Saturday, November 05, 2011

Of Mice and Magic: The Cartoons #10

In the first nine installments of this series, we looked at silent animated cartoons, ending with Felix the Cat. When sound came along, it spelled the end for Felix, as well as other cartoon characters, but opened the door for many others. Of course, you probably already know that Walt Disney is recognized for making the first sound cartoon, but we need to look at some of his stuff prior to that first, don't we?

Disney's first successful cartoon series was his "Alice" series, featuring a live-action Alice against an animated background! Here's one of them, "Alice Solves The Puzzle." Most of the sound on this was added well after production, I believe.

Disney's second successful cartoon series starred Oswald the Lucky Rabit, which he did for Universal. Here's one of Disney's Oswald cartoons, "Trolley Troubles." As with the Alice cartoon, the sound was added for re-release.

With Oswald being such a success, Disney wanted to spend more money on each cartoon, but when he went to see Charles Mintz, who operated the distribution company, Mintz not only refused to give him more, he also told Disney he'd take Oswald and the key animators away from Disney. Of all the animators working with Disney, only Ub Iwerks stayed loyal. The two of them together came up with Mickey Mouse (Ub designed the early Mouse) and used him in two silent cartoons, "Plane Crazy" and "Gallopin' Gaucho," with little response. Thanks to The Jazz Singer and its success with sound in 1928, Disney decided to look at adding sound to his cartoons, and a test was made with the completed scenes from the third Mickey cartoon, and the test audience responded very strongly. A few months later, the cartoon was completed and released with sound, and it was a sensation. Of course, I'm talking about "Steamboat Willie"!

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