It is interesting to look at the development of a cartoon character as it ages over the years, not just from a design standpoint, but also how it becomes a more rounded character. I think that this is perhaps the case when you look at characters such as Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny, but perhaps not so much when you look at Oswald The Lucky Rabbit. For those of you who don’t know, Oswald was created by Walt Disney in 1928 but was stolen from him by Charles Mintz (along with some of Disney’s top animators). In 1929 Walter Lantz convinced his bosses at Universal, who were distributing Mintz’s cartoons, that he could produce the Oswald cartoons in house a lot cheaper than Mintz could, which is how Lantz/Universal acquired the character. In 2006, among great fanfare, Disney reacquired Oswald and put out a great DVD of his earliest adventures, whilst Universal have released some of their Oswald’s on their recent Woody Woodpecker and Friends DVDS.
I’ve noticed that their really is very little consistency with Oswald’s characterisation. I cannot judge the Mintz cartoons as I have not seen any of them, but the Lantz ones in particular are very inconsistent. Tex Avery worked on many of the early Lantz Oswald’s before heading to WB.
From the Disney era (1927/28) – Trolley Troubles
(This had the soundtrack added when it was reissued in the early 1930s)
From the Walter Lantz/Universal era (1929 – 38)
Egg Cracker Suite (1943)
The final Oswald made by Lantz 5 years after the series finished. This was also the third colour Oswald and only one done in three strip Technicolor.
Whilst all the existing Disney Oswald’s are on DVD thanks to Walt Disney Treasures, it would be great to see the remaining Lantz cartoons on DVD. This may occur, as it is rumoured that Universal will continue releasing their Woody Woodpecker and Friends DVDs, however this has been delayed due to the recent fire at Universal and the Global Financial Crisis.