Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A PICTORAL HISTORY OF OSWALD THE RABBIT

I thought I'd share with you the evolution of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald's character changed quite a few times over the his two decades of popularity. Some changes were complete overhauls and you wouldn't even know it was the same character if it weren't for his distinct name.

Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created Oswald for Universal pictures. He was a typical cartoon character with simple facial features and solid colour body shapes that bared many similarities to Felix the Cat and Bimbo from Betty Boop. In fact, Mickey Mouse is pretty much a copy of Oswald with smaller ears.

When Disney and Iwerks left the studio to persue their own dreams, Walter Lantz continued to use the character of Oswald but made some changes to compete with the quickly evolving animation medium. Most notibly, Oswald was given gloves, shoes, a shirt and a cuter face due to the head being larger and the ears being smaller. Lantz also started making Oswald cartoons with sound in 1929.

In 1935, Lantz left Universal to create his own independant company where he went on to create Woody Woodpecker. It was here that Lantz gave Oswald a complete makeover. Oswald was now drawn with more realism and white fur. The stories changed too. Oswald wasn't the screwball rabbit anymore. The stories became softer and more 'cute'. They were also now being made in colour as Technicolor was now the hottest thing since sliced bread.



Dell comics put out an Oswald comicbook in 1942, taking the current Oswald style and moulding it to fit in with other Lantz characters like Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda. The comicbook style greatly influenced the cartoons and soon Oswald began to look more cartoony and his fur became two-toned.

Since the return of Oswald to Disney, there have been many rumours about new Oswald cartoons. One rumour states that John Lasseter is interested in making a few 3D shorts with Pixar and eventually releasing a feature film. They will, of couse, adopt the original Disney Oswald style for the films. A company has made a plastic figure of this new Oswald. I hope to see this character come to life once again.

4 comments:

coolshades said...

Hey I like the plastic figure version...he's cute :)

That's nuts how similar he looks to Mickey Mouse...I had always heard that Oswald was Mickey's predecessor, but had never seen pics of him before...

Katie said...

I had no idea Oswald changed so much over the years. All I've ever been exposed to is that old-skool Disney design. I think I've seen the white rabbit design, but I guess i never associated it with the old Oswald.

Thanks to your blog I'm even more educated than before.

Anonymous said...

I See Heritage Auctions in Texas are selling a 1928 Oswald The Lucky Rabbit poster "Africa Before DarK" in the next auction in March 2007 WoW which I had the money to buy it!!!!

mar said...

I recently found out that I own an original Oswald figurine. Does anybody have any idea how much it's worth?