Walt Before Mickey Audible Book Review

Walt Before Mickey: Disney’s Early Years 1919 -1928

Walt Before Mickey: Disney’s Early Years 1919 -1928  is a book about Walt Disney before he started the Walt Disney Studios. It tells the story of the beginnings of his career as an illustrator and animator.


Walt Before Mickey AudibleAudible is a very easy app to use. I have it on my iPad and also on my iPhone. Audible is also available on Android. I listened to this story while I was drawing and painting and on my way to work. Once you have a subscription to Audible you can pick one book per month, and have a 30% discount on other books you buy. Once you have downloaded the Audiobook, you can open it in the Audible app. You can easily switch between your iPad or iPhone and the story continues where you left off.

The Movie

Walt Before Mickey Movie

I saw a movie that was based on this book. The movie is not representative of the book. The movie was probably made with a small budget and had some bad acting in it, but it was still interesting to watch. It was streamed on Netflix, but not anymore. You can now buy it on DVD, I will leave a link in the description.

Walt Before Mickey: Disney’s Early Years 1919 -1928 is written by Timothy S. Susanin. I listened to the Audible book, but the book is also available as print copy on Amazon.

Disney Fan

Stefan de Groot age 11 Art of Walt Disney

I have read a lot of books and biographies about Walt Disney. When I was 11 I got the Art of Walt Disney from my parents when we visited Walt Disney World in Florida. I was hooked and wanted to know everything about Walt Disney. I learned English by translating that book. A few years later I bought Walt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomas, which was the ultimate biography. I love all the movies that Walt Disney made , but I have a special love and interested in the early years with characters like Oswald The Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse from the twenties and thirties.

Timothy Susanin

The author of Walt Before Mickey, Timothy Susanin, visited Walt Disney World with his family in 2004 and was intrigued by Walt Disney. Susanin is an investigative lawyer by trade and wanted to know more about how Walt Disney started out. He was mostly interested in the years that led up to Disney forming the Walt Disney Studios. The book starts out with a preface by Diane Disney-Miller the daughter of Walt Disney.

The story

The story starts at 1966 just a few moths before Disney’s death. He contemplates about his early years. Then the story really takes of. After serving in the Red Cross in France after World War I, Walt Disney worked for advertising and commercial art in Kansas City. Walt used these experiences to create four studios–Kaycee Studios, Laugh-O-gram Films, Disney Brothers Studio, and Walt Disney Studio. Using company documents, private correspondence between Walt and his brother Roy, contemporary newspaper accounts, and new interviews with Disney’s associates, Susanin traces Disney’s path. The story is very detailed and has a lot of addresses and names that sometimes feel a bit redundant. It slows down the story. A true biographer would have left these details out of the book and would have preserved that for research, but Susanin is an investigative lawyer and it shows in his work.

Alice Comedies

Walt Disney Studio Hyperion

Nonetheless the story shines a detailed light on the early years of Walt Disney and his struggles to become an artist. It gives a great inside into the people he worked with and how developed as an artist, animator to director and storyteller. It is interesting to learn more about the people he worked with, especially Ub Iwerks, the man that designed Mickey Mouse. The story is engaging and takes back to the time that animation still needed to be invented. Walt Disney know how to motivate his artists even if he had no money to pay them. Chapter 9 covers the period from 1926 until 1928 when Walt Disney started the Walt Disney Studios at Hyperion Avenue in Los Angeles. It was the time that they made The Alice comedies with a mix between life-action and animation.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit drawn by Stefan de Groot

After the Alice Comedies Disney started with a new series Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. A rabbit that looks similar to Mickey Mouse. In 1927 there were a lot of cat cartoons like Felix the Cat and Krazy Kat. They needed another animal so they chose a rabbit. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was the first cartoon character that had a character of his own. Before that time all cartoons were gag oriented. The Walt Disney Studios made 27 cartoons in the Oswald series. The cartoons were produced by Winkler Productions for Universal Pictures. With the income form the series Disney finally made profit after 8 years of failures and hired new artists. When discussing a new contract with producer Charles Mintz, Disney found out that the majority of his animator’s signed a contract to work for Mintz. Disney did not have the rights to Oswald, so he lost everything. On his trip from New York to Los Angeles Walt Disney together with his wife Lilian came up with a new character Mickey Mouse. Ub Iwerks designed Mickey Mouse and solely animated the first Mickey Mouse short Plane Crazy. This is where the story ends.

Walt Before Mickey: Disney’s Early Years 1919 -1928 Audible

Walt Before Mickey: Disney’s Early Years 1919 -1928 Paperback

Walt Before Mickey:Movie on Amazon Prime