Years ago, a Brazilian boy visiting Disney strayed from the group, felt lost and asked a nearby Mickey for help. Not the real Mickey, of course—will there be one?—but an employee legally dressed as Mickey. For the little Brazilian, who better to help him than Mickey, the tormentor of the Metralha Brothers? But the prank Mickey ignored him. The boy insisted, and Mickey sent him for a walk. Indignant, our little hero gave him a peck on the shin that made the pseudo-rat squeal on one foot. Result: the boy ended up at the Disney police station, accused of causing a disturbance.
As of 2024, this will no longer be possible. This year, Mickey will no longer be able to rule and rule Disney — because it will fall into the public domain. Under US intellectual property law, fictional characters cease to be the exclusive property of their creators after 95 years of creation.
Hence the skinny-legged Mickey who debuted in the 1928 cartoon “Steamboat Willie” will fall into the square. And, two or three years later, the shortest and most compact Mickey we know, with the diagonal ears and the four-finger glove, designed by Ub Iwerks, will also be of the world.
Ub Iwerks? Like this? Wasn’t it Walt Disney who drew Mickey? No, it never was. Walt also never drew Donald, Carl Barks’ immortal creation, or any of the other characters. For a long time, this was a secret, because Walt never gave them credit in the movies and comics — which he only started to do when the artists went to court to seek their rights.
It is possible that much of the Disney universe actually sprang from Walt’s head. And it is known that while he lived (1901-66) nothing left his studio without his approval.
But Walt sincerely believed in Snow White. It took him to die for Disney to become the cold, mammoth corporation it is today.
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