Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mickey Is Not A Clown.

   I'm right in the middle of finally reading the epic and amazing The Art of Walt Disney by Christopher Finch.  A good friend gave us this book as a wonderful Christmas gift, and I'm glad she did.  It is so full of information that I've resorted to sticky noting it all over. 
   Toward the beginning of the book we find the Disney artists just developing, and taking the in house art school that Walt set up, the reputation of which would live infamously.   A manual used for the training was put together by Ted Sears and Freddie Moore, and contained this description of Mickey Mouse that I found absolutely delightful.

  From Ted Sears:

   "Mickey is not a clown...he is neither silly nor dumb.
   "His comedy depends entirely upon the situation he is placed in
   "his age varies with the situation...sometimes his character is that of a young boy, and at other times, as in the adventure type of picture, he appears quite grown up....

   "Mickey is most amusing when in a serious predicament trying to accomplish some purpose under difficulties, or against time....When Mickey is working under difficulties, the laughs occur at the climax of each small incident or action.  They depend largely upon Mickey's expression, position, attitude, state of mind, etc., and the graphic way that these things are shown....
   "Mickey is seldom funny in a chase picture, as his character and expressions are usually lost."

   Freddie Moore continues in the description of Mickey's personality: 

  " Mickey seems to be the average young boy of no particular age; living in a small town, clean living, fun loving, bashful around girls, polite, and clever as he must be for the particular story.  In some pictures, he has a touch of Fred Astaire,  in others,  of Charlie Chaplin, and some, of Douglas Fairbanks, but in all of these, there should be some of the young boy. "


  1. So Mickey Mouse cartoons were the original "sit-coms"

  2. At the museum where I work, we just closed the exhibit we had on animation. During the course of it, we had a former Disney animator give a talk and she revealled an interesting fact about Mickey that they were taught in Disney school:

    Goofy and Donald are animated with cartoon physics, so they can move in exaggerated ways and defy death in the cause of clownish humour. But Mickey is animated with real physics and is never put in a situation where a real person would die. This is a subtle way of making him more sympathetic: because he moves like us, we associate more with him.

  3. Loved this so much, I included it in our weekly roundup on my blog:

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. You're so welcome Melissa! Thank you for the link, and for reading the blog in general! :)