Monday, April 30, 2012

Didier Ghez: How did you get the idea to write this book?

Amid Amidi: The seed was planted when I interviewed Ward in 2000 about his colleague Tom Oreb. After the interview, we walked out to Ward's storage shed to find a painting he'd made of Oreb. His storage was dusty, but meticulously organized with dozens of neatly labeled boxes. I was excited when Ward said he wanted to show me some work besides that painting. He pulled out a large flat box that contained figure drawings from the 1940s. The drawings were beautiful and had a real sense of caricature to them. When I looked at those drawings in front of me and all the surrounding boxes, it struck me that there's a lot more to Ward than I knew. There's that famous quote where Walt Disney said, “Ward’s the one man who works for me I call a genius.” I wanted to understand what Walt truly meant when he singled out Ward from the rest of the studio. That required taking a step back and looking at Ward not simply as an animator, but as an artist first and foremost.

DG: Did you get collaboration from the family and did you get access to the famous Kimball diaries?

AA: This book would not have been possible without the Kimball family's cooperation. When Ward died in 2002, I kept in touch with the family. Whenever I saw Ward's son, John, around town, I'd casually mention that I wanted to write a book about Ward. After "Cartoon Modern" was published in 2006, I was looking for another project and decided that the time was right to pursue this bio. That's when I approached the Kimball family with the idea for the book. They made his entire personal archive available to me—a sizable collection of art, documents and photographs. Ward's wife, Betty, was a huge help and she filled in many of the details. The legendary Kimball diaries were off-limits initially, but a couple years into the project, I became the first historian who was allowed access to those. I'm grateful for that because it enhanced my understanding of Ward's work tremendously and allowed me to tell the complete story of his life. 

DG: Could you give us some information about the content of the diaries?

AA: Ward’s Disney-era journals comprise three bound volumes totaling nearly 1,400 pages. He kept them between September 1939, and the end of 1948. (He skipped the year 1945, and there are extended gaps in some of the other years.) The diaries are interesting both for what they contain and for what they don't. There are many things Ward hints at, but doesn't follow up on. Clearly, they were personal notes intended to help him remember events in his life, not some grand statement on his philosophies or art. Having said that, they contained invaluable nuggets of information that shed light on life at the Disney studio in the 1940s. His account of the Disney studio strike of 1941 is fascinating and will hopefully be made available someday for the sake of animation history. Ward's entries about the strike give a real sense of the stakes, both for the artists on the inside and outside.

DG: How long is the book and what are the highlights?

AA: The book is comprised of eleven chapters spread over 240 pages. There's a lot of ground to cover, and I had to convince my editor to add more pages on two separate occasions. For me personally, the biggest highlight is simply that this is not your typical animation history book. Anybody who works in a big animation studio will empathize with Ward's story and appreciate how ferociously he fought to preserve his personal voice while working at Disney. He was loyal to a fault to Walt, yet he was anything but a company man, and that tension drives much of the work he produced as an artist.

DG: What are the key discoveries you made while conducting your research?

AA: I never knew how close the relationship was between T. Hee and Ward. They were great friends, and Hee was the one who pushed him toward a more design-oriented approach to drawing long before Ward directed "Melody" and "Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom." Ward's relationship with Fred Moore was also intriguing, and evolved in directions I never anticipated when I first started working on the book.

I was perhaps most surprised by the creative struggle involved in the work that he created. When we look at the classic characters and sequences that Ward animated, we assume he arrived at work every day, sat down at his desk, and pumped out beautiful animation. In reality, there was immense external and internal pressure weighing down on him during almost every production. For example, he struggled to get a handle on Jiminy Cricket in "Pinocchio" until there was barely any production time left, had a nervous breakdown while working on the crows in "Dumbo," and had to redo a significant amount of the animation in the Mad Tea Party sequence of “Alice in Wonderland” due to creative conflicts with Walt. There was so much upheaval and creative conflict during the production of "Pecos Bill" that it's amazing it turned out as well as it did.

