Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is one of the first animated cartoon characters made by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks for Universal Studios between 1927 and 1928, then produced by Charles Mintz and Walter Lantz from 1928 until 1943.
The Walt Disney era
After the Alice Comedies, Disney's second animated series (after the Laugh-o-Grams) folded up in 1927, Carl Laemmle approached Disney and requested a new, all-animated series featuring a rabbit. Disney and Ub Iwerks created a new character called "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit". The first Oswald cartoon, Poor Papa, was poorly received by Charles Mintz and demanded a better, younger version of Oswald. The next cartoon, Trolley Troubles, was well-received and the series was officially launched.
In 1928, with the series going strong, Disney demanded an increased budget from Mintz, which he refused. Mintz instead told Disney that he was going to cut the budget and if Disney did not agree to the cut, Mintz would take over Oswald for himself. Disney refused and most of Disney's employees left for Mintz. Only Ub Iwerks remained, who, along with Walt, secretly created a new cartoon character to replace Oswald--Mickey Mouse.
Return to Disney
In 2006, the Walt Disney Company got back the rights to Oswald through a trade with sportscaster Al Michaels. In the wake of Oswald's return to the company, a line of special merchandise was released at Disney Stores nationwide and a Walt Disney Treasures DVD set was released compiling all of the surviving Oswald cartoons.
Though Oswald has yet to make new appearances in animation, he has appeared recently in the Epic Mickey games and Disney merchandise.
In his current revival, Oswald is portrayed as being rough, bitter and short-tempered around anyone he doesn't trust. Being forgotten for many years has often made him very cynical about his life, exclusively due to how no one remembers him. He has sympathy for others who suffer fates similar to his. He had especially strong jealousy towards his "brother", whom he blamed for stealing his life. It takes someone with a strong will to earn his trust. Beneath his harsh exterior, however, lies a saddened and hurt character who just wants to be loved again by the hearts of others. His time with Mickey helped him realize how Mickey cares about him as a brother despite their differences, allowing Oswald to mend his grudge with Mickey and accept who they are as brothers.
Besides being rather grumpy, Oswald takes after Mickey in many ways. He is quite mischievous, adventurous and never escapes trouble, but finds his way out through cunning and wit. He loves to play and make others laugh. He still has morals despite his flaws and always tries to do the right thing. He attempts to do what's best for his family and friends, even if there are risks involved. Though he doesn't appear to be, Oswald can be quite friendly if he wants to. His love for Ortensia is just as strong as Mickey's love for Minnie.
Oswald is one of the main characters in the Nintendo Wii video game Epic Mickey. In the game, he is the ruler of The Wasteland—a world where forgotten, rejected and retired Disney creations reside. Working with the Mad Doctor, he constructs robotic Beetleworx as a construction crew for his Disneyland-inspired vision. But then, an accident caused by Mickey Mouse early in his career creates a monstrous Shadow Blot that brings the Wasteland into ruins. The Mad Doctor then betrays Oswald and sides with the Blot. After a long battle, Oswald and his sweetheart Ortensia seal the Blot inside a large jug at the top of Mickeyjunk Mountain, but at the cost of Ortensia's life.
Ever since, Oswald remains at the mountain to guard the jug while nursing his grudge against Mickey for having stolen the life and career that could have been his. When Mickey arrives, Oswald ends up reluctantly helping him on his quest to get out of Wasteland by refurbishing the Moonliner rocket in Tomorrow City, although Oswald is implied to be tempted to remove Mickey's heart and take it for himself on that rocket ride. After defeating the fake Shadow Blot at the summit of Mickeyjunk Mountain, Mickey reveals that he is responsible for the Thinner Disaster and the Blot and a furious Oswald accidentally releases the real Blot, who steals Mickey's heart and begins to destroy Wasteland. The two decide to use the rocket to attack the Blot, only to land in Dark Beauty Castle, where the plans change to using fireworks to do the job.
The Blot ends up consuming Oswald, Mickey, and Gremlin Gus and the three have to fight the Blot from the inside. Oswald is stuck to the Blot's walls but is freed by Mickey. He catches Mickey's released heart but takes a good look at it, then, though a bit reluctantly, gives it back to Mickey, and launches the fireworks, which destroys the Blot once and for all. In doing so, Oswald is the real hero; he gives back Mickey's heart in the end, and then saves the day. The impact causes Oswald and Ortensia to crash back to Mean Street, and causes Mickey to leave Wasteland. In the shower of Paint that results from the explosion, Wasteland is restored and Ortensia is revived, helping to seal Mickey and Oswald's friendship and perhaps even extending into a true brotherhood.
