There were animated cartoons in the silent era before Felix the Cat. Some were based on newspaper strips, others were original series, others were an element within a magazine format of short film. Uncounted numbers of silent films have been lost. The only visual record may be still photos that accompanied reviews in film publications of the day.
The Motion Picture World was a weekly publication and its editions of July 1916 contain little write-ups on films, including three animated ones, accompanied with a drawing. Whether these cartoons still exist, I don’t know. But you can click on each of them to read about them.
Also included in one of the editions is a news story about the Bray company hiring A.B. Rood as a cartoonist. Donald Crafton’s book on silent cartoons, Before Mickey, mentions an A.D. Reed joined Bray about this time. I guess it’s the same person.
And here are a couple of ads for Rube Goldberg cartoons released by Pathé. Crafton says Goldberg wrote and directed them but George Stallings animated them.
There’s someone out there who cares enough to preserve old silent cartoons. His name is Tom Stathes. Right now, he’s endeavouring to restore two cartoons before the elements take them away forever. Read about what Tom’s doing here.
Want to see a Gaumont cartoon? This isn’t the one mentioned in one of the clippings but is from the same year. The admirably designed artwork is by Harry Palmer, who left Gaumont in 1916 to form his own company. Palmer’s unfortunate fate sounds like something that would happen to one of his silent film characters. He was killed in Miami after being run down by a policeman’s motorbike on August 18, 1955 at age 72.
Palmer was born in Texas. He began his career illustrating news dispatches of the Spanish-American War and was employed by a number of papers as an editorial cartoonist, including the New York Evening-World for 25 years. He moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, and then Miami in 1947 where he worked for papers in both cities. He had created the comic strips “Keeping Up With the Joneses” (which he also animated on cels) and “Babbling Bess.”