The book will hopefully dispel the one-dimensional picture of Ward as a zany prankster who provided comic relief for others at the studio. He was an amusing figure to be sure, but he was also one of the smartest and savviest people who worked at the company. Ward pushed himself harder than anybody, and pursued an idea until he had realized its creative potential. A great example of this is his music career. The Firehouse Five Plus Two took off in the late-1940s, but it was hardly an overnight success. Ward had worked the better part of a decade prior to that learning how to lead a band and developing his voice as a musician.

And speaking of the Firehouse Five Plus Two, I was surprised by how popular the band was during the 1950s. From our modern-day perspective, they often appear like some kind of fringe musical novelty group. But when they exploded onto the scene in 1950, they were a national sensation and received massive media exposure. They were a household name for the rest of the decade and well into the Sixties. For much of the 1950s and '60s, Ward was better known by the general public for his music than his work at Disney.

DG: What are the most interesting visual documents we will discover in the book?

AA: There's literally hundreds of images in the book, most never-before-published, and each I hope will reveal something new about Ward or his work. There's tons of personal drawings, paintings, gag drawings, and photos, along with rare pieces like his retirement notice to the studio in 1973, a hilarious two-page letter that Walt Kelly wrote to him which illustrates their warm relationship better than anything I could write, examples of Ward's animation thumbnails, and rare images from the WWII-era USO camp shows that contained the seeds of the Firehouse Five Plus Two.
Do not miss today:

- Clarice by Andreas Deja
- The Birth of Disney Fandom Part 3: The Disney Fanzines by Jim Korkis

The Disney Books Network was updated this weekend.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Garry Apgar was kind enough to write the essay below for the Disney History blog.

Walt and Lilly´s "Gypsy Jaunt"

According to the digital image licensing company Corbis, the photo on the left shows “Walt Disney, clever originator of the world-famous Mickey Mouse animated cartoons and newspaper comic strip, on the terrace of his hotel during a two-week holiday in Havana." Like the image to the right, in which Walt looks especially relaxed, it is dated by Corbis October 30, 1931. Michael Barrier has a print of the latter photo “marked as published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on October 31,” with “a wire-service caption dating it as from October 30, 1931.”

In Havana, Walt and Lillian Disney stayed at the posh Hotel Nacional de Cuba, designed by the prestigious architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White (the hotel had opened just nine months earlier, on Dec. 30, 1930). The Disneys’ sojourn in Cuba was the principal stop on what the Los Angeles Times (Nov. 12, 1931) described as “a five-weeks tour,” … Walt’s “first vacation in four years.” The itinerary was hastily cobbled together after, as Walt later remarked, he'd suffered "a hell of a breakdown," caused by stress running the studio. It would be the couple’s longest and most exciting vacation prior to their “grand tour” of Europe (London, Paris, Rome, etc.) with Roy and Edna Disney, in the summer of 1935.

En route to Cuba, the Times reported, Walt and Lillian visited “the Grand Canyon; Kansas City, [Walt’s] old home; Washington, D. C.; Miami and other Florida resorts.” On October 15th they arrived by train in Kansas City where Disney had been invited to receive a Legion of Honor award from the Order of DeMolay. It was the first time he’d been back since he’d taken off to try his luck in Hollywood in 1923.

In a story published in the Kansas City Times on October 16, Walt and Lillian called their vacation a “gypsy jaunt,” taken on doctor’s orders. Lilly said, “It’s great fun just to start out, without knowing in advance exactly all of the places you’re going to see.” (See for Michael Barrier’s critique regarding pp. 166-167 in Neal Gabler’s biography of Disney; and Brian Burnes, et al., Walt Disney’s Missouri: The Roots of a Creative Genius, 159-160).

A photo (below), from Walt Disney’s Missouri, first published in the Kansas City Star, shows Walt and Lilly being met at Union Station in Kansas City by DeMolay founder Frank S. Land.

