Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Felix the Cat by Jack Mendelsohn, c. age 36 1/2

Jack Mendelsohn worked in comic books and animation. His Sunday syndicated strip, "Jackys Diary," ran 1959-61. Written and drawn as if by a five-year-old, and bylined "Jacky Mendelsohn, age 32½," the joke at its heart evidently flew over the heads of readers and newspaper editors who thought it was by a five-year-old.

When I went to index Dell's early-Sixties Felix the Cat for myself, I figured I'd differentiate the artists by "Felix artist 1," "Felix artist 2," and so on. One I gave a more descriptive identification: "Mendelsohn-like," since the simplicity somehow reminded me of the deliberately childlike style he affected on "Jacky's Diary."

But as I was looking at the stories' art, I realized that I recognized the writing on a run of three issues that included the "Mendelsohn-like" artist's work. I'd seen it on the earlier Supermouse at Pines and the later Tippy Teen at Tower, which I knew from the Who's Who that Jack Mendelsohn had worked on. Bails and Ware also place him at Dell at the time. His website mentions the Dell issue of Miss Peach that he wrote and drew in a spot-on imitation of Mell Lazarus's style. As I found after "discovering" these Felix stories, the Who's Who has him writing the syndicated strip in 1948-52, and his site mentions Felix as one of his comic book credits.

Jacky's Diary Four Color 1091, Felix 2

Eventually I tied together the art styles between Jacky's Dairy and Felix, I think; note the cobblestones as well as the background buildings in the street scenes. I find that deliberately primitive art style on only two Felix stories, but it seems to me that other artists could have been working over Mendelsohn's layouts on other stories he wrote here; I think I see one of those artists on a later issue or two. I can't tell if he wrote any of the one-pagers in #2-4. These three are the only issues out of the twelve-issue run that he wrote; I'm still trying to see if I can ID anyone else on the strip at Dell.

Felix the Cat
written by Jack Mendelsohn

Jan-Mar/63 Beaux and Arrows a: Mendelsohn
You Must've Been a Beautiful Baby a: Mendelsohn
High Finance
Apr-Jun/     Fair Weather Enemies
You Auto Be in Pictures
Good Neighbor Policy
Frozen Assets
Jul-Sep/     The Vicious Cycle
Tale of a Fish
A Sample Assignment
There Auto Be a Law

Felix the Cat backups
written by Mendelsohn

Jan-Mar/63 Early to Bed [ROCK AND ROLLO]
Apr-Jun/     Spring Fever [PUSSYFOOT]
Jul-Sep/     A Moving Story [ROCK AND ROLLO]


  1. Do you have any credits on him from Tippy Teen and Supermouse?

  2. Jack recently sent me a VERY partial list of comic book credits he remembers...

    PRESTO PETE -- The Magic Bunny (Animal Antics) DC 1948
    CAPTAIN & THE KIDS Dell 1958
    LITTLE ANGEL Pines 1958
    JIMMINY & The Magic Book DC 1947
    CANDY Tower 1964
    BEETLE BAILEY Dell 1958
    MISS PEACH (wrote & ghost-drew entire book) Dell 1963
    PANIC (wrote 12 issues, cover-to-cover) EC 1955
    JACKY'S DIARY (wrote & drew entire issue) Dell 1960
    NANCY & SLUGGO Dell 19 (?)
    FRANCIS the Talking Mule Dell 19 (?)
    FELIX the Cat Dell 1963
    ROCKY & BULLWINKLE Gold Key 1962
    ARCHIE Archie 19(?)
    NURSERY RHYMES (2 entire issues) Ziff-Davis 1951

    I will be interviewing him on a panel at Comic-Con in July if anyone has additional questions.

  3. I wonder if Jack Mendelson saw the work he might confirm (or deny) it. I know that the late Paul S. Newman was able to look at a work and say "I would never have used that word". Questions for him at Comic-Con? Sure, was all his DC work with Howie Post? His Tower editor was Samm Schwartz, right? Was his Archie work prior to that - was the editor Harry Shorten (later publisher of Tower)? Who were his editors at Dell and Western? Pines at 1958 was Irwin Shapiro? What does he recall about Pines? Other folks say that Pines in the 1950s was really micro-managed by upper management, did he have any problems? And of course questions about the Beatles. thanks

  4. I've been looking all over the companies for Mendelsohn's stuff now, so I've only checked a couple of Supermouse issues so far. Of the stories longer than one page in the Supermouse Summer Holiday Issue 1 (1957) he wrote all except 1, 8, 11, and 12 ("Safe But Not Sane" is thus 2, "Ants in His Plants" is 13), including other characters like Lucky Duck and Sniffy the Pup. I take it these are all reprints from earlier in the Fifties; he isn't in the final issue of the regular run in 1958.

    I'm still working on Tippy, but Jack Mendelsohn wrote the first story presented: "Great Skate," the lead story in Tippy Teen 1. Whether that was the first story written is a different matter.

  5. Found my note cards on the Supermouse Summer Holiday Issue 1.
    From "Monsters on the Loose" to "Mountain Madness" are from Supermouse, the Big Cheese #33 March 1955. From "On Your Toes" to the Dizzy Duck story AFTER the Buster A-1963 story is from Supermouse, The Big Cheese #35 April 1956.
    And did he write the first Bullwinkle and Rocky comic (reprinted as Bullwinkle #3)?

  6. I have a download of the first Rocky and His Friends that I'll read eventually, but glancing over it doesn't show me any of Mendelsohn's style characteristics jumping from the page.