The next day, most Toons from the main cast awaited Dan’s arrival with anticipation. I had hyped them up and passed around the pitch bible, and everyone, even Uncle Scrooge, was excited to see where this idea would go.
“We’ve never had a show with a blended family before,” Daisy noted as we sat with anticipation in the break room. “This sounds like it could really take the world by storm.”
“Funny silhouettes though,” Donald muttered as he flipped through the pitch bible again. “Kids with geometrical-shaped heads; seems unnatural if ya ask me—!”
“So do anthropomorphic ducks,” Uncle Scrooge muttered in reply. “But ye don’t see yourself complainin’ about that, do ye?”
Minnie wiggled her feet on the couch we were sitting on together and hugged my arm. “I’m excited to see if they can be manifested into Toons like us,” she said as Goofy nodded his agreement. “There hasn’t been anything like this since Goofy officially became a single parent. Or that Darkwing Duck guy.”
The black dog chuckled and leaned against the couch. “It’s gonna be huge, I reckon,” he said.
I was pretty excited myself. I hadn’t seen a new Toon be manifested in a long time now, or at least one that stuck around longer than a year or two. Due to many of the shows flunking by second or third season, the characters would lose popularity and eventually, their Sources would go out. Unlike the Feature Toons, TV Toons have to rely on a certain amount of popularity to stick around, less they head off to Wasteland.
But I had a feeling this show could go far. As soon as its audience was large enough, the Toons Dan Povenmire and Jeff Marsh had drawn out would become walking, talking, breathing Toons like the rest of us. Created out of the purity and wonder of their creators.
Just like us.
And dependant on a Source.
When Dan was announced to have arrived, I was not expecting to see what I saw when he walked in. I leaped off of the couch and ran to the entrance to greet him, a bright smile on my face. Everyone had told me that Dan was a real positive guy, always looking on the bright side of things, so I was expecting him to greet me as cheerfully as I would him.
But then he opened the door and stepped aside to let in two more people…
… Two Toons.
Phineas Flynn and Ferb Fletcher.
To say I was speechless is an understatement. Everyone who was there let out gasps or stopped what they were doing when those two boys walked in behind their Creator. Toons being manifested before getting a contract with a studio was unheard of. It had become the norm, since my creation, that Toons needed a certain amount of popularity to be able to be manifested—they needed a Source to come from somewhere. The Disney Core is the Magic of Imagination; Bugs and the Looney Tunes are Laughter.
But here were two boy Toons, walking in single-file behind Dan, fully manifested and walking about; it was almost as though a Source was not needed for their existence. Which, of course, is impossible, even for me.
Minnie and the others shared the same expression as the humans around us. Dan had come to a stop by the door, and almost seemed a tad uneasy; he stood protectively in front of his Toons, one hand around the ginger’s.
The boys themselves were… wow, amazing. They looked exactly like the drawings Dan had done of them, only much more dimensional and very much alive. Phineas had a triangular head, with two olive-shaped eyes sitting on top of his head, and six licks of red hair. His clothes looked slightly different that day, since they’ve changed the color when it aired, but aside from that everything Dan had drawn, everything he and Jeff had created, was right there. This was the boy with all the imaginative ideas.
Ferb was just as brilliantly designed as Phineas. He stood a little taller than the first, rectangular in shape—he looked like a baseball bat in a test tube, with a block at on side as a nose. His eyes I’ll admit took time getting used to, since one was larger than the other. He had a stack of bright green hair at the top of his head. Like his step-brother, his wardrobe was slightly different than the present, though not as much as Phineas’. He was apparently the boy who could build anything.
But their personalities were different than what the pitch bible had described them as. In fact, they both seemed just as insecure as Dan did at that moment. Phineas was holding onto Dan’s hand, and Ferb had his hand in Phineas’. Both boys seemed to be attempting to hide behind the human, eyes staring at everything with childlike wonder in them yet the same amount of fear as well.
