Book Review: The Art of Mickey Mouse

art of Mickey MouseThe Art of Mickey Mouse, Artists Interpret the World’s Favorite Mouseby Craig Yoe and Janet Morra-Yoe. 1991, 144 pp. (No pagination.)

For this review, I am discussing the 1991 edition. The 1995 edition seems to be more readily available on the second-hand market and is much less expensive.

Craig Yoe has been a toy designer, VP for the Jim Henson Studio, animator and studio owner. He was part of the creative team that created The Muppet-Vision 3D attraction. Janet Morra-Yoe is a photographer, sculptor and fashion designer. The book originated from the Yoes when they thought about Mickey’s popularity in pop culture. They took their adoration of Walt’s mouse and began asking world-famous artists to contribute unique interpretations of Mickey.

Author John Updike provides the seven-page introduction to the book. Mr. Updike discusses his love of Mickey and shares his thoughts on the Mouse’s enduring popularity. The introduction provides the only academic reference in the text–the artwork is really what is important.

It is obvious to the casual observer that the first edition, published in 1991, is really centered on contemporary pop artists. A lot of the artwork contains colors that reflect the times; it is obvious that popular tastes change over the years, especially dealing with pop artists. Much of the artwork is representative of the artists during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. What is obvious to me, is that the artists in question have a deep and abiding love for Mickey Mouse and his affect on culture. They have created some amazing pieces of art that showcase our favorite mouse. Yes, some of the art might seem dated, but they still honor Mickey.

Beyond discussing my favorite pieces, there isn’t much else to say about The Art of Mickey Mouse. About 25% of the art is astounding and looks good over 15 years later. The rest are political, extremely 80’s or just strange. Artistic expression abounds! A few of the artists included: Andy Warhol, William Steig, Charles Schultz, Maurice Sendak, R. Crumb (Rolly Crumb) and Peter Max. Over 100 pieces of art are presented.

In reviewing a work like this, the images can say far more than I can.

Untitled by Hajime Sorayama

Model Sheet by Ward Kimball

Mickey, the Dragon Slayer by Michael R. Hague

Mickey’s Mission by John Ceballos

The First Temptation of Mickey by William Joyce

Untitled by Keith Haring

Bottom Line: The Art of Mickey Mouse is a fun book, but offers little for the theme park or animation fan. If you are a hard-core Mickey fan, a fan of 1991 artwork or the artists featured, then you must have this book. If you can find a cheap copy of the book, I could almost see buying a few copies and framing some of the pieces. There are several editions available, make sure you order the large format one.


4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Art of Mickey Mouse

  1. What I really like about this book is that the bulk of the contributing artists are not Disney employees. You really get some imaginative interpretations of the Mouse without the watchful eye of the Marketing Dept.

  2. One thing I noticed in the samples you posted – there is a “life” in the drawings that Ward Kimball did (and in a few of the others) that is not there in many of the “outside” artwork…if that makes any sense…

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