A freeze frame from "Mickey in Tokyo," one of a series of all-new animated shorts featuring the classic Disney character coming soon to the Disney Channel. (Courtesy: The Associated Press/Disney Channel)
The mouse is back!
Mickey Mouse, arguably the most recognizable cartoon character in the world, is getting a retro makeover with the release of a new series of animated shorts airing on the Disney Channel.
Disney previewed the new series Monday at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, which features historical Mickey Mouse animations and memorabilia.
The cartoons star Mickey as well as friends Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto.
They'll feature old-fashioned, retro 2-D animation as well as a few modern touches.
"When originally given the opportunity to get in here and play with Mickey Mouse, it was a little daunting," said Paul Rudish, the executive producer and director of the series. "Here's the progenitor of all cartoon characters, the original guy. But having just loved all the cartoons that came before and being inspired by all that amazing work, it quickly became very comfortable working with Mickey and the whole cast in that you already knew who they were."
The stories feature contemporary pacing, but also include both the innocent quality and slapstick comedy from the original Mickey Mouse cartoons in the 1920s & 30s.
"I came to Disney and was able to immerse myself in all the original artwork and cartoons that were around," said Rudish. "Got to go to the archives and dig up all the old model sheets throughout the eras. Watched all the original shorts plus see all the amazing artwork from the features and everything that was at the archives."
Meanwhile, the backgrounds that Mickey and friends perform in front of are influenced by the graphic designs of the 1950s & 60s.
"The style borrows a lot of stuff from the past that we've cherry picked and pulls into this very futuristic, very modern, very contemporary execution," said Disney Television Animation Vice President Mike Moon. "There's a lot of "rubber hose" influence on Mickey and the gang. There's a lot of sixties and fifties graphical influence on some of the backgrounds. All together that served as the source of inspiration where we were able to make something very contemporary out of it."
In one of the new Mickey shorts, the beloved Disney icon is in Tokyo trying to catch a train...to hilarious consequences.
In another, Mickey says "oui" to France... and sets out on a high-speed moped ride through the streets of Paris.
The international settings are no accident. The Disney Channel airs in more than 160 countries.
The 20 new Mickey Mouse shorts will premiere every Friday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern beginning on June 28.