Three years ago, David Lesjak ( reported on his website Vintage Disney Collectibles that Gunnar Andreassen "located and shared with me the manifest for the SS California, the luxury cruise ship Walt and Lillian sailed on from Cuba to Los Angeles. The manifest, which lists Walt and Lillian as passengers, indicates California departed Havana on November 3, 1931 and arrived in the Port of Los Angeles on November 14th."  The next day, the Los Angeles Times published a shot of the couple (above right) taken when the ship docked in L.A.

Also on November 15, 1931, the Hartford Courant printed a standalone photo above (left), furnished by the renowned Washington, D. C. photographic studio, Harris & Ewing. It was taken during the second major stop on Walt and Lilly's epic “jaunt,” at the Mayflower Hotel in the nation's capital. Based on Pete Martin's taped interviews with Walt from 1956, Gabler said that Walt and Lillian stayed at the Mayflower for three days, then "trained to Key West and caught their tug to Havana, where they spent the next week." If the Disneys did spend only one week (perhaps ten days, but not, as seems likely, a full two weeks) in Cuba, the Mayflower Hotel photo probably dates from around October 20th or so. The Mayflower, incidentally, appears to have been Walt’s hotel of choice in Washington. Above (right) he was photographed in 1943 discussing his movie, Victory Through Air Power, with Clare Booth Luce, seated in the lobby of the hotel (McClinsey, Washington D.C.’s Mayflower Hotel, 2007, 54).

As Bob Thomas reported in his 1976 biography of Walt, while in Washington the Disneys visited such must-see sites as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, along with nearby Mount Vernon. Walt seems to have had but one disappointment during his time in D. C. After checking in at the Mayflower.

the [hotel's] publicity man ... asked if he could make any arrangements. "Yes, I'd like to meet General Pershing," Walt replied. "When I was driving a canteen car in France, I drove his son, and heard the general give his farewell speech in Paris on the back of a truck. He was my hero, and I'd sure like to meet him."
   "Well, that's pretty hard to arrange," the publicity man said. "Would you like to see President Hoover instead?"
   "No, the President's too busy," Walt replied, "and I wouldn't know what to talk to him about. An appointment proved impossible, but Pershing sent an autographed copy of his memoirs. ....

In 1932 Pershing was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for history for the two-volume memoirs, My Experiences in the World War. (The copy given to Walt, inscribed, not merely autographed, is now at the Walt Disney Family Museum.)

Over the years, Disney came into personal contact with three future U. S. presidents: his good friend Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, who took his family to Disneyland at least twice in the ’50s, and, in 1946, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike and Walt crossed paths at least one other time, in 1964 at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco). LBJ was the only sitting president he came face to face with. Franklin D. Roosevelt was widely proclaimed to be a fan, but Walt and FDR never met—though Eleanor Roosevelt visited the Burbank studio in late April 1941. In 1957 Harry Truman toured Disneyland. However, perhaps because he was a staunch Republican by then, Walt was not on hand to greet the former president. (In 1961, after he’d left the presidency, Ike brought his entire family, including their four grandchildren, to the park, but Walt was absent on that occasion as well.)

General Pershing was alive until 1948, but despite Walt's great admiration for him, they never met. This must have been all the more disappointing in that Pershing was born and raised in Laclede, Missouri, a mere 17 miles from Marceline, where the future father of Mickey Mouse spent the happiest of his boyhood years. It is, therefore, a happy coincidence that the Walt Disney Family Museum is housed in a former Army barracks facing the parade ground of the Presidio in San Francisco, where Walt’s hero served for several months in 1914 as commander of the Presidio, prior to being assigned to Texas to lead the 8th Cavalry in pursuit of the fabled Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.

In August 1915, Pershing's wife and three young daughters perished in a fire in their home, located just north of what is now Pershing Square at the Presidio, not far from the Disney Museum. Only the couple’s six-year-old son, Francis Warren Pershing, survived the conflagration. A flagpole now marks the spot where the house once stood.

above: The Pershings’ home at the Presidio (left), from Tim McNeese, John J. Pershing (New York, 2004), 74.

middle: The arrow points to the window through which young Warren Pershing was rescued (National Park Service photo).

bottom: The flagpole at Pershing Square today (National Park Service photo).

