All Photographs and Copy are Coryright MEL BIRNKRANT Some of the imagery is Copyright The Walt Disney Company
THE MEL BIRNKRANT COLLECTION
A Guided Tour of
At last, we’ve reached the Final Page. I can’t believe I wrote the whole thing! This website has come a long way, since I began it back in February. It was originally intended to be simply a photographic record, a quick attempt to place the camera in front of 125, or so, showcases, and then, walk away. Instead, I found that I couldn’t resist commenting, along the way, and opening a drawer, or two, to fish out some related things. A lot of it was simply reminiscing. I apologize for that, and for the excessive use of first person pronouns. They are the the bad habit of an only child, who spent too much time alone, toiling over a drawing board, nearly every day, and, often, late into the night.
I might also attempt to explain and rationalize my habitual propensity to write, almost in rhyme, but, hopefully, not quite. It drives me crazy, too, sometimes. Atrocious spelling prevented me from attempting to write anything, all my life. The computer with its spell checking capability set the dormant writer in me free. But having spent my life doing artwork, where, hopefully, every element fits into the composition, all the while, awash in music, I have become addicted to melody. So looking for a word that’s right, I tend to opt for one that that keeps the music flowing. It’s like solving a crossword puzzle, one chooses the word that, seemingly, applies, and also sounds “right.” Given several alternatives, I usually pick the one that rhymes. At times, it is annoying, and even gets embarrassing. But in the end, I just give in, and go with the flow.
Few visitors to Mouse Heaven are aware that there is a second, less conspicuous, collection, here. It is a fairly impressive one, consisting of tiny 25 watt spots, hidden bulbs of seven watts, and larger spotlights of every size, hundreds of them! No doubt, they’re all illegal now. One day, the “Incandescence Police” will burst in here, arrest me for "incandescent exposure," and forcibly put out my lights. I better take a few more photographs, before they arrive.
So that’s what this last page is all about, I plan to simply walk around the house, camera in hand, and click a few of the things that I left out, hit and miss, as they catch my eye. Looking back over the files of photos that I shot, over the course of this project, there are also some that I didn’t have the room to squeeze in, or, inadvertently, forgot. Now is the time to include them, too.
On the wall of what I used to call the “livingroom”, in the days when I did a great deal of what I considered “living” there, mostly parked in front of the TV, there is an amazing piece of History. It is darkening with age, and sinking deeper into the Sea of Lost Memory. While working on this website, I forgot that it was there. Dragging my tripod into that room, last night, I did the best I could to record an image of it, before if fades away. I don’t remember how, or when, I got this thing, this captured moment of Comic History. I do know that I acquired it so many years ago that there was no such thing as Google. Thus, with a passing thought that I would, one day, explore it further, I hung it there to fade. My momentary good intentions faded too. Last night, it hit me like a ton of bricks! What an amazing document this is!
First of all, it is visually attractive, that’s why I got it, in the first place, and that was the only reason. That, and the fact that it represented original art by nine Comic Artists, most of whose names and work I knew. And, I also knew that if I did some research, I would have been able to pin down the year that it was made, for there were clues. It was a time when Annie was still an Orphan. She remarks, “Gee I wish that nice funny man would adopt me!” That nice funny man, being a comedian,” Joe Laurie,” starring in a production called “Plain Jane.” It was also a time when Skeezix was still a baby. Uncle Walt holds him aloft, to better see the photograph of Joe, telling him, “Yes sir, Skeezix, when he gets his makeup on, he looks even funnier.”
Joe's photograph is posted in the middle. In this comic world of two dimensions, that is the same as being there, in person. Rudy Neb sits in the crook of Joe’s elbow and exclaims, “Shut up, Joe - I’m overlaughing myself! I’ll have to go to a funeral tomorrow to get my face back in shape!” Here, is also Andy Gump, looking very early, as well as Moon Mullins, Harold Teen, and images by three other artists, whose names I did not know. Each artist contributed original art to what appears to be a visual “roast,” or tribute to the Man in the photo.
Last night I looked him up on Google. According to The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville: “JOE LAURIE, JR. 1892 - 1954, Joe Laurie’s vaudeville career as a comedian was a lengthy one but it’s relatively unimportant!” It goes on to damn him with faint praise. He starred in a show called “Plain Jane” that played in New York, from March to October of 1924. That is the year that Orphan Annie began. Was she so well-known as to be included on this document, just a few months after she was created? Another scrap of newspaper I discovered on Google tells that “Plain Jane” played in Chicago, the following year, 1925.
