Although Donald Duck threatens to lead all the rest, it is the real symbol of the Disney cartoon. Furthermore, in marking Mickey's 25th birthday, we are also commemorating the emancipation of the animation industry.
It is not that the animated cartoon began with Mickey, or even with Disney. Animated drawing can be traced back to shadows dancing in flickering firelight on cave walls, to Chinese shadow shows, puppetry, the magie lantern, the comic strip. Animation (derived from "the state of being alive") developed out of early picture making along lines of concern, not with form and being "a work of art", but for calling attention to things in story sequence. This type of drawing lends itself well to humor, as to information, so that it has become the obligation of the screen cartoon, as of the comic strip, to make people laugh. In fact, many of the early cartoons were translations to the screen of newspaper comic strips. But even just as "filler-in", or as a "chaser" to end a performance; even in its simplest form and without sound, the animated cartoon always was expensive to produce; and the artist, dependent on the business man, did not own the characters he created.