This was the same ten-year-old boy that "Driver Disney" (as he was identified in his official orders) and Walt's beloved Red Cross "boss," H. Alice Howell, took on a day trip and picnic in April 1919 to Domrémy, birthplace of Joan of Arc. Alice, Walt and young Warren may have made the excursion in a Red Cross vehicle like the one on display at the Disney Family Museum.

In an article published in the Lincoln Sunday Journal, May 13, 1934, Alice Howell said that she had known Pershing "intimately" during his stint at the University of Nebraska as a military instructor from 1892-1895. (Howell was head of the dramatic arts department at the university at the time.) She also revealed that she saw Pershing "innumerable times in France." Walt, it appears, got to see him just once, "from the back of a truck," as he later said. Presumably, Walt's recollection refers to Pershing’s ceremonial review, as commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, on July 19, 1919, in the Bois de Vincennes, of a special “Composite Battalion” that, just days before, had represented the AEF in Paris’s Bastille Day parade and the Empire Day victory parade in London.

For a transcription of the 1934 article on Howell, posted at Vintage Disney Collectibles, see:

At the same site are posted the two images below:

above: Cartoon by an unknown staff artist of Alice Howell and Walt Disney in the Lincoln Sunday Journal, May 13, 1934.

bottom: Photograph of General Pershing and his son Warren, ca. 1918-1919.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I had no idea that artist John Fawcett had released many years ago a collection of his Disney-related art and was therefore delighted when I located the above publication from 1970.
This just in from the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society, via Jennifer Hendrickson:

[We are excited to announce that -- for the first time ever -- the Disneyland Railroad's Lilly Belle Presidential Coach will be coupled to the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad Combine! This historic event will take place at the Fullerton Railroad Days fair on May 5 and 6, 2012.
The Lilly Belle coach was originally known as the Grand Canyon when it was part of the "Retlaw 1" passenger train from 1955 to 1974. After Retlaw 1 was retired, the Grand Canyon was transformed (under Mrs. Disney's personal supervision) into a beautiful Victorian-style private car, Lilly Belle. Premiering in time for America's bicentennial, the first guests aboard the Lilly Belle were the Emperor and Empress of Japan! Usually only open to invited guests, the Lilly Belle is one of the most elegant attractions at Disneyland.

We've seen no evidence that the Combine and Grand Canyon were ever directly coupled together and certainly this did not happen once it was transformed into the Lilly Belle. This weekend presents a rare opportunity for the public to tour both the Combine and the Lilly Belle. Best of all, admission to the fair is free!

Cast members from the Disneyland Railroad will join volunteers from the Carolwood Foundation to guide visitors through both cars. To support the Combine Preservation Project, the Foundation is creating some custom collectibles to celebrate this historic event and these will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Foundation's booth near the Combine.

For more details about the fair, please visit We hope to see you at the Fullerton Railroad Days in May!]

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This extremely obscure book by Kent Durden includes two Disney-related chapters focusing on the eagle Lady and her role in several Disney productions. A great complement to Jack Couffer's autobiography The Lion and the Giraffe.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This just in from Ross Anderson:

[In additon to the attactions that Jim Korkis mentioned - Pete's voice is in many other places in the Disney Parks... he was the voice of Mr. Lincoln at the Hall of Presidents and Mark Twain on the riverboat and Henry at the Country Bear Jamboree.  Of even greater interest to me is that Pete had a 'day job' - beyond his voice work.  Pete started at Disney Studio in the mid-50s, working in the Art Props Department.  He was involved in making props for 'Mary Poppins'.  Pete had a skill at dialects and an interest in acting.  He participated in the studio's 'Disney Players', doing benefits for charity.  He also did some dialect coaching for actors at the studio; eventually also doing stand-in readings for screen tests and getting small parts in the live-action comedies of the 60s and early 70s.  It was his presence at the studio and these skills that conspired to have him called to play Eddie Valiant in the early 80s test-of-concept for the combination of animation and live-action.
I had always understood that Mickey Mouse had been voiced first by Walt, and then passed on to Jimmy MacDonald and Wayne Allwine and, now, to Bret Iwan.  Disneyland Records issued a lot of vinyl records with stories about Mickey and the gang over the years.  Whether it was due to a transition between Walt and Jimmy or between Jimmy and Wayne, or whether one of them just wasn't available on a recording day, but other voice artists have given voice to Mickey on official Disney recordings... including Pete Renoudet.]
Help needed!