That explains it, all these artists were there! All were living in Chicago, that year, and working for the Chicago Tribune. Were they offered free tickets to the show? And afterwards, generated this gathering of history, all on one amazing page? Among the few, whose names I didn’t recognize, Garr Williams can be found, on Wikipedia. He had a long career in little-known comic strips and illustration, but never made it to a place a guy like me would know. Sals Bostwick came to Chicago to work with Frank King. He was doing a Sunday Strip called “Behave Yourself” at the Tribune, the year that he drew this. He died of appendicitis a few years later, at the young age of 27. The man on the bottom, whose signature I can’t make out, remains a mystery. But one that were I a younger man, I would pursue. This amazing document is a doorway to the World of Comic Artists, as the great ones gathered in Chicago, on the staff of the Chicago Tribune in 1925. I wish I had the time, and energy, and appetite to open that door wide. I just peeked through the keyhole, last night.
Oh, would that I could live in Paris, again, as it was in 1958, that is. I return there frequently, in memory. This poster brings some mixed ones back to me. One day, my friends Bob and Verta went away for a few days. When they returned, Verta told me they had gotten married. This turned out to be her idea of a joke, born out of wishful thinking. Eventually, they did get married, by the way, back in the USA. Like an idiot, I believed it, and went out to buy them a wedding present. I didn’t have much money. It was a sacrifice. There was a wonderful shop that sold old posters, really old ones, Alphonse Mucha, Toulouse Lautrec, and advertising from the Turn of the Century, and they were inexpensive. I discovered this gorgeous two sheet flight of fantasy that represents the Devil seducing Happiness. It certainly seduced me. It advertises a Gala Ball, celebrating Judi-Gras on the 14th of February, 1901. It was still folded, just as it had been, on the day that it was printed, and it cost the equivalent of five dollars. That, to me, was a lot of money. In a moment of mad extravagance, I not only bought it for them, I bought one for myself, as well. The store happened to have two.
When I gave my friends the wedding present, it proved to be most embarrassing, as Bob knew nothing about “the marriage,” and thus, the truth came out. What to do, in such an awkward situation? I gave them the gift, anyway.
Living in the old loft in Manhattan, a year later, I got an 8 foot piece of Plexiglas, a sheet of plywood and some aluminum bathroom molding, and “framed” my poster, as you see it, here. I have had to photograph this from an angle, because the ceiling lights glare on it, directly.
Talk about misunderstandings! One day, Bob who was living in New York too, confessed how angry that poster made him feel. He was convinced that I had hung it there to taunt him with the the fact that he had left it in France! He didn’t realize that I had a second poster. And probably didn’t believe me, when I told him this one wasn’t his. It seems that Bob and Verta had placed their folded poster, on top of a tall armoire in their room, and forgot that it was there.
When Bob and Verta left Paris, Eunice took over their room, at number 9 Rue Git le Coeur. Naturally, she never thought of looking on top of the 7 foot tall armoire. Who would? But Bob assumed that she had found their poster, and I framed it to “rub it in.” This sure qualifies for the “no good deed goes unpunished” category! Eunice and I both love this poster. She said to me, last night, as I was photographing it, “I wonder what became of the other one?” "The Beat Hotel" has, since, become a landmark. Its contents are, now, enshrined in a museum. Wouldn’t it be ironic if it were there?
Many, many, years ago, when we were still living in New York City, I bought an amazing Christmas gift for Eunice. It is made of wax, and is remarkable, remarkably beautiful! Remarkable, also, is the fact that it has survived intact, over a hundred years. Thank God, we had the good sense to keep her in a showcase. The color of her lavender ribbons has faded, but the figure was ivory white to begin with, and she looks very much the way she always did. This is from the Art Nouveau Era, obviously, made in France. She has that “je ne sait quoi” touch of Turn of the Century French Magic, both provocative and slightly comic. Her beauty is elusive and fragile, both in form and material. And the fact that she has neither arms, nor legs, and is just a torso, sounds unsettling, when described in words, but seen, in person, might not even cross your mind. It is intrinsic to her design. What you will notice is her luscious pink lips and her beautiful eyes, looking at you, from deep in shadow, unmistakably, alive.
