Ub Iwerks (1935)

Balloon Land is a 1935 animated short cartoon film produced and directed by Ub Iwerks as part of the ComiColor Cartoons series. The cartoon is about a place called Balloon Land, whose residents are made entirely out of balloons. The villain in the cartoon is the Pincushion Man, a character who walks around Balloon Land popping the inhabitants with pins.

Starring Billy Bletcher as the Pincushion Man and Leone LeDoux as the Balloon Alarm Babies.

Ub Iwerks was an American animator, cartoonist, character designer, inventor, and special effects technician, who designed Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. Iwerks produced alongside Walt Disney and won numerous awards, including multiple Academy Awards.

The ComiColor Cartoon series is a series of 25 animated short subjects produced by Ub Iwerks from 1933 to 1936. The series was the last produced by Iwerks Studio; after losing distributor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1934, the Iwerks studio’s senior company Celebrity Pictures had to distribute the films itself. The series was shot exclusively in Cinecolor, a two-color process.

Most of the ComiColor entries were based upon popular fairy tales and other familiar stories, including Jack and the Beanstalk, Old Mother Hubbard, The Bremen Town Musicians, and The Headless Horseman.

Ub Iwerks (1935)

Flora and fauna come out to celebrate the beginning of summertime, but old Man winter just doesn’t want to let go yet.

The sun gathers its strength to shine bright and melt the ice of Winter so that Spring may begin. However, Old Man Winter is unwilling to go quietly. He tricks the groundhog into believing that he has seen his shadow so that Winter can be prolonged. The other creatures of the forest ban together to ward off Old Man Winter, with fauns and centaurs leading the battle.

Ub Iwerks was an American animator, cartoonist, character designer, inventor, and special effects technician, who designed Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. Iwerks produced alongside Walt Disney and won numerous awards, including multiple Academy Awards.

Animated by Steve Bosustow, Jimmie Culhane, Al Eugster, Grim Natwick, & Berny Wolf.

Hugh Harman & Rudolf Ising (1930)

Congo Jazz is a Looney Tunes cartoon starring Warner Bros.’ first cartoon star, Bosko. The cartoon was released in September 1930. It was distributed by Warner Bros. and The Vitaphone Corporation. Congo Jazz was the first cartoon to feature Bosko’s falsetto voice that he would use for the bulk of the series’ run. It has the earliest instance of a “trombone gobble” in animation.

In 1927, Harman and Ising were still working for the Walt Disney Studios on a series of live-action/animated short subjects known as the Alice Comedies. The two animators created Bosko in 1927 to capitalize on the new “talkie” craze that was sweeping the motion picture industry. They began thinking about making a sound cartoon with Bosko in 1927, before even leaving Walt Disney. Hugh Harman made drawings of the new character and registered it with the copyright office on 3 January 1928.

After leaving Walt Disney in early 1928, Harman and Ising went to work for Charles Mintz on Universal’s second-season Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons. April 1929 found them moving on again, leaving Universal to market their new cartoon character. In May 1929, they produced a short pilot cartoon, similar to Max Fleischer’s Out of the Inkwell cartoons, Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid that showcased their ability to animate soundtrack-synchronized speech and dancing. The short, plotless cartoon opens with live action footage of Ising at a drafting table. After he draws Bosko on the page, the character springs to life, talks, sings, and dances. Ising returns Bosko to the inkwell, and the short ends. This short is a landmark in animation history as being the first cartoon to predominantly feature synchronized speech, though Fleischer Studios’ Song Car-Tune My Old Kentucky Home was the first cartoon to contain animated dialogue a few years earlier. This cartoon set Harman and Ising “apart from early Disney sound cartoons because it emphasized not music but dialogue.” The short was marketed to various people by Harman and Ising until Leon Schlesinger offered them a contract to produce a series of cartoons for the Warner Bros. It would not be seen by a wide audience until 71 years later, in 2000, as part of Cartoon Network’s special Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons, a compilation special of rare material from the WB/Turner archives.

