The (Air) Pirated Mickey Mouse


This is the story of five kids and a mouse.

It begins with a boy—Dan O’Neill, who, at 21, became one of the youngest syndicated cartoonists…

Before long, he met up with 20-year-old Bobby London and 23 year-old Ted Richards at the Berkley Tribe…

25-year-old artist named Gary Hallgren, who at that time had been running a sign painting business out of Seattle…

Shary Flenniken, then a 20-year-old illustrator, had been working for an underground newspaper…

Thus, the Air Pirates were born.


On the eve of Mickey Mouse‘s 90th birthday Civilized, a pro-cannabis culture site, reaches out to the Air Pirates cartoonists for their views of the copyright clash almost fifty years later.



“Sure, we were against the establishment,” [Flenniken] told Civilized. “But we were also against the radical establishment, who were just as much assholes as anyone else.”


“The politics and cartoons were hand-in-hand,” said Hallgren. “There was a lot of social ills out there, and the underground press were the only people really covering them.”


“It was a great experience,” [Richards] said. “I mean, that’s where we learned how to draw.”


“A higher level of artistry requires a higher level of satire to make it distinguishable from the original,” said London. “But, after the first issue, that just didn’t happen. All you had left was a well-drawn mouse with a dick.”


“The Air Pirates are the most political cartoonists of all time,” [O’Neill] said. “We knocked down Disney and re-established the First Amendment.”


The Brandon Hicks‘ retrospective at Civilized.



Dopin’ Dan, The Forty Year Old Hippie, Mellow Cat, and Ted Richards.

Trots and Bonnie, Drought Chic (still in fashion), and Shary Flenniken.

The Tortoise and The Hare, Man of the World, and Gary Hallgren.

Dirty Duck, Popeye, Merton of the Movement, and Bobby London.

The Collective Unconscience of Odd Bodkins and Dan O’Neill‘s Comics and Stories.






One thought on “The (Air) Pirated Mickey Mouse

  1. A dozen years back, I was thrilled to realize that Gary Hallgren had a studio in a former factory building in Holyoke and went to see it (and, hopefully, him). He wasn’t in, but at least I was able to peer through the windows of his place and see what he’d been up to, and I chatted a little with the guy next door to it, who let me know that the odds were not high of randomly finding him in.

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