Attempting to photograph her, yesterday, I discovered that the Plexiglas showcase had come unglued, and was ready to collapse, and take with it, the heavy lamp that sits on top. So, I immediately removed the Plexiglas, and attempted to repair it. This was not how I had intended to spend the afternoon. While the glue was setting, so was the sun, and a ray of sunlight came through the window to illuminate her from behind. My camera, on a tripod, happened to be standing there. Thus, I seized the opportunity to capture this exquisite moment, as she glowed, radiant, in the evening sunlight, delicate and beautiful.
Across the room, are two other ladies. These are of a later date. On second thought, perhaps, they are not "ladies!" These two alluring beauties are made of celluloid. They are studded, here and there, with rhinestones. Light as a feather, they are vulnerable to the slightest breeze.
It’s time to take a bathroom break! When we first moved here, I was doing all the carpentry myself. I had already completed the Formica bathroom, all except the cabinet drawers, when Bill Maxwell, my savior, who like that other savior, better known, was also a carpenter, came into my life. And I never did carpentry again. But, before he got here, I made this: Tucked into a secret corner, visible, only when one is entering the bath, is a small showcase. At the time, I thought it would be the way I would display the entire collection, in cases large and small, set into walls, throughout the house. Who knew, then, how big the task and the collection would become? Unscrewing Plexiglas proved to be a pain in the ass. Therefore, the stuff that I stuffed in here, when this was built, 40 years ago, has never been changed or rearranged.
These are some of the things that we held precious, then. Among them, are some bronze figures with removable figleaves, and trick features that I will leave to your imagination, an amazing head, cleverly formed of naked ladies, carved in Japan, out of something that resembles ivory, and a bevy of German bisque bathing beauties. There is also an amazing match safe, in the form of a dragon, and an Art Nouveau inkwell, with a demon face on the brass lid.
Although it didn’t really come from King Tut’s tomb, it is made in the image of similar chairs that did. In the era when the tomb was opened, this image actually became a toy. I kid you not! The pages of Playthings Magazine, from those early years, reveal that it was called the “Tut Pup!” It stands in front of another turn of the Century affiche, advertising a Parisian shadow theater that was popular in the days, before there were moving pictures. Also, on the wall, are two early animation drawings. One is Clarabelle Cow, and her significant udder, in the days before she wore a dress, and the other is Minnie Mouse, searching for something she stashed in her stocking.
On the wall behind the TV, which was, once, a place that I could hang drawings that I did, 45 years ago, until Eunice banished them from the room....
This room is full of memories. Sitting in the far corner of a coffee table, are a pair of Dresden Figurines. These were inherited from my mother, but they were actually my father’s taste. He collected a smattering of antiques, in his day. These two elegant French ladies are as out of place, here, in this world of Comic Characters, as I had been, in the World that I grew up in, the once great city of Detroit, Michigan, in the 1940s. These sat on top of the piano, in that room that was never lived in, except on holidays, ironically called, the living room! Every family we knew had a piano, like ours. And, like ours, too, most were never used. When I was very young, my parents provided piano lessons. I was hopeless at it, but I clearly remember, banging away, while, all the while, studying every minute detail and nuance of these two figurines, the dial on one’s watch, the stripes on the other’s dress; these things left an imprint on my memory. Evoking the spirit of Marie Antoinette, they spoke to me. “Let them eat cake!” they said. So, I headed out to the kitchen, and did!
I put the showcase back in place, and set the lamp on top, again, along with these two delightful Schaffer Vater Bottles, in which the carefree young lady’s legs are actually the stoppers. As the camera was already positioned there, I photographed this magic lamp that we acquired in a local auction. It’s not really what one might consider a part of the collection, but the sight of it, a fountain of golden iridescence, has always pleased me. While I'm in my wife’s domain, let’s see what other treasures I can find.
And while we are in the bathroom, we mustn’t miss this gorgeous vase. It represents a mermaid, teasing a water sprite. Eunice discovered this at the Stormville airport Flea Market. She did well! It is marked GH on the bottom. This did not photograph nicely, under the fluorescent bathroom lights, so I am taking it upstairs to photograph it properly, on my desk. I really love this thing, and often turn it to see all sides. Let’s really do this right!
There is another fabulous poster that we should see, before we go upstairs. I photographed it, several weeks ago, while standing on a ladder. It hangs along the facade of the balcony, overlooking the big room. It was another generous gift from Kenneth Anger. Kenneth always manages to stay afloat, buoyed up by his talent, and notoriety. He sails across the sea of life, sometimes, nearly sinking, but often walking god-like on the surface of the water, wined and dined, the whole World over. Years ago, J. Paul Getty gave him a hundred thousand dollars to make the film, “Mouse Heaven.” Kenneth immediately went on a spending spree. He took Eunice on a trip to Washington DC, where they stayed at the Watergate hotel, and he over tipped everyone, outrageously. And to celebrate the upcoming making of “Mouse Heaven,” he bought this fabulous German poster for me. Needless to say, the film didn’t get made. Years later, Getty endowed a second attempt, this time, less handsomely, but with enough to enable Kenneth to, finally, take it seriously, and make the movie, after which this website is named.
