We all recall Mickey’s deeds of giant-clobbering glory as the Brave Little Tailor. Not to mention Donald Duck’s trip to Bahia—and Goofy’s super-goofy horseback riding lessons! But how many of us remember Mickey’s pirate adventure?
Morgan’s Ghost was a cool cartoon concept that was developed alongside the classics we love, but never completed or released.
Today it is a footnote in Disney history—a fascinating one that we want to know more about!
These storyboards from Morgan’s Ghost, drawn by Harry Reeves, Homer Brightman, and Roy Williams, help us visualize what this short may have looked like if it was animated. Arrr, matey!
In Development: 1939-41
Heave-ho, me lads! Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are managing the Jolly Roger Inn when a late night brings a strange visitor—Yellow Beak, an ex-pirate parrot! This crusty old bird has a crusty treasure map… and an even crustier pursuer: Peg Leg Pete, who will stop at nothing to find the treasure!
Unless, of course, Yellow Beak, Mickey, and the gang find it first. Too bad they unwittingly bring Pete with them—disguised as an old lady whose boat they have rented! After a shipboard battle, our heroes escape, land on Morgan’s Island, and meet the ghosts of Morgan and his pirate crew, who have a big surprise in store for Pete.
But there’s still the treasure to be found. It’s hidden in Hangman’s Garden, the scariest part of the island—and home to the geysers, torrential rain, and enchanted giant garden shears (!) that turned Morgan into a ghost!
Morgan’s Ghost started life as Pieces of Eight (or Three Buccaneers), a feature-length Mickey Mouse story scripted by Dick Creedon and Al Perkins in 1939. The swashbuckling saga went though several drafts; in early versions of the plot, Yellow Beak was a pet, not a peer, and Morgan’s Island was also home to Robinson Crusoe and Friday!
Even in its final, storyboard form, Morgan’s Ghost went unmade—as a film, that is. In 1941, Oskar Lebeck, managing director at Western Publishing, asked Disney to adapt the shelved Ghost storyboards into a comic book.
With Donald’s nephews replacing Mickey and Goofy, the result was Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold (Four Color 9, 1942). The script was handled by Disney comic strip writer Bob Karp; art was provided by Jack Hannah—and Carl Barks, whose famous Duck comics career started here!