[From David Gerstein:]
Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar are
friends of Mickey and Minnie Mouse who live near
them. Both characters first appeared in the 1930 comic story
Mickey Mouse in Death Valley and have continued
to appear until the present day.
Clarabelle is a tall black-and-white cow with a cowbell around her neck. Although drawn with a facial structure not unlike MM's, it is inferred in many stories that she is regarded as somewhat homely. Clarabelle is intelligent and quick to offer snappy answers -- her failings, however, are bouts of flightiness and lovesickness which often overrule her better judgement. She is also a gossip.
Clarabelle is a brave fighter when she has to be -- in
Blaggard Castle, she defends herself with a
rifle, and in
Mickey Mouse and the Gypsies she
threatens a horde of villains with a large carving knife. However,
her faults balance out her heroism: in the gypsy story, she would
never have been called to arms had she not accidentally blabbered out
secrets of Minnie's wealth to the Gypsy Queen in the first place. And
The Bar-None Ranch, her planned attempt to outwit
Pete faded out when lovesickness took hold.
Clarabelle had a famous ancestor, pioneer Durham Cow. Her
earlier ancestors may not have been far removed from domestic cattle
-- in her earlier animated appearances she sometimes walked on all
fours, and in
The Great Orphanage Robbery she
I'm so excited I could break down on all fours and
Horace Horsecollar is Clarabelle's boyfriend, and one of
Mickey's closest friends and confidantes. Always anxious to
portray himself as the master of any given trade, Horace refers to his
handiwork as bearing the
Horsecollar Touch. The horse seldom admits
that in reality, his skills amount to little. In a similar manner,
Horace boasts of his bravery but usually chickens out when true danger
approaches, unless his pal Mickey is threatened, in which case he
rather cautiously steels his small ration of courage.
Horace is somewhat older than Mickey and once made a living as an actor, Hamlet being his specialty. He sometimes refers to the night that it took the audience twenty minutes to leave the theatre, to which skeptical Clarabelle replies that this must have been twenty minutes after the show started.
Clarabelle and Horace each view themselves as smarter than the other, but are indeed quite fond of each other. For more than a year of the Mickey Mouse daily strip, the two were officially engaged and often spoke of marriage, but the planned union apparently never happened.
Some comic-book stories show Clarabelle as being in love with Goofy, but these are not regarded now as canonical by Egmont or Gladstone. In fact, Clarabelle shows contempt for Goofy, presumably because he reminds her of her own barnyard origins, in earlier strips. Later on, Clarabelle becomes a good friend of the Goof, but seems to draw the line at romance.
Clarabelle also associates with Daisy Duck -- making her place of residence rather unclear. The more liberated Daisy, in the Carl Barks story "A Sticky Situation," resents how Clarabelle is satisfied to spend her time guzzling soda-pop with Horace and not in a more original pursuit.
Both Clarabelle and Horace appeared in a large number of Mickey Mouse cartoons. The filmography in John Grant's Encyclopedia of Walt Disney Animated Characters for each character lacks many titles and is seriously flawed. In fact, both were major stars until the mid-1930s, with the cow slightly edging out her paramour in popularity. The two were, however, ultimately supplanted by Goofy; not because they were not interesting, but because Disney's staff in both cartoons and comics simply found Goofy more so.
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