Those familiar with my career know that a good part of it has involved this little guy. He’s a guy I grew up with and I enjoyed his antics in the Disney cartoons as a kid. I also accompanied him on a number of exciting adventures as I read the Disney comic books while sitting in the back seat of my dad’s car. I do not exaggerate when I say Walt’s famous mouse was a big part of my life.
My involvement with Mickey was limited while working in Walt Disney’s animation department in the fifties. With the exception of the Mickey Mouse Club we simply didn’t do all that much with the mouse. After animator, Ollie Johnston had animated the impressive title sequence for the daily television show there wasn’t that much for Mickey to do. Not even in the television show that carried his famous name. Suddenly, Mickey had become too cutesy or boring for the story guys to deal with. The irascible Donald Duck provided more opportunity for humor than the rather passive mouse who had become more and more like a cartoon version of Ozzie Nelson.
Clearly, the animation department had little use for Mickey Mouse in the eighties. Some talented young Disney upstarts tried their best to reboot Mickey by developing some impressive new vehicles to feature the former Disney star. One such, was movie idea entitled, “Mickey Columbus” where the mouse would play the famous explorer. Unfortunately, such ideas fell on deaf ears now that the Disney Company had new management. Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg wanted to push Disney forward but Mickey Mouse didn’t fit into their game plan. The Columbus project was shelved along with other Mickey Mouse reboots. Over in Disney’s publishing department a group of artists and writers tried in vain to update the Mickey Mouse Comic Strip. I came up with an idea to reintroduce the mouse as a retired animated movie actor who returns to Disney and the new Hollywood. I saw an incredible opportunity to involve Mickey Mouse with the new Hollywood players that would include filmmakers, Steven Speilberg and George Lucas. Mickey and Goofy had rented a home in the hills of Hollywood and their experience in present day tinsel town was rich with opportunity for humor. Sadly, this Mickey reboot failed to gain traction.
In spite of all our attempts to bring back the famous mouse here’s something that actually happened. Somehow we managed to create a new series of Mickey Mouse books that took the mouse on exciting adventures in the sky, under the sea and even in the old west as a rootin’ tootin’ cowboy named, the "Cactus Kid". Mickey even returned as a detective as he searched for the infamous Phantom Blot. Lee Nordling and I penned the stories for the Disney Publishing Group and we had a great time. I honestly admit it was great writing Mickey Mouse again. At least this version of Mickey, in any case. The exciting Mickey Mouse I had grown up with as a kid.