I need new transcribers. Too many interesting interviews, too few transcribers. If you are able to help, please email me at
If, like me, you are fascinated by cartoons from the '50s since you read Amid Amidi's masterpiece, Cartoon Modern, there are two products you need to buy right away: the DVD Mid-Century Animation, which contains a very large selection of Disney-produced stylized animated ads among other treasures, and the book When Magoo Flew, which tells for the first time the full story of the UPA studio and is a treasure of research and writing (one of the very best books about animation history ever).

Monday, April 23, 2012

This just in from Jim Korkis:

[On that Roger Rabbit clip you posted today, the actor playing Eddie Valiant is Pete Renoudet, a Disney voice artist who among other things is the voice of Henry the Bear in the Country Bear Jamboree and Captain Nemo in Walt Disney World's now closed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction.]
A good friend and reader of the blog, Ross Anderson is writing the definite history of the making of Roger Rabbit. Ross just sent me the following note about his in-depth research:

[One weakness is the information related to the Amblin aspect of the story, especially the development phase in the transition from the prior Disney development to the full-on Zemeckis treatment.  Any call-out for people who might have a contribution to that, or any other aspect of the evolution of the Roger Rabbit story, would be very appreciated.]

Ross can be contacted at

While looking for a photo to illustrate this post, I stumbled upon the following test for the early version of Roger Rabbit directed by Darrell Van Citters. Enjoy!

Jake Friedman, who is currently writing a biography of Art Babbitt has launched a blog, complete with rare photos of the Lake Norconian party (the infamous Snow White party) and pages from a diary wrote by Babbitt in 1942 (after the strike, unfortunately). Fascinating stuff!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Disney Historian Jim Korkis has just finished interviewing Susan (Musfelt) Hoose who is seventy-one years old. However, when she was seventeen years old and still in High School, she auditioned and was hired as the youngest Disneyland mermaid for the opening dedication ceremony on June 14, 1959 of the the Submarine Voyage attraction at Disneyland. Susan worked there the entire summer and has shared some never-before-told stories with Jim that will be appearing in a future volume of Walt's People. She also sent Jim these three pictures with a promise that she might be able to find more.

The table of contents of the Summer 2012 issue of the magazine Twenty-Three has just been announced. I was glad to be asked to write an in-depth article about the 20 years of Disneyland Paris, which include quite a few details which I had not been able to reveal in the book From Sketch to Reality. I am really looking forward to reading the articles about Annette Funicello, Brave, and Robert Sherman.
This just in from Jim Korkis:

[That version of Walt looks exactly the way Roy Williams drew Walt in "A Day With Walt" in the Dispatch from Disney's (1943) that was sent to Disney employees in the military.]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This just in from Gunnar Andreassen:

[Up for auction at Heritage, this sketch, see enclosure. From description:

An original sketch is included, in ink and pastels on teal-colored construction paper measuring approximately 10" x 6", showing Walt in "conference" with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. The art is unsigned, but is drawn in the loose style of long-time Disney staffer Roy Williams.]

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Russia´s 1968 Little Mermaid

This just in from Sébastien Durand:

[Astonishing how part of this short recalls Kay Nielsen's concept sketches...]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One thing leads to another. A good friend recently sent me some documents related to Disney artist Holling C. Holling, which contained some references to background artist and illustrator Nino Carbe. I decided to research his career and found out that the magazine Ilustration number 34 includes an in-depth article about him and that writer Bhob Stewart had conducted an interview with him. Enjoy!

I will also interview his daughter at some point within the upcoming weeks.

Monday, April 16, 2012

This upcoming book has the potential of being fascinating. Let´s hope it actually is.

