Disney's "Boneheaded" Writer

Okay, let's wrap up the week with some eighties' Mickey Mouse stuff I found in my garage recently. Once again, these are rejected strips and ideas that failed to make it through our infamous weekly writer's meetings. You'll notice that our scripts are drawn and not simply typewritten. As my old pal and colleague Bob Foster would say, “drawing is writing.”

I can rag on this material because I wrote it. The gags are not very strong and that's why they failed to make the cut. Writing Mickey Mouse was tough because it was difficult to deal with the sensibility of the famous mouse. If we pushed him too far it simply would not jive with the corporate image of the Disney Company. If I pulled back the gag simply wasn't funny. It was walking a tightrope where missteps happened often.

This particular week I had help from the talented Dutch cartoonist, Daan Jippes. However, even Daan's gag failed to make it. Minnie Mouse is admiring new purses in a store window when suddenly her purse is stolen by a bad guy. Minnie is delighted because she can now enter the store and buy a new hand bag. Our boss, Greg didn't think the idea was very funny and you can see his note in red at the bottom of the strip. I also think that Greg didn't appreciate seeing a “robbery” in a Disney strip and felt it was somewhat inappropriate. Not that we hadn't committed cartoon “crimes” in times past. Then again, those are the hazards of gag writing at the Disney Company.

People are often surprised when they learn I was once the writer of the Mickey Mouse comic strip. It was never one of my favorite jobs even though I did many chores while working for Disney. In fact, it was a job I never requested or wanted. I won't even go into the boneheaded mistakes I made causing legal issues at the Walt Disney Studio. Like so many things in my long Disney career this goofy job was simply dumped into my lap. Yet, there was a positive note. I had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of talented individuals that included, Cal Howard, Don Ferguson, Tom Yakutis, Bob Foster, Don Dougherty, Lee Nordling and Willie Ito. And, honestly, you can't do much better than that.

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