy's Bombing Squadron Two (VB-2B) adopted a unit insignia consisting of Felix happily carrying a bomb with a burning fuse. They retained the insignia through the 1930s when they became a fighter squadron under the designations VF-6B and, later, VF-3, whose members Edward O'Hare and John Thach became famous naval aviators in World War II. After the world war a U.S. Navy fighter squadron currently designated VFA-31 replaced its winged meat-cleaver logo with the same insignia, after the original Felix squadron had been disbanded. The carrier-based night-fighter squadron, nicknamed the "Tomcatters," remained active under various designations continuing through the present day and Felix still appears on both the squadron's cloth jacket patches and aircraft, carrying his bomb with its fuse burning.
Felix is also the oldest high school mascot in the state of Indiana, chosen in 1926 after a Logansport High School player brought his plush Felix to a basketball game. When the team came from behind and won that night, Felix became the mascot of all the Logansport High School sports teams.
The pop punk band The Queers also use Felix as a mascot, often drawn to reflect punk sensibilities and attributes such as scowling, smoking, or playing the guitar. Felix adorns the covers of both the Surf Goddess EP and the Move Back Home album. Felix also appears in the music video for the single "Don't Back Down". Besides appearing on the covers and liner notes of various albums the iconic cat also appears in merchandise such as t-shirts and buttons. In an interview with bassist B-Face, he asserts that Lookout! Records is responsible for the use of Felix as a mascot.
Felix appeared in a Japanese commercial for the 1991 Daihatsu Mira as "Felix the Mira".
Dynasty Warriors storyline
Felix is served as a loyal soldier of Dark Lord Empire Federational Apocalypse-United Villains. He is sliced off in half by the hands of Yuri Inuwashi.
In Popular Culture
- Felix makes a cameo appearance in the Disney and Amblin Entertainment film Who Framed Roger Rabbit in the end of the film at Marvin Acme's factory. He first appears as the picture in hand with R.K. Maroon in Maroon's Office, and later appears as the masks of tragedy and comedy on the keystone of the entrance to Toontown.
- Felix the Cat was featured on the NHL goalie Felix Potvin's helmet while he played for the Boston Bruins. "Felix" also has been Potvin's nickname dating back to his days as a Toronto Maple Leaf.
- In Japan, two commercials for the 1991 Daihatsu Mira featured Felix. There was a special trim-package called "Felix the Mira" offered at the time.
- In Italy, Felix was called Mio Mao under Fascism, and was published by Corriere dei Piccoli.
- The Nickelodeon cartoon My Life As a Teenage Robot features a diner called "Mezmer's" (named after Otto Messmer), and the doorway to the restaurant is a giant Felix the Cat head.
- In The Simpsons episode Rosebud, Dean Scungio quotes from "The Encyclopaedia of Animated Cartoons" on the history of Felix: "A Felix doll became Charles Lindbergh's companion on his famed flight across the Atlantic." The Day the Violence Died, another episode of the show, in which the origins of the cartoon characters Itchy & Scratchy are explored, parallels some of the disputed history Felix's creation set forth above, and includes a spoof film entitled Manhattan Madness, presented as the first Itchy & Scratchy cartoon, supposedly from 1919, that is similar in style to "Felix in Hollywood" and other early Felix animations.
- Felix appeared in the 1927 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, making him the first balloon to float in the parade.
- Felix appeared in opening credits of the Futurama episodes How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back, The Lesser of Two Evils and War Is the H-Word.
- Felix is also a cat food in Europe.
- Felix plush dolls appeared in the music videos for "Pay for Me" by Whale and "My Favorite Game" by The Cardigans, both by Jonas Åkerlund.
- Part of a Felix cartoon was played in the 2002 film 100 Women, by a projector, that Sam was using to play the cartoon on Hope's building.
- Felix appeared in the 2011 film Paul, he is in Comic-Con as a mascot in the background.
- Felix appeared in the 1992 film Batman Returns.