"I think everyone since owes a huge debt to Otto Messmer and Felix. We are using techniques, ideas and cliches today that began with this creation. Felix is truly the father of cartoony cartoons."One of the most influential artists in the History of Animation, Otto James Messmer, born on August 16, 1892 in West Hoboken, New Jersey (now Union City), was an animator and comic artist during The Silent Age of Animation, The Golden Age of Animation and The Dark Age of Animation, and one of the founding fathers of the American cartoon. His most famous creation is Felix the Cat, easily the most influential, and at 97 years and going, longest lasting, animated cartoon character in history, and the first to achieve genuine popularity and success. Messmer's iconic rubberhose art style was also universally copied by the animation community of the time, due to how practical and inexpensive it was to animate.Messmer was undoubtedly a big influence on many animators. Along with Winsor McCay, Van Beuren Studios and Max and Dave Fleischer, he was a big influence on future stars like Walt Disney, whose Alice Comedies, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse cartoons undoubtedly drew much influence from Messmer's work.A biography of him can be found here.
—John Kricfalusi, praising Messmer and Felix.
Tropes Related to Him:
- Deranged Animation: Some of his cartoons can get just plain weird.
- Passing the Torch: When Messmer retired from animation and comics, he passed on the responsibility of handling Felix the Cat to his former assistant, Joe Oriolo, who would run the Felix franchise all the way to his death in the 80's.
- Reclusive Artist: To a degree. In real life, Messmer was a very modest man who preferred to work on his animation and comics solo and without complication—alledgedly, he even turned down an offer to work for Disney so that he could continue working alone in peace (although he did agree to contribute some new animation of Felix to the Walt Disney Presents episode The Story of the Animated Drawing). Thankfully, he did grant interviews and got recognition as the creator of Felix and a pioneer of animation by the end of his life.
- Rubberhose Limbs: Messmer is arguably the Trope Maker, or at least the Trope Codifier, although that might belong to one of his friends and animators, Bill Nolan, who redesigned Felix into his more circular design. It should be noted that Otto's art style was largely influenced by early Newspaper Comics such as the Katzenjammer Kids.
- Shout-Out: On My Life as a Teenage Robot, the Local Hangout, as well as its owner, is named after Messmer. As a bonus, the entrance looks a lot like Felix the Cat.