Felix as Cat

Felix portrait


Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: Oh Merry Christmas to me! This extraordinary Felix was a gift from Kim this Christmas. In truth, I picked him out on eBay months ago and Kim purchased him and tucked him away. Christmas morning was my first good look at him though – and wowza!

I have only ever seen one or two Felix dolls posed on all fours, but never this model. Felix walking (upright) was part of his whole appeal – and schtick. His humpbacked thinking manner is recreated in two and three dimensions – often with the hump in his back exaggerated, as he walks, pondering something, which his hand/paws behind his back. I have a plate which bears the much used motto Felix Keep on Walking which is a play on this. (See my prior post Living the Felix Life which features this item.) As Mickey Mouse and countless others would ape later, the anthropomorphic charm is all about being upright and therefore more human.

Christmas night Kim and I stumbled home after our annual trip to my folks in NJ and curled up on the couch to take a look at another of my Christmas gifts – the superb DVD Cartoon Roots. (I know, I am a very lucky woman!) This outstandingly curated DVD put together by Tom Stathes deserves a shout out. Instead of the usual entries in the early animation stakes, this disk manages to have the one or two outstanding examples of each that you’re pretty sure you have never seen. I have not yet viewed the whole thing (why rush?) but already have seen a few excellent Terry Aesop Fables, a strange and interesting Krazy Kat (where he seems to be trying to morph into Felix…) and Felix Comes Back, a splendid example from 1922.

I have been known to opine on how Felix started out drawn more squarely (pointier I like to say) and both more feline and a tad bit doggy. According to Kim, Bill Nolan was responsible for this subtle neutering of Felix which Messmer passively allowed. Anyway, I was reminded that back in ’22 Felix spent a good portion of his time on all fours – running away fast from things most frequently – but sportier and a bit wilder.

However, all this to say, Felix spent the majority of his career walking on two legs and virtually all the toys and merchandising reflect this. In all the many hours (days, years) I have spent combing through Felix toy offerings I have, as I said above, only seen him portrayed on all fours a few times so this toy is very unusual. I originally thought of the subject of another post, East London Toy Factory due to the almost hand-made, individual aspect of this and was going to attribute that company as his maker. I lean now instead toward thinking this was made by the folks at Chad Valley. I have not devoted much time writing about the company, they appear to have been the biggest makers of stuffed Felix toys, a company that still makes some toys today. I am, however, open and raring for discussion.

Cookie and Felix

Cookie and Felix Christmas Morning


For those of you who have an Amazon gift card burning a hole in your pocket post-Christmas, the DVD above can be found at: Cartoon Roots

The eBay seller who sold us Felix did not seem to know much about the origin, but she was lovely. She is Mme Regine Beghin of Belgium and this is a nod to her.


Pajama Party


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:   Sleepover! Oddly, despite the jammies, the women all sport shoes, and for the most part, have socks on. Their hair is neatly done and the pajamas don’t look as though they were yet slept in. Only one night gown wearer among them and a variety of pajama ensembles – I like the dark striped pair on the woman with the black cat best. This fine feline fellow clearly could be Blackie’s ancestor, although I can’t see the tell tale white spot on the chest. What a great little guy though!

This photo postcard was pasted into an album, bits of the black paper still stuck to the back, but there is no writing on the card. I wonder when I see photo postcards like this – why a postcard? Was it so each of the women could have one? Why not just a photo? It isn’t the first time when viewing a rather singular image from someone’s life on a postcard that I have pondered this. Before I started collecting them I thought photo postcards were generally done by itinerant photographers or at seaside resorts. Clearly there were ones being made by amateurs like snap shots.

There is no evident likeness, so if these women are related I doubt they are sisters. The story here seems to be lost to the sands of time, but there was a jolly sunny morning, probably close to 100 years ago, when some young women, in their pajamas, scooped up their young black cat and had their photo taken. And a good time was had by all!

Nice pajamas makes me think about several years ago when I agreed to visit some folks for my job (I am a fundraiser for anyone who doesn’t know) and this required that a colleague and I spend the night at their house in a somewhat remote part of Connecticut. I realized that, although it was unlikely and undesirable that anyone would see me in my sleeping attire, it was tempting fate to show up to sleep in one of Kim’s torn t-shirts, silk slip or other common sleeping attire of the time. But where to go to buy something respectable to wear to bed?

It finally occurred to me, walking home along Madison Avenue after dinner out one night – Brooks Brothers! And yes, indeed, Brooks Brothers makes what I can only describe as the office equivalent of sleepwear in the form of cotton pajamas – much like the ones sported here. However, over time owning that first pair, the cotton softened and they eventually became my own permanent sleep and lounge uniform. I am, in fact, blissfully wearing them now as I write this.


