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Discuss Mickey Mouse Tried to Kill Himself

Taliesin

Registered Member
I just had to share this thing that I found today because I think we could generate some interesting discussion about it.

So, here's the thing... I had no idea that in the 1930s Mickey Mouse comic strip, said hero contemplated AND attempted suicide. You can read the whole run right here. You can also read more about it here and here.

Apparently, this storyline was suggested by Walt Disney himself. He thought it would be funny. And, apparently, no newspaper editors or parents at the time raised any objections. No wowserism there then.

Personally, I don't find this particular run of strips offensive either, but I can understand how a modern audience might find it jarring given the original context that it sprang from. For some of us at least, our perceptions of the good ol' days might skew around images of people living in a simpler, more optimistic time... a quaint little period in history, if you will.

However, it was anything but. This was drawn during the Great Depression when the world was going to pot. People didn't have much of anything, and certainly no peace of mind, so suicidal thoughts would surely have run rampant in the minds of a lot of folks. And yet no one objected to these strips.

As I write and draw my webcomic, I'm often asking myself what is and isn't permissable within the realm of what I do. Are there certain subjects and themes that I should never explore? Can I laugh about these things? Or am I only allowed to touch upon these things if I do it in an intelligent, informative, and more serious way? Is there such a thing as "responsibility of the artist"?

Should I care about what I am putting out there, given that it's going right into the hearts and minds of all kinds of folks that will take it (and perhaps act on it) in a myriad of ways that I couldn't even begin to predict?

What are your thoughts?
 

dDave

Well-Known Member
V.I.P.
The 1930s was a long time ago. Different culture, different times, therefore people drew the line in a different place.

That's very interesting though. I never would have thought that would have been socially acceptable.
 

idisrsly

I'm serious
V.I.P.
That's really interesting. You wouldn't think that something so synical would be allowed in something as innocent as a cartoon. At the same time, cartoons by nature is something that makes light of the darker things in life, when done right.

To answer your question, I do think someone who creates these things have a certain responsibility to it's followers. It's overwhelming to think about, but you never know what state of mind someone will be in when they read or see it.
 

Taliesin

Registered Member
That's really interesting. You wouldn't think that something so synical would be allowed in something as innocent as a cartoon. At the same time, cartoons by nature is something that makes light of the darker things in life, when done right.
Well, I guess that's the thing. In the early to mid 1900s, comic strips and later animated shorts weren't considered as being just for children (that really only started to happen in the 70s and 80s when more and more cartoons were relegated to early Saturday morning timeslots). These were entertainments meant for anyone of any age.

Having said that, I'm still surprised by some of the themes and subject matter that were allowed through at that time. Like I say, mayhap a bit jarring for a modern audience used to a steady diet of kid friendly, politically correct cartoon shows?

To answer your question, I do think someone who creates these things have a certain responsibility to it's followers. It's overwhelming to think about, but you never know what state of mind someone will be in when they read or see it.
I half agree with you here. As a creator of stuff that may occasionally be thought of as pushing the boundaries a touch, I do think I have a certain amount of responsibility for what I commit to the page. But can I help how different readers will react to my little scribbles? No. Can I be sure of how they'll react? Not usually. People have this strange capacity to continually surprise me.

Just when I think I'm being shocking and edgy, people aren't shocked. Just when I think I'm making a clear, considered and thoughtful artistic statement, people yawn or - worse still - take it completely out of context and complain that I'm just trying to be controversial. I have absolutely no control over this (except, perhaps, if I simply choose not to draw at all).

So, the approach I take is this. Years from now when I look back at it, is it something that I'll be proud of having produced? Or will I feel regret for some of the things I put out there? If I can even halfway answer that, then that's what informs whether or not I'll do it. Now, I can't say that this approach has never steered me wrong, but so far out of all the strips I've done, there's only one that I would have chosen not to do at all had I had the benefit of hindsight.

In short, I'm not responsible for another person's state of mind when they read my stuff, but I am responsible for what I choose to say. I think that's the burden of responsibility that lays on me, and sometimes I'll fail in that regard, but hopefully I'll get it right most of the time... at least in my own eyes anyway, even if no one else thinks so. :D
 
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Millz

Better Call Saul
Staff member
V.I.P.
Personally I woulda thought something like that would have been posted these days more than the 1930s.

I mean, back then weren't edgey and controversial topics such as that not commonplace?
 

dDave

Well-Known Member
V.I.P.
Personally I woulda thought something like that would have been posted these days more than the 1930s.

I mean, back then weren't edgey and controversial topics such as that not commonplace?
That's just the thing though. It wasn't commonplace so nobody made a big deal about it.

I think I found the right comic.



Then there's also this one where he almost hangs himself.


It looks like this was pretty common with Mickey Mouse. I don't see this as that big of a deal. The key here is that he always snapped out of it and decided it wasn't worth it.
 

Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
Back then they may of been okay with Mickey thinking about suicide but I bet if they had of featured gay couples in cartoons or anything back then they would of had a fit. Also bet Mickey Mouse thinking about suicide now would cause a stir. There was a time cartoons were more violent in general. Different times.
 
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