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Warren Spector on Oswald Rabbit

Below, another viral trailer for Epic Mickey. I actually hate giving them so much free publicity, but this is a slick talking-head mini-doc on the history of Oswald The Lucky Rabbit. They score extra points for the cameos of books by pals Craig Yoe and Mike Barrier.

Apparently creative director Warren Spector revealed all sorts of information about the game at this past weekend’s NY Comic Con, which included this quote: “Epic Mickey is the first time Oswald ever had a voice of any kind. Oswald’s voice is performed by Frank Welker.” For the record, Oswald spoke frequently in many 1930s Walter Lantz’ cartoons with June Foray providing his voice in the final Oswald theatrical, Egg Cracker Suite (1943).

(Thanks, Matthew Gaastra)

  • Scarabim

    Why do you hate giving Epic Mickey so much publicity? The venture looks pretty awesome to me. Mickey Mouse, back in (vintage) form, meets (and battles) long-lost “cousin” Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in what looks to be an imaginative, intriguing video game – how cool is that? And the game’s spin-offs look pretty neat too, especially the comic mentioned at NYCC – “Tales from the Wasteland”. These kind of projects deserve all the exposure they can get in my opinion – because they’re the first projects from Disney that have gotten me excited in a painfully long time.

    • Ron

      I agree. I may get a game console just so I can play this. I hope they make a movie/tv show/series of shorts/comic book out of this. It’s too good an idea not to. AND an effective way to bring those characters back. I’d like to see Oswald walking around in Disneyland.

  • InsideJob

    The sad thing is this games core idea/ story came from a bunch of calarts students, paid a little more than minimum wage working under the BVG development program back around 2004. I have not seen their names mentioned anywhere, it is clear they are not getting the credit they deserve.

    • Christina S.


      • Sat

        There is an article on IGN where Warren Spector speak of the origins of the concept:

        “The basic idea for what became Epic Mickey began at the Disney Think Tank. Disney Interactive gets interns, the best and the brightest from USC, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, UCLA and places like that. I’m not actually part of the Think Tank so I shouldn’t be the guy you talk to about it, but there’s a real interesting story there. I think it’s like six months at a time, and they just come up with all sorts of ideas and do little Power Point presentations and do concept sketches and all that kind of stuff.

        One of the ideas they came up with long before I got involved in the project was a Mickey Mouse game.”

        He goes on saying he was just presented the ideas and liked it, and when further with them.

        I’m not aware of what is this “Think Tank” but it may have been the basis of a bunch of things Disney made.

  • Abu

    I’ll have to check out that comic, this project looks really good. I don’t normally play video games but I really like the idea of this one. Watching that clip makes me want to pop in the Oswald DVD.

  • Bill

    Great, fact disortions. At a Gamestop I heard an ad claming Oswald to be Disneys first creation or something like that, but it was wrong as Alice in Toonland was first.

    Oswald had a voice back in the 30s short “Africa” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk_0qPrWjFc

    Just more junk I’m going to have to correct.

  • Sat

    When you look at video-game related web sites, you can tell Disney is investing a LOT of money into the publicity of this game. Too much. Some web sites are drowning in Epic Mickey info. And they get paid for it so they don’t mind. But expectations are going through the roof for what will just be a simple, fine plateformer game with obscure Disney references.

    I read an interesting bit of info somewhere. This isn’t Oswald’s first video game. He was in a Brazil-only Master System game starring Woody Woodpecker. I haven’t seen pics, but I guess it’s the late Walter Lantz design.

  • I need to say the core idea of the game is pretty cool. Especially the thing between Oswald and Mickey. However, I think that the trailers show very mediocre animation. The best part of this game so far for me has been the concept art.

  • MichaelHughes

    Mickey redeems Oswald for killing the president.

  • uncle wayne

    Bill! Thank you for the toon. Nothing i luv better than an early-30s Lantz/Oswald!

