Thursday, October 30, 2014

I had the pleasure of receiving last week my copy of The Vault of Walt Volume 3 by Jim Korkis, released by Theme Park Press. I wrote the foreword for that volume, so instead of reviewing it, here is what I had to say about it:

[“All roads lead to Jim Korkis.”

I have been conducting research about Disney history for over twenty five years and that truth is unavoidable. Whatever the subject matter that you are investigating, Jim Korkis has already written about it.

At some point I became interested in understanding more about the highly stylized commercials that the Disney Studio produced in the ‘50s and soon discovered that Jim Korkis had already discussed this obscure subject in one of his essays. Reading Jim’s article led me to interview artist Bob Carlson in order to learn even more about those odd cartoons.

A few months later I was trying to get a better sense of who Walt’s secretaries had been. You guessed it: Jim had written about this too, which helped me understand several internal Disney memos I was reading at the time.

And then, there were instances in which Jim made me aware of a field of research which I never even knew existed, as was the case with the Disney comics drawn in the mid-‘30s by artist Fred Spencer for the DeMolay youth organization. Thanks to Jim’s article, fellow Disney historian David Gerstein and I were able to locate, for the first time, a complete run of those rare comic strips.

What I find fascinating about Jim’s articles, aside from the tremendous scope of the subjects he explores, is the fact that they contain elements of interest both for the in-depth historians and for the casual fans. They are the best bridge between those two worlds which confers them a very unique value. We desperately need new generations of Disney historians and Jim’s highly readable essays are the perfect tool to intrigue, excite and motivate enthusiasts who through hard work, dedication, and focus could become historians. After all, I know this is the case since I once was one of those Disney enthusiasts.

Jim’s essays are critically important for another reason: they help preserve little known nuggets of Disney history, rare interviews, obscure articles and other gems that would be lost forever or extremely difficult to access without his efforts.

To top it all, Jim has been a friend for over ten years. He is the godfather of the Walt’s People book series, which saw the light of day thanks to a long exchange of emails between the two of us. And we have teamed up often to interview Disney artists and other Disney Legends.

So there is joy when I hear that a new volume of The Vault of Walt is in the works, there is delight when I read Jim’s latest online column and there is hope that The Vault of Walt series will one day fill a whole bookshelf.

For the time being, however, I am simply glad to be able to read a few pieces from this volume which I know will fascinate me: Letters to Ruth, Walt Disney Early Feminist, Saving Mr. Banks: Fact or Fiction, Voices of the Disney Theme Parks and Remembering Diane Disney Miller, among others. I have a feeling they will motivate me to conduct still more research on rarely explored aspects of Disney history and that, while doing so, I will become aware once again that “all roads lead to Jim Korkis.”]

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