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Remembering Leon Janzen

Remembering Leon Janzen

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True Disney fans are part of a large, extended dysfunctional family. The regular media often produces feature pieces on the strangeness of those folks who are passionate about Star Trek or Star Wars or comic books or lunch boxes or teddy bears or Disney. It seems to provide no end of amusement to show supposedly adult lawyers and doctors and teachers gathering together and taking pride in showing off their collections and knowledge of these esoteric areas. Rarely does one of those stories focus on the sincerity and generosity and childlike sense of wonder of some of the individuals who are collectors.

So it will probably not be surprising that the regular media will take little or no notice of the passing of Leon Janzen. Yet for those of us who are part of the Disney family of fans and have to endure the label of "Disney nut" or "Disney geek," the loss of one of the best friends that Disney fandom ever had will leave an emptiness that will continually be remembered whenever someone tries to research the creation of Walt's Disneyland.

Some of today's fans may not remember receiving in the mail in the Winter of 1986 a complimentary copy of the first issue of THE E TICKET. "The first issue was mailed to the local collectors we know are interested in our topic." That simple phrase appeared on the inside back cover of the fourteen page magazine. "You (YES YOU!) must do the following to ensure that E TICKET #2 is produced. Send us, right now, before you forget a stamped (44 cents postage) self-addressed stamped envelope ... we will mail issue #2 when its ready ....... Drop us a note (or even a real letter) with your opinions and ideas."

Leon Janzen and his younger brother Jack were not identified by name in that first issue. There was just a cryptic address in Saugus, California. It took Mouse Club and NFFC Disneyana conventions for Southern California fans to finally see the mustached (and sometimes bearded) brothers beaming from behind their dealer's table with a stack of early E TICKETS. There was a boyishness enthusiasm to share information with others and to find additional stories and treasures. They were less interested in hawking their homemade magazine than in just visiting with fellow Disney fans.

"Most collectors in other areas of interest search for collectables because of scarity or for status or even dollar value. We think fans are beginning to care about souvenirs and memorabilia from Disneyland, etc. for a more powerful reason ... the desire to recapture some of the same positive feelings they felt when they first explored these lands of imagination ..... We hope to rekindle some of this innocent excitement by taking a nostalgic look at all theme parks,their memories and collectables," ran a paragraph in the inside front cover of that first issue.

Those early issues covered not only Disneyland but Knott's Berry Farm and Pacific Ocean Park and featured some true treasures from the collections of the two brothers.

While other Disney oriented fanzines concentrated on Carl Barks or Disney animation, for many years, E TICKET was the only source for accurate, detailed information on the early Disneyland. Soon the integrity and positive enthusiasm of the two brothers brought them contacts including top Imagineers and top animators and the magazine became slicker as it presented interviews and photos that had never appeared anywhere else.

Many of us took for granted that nearly forty issues of valuable, incredible information appeared on a semi-regular basis. Many of us took for granted that it was the hard work and vision of two brothers that made that magazine possible and made available an amazing resource that will assist Disneyphiles and historians for decades yet to come to a deeper appreciation of Walt's special dream. I know of many reference libraries that have dog-eared copies of the E TICKET.

Today, we share in Jack's grief for a special friend who so generously shared with all of us a gift that continues to bring us all such joy.

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  • Regarding the reason for Leon & Jack Janzen's interest in publishing "E-Ticket Magazine".  Leon was open about his interest in Disneyland, POP, and Knott's.  He always wanted to be "more into things" than the average guy.  His enthusiam was contageous.  He once told me of a comic book he purchased from a local lady at the Rose Bowl swap meet for $.25.  He was flipping through one of her many boxes of comics when he saw a copy of "Donald Fly's a Kite".  Leon then interjected that this was a 3 or 4 page comic that was handed out to children eating at Bob's Big Boy restaurants.  They were designed to keep the kids busy and quite while their food was being cooked.  He further explained that when the meal was over, the comic was typically trashed ~ so there are not very many of these still in existance.  Leon sold the comic to a dealer in New York for $750.  However, I'm not aware of much else he sold...he was a "holder".

    I knew both Leon and Jack but worked with Leon in banking for 20 years at the time of his death.  He told me that in order to get into the "back areas" of Disneyland, where they worked on the live steam locomotives and other pieces, he had to have a "Press Credential", so he dreamt up "E-Ticket".  He also loved interviewing the original members of Walt's creative team as they grew older.  He wanted to document EVERYTHING about their creativeness.

    I miss my friend.

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