Lately I’ve been enjoying watching the Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black & White Vol. 2. Even though today’s Mickey is great, I really love the Mickey of the 1930’s. The simple black dot eyes just appeal to me (and allowed the animators to do so much more with his brow), and the subjects of the older cartoon shorts were so diverse, from a simple beach outing or picnic with Minnie to building a mechanical man for a boxing match (when did Mickey get a degree in robotics?).
Just like many other people, the main reason Mickey appeals to me is his incredible optimism. He turns any situation into something fun, and even when something gets him sad or angry, he’s back to normal in a few seconds. The 1930’s shorts take that to an extreme! Mickey is captured by natives on a tropical island, and instead of freaking out while they try to cook him, he teaches them to play music and has a great time. Now that’s an attitude we all could use! I also like his mischievous side, which is pretty much gone today.
There’s an excellent entry on Mickey’s history on Wikipedia, but that’s no substitute for immersing yourself in the old cartoons!