Unless you lived in the 1930s or are a fan of vintage comic strips you might not be aware of the attempted Mickey Mouse suicide. But it was a very real thing that ran in the Mickey Mouse comic strip from October 8th to the 24th of 1930. It is a grim series of strips, with a happy ending, that really demonstrate how culture and entertainment, especially surrounding death, have changed over the years.
The story revolves around Minnie leaving Mickey for another rodent, could be a mouse or a rat, named Mr. Slicker. Mickey is despondent and then attempts to take his life through various methods. Each time failing. Eventually he decides that life is worth living, but it is a pretty wild ride.
The strip was written and drawn by Floyd Gottfredson. In April 1930, Gottfredson started work on the just four-month-old Mickey Mouse daily comic strip. A strip that until then had heavy involvement from Walt himself. But Floyd took to it and he would define the Mickey Mouse cartoon world in the same way that Carl Barks would the world of Donald Duck.
From what I have read online, the story-line did not originate with Gottfredson, but with Walt Disney. If that is true, it is more than fascinating. We are seeing a dark side to Mickey’s life, that came straight from his creator. My guess is that this is not Mickey Mouse canon, but it might be the most “real” I have seen Mickey. So maybe it should be. I will let you decide. Here are the strips for your reading pleasure.
Mickey Mouse Suicide series of Comic Strips
In the first few days of the strip, we meet Mr. Slicker at the Mickey Mouse Miniature Golf Course. This is where he meets both Mickey and Minnie. They go out for food and Mr. Slicker defends Minnie’s honor, which impresses her. Even though Mickey tried to do that same. Sadly he failed.
Like a lot of early stories with Minnie Mouse, she is more of a prop than a real character.
On Days five through seven, Mickey is pushed out. Mr. Slicker has made his move and Minnie seems to be smitten. Gotta admit, this Slicker guy is kind of…slick.
Mickey is about to do something about it and Horsecollar comes along with some terrible advice. Not saying Mickey should have knocked Mr. Slicker’s block off, but he should have talked to Minnie.
Now it is too late and Mr. Slicker and Minnie are thing now. Poor Mickey. I really like that sad last frame.
Now come the Mickey Mouse suicide attempts. Mickey tries via gun, drowning, leaping from a bridge, gas and hanging. Each time he fails with mild comic hi-jinks resulting.
The final comic is the one where Mickey decides to hang himself from a tree. While doing so he encounters some happy smiling squirrels. Their natural happiness makes him feel better and he decides that life is worth living. Instead of using the rope to hang himself. Mickey turns it into a swing. Now this is the Mickey I know!
This was a fascinating run of a great comic strip. If you are interested in more Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson, please check out the compilations that have been printed of his work.