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Walt went to the library. He took out Edwin George Lutz’s ANIMATED CARTOONS; how they are made, their origin and development.

Animated cartoons; how they are made, their origin and development

Walt and Ub were 27 when the first Mickey Mouse cartoons were created.

This contest is limited to those between 18 and 27 with preferably no and at least minimal training in art and animation.

If you went to art and/or animation school and your teachers threw you out, told you that you have no talent and are a bad influence than you are welcome to enter this contest.

Told by his teachers he had no talent Salvador Dali replied, “You are not fit to judge me.”

They weren’t. Neither are they fit to judge you.

The young enter schools ready to conquer the world.

They walk out looking for someone to give them a job.

January 1, 2024 the 1928 version of Mickey Mouse entered the Public Domain.

That means that you, I and everyone else who wishes to can now use the 1928 version of Mickey.

That means that we can use ONLY the 1928 version of Mickey this year. Next year we get the 1929 version. Then 1930…

Now people are doing all kinds of things with Mickey. Let them.

What most people do not know is that after 1930 Mickey Mouse lost his mickey:

Mickey Mouse, the artistic offspring of Walt Disney, has fallen afoul of the censors in a big way, largely because of his amazing success. Papas and Mamas, especially Mamas, have spoken vigorously to censor boards and elsewhere about what a devilish, naughty little mouse Mickey turned out to be. Now we find that Mickey is not to drink, smoke, or tease the stock in the barnyard. Mickey has been spanked. It is the old, old story. If nobody knows you, you can do anything, and if everybody knows you, you can’t do anything – except what every one approves, which is very little of anything. It has happened often enough among the human stars of the screen and now it gets even the little fellow in black and white who is no thicker than a pencil mark and exists solely in a state of mind.” Terry Ramsaye, MOTION PICTURE HERALD, February 28, 1931.

Mickey after 1930 could not draw flies with syrup. Dan O’Neil asked what happened to Mickey? What happened was that Walt got a gun pointed at his head.

I’m not interested in Mickey after 1930. That Mickey looks like Mickey, sounds like Mickey but he’s lost his mickey. It’s like Mickey after THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.

The word “mickey” can mean giving someone a mickey which means doping them.

To have “mickey” means to be brilliant, radiant, vibrant.

Pre-1930 Mickey has mickey in spades.

Most people think I’m crazy to do this with untrained youth.

There is a method to my madness.

That method is this.

Most people in 1928 thought Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks were hicks.

They said, “We knew Walt had no money. We went with the man with the money. Walt fooled us by going broke in reverse.”

Yes, he did.

That man with the money was a fellow named Charles Mintz:

Charles Mintz produced cartoons. He was the man with the money.

Like far too many men with money he had little regard for human beings.

He certainly had little regard for Walt Disney.

Carl Laemmle, a small man physically, was one of the true giants of film history:

Laemmle wanted a cartoon series. Mintz spoke to Disney who had been releasing his films through Mintz’s wife, Margaret Winkler:

Walt pulled Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit out of his hat:

Oswald was a hit. In fact, Oswald was a HUGE hit.

Walt went to New York in 1928 to renew his contracts. He took his wife with him.

“You gotta make these pictures for less money, ” Mintz said.

Walt said, “Can’t be done.”

Mintz said, “I know a way to do it.”

Walt said, “How?”

Mintz said, “I don’t need you. I hired all your artists.”

On that train ride back to Hollywood Disney decided several things.

The first and most important thing he decided was never again to allow himself to be in this desperate position again.

The second thing he decided was not to kill himself.

Thoughts of suicide always come in during moments like this like dirty water out of a bath.

Walt had learned that alone among his artist Ub Iwerks had not signed with Mintz.

He knew his reputation stank.

He knew he did not have the capital to hire the best.

He knew he’d have to work with untrained artists who could barely draw who would work cheap.

Fiddling with his pocket change while he thought Disney was inspired to create a new character who could be drawn by anyone with a penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, a fifty-cent piece.

When he finally got back he spoke with Ub.

Ub said, “Those back stabbing sons of bitches. I knew something was up. We don’t need them. I can do this on my own.”

He did.

Iwerks did three films. The first two were silent. The third was STEAMBOAT WILLIE:

Walt knew he needed something to separate STEAMBOAT WILLIE from everything else.

He decided to put sound to it.

Contrary to popular belief STEAMBOAT WILLIE was not the first sound synchronized animated cartoon.

It is however the first sound synchronized cartoon with PIZAZZ.

Not everyone recognized that at first.

In fact only one man recognized that.

“No one comes out for a cartoon,” Disney was told by motion picture exhibitors.

One motion picture exhibitor said to Disney, “I can fill my theatre with your cartoon.”

