While watching the Mickey Mouse Club House with my daughter I noticed that Mickey’s ears always face forward. You never see them from the side, even when Mickey turns his head or body sideways. I simply struck me as very, very odd, and I chalked it up to branding run amok.
But then I decided to do a quick internet search. First I discovered I’m not the only one who has noticed this (which didn’t surprise me). But I also discovered it’s not a new situation. From the very, very early days he’s always been drawn this way – perhaps originating from Walt himself, but that’s mostly implied.
So it’s not overly zealous branding as I first thought. It’s simply a preference and tradition from the very early days. Apparently drawing his ears realistically was tried and just looked odd, so it was abandoned. It’s just a lucky happenstance that his ears look best when presented facing forward – portraying the iconic trademarked Mickey silhouette.