Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Who Drew Oswald Rabbit??

by Connie Cortright

To continue our exploration of cartoon characters from the 20s to 30s... This week we meet one that I never heard of before. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was the forerunner to Mickey Mouse. He was developed and animated by Walt Disney before Disney left Universal Studios in 1928.

In fact, the reason Walt Disney started his own company and created Mickey Mouse was because Oswald Rabbit was so successful in 1927. Disney, riding high on the success of "Trolley Troubles" starring Oswald the Rabbit, baulked when Universal Studios suggested giving him a 20% cut in his salary. He figured that the studio couldn't get along without him so he refused to renew his contract at the lower rate. Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks left Universal and formed their own  company. They redid the cartooning of Oswald and created Mickey Mouse.

When Disney was originally creating Oswald, he decided to draw a rabbit because the competition of characters were cats (Felix the Cat and Krazy Kat). When one compares Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in his early drawings and Mickey Mouse, it's easy to conclude that they were drawn by the same artist. Mickey's ears are round, but the shoes and pants are almost alike. The eyes are drawn in a very similar style also. Walt Disney's hand can be seen in both drawings.
Universal Studios hired Walter Lantz to cartoon Oswald the Rabbit after Disney formed his own company. Lantz changed Oswald appearance through the 30s several times. He no longer wore white gloves or shoes and his clothes changed also.

By 1948 Oswald had become a "father" to two adopted orphan rabbits Floyd and Lloyd. He looked completely different when he appeared in comic books trying to raise his two sons. During these years he was illustrated by Walter Lantz, who was also the artist for Woody Woodpecker. 

I don't remember the cartoon character of Oswald the Rabbit as I was growing up. Maybe that's because his artists kept changing his appearance so often.  

If any of you have any Oswald the Rabbit stories to share with me, I'd love to hear your remembrances of him. Somehow, I don't think he can hold a candle to Mickey Mouse, though.

Information taken from Oswald the Lucky Rabbit - Wikipedia

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