Here, swiped from a recent Hake’s auction, is a spread from the 1932-1933 Columbia Yearbook–an amazing, amazingly-illustrated book promoting the studio’s releases. Right behind Columbia herself is an alarmingly fuzzy, spats-wearing Mickey Mouse; Scrappy, Yippy, and Krazy Kat are trailing behind. Which was logical enough given that the mouse was unquestionably the biggest cartoon star whose films were released by Columbia. (I’m not even going to comment on the other characters in the parade–no, not even the topless cannibal lady.)
But in 1932–after the yearbook was released, I’m guessing–Disney left Columbia for United Artists. (Columbia retained rights to the Disney films it had released already.) And the 1933-1934 Columbia Yearbook has a rather similar spread–but with Scrappy and Yippy promoted to the head of the parade, Krazy in close proximity, and Mickey trudging along in the middle of the pack.
This must be one of the few pieces of promotional art in animation history to show Mickey as an also-ran. And you can kind of see why Columbia would want to do that, given that A) it was still releasing old Mickey Mouse cartoons, but B) it certainly didn’t want to make Mickey Mouse out to be a bigger cartoon celebrity than Scrappy or Krazy.
One also wonders whether Miss Columbia’s flag–with the reference to the studio still leading the world in short features–is a defensive reference to Disney’s defection. Here’s that art, also from the Hake’s auction.
By 1935, Mickey was absent altogether from the Columbia Yearbook–but Scrappy and Krazy, of course, remained. That Columbia Yearbook I actually own. And I’ll show it in an upcoming post…