Mickey Mouse is one of animation's most enduring but paradoxically dull icons. But it wasn't always that way. Created by Walt Disney in the late 1920s, Mickey appeared in some truly brilliant films throughout the '30s and '40s, some in black and white and some in color, but almost always in some astonishingly clever, very funny and frequently groundbreaking animated works like Steamboat Willie, Building a Building, The Brave Little Tailor and of course Fantasia. But with notable exceptions of 1983's A Christmas Carol adaptation and 2010's Epic Mickey video game, the character has been little more than a harmless corporate mascot for the majority of his existence. As Walt Disney's signature creation, it's a fitting and auspicious role for Mickey, but also something of a waste of one of American animation's most visible characters.

Fortunately for animation fans, Disney agrees. In what's obviously an earnest effort to resurrect the classic spirit of Mickey Mouse for the 21st century, the studio has enlisted a fantastic assortment of talents from shows like The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Sym-Bionic Titan to honor the brilliant works of the past with an all-new series of genuinely funny and beautifully designed short films set to air on the Disney Channel this summer.

Simply called Mickey Mouse, the new shorts are Executive Produced by Paul Rudish, a writer and director and artist best known for his work on Dexter's Lab, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Samurai Jack. Also contributing to the new shorts is Andy Suriano who ComicsAlliance readers may know from his work with writer Joe Casey on the Charlatan's Ball and Doc Bizarre books, as well as Gravity Falls director Aaron Springer and many, many more accomplished artists from television animation.

The pedigree of the creative team is evident in the three-minute shorts that have been previewed so far. Each one demonstrates a sincere fondness and serious study of the character designs of the 1930s while pushing the visuals to the level of sophistication we've come to expect from the modern age of cartoons. Indeed, the attention to detail and expressiveness of the characters rivals that seen in Warner Bros. Animation's excellent DC Nation shorts, which have been raising the bar for aesthetically conscious television animation since they debuted on Cartoon Network in 2012.

What's most striking about the new Mickey shorts is the way the hero and his companions Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy behave. There's no trace of the antiseptic, polite mascot most of us grew up with. Instead, this Mickey is a well intentioned rascal, not above taking some dubious shortcuts or even going to ludicrous lengths to achieve his humorously pedestrian goals. In the case of "No Service" and "Croissant de Triomphe," Mickey's mission is one that's fairly universal: trying to impress his girlfriend. In the former, Mickey and Donald's personalities clash in a way that shocks those of us who've always known Mickey as a lifeless figurehead, while the latter film puts the plucky mouse in a situation that requires some serious ingenuity that lets Rudish and his animators show what kind of technically dazzling things we can expect from this series of 19 shorts when they begin airing June 28.

You can watch both of the previewed short films now at Disney's website.


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