I blinked and shook some sense into my head before smiling again and rushing over to the trio. “Hiya, Dan,” I greeted him, hoping the shock I had experienced was not noticeable. “Glad you could make it! Ya don’t know how excited I am to see what you’ve got to show.”
The sound of my voice—and probably the fact that I was the only one there now acting normally—seemed to ease the man’s nerves. He smiled back and shook my hand when I held it out, and the outgoing personality I was told he had finally emerged. “I’m excited to be here again,” he said.
“I hope ya don’t mind but I sorta showed my friends the pitch bible for the show. They’re really looking forward to seeing what you and your friend Jeff have in store.”
“Heh, well let’s hope it’s still up to par then.” Dan leaned back after this and a bit of anxiety returned to his eyes when he looked at everyone around them. He cleared his throat and looked at me again. “Um, I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble but…” He discretely pointed at the two Toons standing behind him.
I studied the boys once more before clapping my hands and turning to face the others. “Ahright guys, back to work, come on!” I shouted, finally able to snap everyone out of it. “This isn’t the first time you’ve seen Toons; this is Disney, for Pete’s sake. Moving on!” Once the humans had dispersed and my pals went back to discussing the possibility of a new show—casting curious glances at Dan’s Toons now and then—I turned to face the trio again, smiling just as brightly as I had before. “Before we go in, may I be formally introduced?” I asked the human. “To say I’m speechless and even a bit excited is a very mild way of putting it.”
Dan stepped aside and released the ginger’s hand. “These are the um… additions I was telling you about on the phone yesterday,” he explained as I stepped towards the boys. “Boys, I’d like you to meet Mickey Mouse. He’s the Head Toon at the studios and basically where it all started.”
“Hard work got me where I am,” I replied while holding out my hand. “Nice tah meet you. You’re Phineas, right?”
Phineas cast one last curious look around the studios before stepping towards me and holding out his hand. Once we had grasped each other’s, he smiled and nodded his head. “Yes, yes I am,” he replied. “Phineas Flynn to be exact. And that’s my brother Ferb Fletcher.”
It was hard for me not to be shocked. I’m sure my eyes went wide when he spoke and my ears stood on end. I looked at Dan.
The human shrugged his shoulders, a smile over his lips. “They’re fluent in English, yes,” he said. “And French and Spanish as well.” I think my jaw fell open at these words because Dan let out a chuckle. “They’re fast learners.”
Fast learners was not what had surprised me. The fact that they were Toons completely manifested was one thing; finding out that they could speak fluently in three different languages was another altogether.
I looked at Ferb as the green-headed boy held out his hand to shake mine. I did the same yet could not help but stare back in complete surprise now. “I-I hope you boys don’t think I’m being rude,” I said with a nervous laugh. “It’s just that… I wasn’t expecting to see you here… manifested…” I looked at Dan again and pointed at Phineas and Ferb. “This isn’t some eye magic, right?” I asked, hesitating only once when I heard Phineas choke on a laugh. “Like, they’re not holograms? They’re actually standing right here, shaking my hand, right?”
Dan seemed amused that I was still beside myself. No longer was he anxious to have the boys here, to have people looking in curiosity at them as though they were lab rats. And while I was still waiting for him to give me a clear answer, I was glad he looked just as cheerful as he had sounded over the phone.
“Holograms can’t shake hands,” he said.
I looked at the boys again. “Are you sure?” I said. “I’m not trying to be rude or anything, I’m just really surprised that they’re completely manifested. And can vocally speak at that. And—!”
“We can also read and sing,” Ferb interrupted while counting his fingers. Boy, what a crisp, English accent. “I believe it is a norm for Disney Toons to be able to do both, correct?”
I recoiled when his voice was heard. Once the boy had shrugged in reply, I scratched my head. “Stranger and stranger,” I muttered, making Dan laugh. Deciding that there would be more time to figure things out afterwards, and put on another smile and clasped my hands together. “Anyway, welcome to the Disney Studios, boys. Why don’t we head off to the meeting and we’ll see where your Creator takes you from there.” After casting them one last look of curiosity, I led them down the hallway to the meeting room where a few other humans were waiting.