Originally, Oswald was to play a far more negative role. He was meant to be the main antagonist during the game's early stages. He and the Blot were originally going to combine and become the Storm Blot, but this was soon dropped and Oswald eventually became an anti-hero with a boss battle before finally settling down to deuteragonist.
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
"OSWALD - While the adventure with the Shadow Blot created a bond of friendship between Oswald & Mickey, Oswald still has doubts about his own self worth. Will Oswald grow into the great leader we all know he can be?" Disney Epic Mickey Video Game Facebook page description.
"Oswald. Oswald is the leader of the forgotten toons of Wasteland, and he cares deeply for both his home and its people. Once the star of Disney before being replaced by Mickey, Oswald held resentment towards the mouse for a long time, but their adventures with the Shadow Blot created a bond of friendship. Oswald does still have doubts about his self worth, but he is slowly growing into the great leader everyone knows he can be.' Oswald 's Disney Epic Mickey 2 website desciption.
In the sequel to Epic Mickey, the Mad Doctor returns to Wasteland, claiming to have reformed and offering to help protect the world against a new threat in the form of natural disasters. Oswald teams up with Mickey to save the day once again. To aid Mickey, Oswald has a remote that can defeat or redeem enemies with electricity, like Mickey's paint. Oswald's remote can turn Beetleworx into allies, and power machines. Oswald's other powers are the use of his ears as a helicopter to float and to remove his arm and use it as a boomerang to get items or hit things and enemies.
Epic Mickey: Tales of Wasteland
- "He's got it all! Friends who admire him! A girl who adores him. 420 kids who want him to play with them! Detachable feet that can be rubbed strenuously to give him an extra boost of luck! So why can't Oswald, Disney's first cartoon star, put Mickey Mouse and the outside world into his rearview mirror? Why can't he just focus on Wasteland, the amazing world he's rebuilding into his image? Could it be that the luckiest rabbit in Wasteland simply doesn't know how lucky he is? It almost makes you wonder what kind of disaster would have to hit to make him appreciate everything he's got. Let's hope he never finds out!"
- ~Oswald's Tales of Wasteland profile
Oswald is the main character in the Epic Mickey: Tales of Wasteland (digi)comics. These comics are a prequel to Epic Mickey and takes place before the Thinner Disaster. As the main character, he appears in all six of them. He and his Animatronic pals try to clean the Clock Tower in "Clock Tower Cleaners" and tries to spend a night in Lonesome Manor because Pete dared him in "One Scary Night". He gets his feet stolen in "The Game's Afoot", fiercely competes with Horace in "The Rubbish Cup", visits the Mad Doctor with Ortensia and tries many different personas to regain his popularity in "Oswald the Lucky Duck" and tries to escape Wasteland in "There's a Hole in the Sky".
Oswald is quite adventurous, friendly and competitive in the comics. He is quick to take up a challenge and prove his worth, but also believes most people don't care for him and see him as an out of date version of Mickey. The Mad Doctor tries to trick Oswald for his evil plans. Oswald loves Ortensia and their Bunny Children and seems to be good friends with Horace Horsecollar. He also takes his Animatronic pals with him on many adventures.
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
Oswald appears in the game to Mickey as he re-enters Wasteland. Because Mizrabel was forgotten, she brought Castle Illusion to Wasteland to drain the currently famous characters and threatens Wasteland's safety as well. In the game, Oswald monitors the hub stations as parts of the castle break away to inform Mickey of the captured toons and locate Mizrabel herself.
Disney Epic Mickey: The Graphic Novel is included in the Epic Mickey: Tales of Wasteland digicomics. It's a 64 page-long graphic retelling of Epic Mickey. Oswald plays a similar role like in the game and is thus one of the main characters. However, it's not exact. Some events of the game are arranged in a different order and are either expanded upon or cut down. For example: The scene where Oswald and Ortensia seal the Blot is expanded upon while many quests are skipped.
Appearance in modern non-Epic Mickey comicsThe Norwegian "En magisk jul!" ("Just Like Magic!") marks the first Oswald and Ortensia appearance in modern Disney comics outside of the Epic Mickey universe. Written by David Gerstein and the art by Mark Kausler. It is based and takes place in the times of the classic Oswald shorts from 1927/1928.