Merry Christmas 2015


Pam’s Pictorama: First, if you haven’t received yours yet, please know these cards are still making their way across the country and the world. We started off with a good lead on getting cards out this year, but somehow the month ran away with us once again.

Of course, Cookie and Blackie are featured on the card. I have never had cats from the same litter and the idea was that they would get along better – right? Not our kits – life is a constant battle over turf and access and it was an obvious theme for our card this year. Every night, just as I turn the lights off, a battle begins and eventually I hear Cookie scream and up I go, yelling for them to knock it off – usually waking poor Kim in the process!

Early in December one mad, daily romp through the apartment ended up with Cookie racing up Kim’s work chair to get away from Blackie (a favorite Cookie maneuver) and BAM! the top broke off the chair! Staples supplied a new one within days (the old one had come off the street so it wasn’t like it owed us much) – and then a fight broke out over the lovely, huge chair box which awaited opening the following weekend. I share below a series of photos of Cookie and Blackie fighting over the box spot which I took originally to amuse my mom – and ending with Cookie winning possession of the old chair before it was whisked away.

Merry Christmas and may we all triumph in 2016!

Cookie Finds the Box

Cookie Owns the Chair Box


Blackie Takes It

A Blackie Takeover!

Cookie Wins

Cookie in Action

Blackie Retreats

Blackie Retreats

Cookie on the Old Chair

Cookie, Queen of the Old Chair



Fabulous Flash


Pam’s Pictorama Post: Let me begin with some full disclosure – the above ring is not the ring Kim gave me a few years ago. This ring was a door prize at the Met’s Met Family Circle pajama party recently – however it reminds me fondly of a light up ring he gave me a few years back. This one has a nice fancy bat design (I admit that with my single track mind I thought cat at first!) – the earlier one is shown below.


Kim and I share a passion for things that light up. For my part I have given him several variations on bouncy balls that light in bright colors when they hit the ground. I believe the first came from the store at SF MoMA years ago, when I was on a business trip. The cats have shared Kim’s enjoyment of all of these and ultimately spirited them away. The ring Kim bought me was discovered at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York, in the shop one evening while we were killing time between early German film features at the museum. I loved it and subsequently bought them for many people on my Christmas list that year.

All of these LED light up toys are by their very nature, sadly, ephemeral. Perhaps it is part of their charm as well. This Christmas I found tiny “fairy” lights and decorated a stuffed cat in my office with them as a nod to the holiday season. For those of you who have Amazon Prime and are still scrambling this holiday season, I offer the links below. Maybe a light up toy is exactly what you or the person on your shopping list really needs this year.




Chow Time

cats eatingPam’s Pictorama Photo Post: As far as I can tell, written at the top is Daly Ranch and what a fine farm it seems to be! I count fifteen cats here – although close inspection might make an argument for a sixteenth. It came from a photo album and there’s nothing written on the back. This looks like a pretty happy gathering of the tribe – although that dish looks a little small to keep this crowd happy. (And are those wanted posters of cats on the back building I wonder?) More interesting than great photography, this photo is very a pleasing idea for me. I mean, who doesn’t want a farm full of cats?

When I was little our cats came running whenever we used the electric can opener (do they even make those any longer?) which is how cat food cans were opened at that time, before the pop top most use today. Later, they also came to my mother calling Chow time! And, in fact, if a cat went missing we were more likely to call that than their name. This gang stampeding at feeding time was the first thing I thought of when I saw this.

Whenever Kim and I talk about striking it rich, or a well-endowed retirement, I usually reply cheerfully, Cat farm in Connecticut. Why Connecticut I’m not entirely sure. Art Spiegelman once described such a place to me in Connecticut – actually a sort of retirement home for cats – and I think it stuck in my mind. Although I see it as something the size of a horse farm, but just lots and lots of delighted kitties – and I spend my days romping with them and dispensing ear and chin rubs.



Cat of Christmas Past

Pam’s Pictorama: The Christmas card parade continues with this one from a couple of years ago of Zippy. I paused a moment writing that – was Zippy our or my cat? Unlike Otto who was my very first cat but adored Kim, Zippy never really decided that he was also Kim’s cat. This really wasn’t Kim’s fault – he was always good to Zips. Made sure Otto didn’t beat up on him too much and did everything right – and cats love Kim. Still, despite living in extreme close proximity for many years, Zippy remained devoted only to me – and he adored me.

