The beloved Felix the Cat comic book will be making an epic comeback thanks to Mike Federali — the fearless writer tackling this upcoming revival.
Originally created in 1919 by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer, this sassy black cat has well-cemented itself into media history. It is one of the most recognizable pop culture icons and has faced numerous new revivals, staying relevant through the silent film era to the Golden Age of America animation, to the rise of Nintendo video games, and everything in between.
Source Point Press teases that in this new series, Felix the Cat and friends will go face-to-face with Xilef the Extraordinary — described as “an all-new foe more powerful than all of Felix’s past enemies combined.” They write, “Can Felix and friends (classic and new) save the world from this Magical, Melodramatic, Machiavellian Malcontent?”
Monsters & Critics had the chance to chat with Federali about bringing Felix the Cat back to life. Federali has a rich history, serving as the writer, producer, showrunner, and president of Incredible Conventions. He also is the executive producer for Mystery Science Theater 3000 Season 13. And he has provided variant cover art for Archie Comics’ The Shield #1 and served as the art director for various Star Wars, Sonic the Hedgehog and Archie Comics stories.
Speaking about how he first got involved with the Felix the Cat revival, Federali told us, “I pitched directly to NBC Universal DreamWorks. It was a little bit of back and forth as anything would be. But for the most part, they were onto the idea from the very beginning. I wasn’t gonna do anything crazy with Felix. I think they just had to make sure that I wasn’t gonna come in and say like, well, from now on, he’s got superpowers.”
The writer continued to tease the upcoming comic book, adding, “We just made sure that we presented a really, really strong, silly story. Once they got behind that, it was a piece of cake. I’ve had pitches go completely sideways. But this was a really, really great experience. They completely got what we were going for and that we were going to be good custodians.”
Monsters & Critics continued to speak with Federali about what fan should expect from his series, his experience with audience testing, collaborating with Tracey Yardley, and the future of Felix the Cat.
Monsters & Critics: What aspects should fans expect from the original Felix the Cat series? And what are you bringing that’s new?
Mike Federali: For the new stuff, there are some new characters. We tried to average one new character per book. As far as the classic stuff, there was no point in me touching anything and making it any different. The things that you love about the [original] comic books are still there. There was no point in changing that. That was never part of the plan. It was just like, can we add to this very funny history?
M&C: As you were writing it, who was your target audience? Are you trying to hit that nostalgia crowd or target new fans?
Federali: I’ve been calling this “the nexus”. The nexus is that perfect crossroads of both. It’s a story that anybody who has loved it before can read and enjoy. And anybody who’s completely new to it can hop on really, really quickly, and then just keep going. I’ve been shooting for that. And I think we’ve gotten it.
When Bon Jovi was were making some of his albums, he would take some tapes and demos, and he would bring them to a local pizza place to some kids. And he would just let them listen to it. They would be like, Yeah, that’s really, really good. Or, that’s not so cool, bro. You know, like, he would do a lot of that. We did the same thing. I would find classic fans and I’d find some new people that have nothing to do with Felix, and be what do you think of this? What do you think of this? We’d get a little bit of reaction out of people. Everybody kind of responded the same way. There was no hardcore, old-fashioned fan that was just like, “No, not my Felix.” None of that was going on.
We didn’t 100% give people what they want. We give them what they wanted, plus some things that they didn’t know they wanted.
M&C: How was the audience test arranged? Did you find fans on a site like Reddit? Or was it more formal?
Federali: First of all, I’d go, do I know any Felix fans directly? I know a couple so it’s easy to do that. Then, it was just asking people that are avid comic book readers. I have a local comic shop that I go to in Virginia called Comic Kings.
I think it’s Stephen King who has a book on writing. And he says that you want to find an avid reader. Like, don’t find your perfect fans. Find somebody who’s likes to read. So, we found a couple of people and we were like, What do you think of this? It wasn’t like we took notes. We just wanted to gauge simple reactions.
M&C: That’s awesome! And what was it like collaborating with Tracy Yardley?
Federali: Tracy is amazing. I’ve said this a couple of times now and I’ll say it forever. There are times when I will write a page and have a good idea of how it’s going to get laid out, the beats and stuff. And then Tracy shows up with the artwork and it’s so much better than I thought it was going to be. There’s a moment when the pages come in and I’m the only person that gets to see them. It’s like for a split second, I’m the only person that’s reading the brand new Felix the Cat comics. So, by the time it hits shelves, I’ll have gotten it all out of my system.
But there’s a moment where I’m like, oh my god, this is actually happening. And it looks so good. Tracy’s work on Sonic the Hedgehog is phenomenal. It’s one of my favorite things. When we got him on board, it was a massive blessing to the book in general. And it was like, this is gonna happen. It’s gonna be really, really good. He’s just a guy who does nothing but home runs. So, having him on board was just perfect.
M&C: What was the last comic book that you read and loved?
Federali: That’s easy. Justice League Infinity, the [J.M] DeMatteis stuff was really, really good. Specifically, the Batman Adventures Continues is fantastic. They’ve all been really, really good. I’ve been reading a lot of independent books. So Metalshark Bro, which is Bob’s book. Bob [Frantz] helped me add a couple of jokes in issue one [of Felix the Cat] and stuff like that. His book is phenomenal. It is absolutely the best. It was one of those things where if I didn’t know the guy, I’d still be out there shilling for it. You’ve gotta read it. Volume One and Volume Two are perfect. I think they’re absolutely perfect for books.
M&C: What do you see for the future of Felix the Cat? Do you think there’s gonna be some movie adaptations? Multiple volumes?
Federali: I can definitely — 100% — say that I don’t know.
M&C: What are your hopes?
Federali: Oh, man, I hope that it completely takes over the world. I hope that it takes over nations and they all make a flag and Felix is on the flag.
M&C: Love it. Felix for President.
Federali: I would read that storyline. I keep telling people, we did the research and it’s literally older than sliced bread. Felix is a very lovable, very funny character. Anytime there’s an opportunity to read more Felix, I will— even if I’m not part of it. Everybody should just get their hands on.
Felix the Cat #1 is scheduled to be released in January 2022 from Source Point Press.