ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.10 - JANUARY 2000
The Dead Animators Society
(continued from page 6)
LC: You're surprising me, Pat. You've become spiritual.
PS: Not that I wasn't then either. I went to church always, at least in the beginning. But now I'm speaking of a broader issue, that of personal happiness, and I just feel all of you need to embrace this first before anything else.
Otto Messmer was discovered by Pat Sullivan and worked with him until Sullivan's death in 1933. Messmer created Felix the Cat, and in the beginning produced the series almost singlehandedly -- writing, directing and even animating. It wasn't until the late 1960s, however, that Messmer received the credit he deserved for his artisitic contributions to the studio and his pioneering work on the imaginative Felix cartoons.
LC: Hi Otto, remember me?
Otto Messmer: Oh, Leslie, I am recalling our meetings now and that you were very complimentary of me. I thank you for it. I wanted to become more widely known and yet held a terror of that possibility. You know, we don't always know what it is that's best for us, but we feel our way around using the best stuff we have in us. Pat is right that I always spread myself out on the drawing paper and hoped someone would recognize me there. I got lots of acclaim, mainly from my peers who knew I was the guiding hand behind Felix, but even then I'd downplay my accomplishments.
LC: Sounds as though everyone in this animation business was just a mass of neuroses.
OM: Well, that's what it is, I tell you. We were the ones with something to say. If you have nothing to say, you just sit there. You don't make cartoons, and who has the most to say? Those who are trying to tell their stories in order to get them out to all who will listen; to try to comprehend what is going on. I was a product of my times. We would mostly toe the line. You didn't have muckrakers in those days, just people trying to go from day to day and get along.
LC: How must you have felt with Pat Sullivan hogging all the glory and money from the success of your creation?
OM: I felt a little like the creators of today feel. When you put your all into something -- like those Renaissance painters putting their all into paintings for the churches that were their only sponsors -- but knowing that the work isn't really yours; you never actually own it, but you couldn't afford to do it on your own, without them. So you go home at night feeling a little empty.
LC: Highpoints of your life?
OM: My family, my kids. I loved my wife and we are here together, or were for a blessed time.
LC: And what do you think of today's animation?
OM: I admire a great deal of it. I think I'd have liked to learn to draw, really draw in a more realistic fashion as is being done nowadays, for my style was really a shorthand way of just telling my stories. As to regrets, I have none at this time although I am looking forward to moving ahead now, getting ready to design the next incarnation. I want to be really loved next time and to work with greater self-esteem, be more outgoing and gain more attention for my talents.
LC: What, from a spiritual standpoint, will attention from others gain you?
OM: It's more that I carried with me into the afterlife this longing, for I was always working behind the scenes in the past, and so it is just something I need to work with; to feel what acclaim means, but to start out with a firmly loving basis from which to allow my talents to blossom.
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