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Animation fans are sure to get a bang out of Disney's new series of Mickey Mouse shorts

Animation fans are sure to get a bang out of Disney's new series of Mickey Mouse shorts

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"I hope that we don't lose sight of one thing. That it all started with a mouse." -- Walt Disney

And given that Mickey is basically the well-spring from which all good things flow at The Walt Disney Company ... well, it's kind of appropriate that -- on Disney's Glendale Campus -- there's this very cool Mickey-inspired fountain.

Photo by Noe Valladolid

"And what exactly were you & Noe doing on Disney's Glendale Campus?," you ask.  This past Friday was Mickey Mouse Day, a media preview where we -- along with a bunch of other reporters -- got a chance to look at two of the nineteen new Mickey Mouse shorts that will soon begin playing on the Disney Channel. We were also given an in-depth look at the new Disney Mobile game which  will based on these shorts as well as the wildly popular game "Where's My Water".

Bart Decrem served as MC for the first part of the day's events. He expressed what it was that made working for the Mouse special for him:

Bart Decrem welcomes the press to Mickey Mouse Day at Disney's Glendale
Campus. Photo by Noe Valladolid

"The thing that never ceases to sort of amaze me and impress me is just the depth of the  characters and the worlds that Disney stands for and the emotional connection that our  guests have with those characters. The other thing that blows me away is sort of at Disney  every couple of months is just the amazing talent, the talented crew of people we have  here," Decrem decried.

Eric Coleman, Senior Vice President in charge of Original Series for Disney Television  Animation, echoed this sentiment. When introducing Where's My Water creator Tim  Fitzrandolph, he said: "I dare you to find a more talented game-maker on the app store."

Eric Coleman, senior VP of Original Series at Disney Television Animation.
Photo by Noe Valladolid

Coleman explained the responsibilities that came with re-creating what is arguably the world's most iconic character: "We're very excited about what we've been doing with  Mickey. When we at the TV Animation Studio were given the opportunity to do new  Mickey Mouse shorts, we were thrilled. We set out with three specific goals in mind.

1. To introduce Mickey to a new generation, Entertain families that have their own  memories of Mickey Mouse and highlight the personality of this character; show  what a star he is.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

2. We wanted to make sure that they feel contemporary. So to us this doesn't mean  that we just give him an iPhone and call it a day. It was in the tone, the sensibility, and the execution in the shorts. Where they're edited, if music plays, the feel of it.

3. We wanted to make shorts that really bring him to an international audience. We  have Disney Channels in 167 countries now, a huge global audience. While the  appeal of Mickey Mouse is universal, we wanted to make some shorts that felt  very customized to some of our specific audiences."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

The next thing Disney Television Animation had to do was assemble a team that could actually pull this project off:

"We  were really, really fortunate to bring aboard Paul Rudish, who in the animation industry is highly regarded. He's beloved, he's talented, he's extremely handsome .. .he's legendary, he's Emmy-winning, he worked on The PowerPuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai  Jack; he also designed the original 2D Clone Wars designs, he's worked on so many  groundbreaking shows, and we were working with him in-house on some things. And when this opportunity came up, Paul was the perfect sensibility-wise to tap for it," Coleman explained.

Eric Coleman (R) introduces Paul Rudish (L). Photo by Noe Valladolid

"So the next thing was for Paul to pull together a team. And under Paul we have some incredible storyboard artists, character designers, background designers, just a hugely talented crew. We said to Paul, we want to do this, these are the things we want to accomplish, and you  have a wide berth here to tell us if you take that challenge on, what you want to do with it,"Eric continued.