In his book, Of Mice and Magic, Leonard Maltin states that this early version of Bosko:

“was in fact a cartoonized version of a young black boy… he spoke in a Southern Negro dialect… in subsequent films this characterization was eschewed, or perhaps forgotten. This could be called sloppiness on the part of Harman and Ising, but it also indicates the uncertain nature of the character itself.”

Walt Disney (1928)

Hungry Hobos is a silent animated short released by Universal Studios in 1928. The short features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Peg Leg Pete as the title characters.

Having been lost since before World War II, the short was rediscovered in 2011 in the Huntley Film Archives, and was later purchased by the Walt Disney Company. It was then restored and re-debuted at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2012 as part of a special animation shorts program presented by leading film historian and restoration expert Serge Bromberg. The restored version was officially released as a bonus feature in the release of the Walt Disney Signature Collection edition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Blu-ray.

The history of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is that he was created by Walt Disney but had the rights of the character swept out from under his feet by producer Charles Mintz. However, never being one to give up easily, Disney went back to the drawing board and with help from animator Ub Iwerks created the ever-beloved cartoon character Mickey Mouse, which later became Disney’s signature character and helped him finally gain the recognition he had been after all along.

Friz Freleng & Rudolf Ising (1931)

Foxy dreams he is the Toonerville Trolley engineer urging his passengers to smile while taking his girlfriend Roxy for a ride. Fortunately, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melody characters evolved and no longer look like a bunch of Disney Mickey’s.

Smile, Darn Ya, Smile! is a Merrie Melodies cartoon short and also the title of the song performed in the cartoon. This is one of only three Merrie Melodies cartoons to star Foxy; the other two are Lady, Play Your Mandolin! and One More Time. This short is a remake of Trolley Troubles, a Disney short featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in whose creation Hugh Harman had once been involved.

A colorized version was produced in Korea. It was made by re-drawing the cels and backgrounds. The animation in this version is inferior, since many drawings were left out, causing jerky movement.

Produced by Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising, and Leon Schlesinger. Animated and by drawn by Friz Freleng, Carman Maxwell, and Larry Martin.

Hugh Harman & Rudolf Ising (1929)


Schlesinger hired Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising to produce their first series of cartoons. Bosko was the first major Looney Tunes lead character, debuting in the short Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid in 1929. The first Looney Tunes short was Sinkin’ in the Bathtub, which was released in 1930.

In 1928, when Walt Disney lost control of his Oswald The Lucky Rabbit cartoon series, producer George Winkler hired away several of Disney’s animators to continue producing the Oswald cartoons for Universal Studios. These animators included Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising, Isadore “Friz” Freleng, Carman “Max” Maxwell, Norm Blackburn, Paul Smith, and Rollin “Ham” Hamilton. Universal later chose to produce the Oswald series using its own in-house animators headed by Walter Lantz, which left Winkler’s animators out of work. The unemployed animators decided to produce their own cartoons and made Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid as a demonstration to show to distributors. Rudolf Ising appeared on-screen as himself in the short and Carman Maxwell performed the voice of Bosko. Harman and Ising shopped for a distributor, but were turned down by both Paramount Pictures and Universal. Leon Schlesinger, head of Pacific Title & Art Studio took an interest in Bosko and used his connections with Warner Bros. to get a distribution deal for a cartoon series that Harman and Ising later named Looney Tunes, a play on the name of Walt Disney’s Silly Symphony series.

Walt Disney & Ub Iwerks (1927)

Trolley Troubles is a 1927 animated short subject film, produced by Charles Mintz and George Winkler and directed by Walt Disney. Since Poor Papa, the cartoon is noted for being the first appearance of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character that Disney and Ub Iwerks created for Universal Pictures and Charles B. Mintz.

In January 1927, Winkler Pictures head Charles Mintz told Disney and Iwerks to create a cartoon character they could sell to Universal Pictures. Universal wanted to re-enter the cartoon business and needed a character of it’s own. Disney began working on both the character and the films shortly after he moved his studio to Hyperion Avenue.

Disney opted to make the character a rabbit at the suggestion of Carl Laemmle, Universal’s founder. Universal’s publicity department chose the name of the character by drawing it out of a hat filled with slips of paper with different names on them. An early press release from Universal Weekly called the character “Oswald, the Welsh Rabbit.”

