Nice answer from Olivier about Mickey's shorts!

Olivier mouse-ducks at
Mon Nov 12 22:32:56 CET 2001

Aw shucks!

>> I received this likeable answer from Olivier(thanks!!!) about my question about >>Mickey's
shorts, and I'm  showing it to you:

Oooops. Right, I did it again: I hit "reply" and forgot to change the addressee to 'DCML". Well,
everyone got it in the end, that's what matters.

>>So, thank you again!

You're welcome. Thanks for this question which made me realize this very elegant transition. I
wonder how it was planned and came to be.

Does anyone have information regarding the shorts? The cartoons, I mean?

More facts (didn't have time in the first mail-- dinner time)

I'm thumbing through the (sumptuous) big "Mickey" book by Pierre Lambert. It's quite difficult to
tell, since Mickey was often dressed differently depending on the story's requirements-- and there
arent't pictures of  him for all the cartoons, sometimes it's "only" layouts.
1940, Tugboat Mickey: shorts
1940, Pluto's Dreamhouse: slacks because he's building a housef for Pluto
1941, The Little Whirlwind: same, chasing you-guess-what
1941, The Nifty Nineties: well-dressed, dating Minnie
1941, Canine Caddy: golf
1941, Lend a Paw: shorts
1942, Mickey's Birthday Party: no image of  Mickey and I can't remember
1942, Symphony Hour: in a tuxedo to conduct
1943, Pluto and the Armadillo: shorts & colonial cask
1943-6: no Mickey cartoons
1946, Squatter's Rights: trousers, but dressed as a lumberjack
1947, Fun and Fandcy Free (The Beanstalk): tights
1948, Pluto and the Seal: no picture of  him, but I've seen him countless times as a kid and I'm
pretty sure he's wearing trousers-- he is, right?
1948, Pluto's Purchase: no image of  Mickey
1949, Pueblo Pluto: trousers
[jump forward in time]
1995, Runaway Brain: back to the old shorts-- haven't seen it, and I'd like to

So the change in the strip occured at a time when no Mickey cartoon was produced:
(Feb 19, 1943: Pluto and the Armadillo)
(Aug 3, 1944: "The World of  Tomorrow"-- change)
(June 7, 1946: Squatter's Rights)

Finally, here's what Gottfredson told David R. Smith on November 5, 1975...

S: What have been the physical changes that have taken place in Mickey over the years?
G: I would say that the major change was, of  course, the new eye with the pupil in it, which came
into being in 1938 [December 22, 1938]; I understand there's still a controversy as to whether Fred
Moore or  Ward Kimball did the first one. Fred Moore, I'm sure, had more to do with developing it
than anybody else, and very likely used it first in the shorts. As far as his appearance-- the
clothing, dropping the short pants and so on-- we have always felt that that wasn't too great a
change in that Mikey had always been an actor in the films, so he adopted the costume of  whatever
part he was playing at the time, whether he was a bandmaster, or a fireman, or a brave little
tailor, or the Sorcerer's Apprentice, or whatever. As time went on and as they began to put him in
suits and long pants in the pictures, we just went along. We never initiated anything like that in
the strips. Basically, I've always felt that it was our job to catch the spirit of  animation and
bring what they were doing in animation to the strip. This is what I tried to do in my design and in
the action; I tried to make the characters move and design them as if  they were moving in
animation. Then as our continuities went along, and it became more desirable to put Mickey in a
costume that fit the continuity, we just gradually evolved the short-sleeved shirt and the long
pants and occasionally the hat that he now wears in the strip.

(Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse in Color: 930s Disney Comic Strip Classics; Another Rainbow, 1988, pp

Smith says Gottfredson had a remarkable memory, and the interview shows it.
And as Gottfredson remarks, the strip was second to the cartoons and had to capture whatever was on
screen-- there was a "Brave Little Tailor" strip, for instance. Even though no Mickey cartoon was
produced in 1943-6, perhaps the change had been discussed right before, or it was discussed during
that period, and Gottfredson just made it. Also, it may have been actually made in a project that
was shelved and eventually never produced or maybe later.


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