Before returning to Disney Feature Animation in the early nineties I developed children's books for Disney's Publishing Group. We occupied the 28th floor of a Burbank skyscraper. High rise office buildings are always an uncomfortable place for Disney artists. We’d prefer buildings with one or three stories at the most. That way the leap out of the office window probably wouldn’t kill us. My “vacation” from the animation business had already lasted for nearly ten years. Because of the creative freedom graciously given me I didn't miss animation all that much. It was a fun job and I could have easily remained there forever.
Many books were developed during my time at Disney Publishing and naturally, we created a fair number of children's books. Of course the book series featured the famous Disney characters and one such project was a series entitled, “Mickey Wonders Why?” That was many years ago so my memory is somewhat hazy. I think the books dealt with questions children often ask. Questions such as, how far away are the stars or why is the sky blue? Since we had Mickey Mouse doing all the wondering, that suddenly caused me to wonder about a few things myself.
The nineties was a turbulent time for the Disney Company and CEO, Michael Eisner. There was considerable grumbling from fans and shareholders alike. Most felt the company was moving in the wrong direction and this was further amplified by Walt's nephew, Roy Edward who led a revolt against the company leadership. Since we were working on a children's book that was roughly titled, “Mickey Wonders Why…” I decided to do my own version of the famous mouse wondering. What would Mickey wonder about, I asked myself? There were a fair number of things that felt wacky about the Disney Company. Perhaps Mickey might be wondering about that as well.
Needless to say, I never finished my book. Before long, I found myself heading back to Disney Feature Animation and story work on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” The Hunchback movie was quickly followed by “Mulan,” and well…you get the idea. I was to remain at Disney and Pixar for another ten years and I never got back to my Mickey storybook. Last evening while searching for a few documents I came across several sketches for the Mickey Mouse Book I never completed. You can see two of the sketches here. Perhaps it's just as well. Things have finally settled down at the Mouse House and now it’s nearly 2015. What will happen next year? Mickey is still probably wondering.