1. Welcome to the WDWMAGIC.COM Forums!
    Please take a look around, and feel free to sign up and join the community.You can use your Twitter or Facebook account to sign up, or register directly.
    Dismiss Notice

Did Walt steal the idea of mickey

Discussion in 'Walt Disney: The Man Behind the Mouse' started by Dizneyworld4430, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. Woody13

    Woody13 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2002
    Messages:
    3,893
    Likes Received:
    174
    Wow, only 3 books! That's a tough one, but here are my picks:

    How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life By Pat Williams

    Walt Disney: An American Original By Bob Thomas

    Disney: The First 100 Years By Dave Smith, and Steven Clark


    :wave:
     
    mouselover321 likes this.
  2. ctwhalerman

    ctwhalerman New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    3
    It was very common (and still is) for entertainment entrepreneurs to steal things from other people. Warner's created Porky Pig only because of the popularity of Disney's "The Three Little Pigs," and even released their cartoons under the name "Merry Melodies," eerily similar to Disney's "Silly Symphonies."
    That said, I do not think there were any famous cartoon mice in 1926-27, and Disney just took his form from Oswald and placed it in the form of another small animal. Nothing unethical there. (look at his dealings with his unions for some examples of ruthless treatments)
     
    mouselover321 likes this.
  3. Goofybynature

    Goofybynature Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    18
  4. kcnole

    kcnole Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2006
    Messages:
    2,145
    Likes Received:
    49
    Mickey is so much better than Oswald. Can you imagine if all the sayings were, "Remember, it all began with a rabbit." and we had statues of Walt with a rabbit?
     
    mouselover321 likes this.
  5. Woody13

    Woody13 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2002
    Messages:
    3,893
    Likes Received:
    174
    Rabbits are cute and furry little mammals. Mice are dirty little rodents. :wave:
     
  6. hypercatmatt04

    hypercatmatt04 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2004
    Messages:
    647
    Likes Received:
    13
    I just looked up Oswald, he looks almost exactly like Mickey.
     
  7. Tigger1988

    Tigger1988 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Messages:
    3,302
    Likes Received:
    4,362
    I think this rumor started from a show on PBS. Some man claimed to have a toy mouse made in 1926 named MICKY, so the host went all over the country researching this myth that there was a Micky before Mickey. In the 1920's mice we're popular characters in most cartoons, and they all looked alike. I'd suggest trying to find the show on PBS.
     
  8. 3IAlienKid

    3IAlienKid Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Messages:
    221
    Likes Received:
    1
    I don't get it. How is what he did violating the law? In any field, whether by inspiration, competition, or angry reaction, people take ideas all the time and make modifications (or if you prefer, "rip-off") around the confines of the copyright, thus making it their own property. Regardless of one's opinions on whether or not Mickey is an Oswald rip-off, seems to me Disney had every legal right to do what he did.

    The law has a funny relationship with ethics. Ideally, ethics helps fuel inspiration for the creation of law. Yet time and time again, the law is abused by some for unethical gain. Mintz had every legal right to do what he did. But I have to believe that given the secretive way he exercised this legal right and eventually notified his product's creator, he knew it was misleading, underhanded, and dishonest, legal or not.

    In the same way, I must reluctantly grant that one can speculate and debate that Mickey was born of unethically vengeful motivations by it's creator, and you might even have a convincing case. However, I don't think I can agree that Mickey's creation was a violation of the law.
     
  9. JLW11Hi

    JLW11Hi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Messages:
    1,960
    Likes Received:
    33
    well, I was going to say yes, but regardless of whether they are free to "violate the law" or not, it happens. It happens all the time. That's art. Appropriate, steal, homage, whatever you may call it, using other people's works as a source is a very common happening in the world of art. Its been done, especially ever since the "pop" art movement of the 60s and subsequent post modern movements. Its when you start making money off these images and mass producing it that it becomes a concern. Copywrite infringement can be complicated. Also, you need to take into consideration how close to the original "source" the images appear.

    There's a large piece here at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis done by a guy who juxtaposes side by side images from Walt Disney World and Nazi Germany. Its quite alarming. And I doubt that if Disney had any say in the matter that it would still be in the gallery. Of course, they were probably his own photographs.

    As for Walt stealing the idea of Mickey, well..if you are talking about the design of the character, then, yeah. Mickey, Felix the Cat, Oswald, Bosko, Foxy, Bimbo from the Betty Boop cartoons, all these characters were based on the simple black body with a white mask design. For animator's purposes at that time, in the early, developing days of animation, it served everyone well. The design was simple, straight forward, and easy to re-draw. I wouldn't doubt that even these designs were taken out of the early comic strips of the time, like, probably Krazy Kat.

    But if you are talking about Mickey's entire persona, well, I really find it hard to distinguish what Disney had Mickey do in his early cartoons with anything that any of those other characters did in their cartoons. The plots were thin, personalities were there, but very vague (usually the character, like Mickey, could simply be described as "happy-go-lucky".) The Disney Studio just got lucky and Mickey's popularity ended up dwarfing those characters at other studios. Where-as Warner Brothers dumped Bosko in favor of new characters (Porky Pig, Daffy Duck). The fact that Disney continued to use the character of Mickey Mouse in later projects,\ (the color shorts, Fantasia, the Mickey Mouse Club) is why he has obtained the world renouned statud he has today.

    You could also go into an argument over whether or not these images have any roots in comic portrayals of African Americans at the time.

    Sorry for responding to an old post, btw!
     
