`Everybody has their own America, and then they have pieces of a fantasy America that they think is out there but they can’t see. You live in your dream America that you’ve custom-made from art and schmaltz and emotions just as much as you live in your real one.' (The artist, America, Harpers & Row Publishers, New York, p. 8).
Mickey Mouse was issued, along with nine other screenprints, in the celebrated portfolio Myths. The original idea, suggested by his manager Frederick Hughes, was to create a series inspired by Walt Disney: `Fred thought we should do a series of Disney/Warhol, that we should do Snow White and a couple of dwarfs, and Bambi and anything - Donald Duck. And so I was really thrilled after we decided to do that' (The artist: in The Andy Warhol Diaries, p. 478). Warhol had admired Walt Disney from an early age, citing him as a formative influence on his development as an artist. The exhibition Disney Animation and Animators at the Whitney Museum, which Warhol had visited in the summer of 1981, was also almost certainly a creative catalyst for the project.
For the series Warhol appropriated from film and popular culture to create his own pantheon of America icons in the 20th century. Under the working title New Myths, these included Disney inspired characters, such as The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, and Mammy, from Tom & Jerry, but also others drawn from different sources, such as Dracula, Santa Claus, Uncle Sam, and his own self-portrait as the crime-fighting superhero, The Shadow. Warhol based the majority of his prints on polaroids taken of friends and models dressed up in character. Mickey Mouse and Superman, however, were rendered directly from their cartoon-strip sources. Of them all, Mickey Mouse is perhaps the most quintessentially American. With his jaunty round ears and bright, smiling face, Disney's most celebrated creation is, in the works of the novelist John Updike, 'America as it feels to itself - plucky, put-on, inventive, resilient, good-natured, game' (J. Updike, The Mystery of Mickey Mouse, The Best American Essays, Boston, 1995, p. 388).