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When I interviewed Charles Fleischer, the voice of Roger Rabbit, a while back, I noted with wonder the fact that the film got Disney to sign off on a scene in which Mickey Mouse collaborates with Bugs Bunny to pull a pretty nasty prank on the film's (human) lead, Eddie Valiant. I mean, Disney is nothing if not a brand, and the brand must be protected, right?

Right. Remember the Air Pirates Funnies?

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Yeah, Disney didn't like that too much, and they sued and sued and sued. Eventually, they got the guy to stop what he was doing, but of course, what he'd already done will be around forever.

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But here's the weird part. That was in 1971. Four years earlier, comic illustrator Wally Wood had drawn The Disneyland Memorial Orgy for The Realist magazine, and the company had held off suing, deciding to let the underground stay underground. (HEADS UP BEFORE YOU GOOGLE - The Disneyland Memorial Orgy is exactly what it sounds like.) It wasn't until someone started selling a bootleg blacklight poster that the company sued - merchandising, that's where the trouble starts. (Except that now, apparently, you can buy yourself a colored copy here for $35?)

Disney expressed a similar merchandising-based mentality when Berke Breathed started having Mortimer Mouse show up in his Sunday comic, Outland. Though Breathed did have Opus claim that they at least made a few threats.

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The weird thing? Disney has a Mortimer Mouse in its stable. He's the co-star of Mickey's Rival.

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Breathed didn't sidestep the Mickey thing; he just dug into the back catalog. Fair use!

We all know where this is heading, right? To South Park, of course, and the scene where Mickey kicks the crap out of The Jonas Brothers because they don't want to wear purity rings.

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Fair use?

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Comments

Scott Marks March 22, 2013 @ 3:09 p.m.

Mortimer was originally going to be Mickey's monicker, but Lillian Disney rejected the name thinking it "too pompous." Mortimer Mouse was actually patterned after Uncle Walt.

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Colonna March 24, 2013 @ 7:44 p.m.

I first saw this cartoon in one of Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon" books back in the day - as you said Matt, it has stayed around forever:

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