Even the Ultimate Disney Books Network site has difficulty keeping up with all the new Disney related books that are available or have been available in the past. To make things even more difficult, some of these books are issued by small publishers who are unable to advertise widely to a potential interested audience.

One of the Disney related books I am looking forward to is due to be published within the next few weeks: "Walt's People: Volume 1" is a collection of the best interviews ever conducted with Disney artists who knew Walt Disney. The series is edited by Didier Ghez and besides his section, contributors to the series include noted Disney experts Robin Allan, Paul F. Anderson, Michael Barrier, J.B. Kaufman, Jim Korkis, Michael Lyons and John Province.

This first volume includes in-depth interviews with artists Rudy Ising, Dave Hand, Ken Anderson, Jack Hannah, John Hench, Marc Davis, Milt Kahl, Harper Goff and Joyce Carlson and discusses among many other subjects the Disney Studio before Mickey Mouse, the challenges in directing "Snow White", the making of "Destino" with Dali, the process that led to the production of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", the frustrations and joys of Marc Davis and Milt Kahl and the creation of "It's a Small World". It contains hundreds of new stories about the Disney Studio and its artists and should delight even the most serious historians and enthusiasts.

When the book is finally available within the next few weeks, I am sure Jim Hill will let readers know how they can order a copy. Anyway, the forthcoming release of this book got me to thinking about some of the oddball Disney related books that I have in my collection. Some of these books are probably unknown to many collectors so I thought every now and then I might write a column devoted to these obscure Disney books with some short reviews:


"Mickey's Golden Jubilee" (published by Junipero Serra Press in 1980 and designed by Francis Braun) written by Francis Weber. This is certainly an oddball book that may be unfamiliar to Disneyphiles because it was created for the world of collectors who collect miniature books. It is only three inches by two inches with a blue cover, gold-tipped parchment like pages and a badly drawn picture of a Mickey Mouse type mouse that is reproduced at the bottom of each page. The mouse has a white nose, is badly proportioned and seems to be wearing some type of tunic or dress. Disney Archivist Dave Smith told me that Weber asked for and got permission from the Disney Company for the book but did not ask nor get permission for the mouse illustration. The book is only ten pages long and in 1980 cost ten dollars. There is no copyright indication anywhere in the book but it is indicated that it is a limited edition of only three hundred copies. The text is very superficial in its coverage of Mickey's career. There are no new insights and old familiar tales are trotted out like Mickey saving the Ingersoll watch company and that Mickey was originally going to be called "Mortimer". Again, I doubt many Disneyphiles are aware of this oddity and it would be for completists only. The copy I saw was in the collection of Disney Historian Jim Korkis. My personal opinion is even Walt Disney who collected miniatures would have passed this book by and Jim told me that to the best of his knowledge it was never advertised to the Disney collector community and he only learned about it through a short blurb in the L.A. TIMES book review section at the time.

"Movie Lot to Beachhead" by the editors of LOOK (Doubleday, Doran and Company 1945). While there have been many books telling the story of Hollywood going to war, this is perhaps one of the best because it was written right while it was happening. The book doesn't just concentrate on the hundreds of war oriented movies that the major movie studios were releasing along with some stills that seem never to have been reprinted elsewhere, but it also contains rare stills and commentary on the many shorts and propaganda films that were produced at the time. For the Disney collector, there is a still from "The New Spirit", the Donald Duck short designed to get people to pay their taxes as well as a still from another Donald patriotic short entitled "Get In the Scrap" that I am completely unaware of but the picture shows Donald getting involved with collecting everything he could to help the war effort.

There are also twenty-three stills arranged in storyboard format (with appropriate narration underneath) from "El Enemigo Unvisible" ("The Unseen Enemy"), a Walt Disney health education film warning people in Latin America against microbes in water and soil. Here is an excellent example of how Disney effectively used animation as a teaching aid. Animation historians will probably also get a kick out of a similar storyboard included from the Private Snafu short "Booby Traps". Snafu was an animated character who was constantly getting into trouble so that servicemen could learn from the experience. Chuck Jones and Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel were involved with the character. There are many "behind the scenes" shots of the live action war movies produced at the time. The text is typically gung-ho patriotic in tone but provides a surprising amount of factual information unavailable elsewhere.

"The Desert Battalion" by Jack Preston and Mrs. Edward G. Robinson (Murray and Gee, Inc., Hollywood, 1944). There are over a dozen cartoons in this book produced and contributed by the staff of Walt Disney Productions supervised by Don Douglas. (There are also some Milt Gross original illustrations and one unamusing cartoon signed by Roy "Big Mooseketeer" Williams.) The Desert Battaalion was organized in 1942 by Mrs. Robinson and some friends. General Patton at that time was training his tank crews in the isolated deserts of Southern California. So, Mrs. Robinson and friends thought it would be a good idea to ship girls between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five out to these remote areas, where under the supervision of a chaperone, they could boost the morale of the GIs. (I could see it boosting my morale.) This book runs roughly a hundred pages and details some of the adventures and mis-adventures (all PG rated) the girls ran into on their journeys to entertain the troops. The Disney artwork is sometimes wonderful "good girl" artwork done in the spirit of Disney artist Freddy Moore, like the girls in slips and curlers desperately trying to get ready for inspection. All the Disney drawings feature a copyright for "WDP". The text tries to stress that these girls aren't glamour queens but just typical down-home kind of girls, and the Disney illustrations depict cute and perky bobbysoxers.

"Hulda." Story by Carol Svendsen and illustrations by Julius Svendsen (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1974, 28 pages long). Hulda was a delightful and pleasant young girl. Her manners were charming. You would probably say that Hulda was as sweet as an angel. And she was--just as long as she got her own way. If she didn't, watch out! Say "no" to Miss Hulda and she would begin such a terribly, horribly loud screaming that even the bold and hardy Vikings had to give in. Hulda was spoiled. There was no doubt. That is until she went "berrying" one day against everyone's advice. She encountered a huge but very young troll. He was no match for Hulda's screaming, and so called his mother to help. But, she, too was quickly convinced by the ear splitting, spine chilling screams to let Hulda have her own way. And so she did until she met the most majestic, titanic father troll of them all. Why am I including this unusual children's book? Well,.most Disney collectors know that many children's books have stories or artwork by Disney artists. How many of the reader of this website have a complete set of the Glen Keane illustrated Christian books featuring a raccoon? Anyway, this book was done by the Svendsens. Carol Svendsen was a native of Greeley, Colorado. In 1948, she began working for the Walt Disney Studios. Two years later, she married one of her co-workers, a Norwegian-born illustrator named Julius Svendsen. Some of you probably recognize the name since he was involved in the three Ward Kiimball space shows for the Disneyland televison show in the Fifties. Julius was a veteran animator by that time and contributed to many full-length animated features produced by Disney until his untimely death in 1971. (He was born in 1919). The artwork in this book with a cover of a girl yelling at the top of her lungs so that she is blue in the face is very reminiscent of the work of another Disney artist who did children's books, Bill Peet. An oddity about this book is that Julius passed away in 1971 but the copyright on the book is 1974.