This was the standard Micky Maus stock movie poster that was used in the early 1930s, throughout Germany. It had a place for the theater owner to write in the name of the cartoon, playing, currently. This particular poster has been adapted to announce a lecture by a man named, Jury Rony, on the subject of “Micky Maus and Other Trickfilms,” the theme being “The Made Film.” The year figures out to be 1932. I love these stark and direct images of Mickey and Minnie.
This awesome Automaton was another home run, by John Haley. Although, the item was found in England, it was made in Germany. One can tell from the papier mache, which on close examination, inside, turns out to be made up of layers of German newspapers. How old is he? He is very early, as evidenced by his lovely gloves with five fingers. This is not really a toy! It is more in the nature of an animated display. His clockwork mechanism is massive, and runs for a long time, on a single winding. His action is simply rocking, from side to side, while he raises his arms slightly. His eyes are an interesting variation. They are formed of celluloid, and the white circles represent the highlights. When his head tips, they roll from side to side. But they don’t just lie there on the bottom. There is a celluloid track, inside each eye, that prevents that from happening. The track, which is invisible, keeps the white disks on a straight line, so they go from one side to the other, cleanly and quickly.
This is as good a time as any, to go back upstairs to revisit the spectacular Mickey Mouse Automaton that we first glimpsed, on the Yellow Kid page. I’ll take you there by secret stairway. There’s something I’d like you to see, on the way. Half way up this hidden flight of stairs that was the only way to get up here, before the spiral staircase came, there is an open showcase that no one, including me, ever sees. Therefore, I never finished it, or wired it for electricity. In this place that daylight never enters, sits a magic jacket. Even in the semi-darkness, its elusive iridescence picks up every meager glimmer, and positively glows. Embroidered, on the back, in silken threads, is an awesome scene that represents two Cosmic Comic Deities from the USA, Popeye and Mickey Mouse. It depicts them, held aloft on clouds, as they fly past the pinnacle of Mount Fugi. There are dragons and tigers on the sleeves. This optimistic document, in which West meets East, in peace, was crafted in the early 1930s. Japan’s Invasion of the USA was, still, half a dozen years away.
No one could ever know how deeply involved I am with the objects in this collection. In this instance, Mickey’s pants needed to be replaced, and one silk covered button had to be recovered. Enough of the tattered old pants remained, to guide me in replicating the pattern. But, getting exactly the right silk for them, required a trip to NYC, and a daylong trek through the garment district, where, finally, with the old pants in hand, I found the perfect match, and, likewise, the right white to recover the one button. If you doubt how perfect that match is, just compare one button to the other.
As if that wasn’t enough, one of the celluloid lenses on his eye was busted. I happen to have a marvelous set of comical disguise novelties, actually a couple of them. The stuff that they contain is fantastic. Each object, in its own way, is a work of art. In one set, there happened to be a celluloid monocle. The lens on it was identical to the one on Mickey’s eye. This was, no doubt, exactly what the makers of the mouse used, in the first place, when they created him. Of course, I gladly sacrificed it to give Mickey a perfect new old eye. I relate this story, merely to shed some light on why I believe that Fate directs some of these things to me. Where else on Earth, would a treasure, as rare as this Mickey, find the perfect eye, waiting for him?
Another rarity that Fate dealt out to me, arbitrarily, is this pair of figurines of Mickey and Minnie, circa 1940. Collectors of Brayton’s Laguna Pottery have seen these pictured in the Kay Kamen Catalogues, or reprinted in the Munsey book. But, as of few years ago, no one I knew of had actually seen a pair. Many believe that none, including the pair I claimed to have, exist. It’s not unusual for things to appear in catalogues, and, then, never get made. If you have glanced at my history, as an aspiring toy inventor, you’ll understand why I say that. Anyway, I am posting their picture, here, just to prove that they are real.