    • Bill

      Glad I made some joy for someone.

  • Alissa

    Looks cute, Kingdom Hearts still did the concept first, what remains to be seen is if Warren Spector can top Sqare-Enix’s fairytale appeal/absolute insanity.

  • Isaac

    The characters in videogames’ biggest franchise, Mario, are a take on the Popeye characters. The gameplay elements might be completely original, but the lead character definitely draws his aesthetics from cartoons, right down to the white gloves. Another big lead character, Sonic, is clearly a combination of Woody Woodpecker and Road Runner, and he wears the cartoon white gloves too, although in recent incarnations the character draws more on anime than classic cartoons. I wonder why don’t more videogame makers use the pears and spheres design sensibility when coming up with videogame characters.

    • Jeff

      “The characters in videogames’ biggest franchise, Mario, are a take on the Popeye characters.”

      More specifically, Donkey Kong was at one point going to be based on Popeye. (Nintendo later actually DID make a Popeye game, though.)


    • They probably don’t many characters that like in videogames now because soon after Sonic the Hedgehog took off everyone tried to copy that success with their own cartoon animal mascots. A couple lasted longer than five minutes, like Earthworm Jim and Crash Bandicoot, but most were flops: just look up Bubsy the Bobcat, Zool, Aero the Acrobat just to name three of possibly hundreds. It was like everyone trying to make their own Mickey Mouse all over again.

      • Isaac

        Earthworm Jim uses comic-book style, and the others you mention barely have a style at all. Of course in videogames it always comes down to gameplay, but I can’t help feeling that Mario’s cartoon roots did a lot to endear him to the public.

      • Ahh, yes, the oh-so-sad mascot era of gaming. There were 2 of them – one for 2D games and on for 3D games.

        The 2D era was slightly better, as the game itself could be mildly enjoyable despite the character being bland or gimmicky.

        The 3D era was awful. ALL the mascot games – and I mean ALL of them – post Mario 64 used the collect-a-thon game design, which for one game is fine, but for 800 damn games is insane.

      • TheGunheart

        They don’t do it anymore because game characters these days have to be generic military types. Sadly.

      • Alissa

        Post-impressionist inspired graphic, evil chickens, talking swords and silly green hats. Legend of Zelda says hi.

        Creativity-and fun- is certainly still out there, it’s just bland space marines are easier to churn out in droves without any thought or feeling. Kudos to Epic Mickey starring everyone’s favorite mouse.

    • jip

      Sonic was actually inspired by Felix the Cat, as was Oswald, as was Mickey.

  • To be fair they’re probably basing their facts on strictly Disney-related Oswald as opposed to the Walter Lantz’ cartoons, which is probably stuck in some kind of copyright limbo now and isn’t of any interest to Disney, especially the stuff they did later when they re-designed him entirely.

    • Walter Lantz’ Oswald cartoons are not at all stuck in copyright limbo. The Disney Company aquired the rights to Walt’s Oswald character in 2006, but that didn’t stop Universal from featuring Lantz’ Oswald cartoons on both volumes of the ‘Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection’ DVD series (released in 2007 and 2008, respectively).

      What Disney bought was the Oswald character as created by Walt Disney himself, and the cartoons Walt produced with him. Universal is still free to use Lantz’ cartoons. (Still, I have my doubts they are allowed to make new cartoons with Lantz’ Oswald. Anyone got the complete details on this?)

  • David Breneman

    It’s interesting to consider that if Disney hadn’t been forced to come up with a replacement, Oswald would probably have been the star of “Steamboat Willie.” After all, there’s nothing in that film, nor in “Plane Carzy” or others, that requires a mouse as the lead. If Walt had consulted a lawyer, Oswald might be the grand Disney icon today. Although it would be difficult to imagine an irate customer going up to a store manager and asking, “Hey, what kind of Oswald Rabbit operation are you running here?!”

