Dear Matt: Why do Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Pluto, and Goofy have only three fingers instead of four? I know Donald Duck has a wing, so that can be drawn with as many fingers as the artist wants. But according to my encyclopedia and my dog and cat, lots of animals have five digits on their front paws, just like we do. — A.S., Clairemont
If you can accept a duck with hands and a dog that wears gloves, shoes, and pants, why quibble about missing digits? But anyway, Walt must have known you’d ask, because he explained the situation in one of the many books about the studio. “Leaving the finger off was a great asset artistically and financially. Artistically, five digits are too many for a mouse. His hands would look like a bunch of bananas. Financially, not having an extra finger in each of 45,000 drawings that make up a six-and-one-half-minute short has saved the studio millions.” During World War II, Mickey even lost his tail as the result of an executive decision to save even more time and money.