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12:45 PM on 11.29.2010

Countdown to Epic Mickey: The Evolution of Mickey

Yesterday, we took a look at how Oswald the Lucky Rabbit changed from his cartoon debut to his post-Disney years. Today, we'll take a similar look at Mickey Mouse himself.

First off is "The Gallopin' Gaucho," released in 1928. It was the second Mickey Mouse cartoon produced, although like "Plane Crazy" before it, it failed to find a wide audience until after "Steamboat Willie" was a hit, at which point it was re-released as a sound cartoon.

Mickey was still developing as a character here. His eyes, for example, seem to change midway through the cartoon. In addition, he is seen smoking and drinking. This makes sense, given the setting, but it was enough to keep the cartoon locked in the Vault for quite sometime.


Next up is 1938's "Brave Little Tailor." This short, which was nominated for an Academy Award, really puts Mickey in the "unwitting hero" role. It is also notable for a couple other reasons. First, you'll notice that Mickey has no tail in this cartoon. In 1938, Disney experimented with a new design for the mouse, sans tail. It wasn't as well-received as they'd hoped, so he eventually did get his tail back. In addition, this was the last Mickey cartoon to feature his original black eyes. After "Brave Little Tailor," Fred Moore redesigned Mickey with the face and eyes that we now associate with the modern Mickey.


Finally, we have "Runaway Brain," released in 1995. One of Disney's first theatrically-released shorts in years, it had a very modern feel to it. While it's become a cult classic, it scared a lot of executives at the time. I guess they thought it was too "edgy." And in a way, it was edgy: Mickey ignores Minnie because he's too engrossed in a Mortal Kombat-type of game featuring the Seven Dwarfs fighting the Hag, the death of the villain is mined for laughs, and Minnie wonders what Mickey will think of her bikini.

One of the great things about this cartoon is the sheer number of inside jokes. A partial listing: Dr. Frankenollie is named for two of Disney's most legendary animators (and frequent collaborators), Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. These two also have a cameo in The Incredible, as the old men noting that "There's no school like the old school." There are the obvious "Steamboat Willie" references, including the song Mickey whistles on the doorstep (which also plays, Hawaiian-style, over the credits). The meanest joke? As Mickey falls down Frankenollie's trap door, a pink slip with the initials "JK" flies by. The previous year, Michael Eisner had fired Walt Disney Pictures Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg. Ouch.


And so concludes my Countdown to Epic Mickey. I hope you all have enjoyed this. I've had a good time putting it together. Come tomorrow, I'm putting on my Mickey Mouse pajamas and sitting on the couch all day, exploring the Wasteland. Who knows? Some of these cartoons might come in handy.

Previous Entries
The Evolution of Oswald
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The Mad Doctor
Rival Romeos
All Wet
Steamboat Willie
Plane Crazy   read

8:02 PM on 11.28.2010

Countdown to Epic Mickey: The Evolution of Oswald

So my plan for a daily Oswald or Mickey cartoon failed when I got busy. But with Epic Mickey two days away, I've decided to go out with a bang. Today? Three Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, to show you how the character changed over time.

First up is 1927's "Trolley Troubles," the very first Oswald cartoon produced. You can see how his design changed even within a a couple cartoons when you compare the image in the header to the Oswald seen in the cartoon.


Next up is 1928's "Oh What a Knight." Oswald looks more familiar in this cartoon. It also includes a pretty funny sword-fighting sequence. I've heard that this cartoon is featured in Epic Mickey somehow, so you'd better watch it before you play.


And finally, 1936's "Beach Combers." This was cartoon, obviously, was made after Walt lost the character, and years after Mickey's rise to fame. You'll notice that Oswald looks a little... different. I think as far as Disney is concerned, any cartoon produced after Disney lost the rights isn't canon.


Well, that was different.

Tomorrow, a similar look at Mickey. Because I can!

