Greenbriar Picture Shows blog has a pretty cool article about Walt Disney’s first creation.
For those who may not know the history here, Oswald was introduced in 1927. The creation of Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks and under contract to Universal at the time. Walter Mintz was the man in charge over Walt at the time the long and short of it is that Walt had created a very successful character for Universal in Oswald.
When Walt asked Mintz for a budget increase, Mintz asked him to continue his work with Oswald but with a 20 percent cut to their budget. This eventually drove Walt (and others) to leave Universal and let to the creation of Oswald’s successor (and Disney’s most popular creation) Mickey Mouse in 1928.
Mintz ultimately lost the Oswald contract to Walter Lantz (the man who later became well-known for Woody Woodpecker) and Oswald cartoons continued to be made by Universal, but Oswald’s look changed drastically over the years. Oswald was ultimately retired in 1951, his last appearance being a cameo in 1951’s “The Woody Woodpecker Polka.”
The Walt Disney Company finally reacquired the rights to the original Oswald character in 2006, trading ESPN’s Al Michaels to NBC for Oswald.
I’m proud to say that I have a picture of Oswald that hangs in my living room. An homage of sorts to Walt’s original creation. Later this year, “Epic Mickey” will release on Nintendo’s WII platform. Oswald figures prominently into the story line of the game.
Go check out Greenbriar’s article. It’s got some neat history as well as some cool posters and art.