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Description: Before we start with the review proper for this excellent set of Felix the Cat cartoons, let it be known (as the front of the product’s case states) that this is only 31 episodes which make up the “complete 1958-1959 full-color series.” Some fans have balked at this set saying it’s not the complete full-color Felix series, yet they apparently don’t understand what “1958-1959” means. No, it’s not the complete collection of all 260 Felix cartoons produced for television at the time. How could such an enormous amount of cartoons have even been created in one short year? They couldn’t have. So purists, please get your facts straight before giving short shrift to this set.
Anyway, Felix the Cat is easily one of the most beloved and most recognizable cartoon characters of all time. Even Mickey Mouse was patterned after the feline in his original look. But more on that a bit later. Felix started out as a joint creation of film studio guru Pat Sullivan and animator Otto Messmer. In 1919 the pair were asked to create an animated short by Paramount Studios and the result was “Feline Follies,” which featured a cat character named “Master Tom” who was the basic blueprint for Felix. The short turned out to be so successful that Paramount asked for more. Sullivan wasn’t quite so interested in creating a series, as his intention was originally a one-off project. But he offered the job to Messmer, and so Felix’s long history was kicked off in earnest. It should be noted that it was Messmer who more or less actually “created” Felix, but always let Sullivan have the credit, and without argument.
The original series of theatrical Felix cartoons were both surreal and wonderful. Messmer’s animation would go on to influence the people over at Disney Studios. In the meantime, Felix was hugely popular, the character working its way into mass merchandising and even popular songs of the day. Unfortunately, when talkies took over, Pat Sullivan decided not to follow the other studios and Felix remained a silent feature. Of course, we all know how history turned out. Disney was one of the studios to make the leap into sound and so did their star Mickey Mouse, who soon became bigger than Felix, leaving the cat in the dust, even after Sullivan went ahead and produced a couple of Felix shorts with sound after the success of “Steamboat Willie.”