Joseph Keppler was the predominant political cartoonist of the late nineteenth century. His creation of the magazine, Puck, in 1877 brought him into a national position that allowed him to influence people’s political views and opinions. The magazine featured cartoon and caricature lithographs created by Keppler. The National Portrait Gallery is fortunate enough to own a few of Keppler’s lithographs from the height of his fame during the early 1880s. However, as a bibliophile, I was far more excited to discover that the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library owns one of the 300 copies of a limited-edition book that features some of Keppler’s best lithographs. Published in 1893, this book served Puck as an advertising tool and as a way to promote Keppler’s lithographs and talent. Continue reading
After losing the rights to his original animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney created a new character named Mortimer Mouse who was quickly renamed Mickey Mouse. Mickey first starred in two silent cartoons in 1928: Plane Crazy and Gallopin' Gaucho. However, Mickey's third animated appearance, in Steamboat Willie, released on November 18, 1928 had sound—and the rest is history.
Steamboat Willie propelled Mickey Mouse to stardom, becoming Walt Disney's most popular character and one of the most famous cartoon characters in the world. Initially he was drawn by Ub Iwerks with Walt himself providing Mickey's voice. By 1932 Walt Disney had received a special Oscar for the creation of Mickey Mouse.
Mickey would go on to star in more than one hundred shorts, appear in the 1940 movie Fantasia as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, and serve as the mascot of The Mickey Mouse Club, one of the most popular children's shows of 1950s. Mickey continues to be one of the most recognizable cartoon characters to this day, with his popularity never seeming to wane.
The two books above are just two examples from the Smithsonian American Art / National Portrait Gallery Library's pop up book collection featuring Mickey Mouse: Mickey Mouse and the Martian Mix Up and Mickey Mouse Waddle Book. Other libraries, including the Cooper Hewitt Library and the National Museum of American History Library also have material featuring this famous fellow.—Doug Litts