That one was Samuel Rothafel, better known as Roxy:

The success at THE COLONY was HUGE.

The film moved to the largest theatre in the world, THE ROXY.

This success set off a tsunami that washed over the world.

From Michael Barriers FUNNYWORLD Number 13.

Now here’s the deal.

You are making your 1928 Mickey Mouse cartoon not to impress your mother, your father, your brothers, your sisters, your friends, your teachers, animation historians like Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck.

You are making it to impress one person.

That one person is me, Reg Hartt.


Because I am the one person who not only is going to give $1,000.00 to the person who makes what I feel is the best new animated cartoon starring the 1928 version of Mickey Mouse I’m going to take all the entries and do what Roxy did for Walt Disney. I am going to make the world interested in you.

The history of the motion picture business is that it began as what was called at best illegitimate theatre and at worst bastard theatre.

Ministers and priests regularly preached sermons denouncing the movies.

Here’s the thing. In those days motion picture theatres sat thousands. Not only that, the public paid top Broadway prices to see movies.

Those days are long gone.

I want to bring them back.

Why am I doing this? Because it will be fun, lots of fun. You will be joining the people who have walked into my life without a future who then changed the world for the better.

Here is one of them: 

Like I said, I’m not Jerry Beck, Leonard Maltin. I’m Reg Hartt.

Here are my rules.

1. The soundtrack must include a variation of TURKEY IN THE STRAW. Look at THE PINK PANTHER:,vid:AvE2QXrVVow,st:0

2. The humour can be laced with innuendo however it must be clean. Why? Am I a prude? No. We can get easy laughs by being dirty but most folks are tired of dirt. It is harder to get laughs by being clean but those laughs are deeper and richer than the laughs that come from taking the easy route.

3. We are going to own the rights 50/50. You will receive 50% of the net profits after expenses from our work. Those expenses includes your expenses as well as mine.

4. Our work? Yes. I am taking a chance on you.

5. I want you to make your film as cheaply as you can. Do not spend $5 when 5 cents will do. Comic artist Wally Wood‘s rules rule: Don’t draw what you can trace. Don’t trace what you can paste.

6. I will give you a story. For example, D. H. Lawrence’s LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER also went Public Domain this year. That means Mickey can be in a 7 minute version of it. You’re using the 1928 version of Mickey, yes. However, this is 2024. In another story Mickey will take LSD. In another DMT. In another he will find an eight leaf clover. The stories I give you will all come from my life:  .

7. Your film does not have to be funny. It does have to be interesting.

8. Buster Keaton said, “All we need to make a movie is a beginning and an ending. The middle takes care of itself.” I will give you a beginning. Each film must end with Mickey smiling and winking. That is the mickey. The middle is up to you.

9. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). Animation demands that we not do anything more than not necessary. Animation at its best is poetry. You have to use the 1928 Mickey design. That is the only thing from 1928n you have to use.

10. This contest ends December 31, 2024.

11. The winner will be announced December 31, 2025.

12. The best entries will become a touring film festival: MICKEY MOUSE 1928 2024. You will share in the proceeds.

13. Talk to your father’s lawyer. Get him or her to draw up your contract. Young people are always getting robbed. Don’t trust anyone including me.

14. Your film must be in 3D. Why? Because 3D is a wonderful medium which, like Walt Disney at the start of his career, is despised. 3D actually dates back in the movies to 1915. The first 3D movie, THE POWER OF LOVE, was released in 1922. For research get a copy of 3D RARITIES from Flicker Alley. It has the wonderful 3D films of Norm,an McLaren plus BOO MOON with Caspar the Friendly Ghost.

15. Walt Disney never told people what to do. When he looked at their work he either said, “That’s great,” or, “It’s not what I expected.” He never told his artists what he expected. I do the same. This will be frustrating for you, yes. However it will also cause you to plumb your depths. You will find they are well worth plumbing.

16. Before you ink and paint send me your pencil tests.

17. Save all your art work. We will put it up for auction.

18. Start animating NOW.

You can populate your work with Public Domain versions of Koko The Clown, Felix The Cat, heck, you can even add Winsor McCay’s GERTIE THE DINOSAUR:





Why I love Bob Clampett.

Nobody in the world has remotely done anything like what I have done.

Nobody in the world will remotely do what you will do.–Reg Hartt 2024 (Clearly I have mickey in spades).

Julia Scutaru, Jane Jacobs, WIZTHEMC, Alexandre Hamel, Le Patin Libre, Petunia…

Popeye is going Public Domain in 1929.

Popeye is now in the hands of people who’ve bowdlerized him.

You and I will give him back his balls.

Coming up are Batman, Superman, Bugs Bunny…

You and I will take these characters and do better by them than they have been done by ever.

Excelsior.–Reg Hartt





















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