From Donald Duck to Zootopia: 70 Years of Cartoon Fur

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Patsy Walker in cartoon fur
Image: Marvel Comics.

Wearing fur is so prevalent in human culture that it has even reached our illustrations and animation, from comic books to cartoons. The cartoon fur-wearing character that is usually thought of first is Cruella De Vil from One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). Although her fur coat and matching handbag emphasise her sense of high couture, she is far from the only one who wears furs in Toon Town!

Cruella De Vil in cartoon fur
“My only true love, darling. I live for furs. I worship furs! After all, is there a woman in all this wretched world who doesn’t?” Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians. Image: Disney.

A pioneer of cartoon fur was Disney’s Donald Duck, who wore a fur overcoat while singing “Jingle Bells” in Donald’s Snow Fight (1942). I guess he liked it so much that in Dumb Bell of the Yukon (1946) he decided Daisy should have her own. So obsessed did he become with this idea that he imagined a bear cub was Daisy in a fur coat and kissed it!

daisy duck in cartoon fur
In Dumb Bell of the Yukon, Donald kisses a bear cub believing it to be Daisy in a fur coat. Image: Disney.

One that makes me giggle, especially this time of year, is the comic book Patsy Walker #105 from Marvel Comics. In “Her First Fur Coat!” (1963), Patsy is determined to wear her cartoon fur even though it’s warm outside. “Every time I see a fur coat in a store window, it DOES something to me!” she says. “It just takes me out of this world!”

patsy walker in cartoon fur
Before she morphed into superheroine Hellcat, Patsy Walker was all about teen humour. Image: Marvel Comics.

Another comic book fan of fur is Dr. Jean Grey who buys a white fur coat in the first series of X-Factor. She lost her old coat, so she goes shopping with Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops. She tells the salesman that she wants to wear it right out of the store. When outside, she is enraptured by how soft and warm her cartoon fur coat is. She later gets in a snowball fight with Scott, still wearing her new fur coat, while calling herself “The Queen of the Icy North”.

jean grey in cartoon fur
Jean Grey may be a mutant with superpowers, but she loves fur just like normal women. Image: Marvel Comics.

We already knew Wilma Flintstone liked fur because Betty Rubble mentioned to Barney, “when Wilma bought that fur coat”, in Hollyrock, Here I Come (1960). But of course the girls wanted more, so they set about trying to brainwash their husbands. “Every woman wants a mink coat. Your Wilma wants a mink coat,” says Wilma to a sleeping Fred in Sleep On, Sweet Fred (1963). It almost worked too!

flintstones love cartoon fur
Wilma and Betty try to brainwash Fred and Barney into buying them new mink coats. Image: Hanna-Barbera.

Some more recent fictional characters who are fashionable in cartoon fur can be seen in Frozen (2013). Notable are Elsa, Queen of Arendelle, in her fur-trimmed cape, and Kristoff the ice salesman in his leather-side-out fur-lined tunic.

queen elsa in cartoon fur
Colour-matching her fur-trimmed cape with her hair is key for Frozen‘s stylish Queen Elsa. Image: Disney.
Frozen's Kristoff in cartoon fur
As an ice salesman, Frozen‘s hero Kristoff opts for the warmest way to wear fur, with the hair on the inside. Image: Disney.

Both How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and its sequel (2014) have casts replete in cartoon fur garments and trims. But I especially like how Astrid Hofferson wears her fur stole on top of her armour. It may not be practical, but it surely makes her attire more dramatic.

astrid hofferson in cartoon fur
How to Train Your Dragon heroine Astrid Hofferson makes a bold fashion statement wearing fur over her armour. Image: DreamWorks.

In computer animation, cartoon fur has evolved at an unbelievable rate. Just one of the smallest rodents  in Zootopia (2016) has more individual hairs than every character in all of Frozen combined, thanks to the software iGroom.

judy hopps in cartoon fur
Diminutive Judy Hopps, bunny star of Zootopia, has more hairs than the cast of Frozen combined. Image: Disney.

Fur, both physical and fictional, is here to stay.

And limited only by our imaginations.

 


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