The Karnival Kid Mickey Mouse. In the internal magazine publication for Disney employees, The Disney World in a 1966 edition, the staff was intending to write a short article about the creation of storyboards at the Disney Studio to use to promote the fact of storyboards being used for three elaborate sequences in the live-action film The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967) but found an unexpected surprise that it shared with readers:
“Walt and Ub Iwerks, who did the sketches, and Les Clark, one of the Studio’s original animators, get themselves a few laughs over the 1929 antics of Mickey Mouse in a lively short called The Karnival Kid, wherein Mickey enjoys an amusement park.
“They are looking at the actual Iwerks drawings which Floyd Gottfredson, then an in-betweener, rescued from a wastebasket where someone had tossed them during a move of offices in a section of the animation department way back in 1930. He had kept them ever since and thought to mention the fact when The Disney World began digging into the history of storyboards.
“It took no more than a half dozen of these eight by twelve-inch sheets, six panels to a sheet, to lay out this, the ninth of the Mickey Mouse shorts.
“Walt was amazed when he heard of the find and called Ub and Les in for a laughs.
“Boy, when you think of the details we get into these days to make a picture,” Walt said in awe. “Why, we used to knock things out every two weeks.” He paused, looking at the other two for a moment. “Well, no more than a month, anyway,” he added.
“Everyone laughed, particularly when Walt pointed out (panel drawing) No. 17 in the panels shown here. “Look at old Mickey, pulling down the skin of that weenie and giving it a sound spanking,” he said. “Takes the steam out of a hot dog every time.”
“Everyone laughed some more.”
This issue featured the last photo of Walt and Ub together and somewhat debunks the reports that Walt was “cold” towards Ub during the later years or uninterested in his earlier cartoons. It is also nice to see Walt get a good laugh or two just a few short months before his passing away.
Wisdom of Freleng. In Millimeter magazine February 1982, animation legend Friz Freleng stated, “I don’t base my pictures on special effects. The characters are what matter in animation — the love of these characters and the personalities we projected are what makes them. The rest is just the stage and I don’t think that makes a lot of difference with what we do. We depend on personalities – Bugs Bunny is a superstar. He just needs the vehicles he deserves. All we’re hoping is that maybe someday we’ll be able to bring the characters back regularly to the big screen. It’s exciting – just the possibility that maybe this could happen.”
The Wisdom of Joe Barbera. In 1982, the announcement that Hanna-Barbera would be producing an animated series based on The Shirttails characters from Hallmark Cards prompted this statement from producer Joe Barbera, “We’re into quality. Everything has to be better than before. Kids will find what they like.”
Rodent Burnout. In a Knight-News-Tribune article written by Desmond Ryan in 1986, animator and producer Don Bluth remembered, “We’d done pretty well with a video game we animated called Dragon’s Lair but the bottom had fallen out of that market. Then Steven (Spielberg) called and told me the story of An American Tail (1986). The only problem came when he said, ‘This involves mice’. We had just devoted three years to drawing mice (The Secret of NIMH, 1982) and we were suffering from rodent burnout. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at a Tom and Jerry cartoon. I said, ‘Mice? Well, maybe we can make them different mice’. Steven’s really exceptional in story meetings. His ideas are good and imaginative and he has a way of coming up with an immediate image. He has a library in his head.”
Insight from Norm Prescott. Filmation executive Norm Prescott in the L.A. Daily News newspaper for December 13, 1981 discussed the emphasis on putting something educational into cartoons and the topic of merchandising: “Kids are entitled to have their Saturdays off. They’re entitled to watch TV for the fun of it and escape the five day school week.
“Merchandising is not a major part of our profit picture. Saturday TV shows just don’t generate the same emotional impact which translates into buying merchandise based on our shows. And we never put gadgets, etc. in our show with the ulterior motive or merchandising them.”
The Other Popeye Story. Popeyes Louisiana Chicken, the fast food restaurant which has gone under a variety of names over the years including Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits, was started in New Orleans in 1972 by Alvin Copeland.
Copeland over the years coyly said that the name originally had nothing to do with the famous cartoon character but was meant to imply that the spicy chicken would “make your eyes pop” or that he was influenced by the popular 1971 film The French Connection that featured police detective “Popeye” Doyle. In addition, he stated that when he started out he was too poor to buy an apostrophe for the name.
When he started franchising the restaurant in 1976, it caught the attention of King Features and an arrangement was made for licensing Popeye the Sailor and his supporting characters. The restaurant became closely tied to the cartoon character with Popeye appearing not only on packaging but on promotions as well including Copeland’s racing boats.
By 2006, Popeye the character’s recognition and popularity had greatly waned and was only appearing in the chain’s international markets like Puerto Rico and the Middle East but the company was still paying King Features $1.1 million a year in an automatic renewal deal. In 2012 both companies officially terminated in a friendly fashion their 35 year relationship.
”I am happy that Popeye the character has been so instrumental to Popeyes the restaurant chain, and we wish them continued success in the future,” stated T. R. Shepard, president of King Features Syndicate on November 26, 2012
The new spokes-character for the revitalized chain is Annie, a “straight-talkin’ African-American chef” who represents the spirit of New Orleans and spiciness.