Mickey Mouse is one of the most iconic characters ever, going strong since his debut in 1928. I love him! Have for as long as I can remember. As the years have gone by we have seen several different versions of the lovable mouse, but no matter what changes they may make to the lovable guy it’s always Mickey! Today I wanted to take a look at some of my favorite versions.
Before I begin let me stress that I am by no means an expert in animation or graphic arts. This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive analysis, I am just a fan.
So let’s start with the live version. Actually, Mickey’s look has changed a lot over the years since Walt Disney World first opened. They keep modifying the look and making it more sleek. A few years ago they gave the characters an articulated head which made it possible for all the characters mouths to move and eyes to blink when they talk! Nice change from having the voice mysteriously come out of the character while they just stare at you. Rather than post a million pics, here is a link to a wiki page which shows the evolution of these costumes.
Of course it’s the animation side which has seen the most change. Sure, the look is basically the same but as time goes by it is inevitable that the character will look different. Here are some examples :
I wanted to start with this pic I found because it really contrasts how Mickey has evolved over the years. He looked kind of silly in the early days.

So here is how he looked when he first appeared in “Steamboat Willie” back in 1939! And he kind of looked different. Black eyes, kind of scrawny, a tail, and he also didn’t speak, preferring to squeak. The animation had a way to go but it’s still Mickey.
This is more like it! Mickey has he appeared in “The Nifty Nineties” which is a really fun short. As you can see his look is much more what we are familiar with today. This came out in 1941!
This is Mickey from my all time favorite Disney short, “Pluto’s Christmas Tree”. The plot is simple, it involves Chip & Dale and Pluto. I adore this cartoon and watch it every Christmas. This is from the 50’s. As you can see Mickey’s look is a little rounder, but still the same mouse.
If Pluto’s Christmas Tree is my favorite short, than this has to be a close second. Made almost twenty years earlier, “Lonesome Ghosts” is a Halloween favorite that I have loved since I was a kid. Notice Mickey has black eyes here for some reason. This was before The Nifty Nineties when he was growing out of his classic look but not quite there yet. Goofy really looks off in this one, but that is a subject for another day.
No look at Mickey would be complete with this, from Fantasia. Released in 1940 I found this to be boring, but respect it for its achievement in animation and music. His look here is much more evolved than it had been at the time, or would be to be honest, and of course he is wearing his classic Sorcerer’s Apprentice outfit. I love him in this outfit! This is also famous for being one of the first times Mickey faced actual peril, but that is a topic for another day.
Here is how he looked in Mickey and the Beanstalk in 1947. This was the definitive Mickey movie, until a certain Christmas film I will discuss in a moment came out. This is a good short and part of the film Fun and Fancy Free which for the most part is D-U-L-L. But this was the classic Mickey we love, and shortly after this he would sort of disapear from the big screen for awhile. That was until 1983 when he got a threatrical revival.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol was the first time I had ever seen Mickey in theatres and I loved it. The film does a fantastic job of telling the story in such a small time frame. This Mickey looks similar to the previous version, the major difference being in the voice which was done here for the first time by the late, great Wayne Allwine who did the voice from 1983 till he passed away a few years ago.One thing you may notice about Mickey here and thereafter is that his eyebrows have disapeared.
Mickey in the late 80’s and 90’s kind of bounced around in different things. He appaeared on TV, here he is in a 1990 TV special with Kermit the Frog.
and did a few movie appearances lile here with Bugs Bunny in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”
Why does he tower over Kermit by seem so small next to Bugs? Anyway……
This is from the 1990 Prince and the Pauper which I have never seen (or I don’t remember). It was released in theatres with Rescuers Down Under and was the first theatrical release for Mickey since Mickey’s Christmas Carol. It is also noted as the first use of the current design created by Andreas Deja.
This is how he looked in the 1999 direct to video “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas” and for me is an example of Mickey done wrong. He is to short, his ears don’t look right, and his face is to broad. I don’t mind the cartoon, The Gift of the Magi, but the way the animator drew Mickey and Minnie always bugs me.
In the 90’s Mickey was given a new cartoon series called Mickey Mouseworks, and a new look to bring him a little more up to date. I love this version since it captures the spirit of the old by brings but keeps him modern. The show was decent and for the most part I enjoyed it. And speaking of new shows…
Here is how he looks in The House of Mouse. I liked this series and what they did with it, though when they show really old cartoons the new animation makes that old stuff look realllyy dated.
Well, you knew it had to happen and Mickey got a CGI make-over. First for the DVD release of Twice Upon a Christmas, and then for his new kids show. I like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It’s good for kids without talking down to them, and I enjoy watching it with my nephew. I can see the argument that the show waters down Mickey’s character but the impotrtat thing to remember is that it is meant for little kids. So how do I like the CGI Mickey? It’s ok. I think that he loses a little something when he isn’t in classic animation, but it’s still him.
I mean, it could be….
Uh, yeah. From Runaway Brain and the less said about this one the better. Actually it’s pretty good and makes a decent Halloween cartoon. For little kids it is not. It came out in 1995 when Mickey was trying to find a new identity. It didn’t work, and a few years later Mickey Mouseworks came on and did Mickey right!
There are new standard animation shorts being made which send Mickey back to his roots. I have seen them and they are….ok. The animation feels like they are trying a bit to hard to get back to old school animation but it is nice to see Mickey’s normal characterization again.
One last thing before I go. Mickey’s face has appeared on millions of products over the years. But the most important is one that no kids can forget.
Who didn’t have one of these growing up? I know I sure did!
I know I am leaving out his many video game appearances, but I have never played them so really have no familiarity with them.
Well, there you go. Hope you liked this little look at Mickey and I hope to do more of these kinds of articles down the road on characters like Superman and Batman.

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