Boy would they be in for a surprise.
I was right. Those Toons had hardly stepped into the room when the people inside just gawked. Had they not been humans, I’m pretty sure their eyes would have fallen from their sockets! Some even started murmuring and pointing at the boys.
This obviously made them feel uncomfortable; Phineas and Ferb made uneasy grimaces and tried hiding behind Dan’s legs. So I told the others to calm down and let Dan go ahead with his presentation, and within ten minutes or so, they hardly took any notice of the boys... Kinda like how most humans treat us now; we’re just imaginary so we don’t really exist.
At that time, though, I think it was best for them.
The pitch rolled along like any other pitch I’ve been to. Dan presented his idea, who created it, blah, blah, blah, etc, etc. I’ve seen so many pitches the routines have gotten boring. But you could tell that Dan—and his friend Swampy, who was not present due to working in another country—were very enthusiastic about their idea. Wanting to spread the idea of creativity to not only children but to pretty much everyone was something I hadn’t seen in years... I will admit that since Kim Possible’s finale—btw still around, she and Ron help out at another building, glad to see their Sources are still strong—some of the shows Disney had been producing were... uh, less than satisfactory. Lots of Toons lost their Sources and were sent to Wasteland during those years. So it was nice to see a change.
Dan and Swampy’s Phineas and Ferb could really change Disney’s TV animation for the better.
He was asked questions afterwards, such as the usual “Is it a show for boys or girls?” That’s always a doozie for people to answer, but thankfully he had something to say about it. Every question he was given, he answered with confidence, and sometimes even broke into conversation with his Toons. But he only did so rarely, seeing as Phineas and Ferb did not look as though they were comfortable speaking in public just yet.
When the end of the pitch arrived, Dan was told that they would keep in touch with him if anything came up. This seemed to darken his eyes a bit, but I gave him a smile to let him know not to worry. Thankfully for him and me, the people in the room were aware of my influence on the industry and trusted my every judgement. That would make it easier for me to convince them to take the show on.
Dan and the boys were told to exit the room, but that’s when I decided to change things up a bit. “Hold on, fellas,” I said while sliding off of my seat and catching everyone’s attention. I looked at the other workers in the room. “Mind if I steal the room just for a sec, guys? I wanted to ask those boys a few questions, Toon to Toon.”
No one seemed to argue the idea—they were already dumbfounded that the boys could walk, let alone speak.
The only ones who did not move were Dan and the step-brothers. Once the room emptied, I looked at the human and smiled pitifully, placing my hands together. “Uh, that means all humans out, Dan,” I said, trying hard not to sound rude. “Would you be willing to trust me with your boys for a few minutes, please? I promise I will return them as soon as I’m through.”
Dan seemed a little uncertain at first, but after looking at the ten-year-olds he let out a sigh, nodded and stepped out of the room. “I’ll be in the hallway waiting for you guys,” he said. “We’ll get icecream on the way home.” He waved at them and then closed the door behind him, leaving me alone with his two boys.
I snapped my fingers and used magic to push the conference table and chairs out of the way. This certainly blew them away, as Phineas and Ferb gaped just as much as the humans had at their appearance. I chuckled and move three chairs to the center of the room. “I don’t normally use my Magic for petty tasks like this,” I said, leading them to the chair, “Since it’s supposed to be a secret among the animation industry, but you guys needed to get a taste of what the others were thinking when they saw you two walk into the room.”
I sat in the chair facing the other two and made sign for the boys to sit in the empty ones. Phineas clambered on like a toddler—Toons are a lot shorter than most kids—and then turned around to face me just as Ferb had gotten comfortable. “Why was everyone so mesmerized in our appearance?” he wondered.