  • Chandra Butkis

    Thanks for the clips Jerry! I HAVE TO GET THIS GAME!!!!!

  • Brighton Roc

    Anyone notice how at about the 4:10 mark it shows Michael Barrier’s book, “”The Animated Man” instead of Neal Gabler’s? Excellent.

  • Greg Ehrbar

    Gloria Wood also voiced Oswald on the Decca LP record, “Woody Woodpecker’s Family Album,” first released in the late ’50s then reissued in the late ’70s by MCA as a picture disc.

  • Rooniman

    This game is showing tons of promise.

  • Nobody mentions Ub. All this talk about Oswald and nothing is said about Ub. Just Walt. There’s a fine how-do-ya-do for you.

  • i’m honored that my book “the art of mickey mouse” shares screen time with oswald here. now if we could just get disney to have me reboot the book. and even one on oswald-wow! both! how cool would that be? thanks for pointing this out to us, jerry!

  • My favorite part is when Steve Powers says “Walt went back to the drawing board… literally” Ahahahahahahhha!!! Now THAT is classic comedy. So yeah, like tohoschope says… not a single mention of Ub Iwekrs (unless I missed it), and then these guys perpetuate the myth of Walt as Mickey’s physical artist/creator. You would think, considering the old school nature of Epic Mickey, that they’d at least talk about Ub for a few seconds.

  • Friends of Iwerks (myself included):

    At 01:13, you can hear Spector referring directly to “those cartoons that Walt and Ub made…”

  • Scarabim

    Ub Iwerks himself said “It’s not who drew Mickey, it’s what was done with Mickey that counts.” Remember when Iwerks struck out on his own and created Flip the Frog, among other characters, and none of them became a success? And remember what happened to Oswald after he was stolen away from Walt? I’m not discounting Iwerk’s technical contributions, but I think that saying Walt was Mickey’s creator is justifiably giving credit where credit is due.

    • Eva

      Yes, I agree to an extent– but saying that Walt himself literally went back to the drawing board without even mentioning Ub is an outright lie.

      • Erik

        Are you really going to nitpick semantics? Back to the drawing board is just a phrase. Okay, we all want Ub Iwerks to get more credit, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world if they forgot to mention him in one part(and they didn’t; it was clearly “Walt and Ub’s cartoons”). It seems people can’t wrap their mind around co-creation.

        Here, will this appease you?


    • But isn’t this game a good reason to shine a little of the spotlight on Ub? Heck, the game’s plot seems to be all about the rediscovery of the original Oswald. Why not throw Ub in to that rediscovery, too? That Statue of Walt holding Oswald’s hand in the game trailer should be Walt and Ub.

  • “June Foray as Oswald Rabbit 1943”. Not to take any credit away, but when? In 1943? Certainly either Walt Tetley or Mickey Rooney back then had to have done the lucky rabbit’s voice.

  • Greg Ehrbar

    Justin Timberlake would just totally nail the voice of Flip the Frog in the CG remake.

  • tonma

    Wouldn’t that nice story be more interesting if they mentioned the Lantz years? why just skip that part of the story/history? I can only guess that in the coming years when Oswald gets injected into the brains and happy meals of everyone in the planet they will try their damndest to erase the memory that it ever happened.
    I don’t think I want to see Oswald become a trendy Pooh-ish license, I just wish they could keep it classy for once, but look at him, so cute… Kids gonna it him with a spoon.

  • Johnno

    Hopefully this does well and Disney decides to port it over to PS3 and use the MOVE motion controller. I’d love to play this with better graphics and animation and art asets in HD! There are some amazing engines out there that render graphics that are exactly like high quality cartoon/anime visuals!

  • Cyber Fox

    Plutopia as a playable stage in Epic Mickey = A Must Buy for All

    Plutopia is basically the best Pluto cartoon ever due to it’s surrealism



    This could be even bigger than this. I’m looking forward to more from OSWALD!