No, not by that image to the right—by the nerve-wracking fact that I’ve got a blog.
I mean, my friends know I'm often "drowning in chaos" (as I like to put it), fighting with several freelance deadlines at once. I wrote the book on spreading myself too thin—while I was working on three other books. And now blogging will just take up more time. It makes my skin crawl, dammit.
But Eve and everybody has blog fever, and I'm afraid the peer pressure's got me too. Other fans and researchers have historical oddities to share? After years of comics and cartoon gruntwork, so do I. Ancient recordings? So do I. Snarky opinions? So's your old man.
The great illustrations in this post come from one of the first French Disney publications—and almost certainly the first Mickey Mouse novel ever written. Scribed by Magdeleine du Genestoux and published by Librairie Hachette, Mickey et Minnie (1932) adapted the first few 1930 Mickey Mouse comics continuities to prose... lots of prose. Whole chapters go by without illustrations. But when art does appear, it’s the work of Félix Lorioux (1872-1964), a man who drew the mouse like no other.
Félix Auguste Henri Marie Lorioux—his career covered in more depth elsewhere on the web—was an artist from childhood, toiling with stained glass at a local cathedral before attending a fine art school in Angers, France. Moving to Paris afterward, Lorioux designed clothing and product packaging before finding his niche in children’s books. Lorioux met Walt Disney when the latter toured France as a Red Cross ambulance driver during World War I; in some way, the connection led to Lorioux’s later employment as the first French Disney illustrator.
Nevertheless, Walt was apparently nonplussed by Lorioux’s abstractionist take on Mickey, Minnie, Pegleg Pete, and Sylvester Shyster. As a result, Lorioux would only work on a couple of additional Disney books. But while I can easily see the off-model aspect of Lorioux’ drawings (compare with a couple of their original comics inspirations, also pictured), I am captivated by their raw energy and enthusiasm. Shyster, with his three-day growth and butterfly-infested hat, makes me think of a refugee from a 19th century madhouse.
Want to join me for more of this lunacy? Sure you do. I’ve got plenty more coming on an entirely irregular basis. Be here.