Moving stuff around, up here, I realized that I sure have a lot of Spark Plugs! They are tucked in everywhere. Among them, is one that is relatively rare. That is the mechanical walking version. It is very similar to the walking Felix toy, and made by the same company, “Wa-Gee-Walker.” His body houses a complex mechanical mechanism that is intended to replicate a walking motion, when the toy is pulled along. This elaborate attempt was well intentioned, but works better in theory, or, perhaps, when it was new, than it does, now. Nonetheless, it is a rare Spark Plug. So, here is a small group of them, surrounding a most extraordinary, and huge, Barney Google doll.
Here is a unique item that I had photographed, already, to include in “Hollywood.” But the page got just too big to squeeze it in, so I decided to save it to put here! It is the Most Spectacular of Epic Motion Picture Pressbooks. If such publications competed for Academy Awards, this one would surely win the Oscar for 1937. It was produced by RKO Radio Pictures, and, obviously, No expense was spared. This awesome object gives new meaning to the expression, “Every Trick In the Book!” Its makers really threw in everything, including the Kitsch-n sink! Throughout the pages of history, such fabled volumes as this have only been produced to grace the libraries of kings. Whether this outrageous volume ascends to the pinnacle of elegance, or is, instead, a ground-breaking achievement in the Chronicles of Kitsch, I’ll leave up to you.
Even its cover has a cover, and I dare say, there has never been a cover, on any book of any kind, the likes of this. It consists of a slab of heavy celluloid, 1/8 of an inch thick that is close as one could get to what we know as Plexiglas, today. But this is celluloid, and it has darkened to a glowing shade of gold, with age, and shrank considerably, causing its sharp edged metal hinge to buckle slightly It is held in place by large brass bolts! The Celluloid is etched with the RKO logo, with some portions left clear, so one can see the second cover, one that does not match, or coordinate in any way, to show through. That second cover, equally heavy, is laminated in gold foil, embossed and printed. The entire volume is as audacious and ostentatious as Hollywood, itself, could be in 1937. America had left the Great Depression behind, and Happy days were here again.
Every page displays a different printer's trick, from glittering raised gold ink to actual glossy photographs, tipped in. But there is one complex page that may be the first, and, possibly, the last of its kind. That is the page devoted to Disney, Mickey Mouse, and the Silly Symphonies. It is made up of several elements, a background and two sheets of heavy celluloid, with Disney characters, printed on each. Altogether, they make up an entire layered scene, in a kind of cockeyed version of 3-D. It’s a little difficult to figure out exactly what they were trying to achieve, as size relationships are mixed up and foreground objects are overlapped by more distant ones, and ... well, it has to be seen to be believed! I don’t know if a photograph can begin to indicate the effect, but I will try to capture it. Whether it works, or not, is open to debate. But suffice it to say, like the entire pressbook, it was a “no expense spared” attempt to score a visual Knockout, at the expense of Good Taste.
After playing the piano, Mickey sits down to eat his dinner. He is using the one size fits all piano stool, in a remarkably similar room. The object he is about to cut into might be, either a plum pudding, or a meatloaf. Whatever it is, is clearly piping hot, as evidenced by the curling wisp of wire smoke that rises in the air, above it.
Across the room, there hangs a theater poster, from a Turn of the Century Broadway production, starring the Katzenjammer Kids. Anybody who was somebody in the world of Comic Characters, Buster Brown, Happy Hooligan, Little Nemo, Jiggs and Maggie, Foxy Grandpa, the list goes on and on, appeared on Broadway, in those early days.
There remain some original Disney animation drawings, from the treasure trove of Burt Gilette. Most remarkable, among them, are these four early images by Ub Iwerks. These were from the first Mickey Mouse art, issued by the Disney Studio, poses of Mickey, intended to be instantly iconic, and used on publicity and early products. Anyone familiar with the earliest Mickey Imagery will recognize these.
Back in Eunice's room, again, here is the odious chair that was the bane of my existence, when I was growing up. As a lawyer, (he made his living in real-estate) my father had only one client, a tiny Philipino woman, named, Mrs. Bukassis. I dreaded hearing the sound of her name mentioned, as every time she visited, she brought with her, as payment for his services, atrocious antiques, each one more horrible than the last. One was a frightening Dresden image of a pasha studded in tiny golden dots. It sat cross-legged on a glass dome covered pedestal in the hallway, and nodded its mysterious head and waved a fan, whenever I walked past. Another offering was a flock of stuffed birds, with eyes that were not glass, but, instead, were like tiny dried up raisins. Posed on branches beneath half a dozen domes of glass, they provided a home for hundreds of tiny vermin, visible, on close inspection. As terrible as these things seemed to be, to me, by far, the worst thing was this chair!