“Well, Toons aren’t really supposed to be manifested before their popularity grows,” I explained. “Usually, the creator comes up with an idea, pitches it, and if it gets accepted, development on the cartoon begins. Once the show hits off and starts making fans, that’s when the Toons come to life.” I smiled and pointed at myself. “That’s how it happened with me, back in 1928. My first cartoon was so popular, the audience wanted more. And eventually one day, I was able to actually walk around.” I placed my hands together. “Talking, however, took me three years to do correctly. And reading too. Walt and his wife would teach me. I pretty much learned at the same speed as their eldest daughter.”
After a pause, I pointed at the boys again. “Which comes to my first question,” I said. “How did you two come to be before your show was even introduced?”
Phineas and Ferb looked at each other before shrugging simultaneously. “Uh, we’re not sure,” the red-head said. “We were just there one morning.”
“Dan nearly had a heart attack, actually,” Ferb noted, a glint in his eyes.
I smiled at this. “Yeah, my creators were pretty thrown back too,” I said. “How about reading and speaking?”
“Dan and his wife taught us,” Phineas replied. “And so did Swampy. Before he moved to London, he would visit us all the time and teach us how to play guitar and sing. When he left, he kept sending us books to read and letters so that we could write back. It’s kinda fun. Dan likes to tease us saying that Swampy would rather stay in touch with us instead of him.”
“So what you’re sayin’ is that they raised you on their own?”
“Yeah, pretty much. We weren’t allowed to leave the house or the yard, and on days when they worked we weren’t allowed to go outside at all.” Phineas made a grimace here. “I personally can’t stand being indoors, since you know...” He raised his hand into the air here, posed majestically and frowned while saying, “Boredom is something up with which I will not put!”
I couldn’t help but laugh at this.
He lowered his arm and shrugged before continuing. “But rules are rules. Dan said we could do whatever we wanted indoors, so sometimes he’d come back from work and we’d have miniature Los Angeles sitting in his living room or even a huge track of rollercoasters...” He giggle here before looking at Ferb. “That one time we ordered all of those things online without Dan knowing, just so that we could build the rollercoaster model over Danville, hehe!” He looked at me again with a grin. “We had to pretend we were grownups and sign through the mail slot. That was kinda cool.”
As cool as it was, it made me furrow my brow in confusion.
“And when Christmas came around we’d go on vacations with them and have fun,” Phineas concluded. “But most of the time, we had to stay inside. Dan said it was to keep us safe.”
“So, until today, you’ve never met another human or Toon besides your creators and their wives?” I asked.
They nodded their heads. That explained why they were so nervous when they first came to the studios. Not only was seeing new faces alarming, but they were overwhelmed by the sheer excitement and shock in response to their presence.
I felt compassion for them. “If it makes you fellas feel any better, my creator was pretty strict on rules for a while too,” I said. “I wasn’t allowed to leave the studios most of the time. It wasn’t until later on, maybe five years down the line, did he finally let me go out for walks by myself.” After a pause, and clasped my hands together and perked up my ears. “Enough about this though; let’s see what you boys can do! Dan’s pitch bible says that you two like to build things and come up with ideas, so why don’t you tell me about a few of your adventures?”
This was easier said than done at first. Ferb obviously hardly spoke, but Phineas was speechless too. He began by mumbling a few things, very casually, wiggling his feet or twiddling his thumbs. It seemed as though they had never verbally interacted this much with anyone other than their creators either, at least about their ideas, so I could understand why he was nervous.
So I pulled out a marker and told them to go draw their ideas on the white board instead. That way, they wouldn’t have to talk. This seemed a little more up their alley, because after sharing a look, they slid off of their chairs and went to the boards to draw.
At first it was quiet, and I was satisfied by just seeing diagrams of rollercoasters and beaches be drawn out. But after a few minutes, Phineas began explaining to me how each idea worked, where it would go, and what its purpose was. Every idea he had had a purpose. That alone was amazing.
The more comfortable he became, the more his and Ferb’s personalities, the ones I had read about, came out. The red head soon filled the entire first board with doodles of things they had done and what they planned to do, and then he was off filling up the other two boards. Ferb tagged along behind him, and while he said nothing, he shared his brother’s enthusiasm.
