Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot is a comic story written by Merrill De Maris and Floyd Gottfredson, penciled by Floyd Gottfredson and inked by Bill Wright and Ted Thwaites. It features Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Horace Horsecollar, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Detective Casey, and, in their debuts, Joe, the Phantom Blot, Chief O'Hara, Muggins, Pinckley, Silas Perkins, his brother and his niece. His sister and his niece's “Aunt Gussie” are also mentioned.
Chief O'Hara, chief of the Mouseton Police, asks Mickey Mouse to help him arrest a mysterious criminal known as the Phantom Blot, who has been stealing and smashing all the cameras of a certain model that he can find in town. As Mickey begins to investigate, it soon turns out that the camera thefts are only the tip of an illegal iceberg and that the Blot is quite prepared to kill to protect his secret…
- The cameras were shipped to Mouseton on New Year's Day and the Phantom Blot committed his first burglary thereof on January the 5th.
- The Phantom Blot is briefly seen in what appears to be his own, luxurious home, which Detective Casey thinks is located in the city's Thistle Park District.
- He owns a high-speed custom car.
- Mickey Mouse steals a camera from McZookas' Photo Shoppe to shift the Blot's attention to him.
- At some point prior to the events of this story, Mickey built an underground hideout beneath his backyard, accessible via a secret passage beneath his rosebush.
- Silas Perkins, his sister and his niece live in Stickleville.
- There is a national fingerprints record in Washington.
- This story briefly mentions the name of Mickey Mouse's city as Mouseville. Due to copyright conflict with Terrytonns' Mighty Mouse (who also resided in a city by that name), an embargo was pronounced upon the name, which would only be used again once, over a decade later, in a Gottfredson story, Dr X (1955).
- Mickey would use the disguise of "Emanuel Spink" again in The Blot's Double Mystery (1955), which was conceived more broadly as a sequel to this story.
- Sixty years later, the story inspired the cartoon short Mickey Foils the Phantom Blot (1999), although it is not actually an adaptation of the comic in a meaningful sense.
- This story received two remakes: first a full-length 1949 comic-book redraw drawn by Bill Wright and Dick Moores which remained true to the letter of the original script, and — perhaps most strangely — a a new 1994 comic strip continuity which kept the plot and several incidents from the 1939 classic but updated the setting to the 1990s, with videotapes replacing cameras and the plans of an electronic chip standing in for the chemical formula. This story nevertheless acted as if it represented Mickey and the Blot's first meeting, despite the Blot having been a well-established recurring antagonist by 1994.
Behind the scenes
This story was first published between May the 20th and September the 9th of 1939 in various American newspapers. The story was then reprinted in 1941 in a special issue, and then in 1955 in Mickey Mouse Club Parade in an altered version, and later in Best Comic Series #3, in both Mickey Mouse in Color #1 and Mickey Mouse in Color #2 (somehow), in Disney Comics Albums #4, Walt Disney Comics and Stories #605 and finally in the Floyd Gottfredson Library.
This story was the first appearance of Chief O'Hara and of the Phantom Blot. It is ranked among the best Disney comic stories of all times on I.N.D.U.C.K.S. and is, indeed, one of Gottfredson's most well-known Mickey Mouse stories.
In 1955, several pages of the story were redrawn by Paul Murry for comic-book reprintings of the serial, with the aim of reducing the violence (though not necessarily the deadliness) of the Blot's traps.
The plot of the story resembles the Sherlock Holmes adventure, “The Six Napoleons.”