The Spies Report
April 25, 2022 posted by Kamden Spies

Yearbooks #6 – Touring with Mickey and Other Great Stuff

This post is a combination of what was supposed to be two different Cartoon Research articles. My yearbook series was supposed to have only three parts. However, getting this Mickey Mouse yearbook took a long time. Between my first article way back in November waiting for what I am sharing now, I wrote four other articles featuring horribly off-model artwork that I hadn’t originally planned to do. Rather than write these as different posts, I decided to combine them all into one.

Mickey Mouse Yearbook Avalon High School 1935
In 1935, high schools were still using Mickey as an honorary mascot. This was another yearbook I found interesting because Mickey basically gives a tour of the entire school. It’s also interesting to note about the mention of the Alice Comedies and Oswald (mistaken for a cat) in the yearbook writing by the staff. Unfortunately, a little bit of it was cut off when the image of this book was taken. The images of this yearbook were provided by Thomas Milton Atkinson, whose father was a student at Avalon this year. The book’s binding is fragile couldn’t take or scan the book to perfection without breaking its binding (and we don’t want that, do we?). There is even a scripted dialogue of Mickey, Minnie, and Horace Horsecollar speaking about the school they are visiting.


School Mascots
Today, Felix the Cat is the oldest high school mascot in Indiana. Logansport adopted Felix in 1926 after a coach brought a Felix the Cat toy to a game. After winning, Felix became the Logansport mascot. Felix was used without any approval, and nobody cared. Back then, using a character as a mascot was simply a compliment. Nobody thought licensing was necessary. It’s also interesting to note what Felix looked like to the students. In this yearbook, it explains the history of Felix at the school. For many years, the mascot’s design looked more like the off-model toy instead of the character. Today, however, it matches the character. I believe that Joe Oriolo has done a lot of artwork for them too.

The Oregon Ducks has had an on and off relationship with Disney since the 1940s to use Donald as a mascot. Much of their history with Disney has been told in many articles. A great showcase of the Oregon artwork by the students can be read here.

Ed Crowley, Phil Harris, Leo Harris and Walt Disney – with “Puddles” the duck.


Congratulatorys and Other Yearbook Stuff
Various studios would contribute congratulatory pictures in yearbooks to schools. Terrytoons did it for several years in the New Rochelle yearbook. The Disney studio did it nationwide, mainly due to a request. One fascinating image is the drawing done by the studio for Kansas City University. There are various stories about how their kangaroo mascot was born. A lot of them involve Disney. One rumor stated that Walt Disney drew it for the newspaper in 1936 after being asked by friends at the university. That story seems farfetched.

2 Comments

  • According to the university’s website, Kansas City University adopted the kangaroo as its mascot when a kangaroo in the Kansas City Zoo gave birth to a joey in 1936. Kangaroo births in American zoos were a rarity at the time, and the event was big news in the local press. It was not lost on the student body that “kangaroo” rhymes with “KCU”, and the mascot was duly christened Kasey Roo. Today it’s the University of Missouri at Kansas City, but Kasey Roo remains the official mascot even though the name change has invalidated the original pun.

    “Mickey’s Kangaroo” of 1935 was the last Mickey Mouse cartoon made in black and white. The design of the kangaroo in the yearbook is an improvement over that in the cartoon.

    Logansport High School has a long and venerable history, having held its first commencement exercises — for a graduating class of three — in 1871 at the city’s Mesodian Opera House. Just a few months later, the Mesodian hosted Mark Twain in one of his first public lectures, reading excerpts from his new book “Roughing It”. It did not go over well, and the Logansport Sun — which was later one of the first newspapers to publish E. C. Segar’s comic strip “Thimble Theatre” — ran a scathing review of it. The anonymous critic chided Twain for overusing the adjectives “magnificent” and “commonplace”, and went on: “His manner and style of delivery were those of a very poor clown… His command of language was poor… His anecdotes and witticisms were mostly old and stale… his wit was of a low order, both as to quality and matter… He talked for an hour, and the audience went away disappointed and dissatisfied… as a lecturer, Mark Twain is a ‘magnificent’ fizzle, or a first-class humbug.” The writer went so far as to compare him unfavourably to the celebrated lecturer J. Proctor Knott. That had to hurt.

    I don’t know what happened to the Mesodian, but the usual fate of 19th-century American opera houses was destruction by fire. In 1873 a new one opened in Logansport, the Dolan Opera House; it was later renamed the Broadway Theatre when it was converted to showing motion pictures. This would have been where Logansport residents were first introduced to the animated antics of Felix the Cat. It burned down in 1924.

  • Excellent article Kamden!

    My theory for the kangaroo is simple; the art is traced off MICKEY’s KANGAROO publicity, which came out the year before, and the school just rolled with the idea for some reason. Of course, what Paul says could also contribute to why it was chosen as well, but it might be neither for all we know

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