Do not miss today:

- Walt Disney Family Museum preserves icon's legacy by Edward Guthmann (Thanks to Michael Goldberg for the link)
- Prod. UM39 - Orphan's Picnic by Hans Perk
- Hardly A Hoop, Not Yet A Holler by Michael Crawford
- Sub For One… by Michael Crawford
- Dick Tracy Live! by Jim Korkis
- Today’s Video Link by Mark Evanier (Thanks to Jim Korkis for the link)

Friday, April 13, 2012

This great letter just in from Jim Korkis.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Here is a rare Spanish interview with Walt released in the August 5, 1965 issue of La Actualidad Española.

Two highlights:

"Walt: Of course, I am not Spanish. I was born in Chicago. But I love Spain and the Spanish people." [And yet the canard about Walt being born in Mojacar, Spain lives on to this day!]

"And Walt tells us about his latest trip to our country: 'I was on the Costa Brava, in Barcelona, in Madrid, and in Algeciras. From there I took the boat to New York. I arrived in Port Lligat without warning to make a surprise to my great friend Salvador Dalí. You know how it is: if someone is warned about your visit they have to worry about all the things to prepare, so I did not warn him.
"Gala, Dalí's wife, was fishing in a rowing boat. The house was empty and I finally found Dalí among the rocks, spread out under the sun, with his huge whiskers all wet, points down."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A few Spanish "cromos" from the '30s which I bought not too long ago.

Do not miss today:

- Holidayland Pt. 2 by Todd James Pierce
- Today’s Video Link by Mark Evanier (Thanks to Jim Korkis for the link)
- Additional Info by Mark Evanier (Thanks to Jim Korkis for the link)
- The Continuing Saga of the Bob-A-Round and Bob-A-Long Boats

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Here are a few early drawings by Ham Luske.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Jim Korkis interviewed recently two of the daughters of Ham Luske (Carol and Peggy) as well as Luske´s son, Jim. Carol and Peggy were kind enough to send me several elements related to their father, which I will post on the blog over the next few weeks.

Michael Barrier sent me the following information about the above photo, which comes from the Luske family:

[Ed Benedict had a print of that photo with full IDs and the date it was taken (July 12, 1943). The occasion was a going-away party for a naval officer who had been working at the studio. These are Ed’s identifications, left to right: Ken Peterson, Captain True, Harry Tytle, Riley Thompson, Lieutenant (?) Newton, Walt, Commander Barry, Mac Stewart, Ken O’Connor.]

Do not miss today:

- Holidayland: The Least Photographed Land in the Park by Todd James Pierce
- Birth of Disney Fandom Part One: The Mouse Club by Jim Korkis
- Birth of Disney Fandom Part Two: The NFFC by Jim Korkis
- Jim Korkis Part 1 & The Mickey Mouse Club
- Jim Korkis Part 2 & The Mickey Mouse Club
- Jim Korkis Part 3 & The Mickey Mouse Club
- Disney’s animation guide by J.J. Sedelmaier (Thanks to Michael Goldberg for the link)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Tomorrow is a holiday in Spain. The blog will be updated again on Monday. Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all of you.

Thanks to the help of Wayne Campbell, I was glad to discover where the Danish Disney office was located before WWII.

Hans Perk also sent me the following note: [The Shell House is famous for it having been the headquarters of the Gestapo in Denmark, and for the bombing raid that destroyed it, while saving most of the Danish prisoners who were held on the upper floors. Sadly a RAF plane fell on a French girls' school during the raid and many girls were killed.]

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

This just in from Garry Apgar:

[Yesterday I finally had a chance to see "The Artist."

One thing that struck me about the film was how much its star, Jean Dujardin, resembled Walt at about the same age. Dujardin, 39, is a virtual dead ringer for Walt, circa 1940. He doesn't quite have the angular, aquiline nose of Walt, ... but the dark, slicked-down hair, the mustache, the smile, the buoyant personality, the intensity, .... the constant smoking! ... of the character he plays are all almost a perfect match.

