Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons, by David A. Bossert – Book Review by Fred Patten
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons, by David A. Bossert. Introduction by J. B. Kaufman. Illustrated.
Glendale, CA, Disney Editions, August 2017, hardcover $40.00 (176 pages).
I can’t say that I have been waiting all my life for this book, but it seems like it. As an animation fan during the 1970s and 1980s, everyone knew the Walt Disney story from the creation of Mickey Mouse onward, but nobody seemed to know what came before Mickey Mouse. Information about Disney’s first Laugh-O-Gram cartoons in Kansas City was gradually learned – his move to Hollywood and the Alice Comedies, then Oswald the Lucky Rabbit; then in early 1928 – nobody knew the exact date — the Oswald cartoons were somehow stolen from him, and he quickly created Mickey Mouse to replace his loss. But what happened in early 1928? Animation fans wanted to know.
The general story slowly emerged, but there was a shortage of details, and no one place contained all the information. Then in 2006 the Disney Studios reacquired the long-dormant Oswald rights from Universal. Well, to cut a long story short, this book now presents those details, with contemporary illustrations from the Disney Archives on almost every page. It’s not complete; there are still seven of Disney’s 26 1927-1928 Oswald cartoons that have not been found. But there is enough information here, in text and illustrations, to fill a book – this book.
This is fine for the animation fan. Is it worth it for the furry fan? Definitely! Disney’s Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was a major anthro animal star of the late 1920s; by Disney in 1927-28, and it took him a decade to sink out of popularity under other directors during the 1930s. Here he is during his original stardom. If Disney hadn’t had Oswald taken away from him, we would never have gotten Mickey Mouse. Instead Oswald would have gone on to the mega-popularity that Mickey won. (Maybe. Oswald was still owned by Universal Studios, so Disney never would have had the creative freedom that he did with Mickey, who was 100% his own character.) Furry fandom would have acknowledged Oswald instead of Mickey as one of its major influences.