A hungry Oswald and Toby Bear see Ortensia and her rich banker father called J. P. Whiskers standing before a house where various foods are being brought in for J. P. Whiskers's Christmas dinner party. Oswald uses his charm and asks Ortensia if he and Toby can join them. A charmed Ortensia seems willing, but Oswald and Ortensia are quickly interrupted by Ortensia 's little brother Homer the Cat. The small bratty cat drags Ortensia inside while Whiskers lectures Oswald and slams the door in his face. Still wanting to join Ortensia and the party, The hungry rabbit tries to prove his good luck as a disguised Oswald and Toby sneak into J. P. Whiskers's Christmas dinner party by impersonating a man they think is the head waiter. But the "waiter" was really a hired magician, so Oswald is forced to put on a magic show with a genuine, very powerful magic hat.
As of 2011, Oswald has yet to make live appearances at the parks being that the company had no ownership of him for decades. But after 2006, his likeness has become a semi-common part of the parks.
For Tokyo Disneyland's Disney's Easter Wonderland, Oswald was the inspiration for a float.
During the Disney California Adventure expansion, Oswald appeared in a mural depicting him and several of his fellow classic Disney characters working as a construction crew. Also in the park, a souvenir shop called "Oswald's Filling Station" opened with Buena Vista Street in 2012.
At the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, a poster of Oswald can be seen at the Town Square Theater where Mickey Mouse is available for meet and greets. Also inside Mickey's meeting area, a doodle of Oswald and Mickey can be seen.
Clothing, pins and other merchandise items featuring Oswald have since been made available in the parks as well.
Disney's Oswald shorts
- Trolley Troubles
- Oh Teacher
- The Mechanical Cow
- Great Guns
- All Wet
- The Ocean Hop
- The Banker's Daughter
- Empty Socks
- Rickety Gin
- Harem Scarem
- Neck 'n' Neck
- The Ol' Swimmin' Hole
- Africa Before Dark
- Rival Romeos
- Bright Lights
- Oh, What a Knight
- Sagebrush Sadie
- Ride'em Plow Boy
- Sky Scrappers
- Ozzie of the Mounted
- Hungry Hoboes
- Poor Papa
- The Fox Chase
- Tall Timber
- Sleigh Bells
- Hot Dog
Lucky Me is a animated feature lenght movie who features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in his quest to find The DippyCap'n's Treasure.
- Mickey and Oswald may not look alike in their final forms, but if you push in Mickey's snout and give him long floppy ears and a round lower body, he looks just like Oswald.
- Oswald is similar to Bonkers character Fall-Apart Rabbit in that they are both rabbits who have the ability to remove their body parts, and are friends with famous toons. Fall-Apart and Oswald were also both voiced by Frank Welker.
- In the Bonkers comics, there is a character named Nimrod the Rabbit, a comedian and keeper of the Toonstone, that looks like the way Oswald would look if he received a modern treatment.
- Fourteen years prior to Epic Mickey, Oswald's video game debut was in a Sega Master System game titled Woody Woodpecker's Frustrated Vacation, released only in Brazil in 1996. This game notably marked Oswald's final appearance in his Walter Lantz design.
- Oswald has black fur and blue shorts, but in Japan, he has blue fur and yellow shorts.
- Oswald's Japanese appearance may have inspired the character design for the Bunny Children, as each Bunny Child is blue in color.
- Mickey and Oswald, though similar in appearance, are not exactly related. For this to be true, Pete, Goofy, and Donald would be considered his brothers as well being that they are characters of Walt Disney as well. However, Mickey was created by Walt to replace the loss of Oswald. Walt himself has never confirmed their relationship to each other so therefore Oswald and Mickey as brothers is not valid. However, they are deemed generally half-brothers by fans due to this conclusion though the relationship was not stated and from the fact Walt played a role in both their creations.
- In his earlier appearances, Oswald was voiced by June Foray. However, he was voiced by Mickey Rooney later on and is currently voiced by Frank Welker, making his earlier appearances the only times he was voiced by a woman.
- On House of Mouse, in the episode "Dennis the Duck", the titular character of said episode could be seen as a duck version of Oswald, as they have a similar style.
- Oswald in some of his older cartoons described that he was a orphan.
- If it weren't for licensing issues, Oswald would have been everything Mickey is today, and Mickey probably would have never even existed, since he was only created to replace Oswald.