Ok I have to admit, I opened my Christmas presents early this year. My wife bought me some books from Amazon which I chose myself. I know it takes the surprise element out of the present idea, but at least it was what I really wanted. Instead of a history of the world’s greatest tyrants (which I actually got one year!!).
I have been a long time fan of Jim Korkis. This may be biased by the fact I have been lucky enough to meet him and he has helped me out of several occasions when I’ve pulled together projects for the Disney community. Jim has always been the guy to go to for Disney facts and History. All the information you never thought about, Jim has locked away somewhere. All the information you thought you knew, was myth and Jim can correct the errors. All the information that needed to be said, but wrapped up in a beautiful narrative style, Jim was there. Before I start the Jim Korkis fan Club, his ability to tell a story and keep you gripped till the end is one of the most important elements he possesses.
The Book of Mouse is divided up into several sections. Mouse-ce-llaneous covers facts, myths and merchandise. Mouse-ka-tales offers short bullet point facts about Mickey in History. Mickey at the Movies looks at Plane Crazy, Steam Boat Willie, Sorcerer Mickey and onwards. The Mickey Mouse Annotated Filmography covers all his appearances on screen between 1928 and 2013. Mickey at the Parks is literally that. Balloons, topiary, hidden Mickeys, Character meet and greet Mickey and attractions that feature him. By breaking the book in to sections like this it is an easy book to dip in and out of.
The book answers some of those long established questions that no one seems to know the answer for, like “What is goofy?” (still not sure if he is a dog or other!!) Why does Mickey mouse have white gloves with four fingers? Two questions in one are answered here. Jim explains with quotes from newspaper interviews. Artistically white gloves make Mickeys hands stand out while he passes them over his body. Where as a black hand on a black body would have vanished. Remember that Mickey Mouse started off in black and white. It was also a financial reason. Drawing four fingers instead of five saved time and money when you were creating an animated short. A six and a half minute film would contain 45,000 drawings, the savings soon add up.
The film annotations section is so up to date that it even includes Get a Horse, the short that is attached to Frozen. Jim talks about how the short was marketed through Disney to suggest it was a lost forgotten Short animation that has just been discovered. The end results of the film were amazing and it is interesting to find out what was involved.
The lasts part of the book looks at Mickey in the parks, but as the book explains the concept of the Disney theme park came from disappointment. With more and more requests coming in to meet Mickey mouse or visit the studio, Walt felt that he needed to create something to be visitable. After all Mickey Mouse only existed on the sheets of paper the artists were drawing on. Just like most of hollywood there wasn’t a lot of depth to be visited. If and when young visitors did turn up at the studios (which was discouraged), the awkward question of “where is Mickey?” would be responded with a stock answer of “He’s out buying cheese from the grocers”.
So long before Disneyland was started, Walt had started plans on a Mickey Mouse Park, where guests could come and visit and see in person Mickey and other Characters. Initial concepts included a Doll shop and Hospital, where you could get repairs done or buy new dolls, a train, a western town, a carousel and a singing waterfall. Many people are familiar with parts of the story behind Disneyland, but it was a delightful expansion knowing a little more.
The Book of Mouse is available on Amazon from the link below.