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"The Civil War of Animation"

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From "The Disney Strike of 1941: How It Changed Animation & Comics," by Tom Sito:

As Walt Disney turned his fashionable Packard roadster onto Buena Vista Blvd. he found the entrance to his studio ringed with a mob of 300 picketers and reporters. The protesters were his own cartoonists. Every couple of feet one stood on a soapbox and made angry speeches to passing picketers. Under the clear blue skies colorfully handpainted signs bobbed: DISNEY UNFAIR!, ONE GENIUS vs. 600 GUINEA PIGS, WE HAD NO SCABS AT SCHLESINGER'S, LEONARDO, MICHELANGELO and TITIAN WERE UNION MEN, and a picture of Pluto with the title, I'D RATHER BE A DOG THAN A SCAB!

No single incident had a greater impact upon the history of Hollywood animation than the Great Walt Disney Cartoonists Strike of 1941. The Disney Strike spawned new studios, new creative styles, new characters and changed animation forever. To the people who were there, it was a defining moment in their careers. New friendships were cemented and old ones broken. Many carried their anger for the rest of their lives.

It was the Civil War of Animation.
Assistant animator Hank Ketcham was a striker. He said, "Although I was young, single and with no heavy commitments it was obvious that the Kansas City Mouseketeer had to loosen his purse strings or perish." Meanwhile his roommate, Dick Kinney, was for Walt because Kinney's brother, Jack, was a supervising director. Driving his old Mercury convertible, Kinney would drop Hank off a block from the studio and proceed through the jeering strikers' line while Hank would check in with the organizers and shoulder his picket sign.

But after a while Ketcham was put off by the strike leaders increasingly militant tone. Stories about the violent strikes at General Motors and other industrial debacles. He felt had nothing to do with him as an artist. He crossed the line and went back to work. For this he was labeled by his buddies, "The King of Finks."

After the strike Ketcham went into the Navy Reserve and served as a photographic retoucher. In his spare time he started to sell some comic panels. After his discharge he drifted to New York City to try his hand doing spot cartoons for the New Yorker, where his former Disney strikers Sam Cobean and Claude Smith had become top artists. He had a son named Dennis who liked to smear his room with the contents of his loaded diaper. His wife exclaimed to him, "Your son is a menace!" This gave him an idea. He created the character Dennis the Menace in 1947 and the strip appeared in newspapers in 1951.

Walt Kelly was an animator and story artist on Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi. He was fired by Disney after the 90-day federal period was over. He went home to Connecticut and found work as a political cartoonist for the New York Sun, which soon went under. He got work for Western Publishing drawing for several comicbooks including some Walt Disney comicbooks.

In 1943 Kelly created Bumbazine and Albert the Alligator, which appeared in issue number one of Animal Comics. Its story, called "Albert Takes the Cake," started "Once there was a big old alligator named Albert who loved chocolate cake..." This was the basis of Pogo. Pogo went mainstream in 1950 and became one of America's most beloved comics. He married another striker named Margaret Selby Daley who became Selby Kelly. Will be that was.

The Disney Strike of 1941: How It Changed Animation & Comics [Mickey News via Animation World]


Howdy, i’m a professional dancer. i’d prefer to make a showreel pertaining to my promotions. I also would like to use some animation. Can someone suggest me the best animation studio, but certainly not very expensive? I’m here for 3 months for a tour.

DancingKimMay 12, 2011

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