Paul Rudish shared his feelings on the project: "When the offer came to get on this project, it was kind of overwhelming. It was exciting to me as a fan of Walt Disney's  classics to tackle the original cartoon character (almost). But not in the scary way, being  that he's so iconic and such a strong character and his world and cast of characters is very iconic and actually very easy to navigate. So the weight of what Mickey Mouse could be went away pretty quickly, and we are really comfortable to just get in there and play with this guy," Rudish stated.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"(This version of Mickey Mouse was a character) that I felt like I knew. (As a kid, one of my favorite things to do was) was going to Disneyland and going to that little theater on Main Street and watching all the old black-and-white cartoons like Plane Crazy, the original Mickey Mouse cartoon and one of my all-time favorites," Paul said  "(So I) started drawing and instantly found the want to do that rubber-hose, old black-and-white  kind of thing. Honestly not doing old time, black-and-white cartoon, but the sensibilities of those original cartoons, that were just a little more surreal and very graphic and very playful."

"(The challenge with creating these sorts of Mickey Mouse shorts in the modern age where he's once again)  that whimsical mischievous little rascal, finding his character, that little guy  that's kind of naïve, and then finds himself in trouble, then finds a clever way to get  himself out of it," Rudish continued. "So we started exploring the graphic tone of them, the music cues, the original sketches that I was playing with, I just find black-and-white so appealing to me personally that white face and black head and just a powerful graphic, and those three circles that's instantly recognized all over the world, it's just really iconic.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"It doesn't matter what you do with (Mickey). You can put him in different costumes, in different places, and kind of cast him with different roles around the world, and he's still always Mickey Mouse. Some different international things are happening, we are exploring different  things that are happening, different locations, the cast of characters are there; we were  looking for the rubber hose is fun, Goofy is more like his original origins, Dippy Dog, and it's still really like him, the 1950s incarnation of Donald and Daisy. Donald was super-cute then," Paul enthused.

"So it's kind of an amalgamation, things kind of percolated naturally as I  was drawing, things kind of came up in my head, I imagined the characters, and then to complement that, again provenance of being at Disney and the history of all the amazing  artists that were always inspiring me was right at hand, fantastic pieces of art by artist like Walt Peregoy, Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, had me super excited," Rudish said. "so we drew  inspiration from all around Disney, eras and different productions ..."

Background artwork for these new Mickey Mouse shorts done in the style of
Mary Blair. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Paul then showed the members of the press who had come out for Disney's Mickey Mouse Day  some fantastic inspirational artwork he'd done for the shorts, and pointed out to us where the inspiration came from. Some, like the Mary Blair-style art Paul did for the  Alpine short, were very obvious. Some, like the Chinese zoo, were subtler.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

We got to see two shorts, one which took place on an American boardwalk, the other in  Tokyo. What was interesting was that they did, indeed, play to an international audience  - some of the shorts were in another language but needed no translation. Some had no  talking at all! But like the original Mickey Mouse short, Plane Crazy, no words were needed.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

FYI: The Disney Channel is going to begin airing these new Mickey Mouse shorts starting on June 28th. The first batch includes "No Service" (in which Mickey and Donald try to buy lunch from a beachside snack shack but are unceremoniously turned down because of the classic "No shirt, no shoes, no service" admonition) and "Yodelberg" (where Mickey longs to visit Minnie atop her mountaintop chalet but quickly realizes that the threat of avalanche has made the trek up the mountain more challenging than usual).

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

NEXT TIME: I'll discuss what happened during the second half of our visit to Disney's Glendale Campus on Mickey Mouse Day. Where we then got to scope out what the Company hopes will be its next big app, "Where's My Mickey?"

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But what do you folks think of what you've seen so far of these new Mickey Mouse shorts? Does this artwork and/or the comments from the filmmakers make these shorts seem like something that you'll seek when they air on the Disney Channel?

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  • Yes, I really enjoyed reading about this post, I will be watching Disney Channel on June 28th. Just like reliving my youth. Thanks to All.

  • This is another exciting one to watch out for.  And the fountain above is really adorable.

  • The Mary Blair inspired backgrounds are my favorite! Thanks Jim for covering this.

  • This really sounds like a lot of fun. Hopefully they'll be on DVD at some point.

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