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Those characters are DECIDEDLY not on model

Those characters are DECIDEDLY not on model

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The infamous "Disneyland Memorial Orgy"poster done by Wally Wood just won't seem to disappear even though it has been around for almost forty years. Both Jim Hill and Jim Korkis have written about it before on this website. But I decided to include some recently discovered quotes from the other man responsible for this memorable memorial, Paul Krassner.

The artwork for the Disneyland Memorial Orgy Poster was recently part of a traveling exhibit entitled "Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age" held in 2003 which was intended to provoke discussion about the relationship among intellectual property law and the First Amendment. (And on eBay in April, someone claimed to have the "printing plate" for this poster which they were offering for a minimum bid of $15,000!)

In describing the poster, "Time" Magazine's Richard Corliss wrote: "In Wally Wood's lushly scabrous "Disneyland Memorial Orgy," a 1967 parody that ran in "The Realist" magazine, Walt's creatures behaved exactly as barnyard and woodland denizens might. Beneath dollar-sign searchlights radiating from the Magic Kingdom's castle, Goofy had his way with Minnie, Dumbo the flying elephant dumped on Donald Duck, the Seven Dwarfs besmirched Snow White en masse, and Tinker Bell performed a striptease for Peter Pan and Jiminy Cricket. Mickey slouched off to one side, shooting heroin."

For those who are strong hearted and curious and want to see what the poster looks like, then you might try this site.

Paul Krassner, who created the underground satirical newspaper "The Realist" in 1958 (and which stopped publication in Spring 2001), had worked in the same office building that housed MAD magazine and in fact had sold a couple of submissions to Gaines' humor magazine. Contributors to "The Realist included Lenny Bruce (THE REALIST published his obituary while he was still alive so he could appreciate it) and Richard Pryor.

Krassner remembered that, "After Walt Disney died, I somehow expected Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the rest of the gang to attend his funeral, with Goofy delivering the eulogy and the Seven Dwarves serving as pallbearers. Disney's death occurred a few months after 'Time' magazine's famous 'Is God Dead?' cover, and I realized that Disney had served as god to that whole stable of imaginary beings who were now mourning in a state of suspended animation.

Disney had been their creator, and had repressed their baser instincts, but now with his departure, they could finally shed their cumulative inhibitions and participate together in an unspeakable Roman binge, to signify the crumbling of an empire.

I contacted Wally Wood, who had illustrated my first article for 'Mad,' and he (anonymously) unleashed their collective libido, demystifying an entire genre in the process. I told Wally my idea, without being specific. In a few months, he presented me with the artwork, unsigned. I paid him $100. The "Disneyland Memorial Orgy" was a 'Realist' center spread (May 1967 in black and white) that became our most infamous poster."

Wood was the perfect choice to do the artwork. Since the mid-Fifties, he had worked at "Mad" magazine doing parodies of Disney characters for many of the articles. In addition, he had been supplying cartoons for men's magazines like "Gent," "The Dude" and "Nugget." In the Sixties, he not only did artwork for Marvel comics (redesigning Daredevil's outfit to the now famous all red costume), worked at creating the "Thunder Agents" and -- in 1966 (one year before the "Disneyland Memorial Orgy" poster) -- published the first issue of his own magazine, "Witzend," in which he wanted to push the bounds of comic art and satire.

An inside source at Disney supposedly told editor Paul Krassner that the company chose not to sue to avoid drawing attention to what could ultimately be a losing battle since Krassner jobbed out his printing and had no capital investment nor any assets that Disney could garner.

Krassner claimed that the original art was stolen from the printer. There were several pirated editions of the poster during the 1970s. One of these editions was done in a vertical format and made crude alterations and additions to Wood's art.

However, Disney was not so reluctant when an entrepreneur named Sam Ridge pirated the drawing and sold it as a black light poster. The blatantly commercial nature of the bootleg and the fact that it would reach a much larger audience than the poorly distributed "The Realist" prompted Disney to file a lawsuit, which was ultimately settled out of court, forcing Ridge out of business.

Corporate lawyers say that lawsuits against visual artists are rare and usually are filed only when the artists try to sell copies of the images (on T-shirts, for example) or when the company believes that the work tarnishes its brand. Lawyers also argue that they sue because they have to. A facet of intellectual-property law called acquiescence compels them to fight every infringement they find or give up the right to defend the trademark or copyright when it really matters, such as when a competing company appropriates a logo.

''There's a reluctance, at least among my clients, to appear to be bullying individuals,'' said Thomas F. Holt, an intellectual property lawyer in the Boston office of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. ''On the other hand, not acting can have consequences.''

An interesting legal point is that does exhibiting these pieces of "illegal art" (including the infamous "NotMickey" poster with a Mickey with three ears and three buttons) put those who mounted the traveling exhibit in legal jeopardy just as it originally did for the artists? Interesting there are no examples of the "Air Pirates" in the exhibit.

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  • A very helpful article.

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