The Men Behind Mickey and Donald

Walt Disney’s universe of cartoons includes some of the world’s most recognizable characters. They appear on TV, in movies, comic strips, t-shirts, and every type of propaganda or collectible known to humankind. We all know who these characters are, led by Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. But, many know very little about the individuals who brought these cartoons to life, who gave the characters, well, character.

When he was new to the comic strip business, Arthur Floyd Gottfredson, known better just as Floyd Gottfredson, created definitive work with the Mickey Mouse comic strip. As a young man in his early twenties, he was hired by Walt Disney as an apprentice animator in December of 1929. Four months later he began working on the Mickey Mouse comic strip, a job Disney originally assigned Gottfredson with the intention that the position would be temporary; he produced the strip for the next 45 years.

His first daily strip was published on his 25th birthday in May of 1930. Originally, he drew the strips alone, then in 1934 he started focusing on plotting the stories and penciling with a variety of artists inking the strip, including Al Taliaferrro. Gottfredson’s untitled daily comic strips were long running stories that introduced characters like Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse, Detective Casey, and more. He illustrated the daily Mickey Mouse strips until his retirement in October of 1975. In 2003 he was given a Disney Legends citation and three years later was inducted to the Comic Book Hall of Fame.

Charles Alfred Taliaferro, known as Al Taliaferro, was recognized for his work on the Donald Duck comic strip. After studying at the California Art Institute, he was hired by Disney Studios in January of 1931 and began by lettering the Mickey Mouse strips from March of 1931 to July of 1932, working with Floyd Gottfredson. Also in 1932 he drew Bucky Bug comics and worked on Silly Symphonies until 1939. While working for Disney, he co-created Donald’s energetic nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Grandma Duck, and helped create Daisy Duck.

Taliaferro drew Donald Duck comic strips from 1938 for 31 years until his death in 1969. After Donald appeared in daily strips he campaigned to have a Donald daily strip when the only Disney character with a strip was Mickey. The request was not granted, but Al persisted and Donald finally got a strip, drawn and inked by Taliaferro, written by Bob Karp.

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