When the boards were filled, they started running around the room, showing the scale of their projects. Phineas was like a bouncing ball—you literally could not keep him in place! Ferb was just as bouncy but definitely in more control than the red-head. Their personalities were similar yet different, and it was amazing how beautifully they fit together. Like puzzle pieces in a giant puzzle.
What was supposed to be a few minutes turned into an hour. There was literally no stopping those two from sharing their ideas. Their imaginations were unlike anything I had ever seen before! It had been decades since I heard someone explain ideas like this... Walt was the only man I knew who could do it. The studios went dead silent when he passed away.
These boys had the spark I was looking for. Their show would be a success, I was sure of it. They had the creativity the studios had lost. Their show would begin a wave of new animation, a wave that would sweep the world.
Those two boys made me feel like the Golden Age of Animation was coming back to life.
After an hour of running about and even running into each other—Phineas sometimes lost track of himself when he was at the peak of his excitement—I had to get out of my seat and tell them to stop. I didn’t want them to, but like anyone knew, I had a heap load of things to do that day. “You guys are amazing,” I said with a laugh, placing hands on their shoulders. “But as much as I would love to listen to everything, I’ve got a few more things to get done before heading home to my kids. That, and your creator is still waiting outside, wondering if I’ve run off with his boys.”
“Oh, oops,” Phineas apologized while covering his mouth. “Sorry, I can get ahead of myself.”
“That’s fine, I like it better than hearing humans complain. Much more, actually.” I let them go and headed for the door. “Now c’mon, kids. Time to get you—!”
“W-wait, does this mean you’ll greenlight the show?”
I had not reached the door when he spoke those words. Stopping in my tracks, I turned and looked at them, and suddenly the enthusiasm and energy I had witnessed minutes earlier had vanished. Phineas and Ferb had their hands behind their backs, eyes calm, if not slightly concerned.
I blinked. “Uh, well there’s still some talking to do,” I said with a shrug. “But I’ll be sure to put in a good word... or a bunch after today—!”
As I turned to leave, Phineas and Ferb ran up to me and pulled back on my arms. I nearly tripped. I was about to ask them what was wrong, but something in their eyes made me stop in my words.
Fear. The same fear I remembered having whenever Walt would talk about copyright issues concerning me. Whenever Walt would talk about Pat Powers. When Ub left. When Roy complained about money.
It confused and concerned me to see it in the eyes of modern day Toons.
“Please give Dan and Swampy a chance, Sir,” Phineas said, almost in a plea. “They’ve been developing it for so long, trying to get us a future. What Dan said about the idea is only a fraction of the work they’ve poured into the project. They’ve tried for so long to sell the idea. Please give them this chance.”
His desperation was almost concerning.
“It’s hard sometimes to see or hear them work so hard just for us, only to get the project nowhere.”
I furrowed my brow a little. “You boys make it sound like they’ve been working with you guys for decades,” I said slowly. Once they released my arms, I pointed at them. “One last question, and I need you to answer me honestly: how old are you two? As in how long have you been manifested?”
Phineas and Ferb looked at each other before taking deep breaths and giving me the answer.
Dan was still waiting patiently in the hallway when I finally let the boys out. By then, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Goofy and Uncle Scrooge had come by to keep the man company, and by the looks of it did a very good job.
But I could tell he was overjoyed when his boys rushed out. Dan held out his arms and Phineas and Ferb leaped into them, immediately telling them about how kind I was and how great a listener I was and how I had let them draw all over the boards.
“Oh, yeah, I should have warned you that getting a marker or something in Phineas’ hand would result in explosions,” Dan said as I closed the door behind me. “That’s probably why you took so long.”
I smiled weakly, still shocked by the answer the boys had given me. But I tried to hide my disbelief and I think I succeeded. “No worries, Dan. You and Swampy should be very proud of them: you’ve got some real special kids.”
