Article from JSOnline - July 27, 2005
Toon idea may not be goofy

Town of Polk studio lives life in 2-D

Who is to say Wisconsin isn't the happiest place on Earth?

A group of former Disney artists has said goodbye to Mickey Mouse to sign up with Miracle Mouse.

It was an unexpected career path for the seasoned Walt Disney Co. animators, who lost their jobs at Disney but never lost their passion for hand-drawn movies.

No longer needed at their studio as it shifted away from 2-D movies in favor of 3-D films such as "The Incredibles," eight artists with Disney experience, along with one from Warner Bros. and a recent graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, were recruited by Milwaukee-area homebuilder Tom Hignite and his wife, Jacquie.
A mousy mascot

Quietly running for about a year, the studio so far has created a short commercial for Hignite's business Miracle Homes, featuring the company's cartoon mascot, Miracle Mouse. The studio also has produced episodes of a planned weekly TV show focused on creativity.

But Hignite said a feature-length movie centered around Miracle Mouse and other animal characters is on the drawing board, although four or five years away.

The artists also help produce brochures, murals and commercials for Miracle Homes. That makes the increase in staff more affordable, he said. He said some workers whose pay reached six figures at Disney came to Miracle Studios for about half that amount.