A few days ago one of your readers, Jeffery Butler, nominated Dujardin for the starring role in "Walt," the imaginary film depicted on that faux movie poster by Pascal Witaszek, set around 1928, with Ryan Gosling as Disney. Prompted in part by Witaszek's fragmentary vision, and now, especially, by "The Artist," one can readily imagine a compelling but factually faithful bio-pic of Walt's early years along the lines of "The Artist," ... in black and white, perhaps, with the same careful attention to detail, casting, locations and settings. Think of the stylish way Walt dressed, of him staying at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, as he tried to get "Steamboat Willie" off the ground (sharing a room there with Carl Stalling, rinsing their socks out in the same sink), of Walt conferring with Pat Powers in his office in midtown Manhattan, with Jack Alicoate, the editor at "Film Daily," etc. Even the tomfoolery of Walt and his young pals in the Kansas City days, with Laugh-O-gram, and, later on, playing polo with Spencer Tracy and Will Rogers, would be very cinematic, particularly if the jazz-era music on the sound track were as artfully selected and paired with the action as it is in "The Artist" (and in so many of the early Mickey Mouse cartoons).

There ought to be enough drama in the characters Walt came in contact with, the locales he operated in, and the very real challenges he met and surmounted, to allow for a commercially viable cinematic vehicle. Far flimsier stuff has been spun into motion picture hagiography by Hollywood -- telling the story of far less consequential figures in show business or American culture.

Among the many realistic little touches in "The Artist," incidentally, were those old-fashioned two-button light switches like the one seen on the wall in that familiar photo of Walt, circa 1930 (above).]

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Once again, here is a book, which is only indirectly related to Disney but which I will pick up when released:

[In 1951, Disney Legend Dick Huemer, on hiatus from the Studio, teamed with acclaimed comic book illustrator Paul Murry to create this sendup of all things Western - The Adventures of Buck O'Rue!

These are the adventures of square-jawed, square-shootin’, hopelessly naïve cowboy Buck O’Rue and his beloved horse Reddish, his nearly equally beloved sweetheart Dorable, and all of the bad men of Mesa Trubil--”The Town without a Country”.

Compiled from multiple sources including original Production Proofs, The Adventures of Buck O'Rue reprints the strip's original run from January 15, 1951 to December 7, 1952. Enriched with biographies for both Dick Huemer and Paul Murry, archival photos, promotional materials, creators’ notebooks and sketches, scripts, The Adventurres of Buck O'Rue includes a foreword by Don Peri, author of Working with Walt.

Dick Huemer's list of credits includes animation for the Max Fleischer Studio (Out of the Inkwell, KoKo the Clown), during the 1920s, and story creation/direction for several of the most famous Disney films, notably Fantasia and Dumbo.

Paul Murry was the most productive American Mickey Mouse comic book artist from the 1950s to the 1970s. His illustrations, with their distinctive style and unforced humor, have been reprinted by the millions throughout the years, and continue to delight readers all over the world.

Restored and edited over several years by Germund von Wowern, professional comics editor, and Richard Huemer, Dick Huemer’s son, The Adventures of Buck O'Rue is a joint venture between U.S. Nutrigenetics and Classic Comics Press.

The Adventures of Buck O'Rue is scheduled for a June 15, 2012 release date.]

Monday, April 02, 2012

Here are several books I will definitely pick up when they are released: Full Steam Ahead!: The Life and Art of Ward Kimball by Amid Amidi and The Art of Wreck-It Ralph by Maggie Malone and Jennifer Lee Monn are directly Disney-related...
While A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books by John Canemaker and The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation by Charles Solomon focus on the non-Disney career of former Disney artists (Mary Blair and Bill Melendez).

Do not miss today:

- Walt Disney, a Couple of Cocktails, and the Mark Twain by Todd James Pierce
- Visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum by Michael Barrier
- Birth of Disney Fandom Part One: The Mouse Club by Jim Korkis
- My First Scene on "Roger Rabbit" by Andreas Deja
- Hal Ambro by Andreas Deja
- 10 Lessons Learned from Classic Disney Movies