From Donald Duck to Zootopia: 70 Years of Cartoon Furby Richard Swartz, Mano Swartz Furs, Maryland
Wearing fur is so prevalent in human culture that it has even reached our illustrations and animation, from comic books…
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!
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!
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!”
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".
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!
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.
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.
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.
Fur, both physical and fictional, is here to stay.
And limited only by our imaginations.