Previous Entries
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The Mad Doctor
Rival Romeos
All Wet
Steamboat Willie
Plane Crazy   read

7:43 PM on 11.22.2010

Countdown to Epic Mickey: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"

To the five of you who are following this series, I apologize for missing yesterday's entry. I feel like I have a good excuse, though, as I was hanging out at Downtown Disney with the one and only Digtastik. But now I'm back, and I'm here to share one of the most iconic Mickey Mouse cartoons of all time: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

This cartoon was, of course, part of Fantasia, the "concert film" that is now viewed as a classic. When it was released in 1940, however, it was not the success Walt Disney hoped for. Walt, ever the visionary, had many unique ideas he wanted to include in the film. He envisioned it as a traveling "roadshow" that would open in cities across the country, play for a weekend, and then move onto the next city, much as concerts did. In addition, he wanted theaters to install "Fantasound," in essence an early version of surround sound. He also wanted theaters to equip the ability to add extra, in-theater effects during the film, as well, such as scents and water effects. Theaters didn't want to go through that expense, and in the end, the only theaters that added Fantasound were ones that Disney paid for itself. Of course, now every theater has surround sound, and you find in-theater effects in the 3D shows in Disney Parks around the world... Walt was nothing if not ahead of his time.

Here's a fun fact: the apprentice was originally planned to be Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but Walt wanted Mickey to star, both to keep Mickey in the public's consciousness and to raise the profile of Fantasia with some real animated star power.

Yen Sid (spell it backwards), the sorcerer in this short, was based on Walt himself. Walt was, in the estimation of just about everyone who worked with him or knew him, a genius, but he was also extremely demanding. In fact, towards the end of the cartoon, you'll see Yen Sid raise one eyebrow in frustration at Mickey. This expression was all too familiar to everyone at the Studio.

Yen Sid, of course, will be playing a major role in Epic Mickey, acting as the creator of what becomes the Wasteland, and acting as something of a representation of Walt within the world of the game (although judging by the Oswald-ified Partners statue in the game, the characters are also aware of Walt's existence, which makes this Disney geek and Walt disciple extremely excited).

And now, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."


Previous Entries
The Mad Doctor
Rival Romeos
All Wet
Steamboat Willie
Plane Crazy   read

10:41 PM on 11.20.2010

Countdown to Epic Mickey: "The Mad Doctor"

After two days with Oswald, it's time to return to the mouse. And along the way, we'll meet an important character from Epic Mickey: The Mad Doctor.

The Mad Doctor only appeared in one cartoon, but he made an impact. Some theaters refused to carry the cartoon, thinking it was too scary for kids. It's fondly remembered as a classic cartoon, though, and was a big change of pace from Mickey's usual fare. And if you're a fan of old-school Mickey games, you've played through this cartoon before: it was the second level of the 16-bit classic Mickey Mania.

And now, "The Mad Doctor."


Previous Entries
Rival Romeos
All Wet
Steamboat Willie
Plane Crazy   read

8:40 PM on 11.19.2010

Countdown to Epic Mickey: "Rival Romeos"

Look at that face. LOOK AT IT.

I'm just going to be honest here. Probably the main reason that I picked this Oswald cartoon for today was because I wanted to use that image as the header. But I have other reasons, too!

First off, I mentioned this in the "Steamboat Willie" post, but the goat-as-phonograph gag made famous in that cartoon showed up here first, without the aid of sound. Just an interesting note. A lot of cartoons reused gags like that in those days. In fact, they still do.

Second, this cartoon features one of Oswald's many girlfriends. Unlike Mickey, Oswald never had a steady girlfriend. This one, I believe, is Ortensia, who come Epic Mickey's release will be Oswald's canon girlfriend. But for the most part, Oswald is something of a rabbit cassanova. How much of this will carry over into his rebirth remains to be seen, but we do know this: in the game, Oswald has over 400 kids. Poor Ortensia...

Third, that close-up. My goodness, that close-up. One of my favorite bits of any cartoon ever. A little odd, but hey, I have a weird sense of humor. It really showcases how experimental animators were getting at the time.

And now, "Rival Romeos."


Check back tomorrow as we return to the mouse, and meet another character who will play a big role in Epic Mickey.

Previous Entries
All Wet
Steamboat Willie
Plane Crazy   read

5:14 PM on 11.18.2010

Countdown to Epic Mickey: "All Wet"

Well, I screwed up. Yesterday, I decided to make "Steamboat Willie" my cartoon of the day. But thanks to my inability to realize what day it is, I missed the opportunity to use today--the anniversary of that cartoon's release, and Mickey and Minnie's official birthday--as my "Steamboat Willie" day. Oh well. That's what happens when you make stuff up as you go along. So instead of celebrating the Mouse, today we remember the Rabbit. Seeing how jealous Oswald is of Mickey taking "his" fame in Epic Mickey, I like to think he'd appreciate it.

