"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 98 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.
- My Real Daddy: For most of his lifetime, Pat Sullivan, his boss, was credited as the creator of Felix, even though he had virtually nothing to do with creating the character or even drawing the cartoons and was barely present at his own studio (the only role Sullivan had in it was asking Messmer to whip out a cartoon to fill in for a tardy animators work, inking the very first Felix newspaper comic, and drawing the character for publicity tours). Messmer was a shy and humble worker who shunned the spotlight—it wasn't until the rights to Felix were bought out from Sullivan's estate by his own prestige, Joe Oriolo, along with other surviving artists from the early days of Felix, finally gave Messmer the credit he deserved as Felix's creator. When The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat came out, both Otto Messmer and Joe Oriolo are credited as the creators of the series in the credits, but Pat Sullivan isn't even mentioned.
- 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.
- 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.