Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (partially lost series of Walt Disney shorts; 1920s-1930s)
|Oswald ending card from the Disney era.|
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is a series of shorts from the late 1920's. After the failure of his Laugh-O-Grams and Lafflets, and the minor success of the Alice Comedies, Disney started to compete with stronger cartoon characters of the era like Felix the Cat. After successfully pitching Oswald, Winkler Pictures gave him a talented animation staff and a budget.
Walt began production on the shorts in 1927. The rabbit was well received and became the first Disney character to have his own tie-in merchandise. Oswald's success over his competition was more ambitious, innovative, and raunchy animation and humour. Despite the success of the films, around 26 shorts in, the budget was cut by more than half and nearly half of Walt's animation team was moved to other projects. Disney soon quit working at Winkler and starting his own animation studio with some of his most talented Oswald staff. He lost the rights to Oswald, so created a new character named Steamboat Willie.
After Disney left Winkler, Oswald's shorts were animated by many rising animation legends, such as a young Tex Avery. Oswald evolved into the colour and sound eras but was ultimately discontinued in 1943 due to his fall in popularity.
In 2005, Oswald's copyright expired and Universal (the umbrella company that Winkler was under) gave the Walt Disney company the rights to Disney's original Oswald shorts. A DVD collection was released in 2006 containing 13 of the original 26 shorts. One more emerged in 2011, An incomplete print of one of the shorts emerged in 2014. Two more emerged in 2015. but 8 of the shorts are still missing. Some of the later Oswald shorts are missing as well. With Oswald's role in the video game, Epic Mickey and its two sequels, new interest has sparked in the character.