The first Oswald cartoon, Poor Papa, was poorly received by the Universal executives and Mintz. Universal initially did not distribute it to theaters. Disney and Iwerks created a younger and neater Oswald for their next cartoon, Trolley Troubles. It was well-received and Universal released it to theaters on September 5, 1927. Universal continued to push advertising for the character.

As time passed, Disney feared that Mintz would forgo renewal of the contract, partly due to Iwerks informing Disney that George Winkler, at the behest of Mintz, had been going behind Disney’s back during pick-up runs for Oswald reels and hiring away his animators. Eventually, Walt traveled with his wife Lillian to New York to find other potential distributors for his studio’s cartoons, including Fox and MGM, prior to meetings with Mintz. As Walt later recalled, he placed two Oswald prints under one arm and—feeling “like a hick”—marched “one half-block north” on Broadway to MGM to visit Fred Quimby and showcase his studio’s work on the series. During this period, Walt and Lillian attended the premiere of the Oswald short Rival Romeos, which debuted at the Colony on 53rd and Broadway.

In the spring of 1928, Disney traveled to New York City in hopes of negotiating a more profitable contract with his producer Charles Mintz. But as economic problems were apparent at the time, Mintz figured Disney should settle for a 20% cut, although large turnarounds were promised if the studio’s finances showed considerable growth. While most of his fellow animators left for Mintz’s studio, Disney decided to quit working on the Oswald cartoons. On his long train ride home, he came up with an idea to create another character and retain the rights to it. Walt recalled most of what had happened in an interview and some stories claim the copyright to the character had been “lost” to Winkler/Universal.

Disney and Iwerks would go on to develop a new cartoon in secret, starring a new character called Mickey Mouse. The first Mickey Mouse cartoon to be filmed was Plane Crazy in the summer of 1928, but it was produced as a silent film and held back from release. The first Mickey Mouse film with a synchronized soundtrack, Steamboat Willie, reached the screen that fall and became a major hit, eclipsing Oswald.

In early cartoons, Oswald was very similar to the early incarnations of Mickey Mouse, that being the mischievous but well-meaning character made popular among cartoons in the 1920s. He was energetic, inventive, adventurous and almost always caused trouble, but found his way out through cunning and wit. Oswald loved to play and make others laugh, but despite his flaws, he has morals and always tries to do the right thing. His personality traits were something never seen at the time, as most cartoon stars had no personality, and he favored the new “emotion” gag over slapstick.

In his current revival, Oswald is portrayed as more aggressive, serious, and short-tempered than Mickey, though he does have a sense of fun and humor. Oswald is not welcoming towards strangers and even comes across as spiteful towards people he doesn’t trust. He is very brave, but overconfident, which makes Oswald impulsive and bordering to the point that Oswald can be ignorant and ultimately fumble. Ironically, despite having the moniker of “lucky,” Oswald is prone to bad luck as much as good luck, which has led him into many unfortunate situations often caused by his own overconfidence — he can only escape from these by his own good luck.

Despite his less-appealing traits, Oswald remains fundamentally good-hearted. He is motivated by a love for adventure and heroism. A recent interview with Disney historian David Gerstein has highlighted the difference between Mickey and Oswald in terms of personality:

You might say that Mickey’s personality is a bit less inherently funny, but you still have just as much fun with him by putting him in incredible jams. Oswald … let’s put it like this: imagine Mickey if he were a little more egotistical or fallible, or imagine Bugs Bunny if he talked the talk but wasn’t as good at walking the walk.

Oswald has also been shown harboring a strong jealousy towards his “replacement” for effectively stealing his life. Some materials indicate this relationship outside of spin-off material; pictures were approved by Walt himself that depicted Mickey and Oswald meeting for the first time and support these sentiments.

With luck on his side, Oswald is willing to take risks and will attempt to do what’s best for his family and friends. Though he doesn’t appear to be, Oswald can be quite friendly if he wants to. His love for Ortensia is just as strong as Mickey’s love for Minnie.