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Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

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Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
[[Oswald logo-1-|250px]]
An Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Poster

First Appearance

Race Riot (1929)

Last Appearance

The Egg Cracker Suite (1943)

Voiced by

Bill Nolan (1929) Pinto Colvig (1930–1931) Mickey Rooney (1931–1932) Various (1932–1938) June Foray (1943)

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is a Walter Lantz character, an anthropomorphic rabbit, who was first (and has become again) a Disney character.

PlotEdit

Lantz Oswald-1-

A version of Oswald redesigned by Walter Lantz.

After the Disney series, laemmle selected Walter Lantz to produce the new series of Oswald shorts (the first of which was 1929's Race Riot). Lantz consulted Disney about Oswald and he gave Lantz his blessing to continue the Oswald series as the Mickey Mouse shorts had become more successful so the two became close friends.[2]

Over the next decade, Lantz would produce 142 Oswald cartoons, making for a grand total of 194 films that the character starred in, spanning the work of all three producers. After Lantz took over production in 1929, the character's look was changed to some degree over the following years: Oswald got white gloves on his hands, shoes on his feet, a shirt, a "cuter" face with larger eyes, a bigger head, and shorter ears. With 1935's Case of the Lost Sheep, an even more major makeover took place: the character was drawn more realistically now, and with white fur rather than black. This new Oswald model was adapted directly from a non-Oswald bunny in another Lantz cartoon: the two-strip Technicolor Fox and the Rabbit (1935), released some two months earlier as the last of the early Cartune Classics series.

The cartoons containing the new, white-furred Oswald seemed to be different from their predecessors in more than one way, as the stories themselves became softer. Minor changes in the drawing style would continue, too. With Happy Scouts (1938), the second-to-last Oswald film produced, the rabbit's fur went from being all-white to a combination of white and gray.

Unlike the Disney shorts, in which Oswald did not speak, Lantz's cartoons began to feature actual dialogue for Oswald, although most of the cartoons were still silent to begin with. Animator Bill Nolan did the voice of Oswald in Cold Turkey, the first Lantz cartoon with dialogue, and the following year Pinto Colvig, who was working as an animator and gag man at the studio, started voicing Oswald. When Colvig left the studio in 1931, Mickey Rooney took over the voicing of Oswald until early in the following year. Starting in 1932, Lantz ceased to use a regular voice actor for Oswald, and many studio staff members (including Lantz himself) would take turns in voicing the character over the years. June Foray provided Oswald's voice in The Egg Cracker Suite, which was the final theatrical short to feature the character.

Oswald made a cameo appearance in the first animated sequence with both sound and color (two-strip Technicolor), a 2½ minute animated sequence of the live action movie The King of Jazz (1930), produced by Laemmle for Universal. However, it was not until 1934 that Oswald got his own color sound cartoons in two-strip Technicolor, Toyland Premiere and Springtime Serenade. The Oswald cartoons then returned to black-and-white, except for the last one, The Egg Cracker Suite (1943), released as a part of the Swing Symphonies series. Egg Cracker was also the only Oswald cartoon to use three-strip Technicolor. But before he was permanently retired, Oswald made a final cameo appearance in The Woody Woodpecker Polka (1951), also in three-strip Technicolor, which by then had become the rule in the cartoon industry.

Oswald's career in comicsEdit

Comic Oswald-1-

Oswald and his surrogate sons. After a few years on screen, Oswald settled to be featured in comic books. This version of the character is also designed by Walter Lantz.

Oswald made his first comic book appearance in 1935, when DC Comics featured him in the series New Fun (later More Fun). His adventures, drawn by Al Stahl, were serialized one page to an issue for the magazine's first year, after which they ceased. The original black-furred version of Oswald was featured, even though Oswald was by this time a white rabbit on screen.

Oswald's second run in the comics began in 1942, when a new Oswald feature was initiated in Dell Comics' New Funnies, this time modeled after the latest cartoon version of Oswald and influenced by the drawing style of other Lantz comic book characters at the time. Following the typical development seen in most new comics, the New Funnies stories slowly morphed the character in their own direction.

At the start of the New Funnies feature, Oswald existed in a milieu reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh: he was portrayed as a live stuffed animal, living in a forest together with other anthropomorphized toys. These included Toby Bear, Maggie Lou the wooden doll, Hi-Yah Wahoo the turtle-faced Indian, and Woody Woodpecker—depicted as a mechanical doll filled with nuts and bolts (hence his "nutty" behavior). In 1944, with the addition of writer John Stanley, the stuffed animal motif was dropped, as were Maggie Lou, Woody, and Wahoo. Oswald and Toby became flesh and blood characters living as roommates in "Lantzville". Initially drawn by Dan Gormley, the series was later drawn by the likes of Dan Noonan and Lloyd White.

In 1948, Toby adopted two orphan rabbits for Oswald to raise. Floyd and Lloyd, "Poppa Oswald's" new sons, stuck around; Toby was relegated to the sidelines, disappearing for good in 1953. Later stories focused on Oswald adventuring with his sons, seeking odd jobs, or simply protecting the boys from the likes of rabbit-eating Reddy Fox and (from 1961) con man Gabby Gator—a character adapted from contemporary Woody Woodpecker cartoon shorts. This era of Oswald comics typically featured the art of Jack Bradbury, known also for his Mickey Mouse work.

Post-1960s Oswald comics tended to be produced outside the United States, for example in Mexico and Italy. Through the end of the 20th century, the foreign comics carried on the look and story style of the Dell Oswald stories. More recently, they featured a "retro" attempt at recreating the original Disney Oswald.

A 1995 Bonkers comic story in Disney Adventures ("Temple of Doom" in the March and April 1995 issues) had Bonkers and Lucky Piquel, in their quest to save the fabled Toonstone, meet its keeper, Nimrod the Rabbit. This character is designed looking very similar to Oswald, and also resembles how Oswald would have looked if he had gone through a redesign similar to that of Mickey's. Especially with adding pupils in the black dot eye, the same with Mickey Mouse when Fantasia was made in the late 1930s.[8]

In 2010, Oswald starred in the digi-comic series Epic Mickey: Tales of the Wasteland, a prequel to the Epic Mickey video game, telling about what the Wasteland was like before Mickey arrived there.

See alsoEdit

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