The very first animated shorts produced by Walt Disney, the Newman Laugh-O Grams (often shortened to just Laugh-O-Grams) were a short lived series of theatrical cartoons, with the studio and series lasting from 1921 to 1923, built off the heels of Disney's previously failed company, Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists.
The first handful were a series of 1 minute long newsreels that were exclusively screened at the Newman Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, featuring topical gags and advertisements, before upgrading to a series of gag cartoons loosely inspired by well known fairy tales, but given a then contemporary spin. Walt Disney himself drew and animated on these films, along with artists Ub Iwerks, Hugh Harman, Friz Freleng and Carman Maxwell.
Unfortunately, the series didn't attract an audience, and Walt was forced to declare bankruptcy in July 1923, just after completing the raw edits of his pilot for his next proposed series, the Alice Comedies. After selling his movie camera and moving to California, Walt managed to get distribution for the new Alice series via Winkler Pictures.
Fortunately, all 10 of the short films produced by the short lived studio (which includes "Alice's Wonderland", the pilot for Disney's eventual Alice Comedies series) have survived the ravages of time and exist to this day.
- Newman Laugh-O-Grams (1921)
- Little Red Riding Hood (1922)
- The Four Musicians of Bremen (1922)
- Jack and the Beanstalk (1922)
- Jack the Giant Killer (1922)
- Goldie Locks and the Three Bears (1922)
- Puss in Boots (1922)
- Cinderella (1922)
- Tommy Tucker's Tooth (1922)
- Alice's Wonderland (1923): The pilot for the Alice Comedies, made before the studio closed shop. It's important to note that this film was never publicly screened; it was made as a way of attracting potential distributors and investors.
- Alice Allusion: Alice's Wonderland takes its name from the story Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but it otherwise has little to nothing in common with that story.
- Animated Adaptation: The first seven shorts are loose adaptations of classic fairy tales Little Red Riding Hood, The Four Musicians of Bremen, Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, Puss in Boots, Cinderella and Jack the Giant Killer.
- Creator Cameo: Walt himself appears in the first film, drawing his cartoons. He also appears in "Alice's Wonderland".
- Early Installment Weirdness: The look, movement, and tone of the cartoons is a far cry from the better-known films Disney would eventually produce, and there are no real recurring characters to speak of, unlike the Classic Disney Shorts. Also, the very first short was a series of topical gags and advertisements for the local theatre for which it was made, with no real story.
- Limited Animation: The films often used cutouts or very crude hand-drawn animation. Justified, since Disney was working on low budgets and lacked experience making cartoons.
- Public Domain Animation: All 10 of the cartoons are in the Public Domain.
- Setting Update: The Cinderella short has its setting updated to the 1920s.