Dan smiled in return as he stood up, his boys in his arms. “Yes, yes we do,” he said while walking off. “Thanks again, Mickey.”
“We’ll keep in touch,” I called back while waving. “See ya fellas!”
Phineas and Ferb waved energetically at me over Dan’s shoulders until the man had walked around the corner. Once he was out of sight, I let out a heavy sigh and let my ears fall. No use in hiding my shock any more.
Minnie walked over and grabbed my hand, and the others came around too. “Are you alright, Sweetie?” she asked.
“You look mighty pale, Mick,” Daisy added. “Didn’t go as well as you’d hoped?”
I passed a hand over my face. “No, it was better than I’d hoped,” I said. “... way better...”
“Oh,” Donald said as Uncle Scrooge furrowed his brow. “Then what’s the problem?”
I looked at him. “Those boys are unlike any Toon I’ve ever met,” I said. “... Even myself. You won’t believe what they told me.” As the others leaned in, I took a deep breath. “They’ve been manifested for the past... sixteen years.”
“Say what?!” Goofy exclaimed as they all recoiled.
“That’s over a decade without a Source,” Uncle Scrooge added. “Bless me bagpipes, that’s even more than what Ah’ve got.” He pointed his cane at me with a frown. “How is it that those two boys have been manifested without a Source to fuel them? What kind of experiment—!”
“It’s no experiment, Uncle Scrooge,” I said. “It’s all real. Phineas and Ferb have been a well-kept secret for over a decade. And only four humans have known of their existence.”
“But how does that make any sense? Not even AH could live without a Source.”
I looked at my hands for a moment. “I think... they do have a Source,” I said. “But an outer one. One that will secure their existence well past their lives at the studios if their show gets greenlit.” Looking at Uncle Scrooge, I added, “I think their Source is the love and care that their creators have for them. From what Dan pitched, and from what I understood when the boys spoke to me, Dan and Swampy have been pouring their hearts into this project of theirs. Every ounce of their creativity, their imagination, their love for animation...” I held up the pitch bible. “It’s in this book.” I pointed down the hall where Dan had left. “In those boys. That’s why they’re already manifested. They don’t need popularity to give them the Source we all have; the love and care from their creators was powerful enough to bring them to life on their own.”
“Is that even remotely possible?” Daisy wondered as Uncle Scrooge scratched his head. “For a toon to live with a Source completely detached from a studio?”
Uncle Scrooge cleared his throat and pointed at himself while frowning. “Um, Ah can,” he said. “Me fortune is me Source, remember, Darlin’?” Looking at me, his frown softened yet his eyes remained stern. “However, due to my Source being conceived under the Disney company, at least officially by 1947, Ah am to a certain amount tied to the same Source all the Disney Toons share. Which is Magic of Imagination.”
Donald raised his arms into the air. “Then what’s the dealio with these two kids?” he exclaimed. “I don’t know anyone who loved his toon more than Walt himself, and even Mickey doesn’t have his own detached Source! He’s the reason we all have the same one, for Pete’s sake! So how does it work differently for these two?”
Uncle Scrooge pushed up his glasses. “However it works or doesn’t, we’ve got real treasures on our hands, Lads and Lassies,” he said. “Phineas and Ferb can change the future of Disney’s TV animation, and even the history of Toons. Besides them being successful—and Ah know they will be, Ah have an eye for success—those boys and any other characters that will manifest afterwards will be diamonds in the rough for any of those media sharks. They’re different, and they’ll make money. If Ah’m not hopin’ this studios takes them on for the dough they can bring in, Ah’m hopin’ they do it before something bad happens to them.” He pointed at me with his cane again. “This decision rests squarely on yer shoulders, Mickey,” he said gravely. “The future of those boys depends on the Aye or Nay you give. No other human. Because you made the call, and you recognized the potential, you have to take up Walt’s position as Head of the studios now more than ever, and have the final say.”
I took a deep breath as he finished and stared passed him down the hallway. There was only one time I wished no one would let me make as big a decision as that, and it was then.