This cartoon, released in 1927, is not necessarily notable for anything special. It just happens to be my favorite Oswald cartoon. A couple friends of mine and I did an Oswald marathon one night (if you are at all interested in animation history, I highly recommend the Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit DVD), and for whatever reason, this cartoon cracked me up. My favorite part (because I'm sure you're dying to know) is when the dog sets his hot dog free. It'll make sense when you watch it, I promise.

One thing you'll notice watching this cartoon (and any number of cartoons from this era) is how strange everything is. Without sound, the visual gag was king, and animation afforded filmmakers the ability to make any sight gag imaginable. That's why you have boats rowing through the air, cash registers that grab the money themselves, and a rabbit spanking a hot dog for trying to escape the grill. It's weird, and in my opinion, quite funny.

Side note: I mentioned that this was my favorite Oswald cartoon. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to play a demo of Epic Mickey at Downtown Disney. Some developers from Junction Point were there to guide people as they played and to answer questions. I asked them if they spent a lot of times watching the cartoons, and they told me that everyone was actually required to watch a ton of them, from Mickey and Oswald to Donald and Goofy. I asked if this particular cartoon made it into the game in any way. While I was excited that they actually knew which cartoon I was talking about, I was disappointed to find out that this particular one isn't really referenced in the game. Oh well.

And now, "All Wet."


But seriously, I want that waving hot dog on a t-shirt.

Previous Entries
Steamboat Willie
Plane Crazy   read

8:10 PM on 11.17.2010

Countdown to Epic Mickey: "Steamboat Willie"

Welcome to day two of my Epic Mickey countdown. Today's cartoon? Perhaps the ultimate Mickey classic: "Steamboat Willie."

We talked about it a little yesterday, but this cartoon's premiere date of November 18, 1928, is recognized by Disney as Mickey's birthday, in spite of the fact that "Plane Crazy" premiered first. This is because "Steamboat Willie" was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to find a distributor.

As pretty much everybody knows, this was the first cartoon to have a synchronized soundtrack. It was also the first cartoon to show Mickey using a pig's nipples as a musical instrument. Yeah, early cartoons were weird. For a time, Disney had a censored version of the cartoon that cut out much of the "animal cruelty," but as of late, it has embraced the original again, even showing it uncut on special TV channels at its resorts.

FUN FACT (if you're a geek like me): the "goat-swallows-sheet-music-and-is-used-as-a-phonograph" gag was first used in the Oswald cartoon "Rival Romeos." It works better here, what with it actually having sound this time.

And now, "Steamboat Willie."


Hope you enjoyed that Mickey Mouse Sound Cartoon. Come back tomorrow, when the world's most forgotten cartoon rabbit gets his day in the sun.

Previous Entries
Plane Crazy   read

11:23 AM on 11.16.2010

Countdown to Epic Mickey: "Plane Crazy"

So here's a thing I've decided to try. With Epic Mickey two weeks away, I've decided that in preparation, every day I'll post a classic Mickey Mouse or Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon with a little bit of commentary. We'll see if anyone notices, but I figure that since a lot of these cartoons are going to be referenced in the game, it's a good way to get ready.

First up is the very first Mickey Mouse cartoon: "Plane Crazy." Since Disney uses the premiere date of "Steamboat Willie" (November 18, 1928) Mickey's official birthday, most people assume that it was also Mickey's first cartoon. While it was the first cartoon with synchronized sound, his actual debut came in this silent cartoon on May 15, 1928. It was later re-released with sound on March 17, 1929.

Watching this cartoon, you'll notice something to which Holmes alluded in his preview: Mickey was kind of a jerk, trying to kiss Minnie when she clearly had no interest. Because of his behavior here, which is similar to the way Oswald behaved in his cartoons, a lot of people believe this was originally meant to star the amorous rabbit.

And now, "Plane Crazy."


I'll be back tomorrow with another Mickey cartoon. Hope you all enjoy this little feature!   read

11:32 PM on 04.08.2010


In the forums, a rivalry is abrewin', and it's spilled over into the cblogs. In comic form.

Gobun with the first blow.

Then Gyrael retaliated.

Gobun vowed revenge.

But what is the root of this hatred? Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the truth:

For any of you surface-dwellers that don't understand the last panel, that's a cameo by our dear friend Changston. If you don't get it, you're not cool.