  10. disneyland075

    disneyland075 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2010
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    1
    walt would never steel anything he has frozeon but thoase are rummos that true and now the real story of how micky came to lifr
     
  11. Magenta Panther

    Magenta Panther Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    6,475
    Likes Received:
    9,478

    What was "illegal" and "dishonest" about Walt's creation of Mickey? At most he simply built on the experience he gained on the Oswald cartoons and improved upon them - and Mickey was the result. A lot of art is inspired by other art. And there is a big difference between theft and inspiration.
     
  12. Magenta Panther

    Magenta Panther Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    6,475
    Likes Received:
    9,478
    Tex Avery, a director on Looney Tunes, once said that the look for Bugs Bunny was more-or-less stolen from Walt Disney's character Max Hare from the cartoon Tortoise and the Hare. He went on to say that people stole from Walt all the time, and that Walt was nice enough never to say anything about it.
     
  13. wm49rs

    wm49rs A naughty bit o' crumpet Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Messages:
    19,454
    Likes Received:
    20,393
    "Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them
    outright.... "

    "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...."

    In other words, there's no use in trying to judge Walt for coming up with a competitor to Oswald when so many others were willing to flatter him with their own "theft" of his work....
     
  14. Wilt Dasney

    Wilt Dasney Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Messages:
    10,282
    Likes Received:
    712
    Interesting look back into the argument archives here. :lol:

    I think it is clear that Mickey was a thinly disguised Oswald at the outset, but what seems to have gotten lost here was that almost ALL the big cartoon "stars" had the same basic look in the 1920s-'30s. You'd put the same basic whiteface on a black body (the easiest template to maintain visual integrity on the screen in those early days), change the shape of the ears a bit, and call it a rabbit (Oswald), mouse (Mickey), cat (Felix), little boy (Bosko)...or whatever your angle happened to be.

    I know Woody isn't here to back up his opinion anymore, but calling Walt's creation of Mickey theft seems a little extreme, given that the level of talent and technology in the animation field hadn't allowed ANYONE to move beyond that basic visual prototype yet. :)
     
  15. JustInTime

    JustInTime Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Messages:
    3,826
    Likes Received:
    1,858
    I don't think it really matters how he got the idea. What matters is the end result. :)
     
  16. MarkTwain

    MarkTwain Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2009
    Messages:
    3,023
    Likes Received:
    4,684
    The Oswald/Mickey debate is a valid one, but there's another issue we're overlooking, and what for me might be one of the biggest cover-ups in the Walt Disney Company.

    Now I'm not saying Walt stole Mickey Mouse... merely that he may not have invented him. I've been reading a lot how it was his animator/employee, Ub Iwerks, that made the first drawings of Mickey, as well as was responsible for all of Mickey's animations after he created him. I think I remember reading that Ub made drawings of several farm animals, and Walt found the mouse the most appealing, and asked Ub to make more drawings of him. Walt gave the new character the name Mickey and eventually voiced him... but history will know Ub Iwerks as the man that invented him. Eventually Iwerks left Walt's company after feeling he didn't get the credit he deserved, which may well be true.

    This may be what the OP's friend was thinking of. :shrug:
     
  17. 216bruce

    216bruce Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Messages:
    1,497
    Likes Received:
    2,172
    Film and/or tv are collaborative mediums. No one individual is totally responsible for the product shown to the public. Thinking that Walt created Mickey, Disneyland, Snow White or the vast majority of "Disney" product during his lifetime is silly. He inspired, prodded, hired great folks and had an intuitive sense of what the public would love and what it craved.
    Yep, Mickey looks like Oswald who looks like Bosco who looks like Felix. Film and TV are not just collaborative mediums but also highly copycat. Look at all the reality shows on tv, cop shows on tv, sequels and talking animal cg cartoons in theaters. None of this makes what Walt and Roy did any less amazing. Just think: "What other studio brand even exists independently anymore?" Universal? MGM? Nope...just Disney. Enjoy it folks and don't be too critical, it's something very unique.
     
  18. David Roberts

    David Roberts Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Messages:
    336
    Likes Received:
    8
    To say that Mickey Mouse looks like Oswald is irrelavent because Walt Disney created them both.

    As far as Ub Iwerks. If he had stayed with Disney he would not have felt mistreated. He could go down as one of the biggest idiots of all time. He owned stock in the Disney Company and when he left the company it was worth about $250,000. If he had stayed at Disney it would have ended up being worth millions maybe more since he had a very large stock. I'd hate to be related to him.
     
    mouselover321 likes this.
  19. brightlillstar

    brightlillstar Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    188
    Likes Received:
    1
    Many of the cartoon characters of the day looked very similar. combine that with the fact that Oswald and Mickey came from the hand and imagination of the same artist and you can see how it would make sense for them to look very similar. If Walt had a style when he worked for the studio, wouldn't he have the same style when he dissolved that partnership?

    That isn't to say that Walt went out of his way to make them look different, or didn't know that they were similar.

    Personality does come into play here, though as others mentioned, distinguishing personalities of cartoon characters in those days was difficult.

    I still feel that Walt's questionable copyright infringement is not the same thing as stealing someone else's idea. To say he stole Mickey mouse makes it sound like he took the idea from someone else's character, but it was his own (creatively, if not legally).

    At any rate, Mickey was different SOMEHOW from Oswald, somehow more special, since we're not all clamoring to go visit Oswald.
     
  20. Silver Figment

    Silver Figment Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Messages:
    787
    Likes Received:
    147
    No, Walt did not steal the idea of Mickey Mouse.
     
    mouselover321 likes this.

Share This Page