It started one day 20 odd years ago when I wandered into a store where I liked to ogle antique jewelry, over on First Avenue, down near the 59th Street bridge. On that day, there on the counter, was an adorable black and white tuxedo kitten who, in design, could have been a brother to my cat Otto. He had a bad eye, an infection from being born on and living on the street, which would ultimately wax and wane over the years. When I went over to pet him, he hurled himself into my arms. Well, I don’t really need to say it, I was a goner. Although I went home without him that day, I was back shortly thereafter and Zippy and Otto started a long, contentious relationship.

Shown here, is the one Christmas we celebrated with Zippy alone, as a very elderly cat. Zippy lived to 20, the following spring, and he was a bit tatty, if scrappy at that point – as shown here.

I don’t think I knew it, but I assume I was influenced by this print which I picked up somewhere along the line, and was living in the flat files. I found it while looking for our cards. I am sure I had it – or others like it in mind. Here’s to Zippy!

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Christmas Cards Redux Continues

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Pam’s Pictorama: As an examination of our history in holiday cards continues, inspiration seems to strike us differently each year. While last week I highlighted our self-portraits as a jumping off point, this week I am sharing a few where the cat concept became less about our specific cats, and more about the idea of cats. Starting with a favorite, the parade of black and white and white cats featuring a giant cat balloon. I am pretty sure the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade balloons were the inspiration – with a touch of Aesop Fables cartoons thrown in with that long line of cats.

I have never been to the actual Thanksgiving Day parade, although Kim has a great childhood memory of going at least once*. As past readers know, my father was a cameraman for ABC news for many years. His early years there were focused on local news which meant many a Thanksgiving working – filming the balloons being blown up the night before and the parade day of were frequently part of his annual beat. I gather from him that this meant a lot of standing around in the cold, and often wet, wishing he was home with his family. Therefore, as kids we never went and frankly he could never understand why I would want to either. Nonetheless, when I moved to NYC as an adult seeing the balloons blown up was an annual joy. I went in all weather and braved the crowds and always loved it.

I am not entirely sure the precise inspiration for the sort of steam-pump robot cat, although I do love his catty feet and the jolly hat blowing off his head! I like the string of lights too.  Since I do the first sketches and art direct to some degree, I always like to request lots of Kim Deitch snow and stars in our cards. I am especially fond of the anthropomorphic moon and sun as well.

Lastly, the one I think of as Cat-in-the-Box came out of the purchase of the pamphlet I featured in a recent post, Lucky Black Cat and things like it. Halloween was still on my mind that year and rather than include our kitties, we went with a Halloween meets Christmas theme and produced this little beauty.

Next week Cards of Christmas past continues followed by the big reveal – this year’s card.

*Footnote to Pam’s post. My great Thanksgiving day parade memory was when our family spotted, and met Hoplaong Cassidy waiting with his horse to be in the parade.

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Felix Sells

Pam’s Pictorama: Today I am breaking my own blog rules to bring you a Felix post on a subject I find interesting, but unlike my usual posts, I (sadly) do not own any of the photos or items shown in this post about the brief history of the Winslow B. Felix Chevrolet dealership in Los Angeles.

Living on the other side of the country, I have never had the pleasure of seeing the neon Felix sign in person. As a collector of Felix images I have been aware of it for many years and wouldn’t mind making a pilgrimage one of these days. However, it is the early images of this advertising relationship that really provokes my interest. Shown above, an envelope (currently for sale on eBay as I write this) with an impressive Felix logo. Postmarked November 10, 1938, with two cents metered postage and addressed to the Southern California Telephone Co. (begging the question, why and how did it get saved?) it got me thinking a bit. By coincidence, Kim had just pulled the photo below off of Pinterest to show me and share on Facebook so we had just been discussing the dealership.


This is quite curious, the woman, holding a package, is posing in front of the post office, with this wonderful Felix who not only has the Chevrolet sign across his tummy, but boasts, Order Yours from FelixI doubt the post office was planning on delivering them, but this three-way advertising bonanza remains a visually pleasing mystery to me as well.

As far as I can gather, it seems the story of the Felix Chevrolet advertising goes something along the lines of this: Winslow B. Felix was a bit of a genius at inventing advertising and selling ploys for his dealership. As the inventor of sales innovations such as the two-day trial for new cars, asking his friend Pat Sullivan for the use of Felix the Cat’s image for advertising – the deal sweetened with the gift of a new car – was a natural. Soon after Felix makes his first appearance on behalf of Chevrolet in 1923 with signs, stationary, statues and who knows what all evolved that is lost to us. Shown below is another one of his advertising tableaus snatched from the Google image file.


Sadly, a victim of living the high life, Winslow Felix died of head injuries following a polo accident in 1923. He was only 42 years old. Clearly his marketing lives on today. Apologies for the sort of dreadful photo of him below – he deserves better – but it was the only one the internet coughed up for my use.