Year 2: 1928: The loss of Oswald, and the birth of Mickey Mouse.
At first it seemed like things would turn out great for Walt and his animators—Oswald was a hit with the public and profits were rolling in. But disaster struck—when Walt went to ask the boss of Winkler Pictures, Charles Mintz, for a budget increase (so that Walt could keep making progress with his films) not only was he denied the budget increase—but was then told to accept a 20% budget decrease. On top of that, Mintz revealed to Walt that he had hired away all but a handful of his animators out from under him with a new contract, and reminded Walt that he, not him, owned the rights to Oswald. So he gave Disney the ultimatum—take the budget cut, or lose his star character. Obviously, we know how this turned out. After completing the remaining Oswald shorts he was contracted to make, Walt, Ub, and a couple other animators left Winkler altogether. Walt was devastated by this loss—he had finally found success after failing with two previous studios, only to have his men and staff swiped out from under him. It taught him a very important lesson in making sure he owned the rights to anything he made. But he was not deterred—while completing the final Oswalds, his top animator, Ub Iwerks, went to work on creating a new star to replace Oswald—a little Mickey Mouse. In just two weeks, Ub finished the first Mickey Mouse cartoon—Plane Crazy.
Unfortunately, Walt and Ub couldn't get the series off the ground—at this point, cartoons had all but worn out their welcome with audiences, and Mickey just seemed like more of the same to them. Fortunately, they found a way to solve this—after, er, aquiring a pirated sound phone, they began work on making a synchronized sound cartoon. Walt obviously must have realised how much sound could help cartoons, after seeing the wide success of the Warner Bros. talkie "The Jazz Singer." After a month or two of work, Walt finally released the the cartoon that kicked off "The Golden Age of Animation": Steamboat Willie. While it was NOT the first sound cartoon, despite general misinformatiion, it was the first to truly take advantage of what it could do for cartoons. Upon release, the short was an instant success, selling big at the box office, getting rave reviews and instantly cementing Mickey Mouse as a star character, and thus guaranteeing animation, and Walt, a future.
(Ozzie of the Mounted)
(Oh What a Knight)
(The Fox Chase)
(The Gallopin Gaucho)