The legend that Mrs. Bukassis told was that it was found in King Tut’s Tomb! In fact, my parents referred to the chair, itself, as “King Tut!” Its presence in our home completely freaked me out. If you are wondering why I found it so frightening, I might point out, it had two heads and four human feet, with which it could chase me in my dreams, and did! I won't go into all the gory details, except to say, my mother set my beloved teddy bear on it, one day, and I never touched that bear again.
When my mother sold the contents of the house, she told me that I could choose one thing. At 21, some inner motive, certainly a complex one, compelled me to pick this chair. So here it sits, with inlay of exotic woods and precious ivory, I, now, see it as an object of elusive beauty that, at the same time, is still a little scary. If it were to turn its heads and roll its terrible eyes at me, again, as it once did, when I was “sick in bed,” it would not surprise me.
When we first saw this Mickey Mouse, it was the end of winter. Now it is the end of summer. The forest that was, then, covered in snow, and bleak, is rich and green. But there are already signs that autumn is arriving, and another winter will, soon, be here. So, without further ado, let me lift the showcase, and wind him up for you.
This one is a knockout, a masterpiece of brevity and excess complexity, at the same time. Check out the fallen combatant’s Xed out eyes! The boxing ring, indicated by a few white lines, hand painted, on the background, continues out into 3 dinensionsl space, rendered by a few thin wires. Are those polka dots on the wall behind? In this tiny world of make-believe they represent the faces of the crowd. Notice how they deminish in size, as they go back farther from the ring.
That, above, is the final entry, on the final page. I’m not stopping because I’ve run out of stuff, or steam, but, simply, because this page has grown too big, and the web builder program, which is aptly named, “What You See Is What You Get," won’t let me add another thing. So that’s it! What you see, now, is what you get.
Nonetheless, before I go, I’d like to mention one more thing.
This year I met a charming young man, named Eric Millen. He visited “Mouse Heaven” and made a friendly video. Eric, who is an artist, himself, maintains an amazing blog, called "Massive Fantastic," in which he enthusiastically celebrates the work of artists he appreciates. He saw, and liked, the site I made, about my friend, Charles Ponstingl, and that led him to “discover” me. Eric got the impression that I was some kind of artist, as if, the toy designs I did, in an effort to make a living, were worthy of being considered “art.” I tried to explain to him that my lifetime of creative effort was all about the Collection, not my artwork, which was only the means by which I could achieve that end.
Eric insisted otherwise. Therefore, in preparation for his visit, I dragged out a bunch of ancient artwork that he had asked to see. I was so pleased that, once he got here, and actually witnessed the collection, he completely Got the Message! The Collection, in person, emits an “energy” that verified my premise, and convinced him, instantly. You will see it, too, if you watch his video below, in which the collection, itself, and Eric’s whirlwind walks around the house, completely steal the show.
Meanwhile, although, this isn’t the last page on this website, (there are two more to go), it is the one I saved until the end to write, and, therefore, the last one I wrote. Thus there remains only one final thing to say, which is, in the immortal words of Porky Pig:
“That’s All Folks!’
There is one shelf, fairly low down, in an “Ikea” showcase, upstairs, that holds a group of tiny, but unique Mickey Mouse things. The way they are displayed leaves a lot to be desired, and renders them impossible to photograph effectively, but I will attempt it. When Ted Hake, who has seen everything, visited here, last year, this small group of inconspicuous objects stopped him in his tracks, “What’s That?”
The objects that captured Ted’s attention, are five small scenes, made in Japan. Each has its original plain brown box, sized individually to fit. They probably sold for ten cents each. Each box contains a tiny scene of Mickey doing unexpected things. The figures are hardly bigger than an inch, and their limbs consist of tiny wires. Each activity is abbreviated down to its bare essence. Everything that’s necessary, is included, nothing less, nothing more. In the scene where Mickey is eating dinner, a fork is necessary to eat, so it is rendered, complete, with tiny wire prongs, no longer than a 16th of an inch.
These things are Amazing! They really should be photographed individually. Then, blown up to show what’s really there! I’ll try to capture what I can, in a single photo, and if that isn’t adequate, I’ll take a shot of each, close up. Looking at this photo, now, I realize, those in the background are shown actual size.
Here, Mickey stands beneath a streetlight, and serenades the passers by. There appears to be a lizard on the light! In the other scene, he directs traffic. Each of these is mounted on a base that is actually a slice of bamboo. There must have been endless varieties of these tiny visual Haiku.