Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails

Book Review:
Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails
Edited and Designed by Craig Yoe
With Introduction by Don Oriolo
Yoe Books! and IDW Publishing, 2010

Craig Yoe is on a rampage. His mission? To remind comic book lovers of a time when comics were a) pure fun, and b) intended for kids. So far this year Craig has edited classy hardback editions of the work of Milt Gross, Dan DeCarlo, and Dick Briefer; as well as the wonderful Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics (to review or purchase any of the work mentioned in this post, please visit Craig's Amazon store). Indeed, in the often overlooked genre of kids' comics - Mr. Yoe has done yeoman work! (yuk yuk).

Today we'll take a look at Craig's most recent addition to the Yoe Mission: Felix the Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails (Yoe Books! and IDW publishing). First, let's look at the strengths of the book that are immediately apparent right out of the wrapper:

  • The book is beautifully designed, with gorgeous end papers and a very clever black and white cover (no jacket) matching Felix's own colors.
  • The book isn't skimpy. At 224 pages, it's a nice chunk of great Felix comic book stories.
  • Reproduction of the color comic book pages is absolutely superb.
  • Finally, the book is extremely well bound (Smyth sewn binding) using archival-quality paper without being shiny or too hard (no publishing decision so mars comic book reproduction as does the choice of shiny, hard paper). Of all the recent flood of comic book and comic strip reprints, no publisher has made a better choice regarding paper stock than here. The pages in this book really have the look of a comic book - yet on thick, clean-white paper!

The book kicks off with a great introduction from Don Oriolo (Son of Felix animator and Messmer assistant, Joe Oriolo; and current head of Felix the Cat Productions), and an introduction by Craig Yoe with pages of Felix memorabilia. In his intro, Craig captures Felix's fundemental coolness and does a great job untangling the confusing history of the iconic black cat (and does so in less than two pages). He offers some revelations (at least to me) in the process: for instance, I had always assumed that all the Felix comic book work was done by Otto Messmer. Not so. While a solid majority of the work was Messmer, a generous portion was done by Messmer assistants Jim Tyer and Joe Oriolo.

As for the Felix stories reproduced? Well, it's Felix from the late 1940s and early 1950s comic books, meaning you get tons of Messmer's nearly edible, squishy roundness. Bulls and lions look like balloon animals you could sink a finger into knuckle deep. The stories are all the cream - all funny and sharp. For any lover of kids' comics, these pages tap directly into what we love about the genre: Great cartooning in a classic bigfoot style (a style for which Messmer's work is a prototype) over storytelling simply lousy with intelligence and charm.

In short, Felix the Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails is a title that comic book lovers have needed for a long time. It collects the best of Felix (and Messmer) all in one glorious place. That's right. You want it. You need it. You gotta have it!

But don't take only my word for it. My cat, Bad Jerome, is a huge Felix fan and has nothing but raves for Mr. Yoe's latest. As a treat, I have included a picture (below) of Bad Jerome doing his best Felix impersonation. I've seen him absolutely kill at parties with this:

To finish up, let's do a Felix story straight out of Craig's book (a tale orginally from Felix the Cat #53, Toby Press) - a sampling just to whet your appitite:

© Felix The Cat Productions - All Rights Reserved

Please visit Craig Yoe at his web site: Super I.T.C.H (International Team of Comics Historians).


  1. sorry you didn't like the book. :(

    oh, well, i loved that you ran that particular felix story--man, i swoon when i see an otto messmer drawn fish--the zenith of great cartooning to moi.

  2. Great Felix story, Mykal ! It really sparks the imagination and activates problem-solving processes. I want a submersible like the one Felix uses !

    Good to finally see Bad Jerome make it onto one of your Blogs. Perrrfect !

  3. Felix still looks great even after all these years and the hard life he's lead.

  4. bad jerome should have his own comic!

  5. Craig: Loved the book! And, as per your later comment, Bad Jerome definitely has star potential. If I could draw faster (and a little better) - he would have his comic (a one-panel strip).

    Lysdexicuss: It is a great story! I bet Bad Jerome and Spunky would get along.

    Jeff: Felix is one, tough customer!


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