The truth: finally revealed?   read

1:01 PM on 03.05.2010

Quickblog: Why "Portal 2" is not like "Bioshock 2"

So Portal 2 was officially announced today, and there was much rejoicing. But, this being the internet, there was also some cautious optimism, some trepidation, and some outright negativity. "No!" shouted some people. "Portal was a complete story! Why ruin it with a sequel?" Others invoked another controversial sequel, Bioshock 2. Commenter runtheplacered write:

"It's NOT Ok to make a Bioshock sequel because the first games story was perfect and had the makings of a classic. Leave it alone, right?

But it IS Ok to make a Portal sequel because the first games story was perfect and had the makings of a classic. Am I right about this?"

There may be some merit to this argument. That remains to be seen. But for right now, I can see more reasons to be optimistic about a Portal sequel.

I haven't played Bioshock 2 yet. Hopefully that will change this week (I'm currently waiting for my connecting flight at the Charlotte Airport, which will take me home for spring break, which is where the 360 is. This is also why this blog may seem a bit rushed... Can't miss my flight). When it was announced, I was one of the skeptics. I've warmed to the idea now, though. With that out of the way, let's get into my argument...

Bioshock and Portal have a lot in common. Both are games with great gameplay, enhanced by a well-told story that makes full use of the strengths of the medium. Bioshock's collectible audio diaries and intricately designed environments enhanced the backstory of the rise and fall of Rapture in addition to moving the plot forward. In Portal, GLaDOS's constant, hilarious narration hinted at sinister secrets, while exploration would reveal the "Ratman's" incoherent ramblings that deepened the feeling of conspiracy.

So why are am I, among other people, more readily able to embrace the idea of a Portal sequel than a Bioshock sequel? The difference lies in what each game set out to do. The main attraction of Bioshock was its story. Everything in the game was structured to advance its plot, its critique of Ayn Rand, and its exploration of Rapture. This was all wrapped up in a fun, although not terribly unique, FPS. Portal, on the other hand, is a puzzle game with a unique gameplay concept, one that seemed fresh to most players. People came for the portal gun puzzle-solving, and ended up loving it for its Companion Cube and end-credits sing-alongs.

Portal was, as you know, a short game. Valve only scratched the surface with the types of puzzles the portal gun makes possible. I think Valve will be able to explore these without harming the story presented in the original. In fact, I think that Portal's story left enough open at the end that a sequel can easily make sense (GLaDOS is still alive, after all). And if the Game Informer cover is any indication, it looks like we'll get to explore environments outside of the sterile lab environment and grimy underbelly of the Enrichment Center.

So in conclusion, don't worry, [BLOG READER NAME HERE]. Portal 2, at least in theory, looks like it has the potential to expand on the original without harming its legacy.   read

2:12 AM on 02.19.2010

Why "Why X is not a real Y" is not a real meme

This is a response to certain members. I figure this is a great meme for my first blog about how it is not a meme.

Processing Power
Processing power does not just equal better hilarity. If it did, that would be fine. But "Why X is not a real Y's" puny processing power can't even handle hilarious shoops. If it did, my blog would have pictures, and people would love it so much more. In addition, other memes like "10 Things You Didn't Know About Me" had numbered lists, but "Why X is not a real Y" would crash if numbers were added. This is science.

"Why X is not a real Y" is not in the same market as "Hamzakah" and "I hugged"
It is being offered to a specifically different audience. That's what market means! You can't tell me that people who are int things like this:

want to be told about why something that's a thing isn't that thing that it is. If you really consider yourself a "memer" who likes serious memes (Not just gritty realistic ones, but ones of all spectrums that offer a rewarding meming experience) you'd realize and abandon it. If for no other reason to make as much of an impact as you can on the betterment of meming.

"Why X is not a real Y" is making serious meming worse
Like I said earlier, this meme can't handle funny shoops. For example, I normally do a quick-and-dirty shoop for fun on my meme blogs, but because this one is happening at 3 in the morning when I should be doing other, more important things, I can't be arsed to try. Other memes didn't have that effect on me. Also, it makes me use British slang like "can't be arsed." More proof of its sinister effects on me. And memes. And me memes.

This audio clip sums it up nicely.

This is my argument for why you should abandon it and trade up for one of the better memes.   read

11:20 AM on 10.23.2009

Did Somebody Say "DOUBLE DOWN?"

Yes, I decided to DOUBLE DOWN. And yes, I have decided to share it with the world here in the cblogs. Oh, how exciting!

Say hello to a little meal I like to call "Mexican Pizza with a Chick-Fil-A sandwich inside."

[embed]152893:24035[/embed]   read

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