Saturday, August 2, 2008

Felix: The Twisted Tale of the World's Most Famous Cat

This history of Felix the Cat, by renowned animation historian John Canemaker, was completely fascinating to me. It is a clear case of a slightly inspired entrepreneur (Pat Sullivan) who rode the coattails of a shy but very talented artist (Otto Messmer). Since I run a studio myself, I am always interested on how other people run their studios. Pat Sullivan provides many examples of how not to run a studio that anyone can benefit from. So, I am glad to present:

What I learned from Pat Sullivan about running a studio:
1) Avoid becoming an alcoholic.
2) Avoid getting jailed for statutory rape. It is hard to run your studio from jail.
3) Find talented people who are too comfortable to leave you. Messmer turned down repeated offers from Walt Disney because he did not want to move west.
4) Come up with something new more than once every 20 years.
5) Don't assume that talkies are a fad that will go away.
6) Have a lawyer review your contracts.
7) Actually have contracts.
8) This last one is not specifically studio related: avoid giving your wife syphilis, or she might commit suicide by jumping out a window.

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