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Toon Tuesday : A Disney kind of guy

Toon Tuesday : A Disney kind of guy

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It's been a little over a week and I'm still trying to deal with reality. Sometimes, reality is hard to take. Although much has already been said and written, I feel there is still a little more to say about the loss of Disney Imagineer Bruce Gordon.

It's difficult to believe that only two weeks ago I was sitting across from Bruce as he pitched his concept of the Walt Disney Family Museum. This bold idea is coming to life at the Presidio in San Francisco, and will celebrate the life and work of the Old Maestro, Walt Disney.

It was fitting that Bruce Gordon should be a part of this ambitious project. Diane Disney Miller, the eldest daughter of the Old Maestro, wanted Bruce on board once she heard him comment on her dad during the filming of the Disney biography. Bruce really understood why Walt Disney created Disneyland. Like Walt, Bruce was dedicated to doing things just a little bit better. A philosophy long since forgotten in today's corporate climate.

I can't say I really knew Bruce Gordon as well as others. We met at Disney in the early eighties because we were both Macintosh Geeks, and we helped found the Disney Macintosh User Group. However, corporate made us change our name to "Mickey's Mac Club," and then eventually to the generic "The Mac Club." Bruce Gordon was our first editor of the Mac Newsletter, and he gave himself the title of "Default Editor."

Looking back on those days, it's clear the person I remember most was Bruce Gordon. He was funny, irreverent and extremely knowledgeable when it came to the Macintosh computer. But then again, Bruce was knowledgeable about pretty much everything. He had a curiosity much like Walt Disney. And like Walt -- if anything was worth doing, it was worth doing right. He continued to vex company management by handing out a mouse pad and a cloisonné pin that featured both the Apple and the Disney logo. Forbidden by the company to distribute the pins, Bruce couldn't bear to throw them away. So he took them home. Those "forbidden pins" were distributed at his memorial service a few days ago. As one of his pals said: "Bruce, this is for you!"

It was during this period in those early Mac days that Bruce and his late creative partner David Mumford began their publishing venture. Bruce and David wanted to publish a book that detailed the history of Disneyland through a series of postcards. Every publisher around rejected "Disneyland -- The Nickel Tour: A Postcard Journey Through a Half Century of the Happiest Place on the Earth" ... including Disney Press! So Bruce and David decided to publish the book themselves. I remember the Mac Club meeting back then that featured Bruce Gordon explaining how he and David made their dream a reality using desktop publishing software. You can bet we were all impressed, and this book would be the first of many books Bruce Gordon and David Mumford would publish.

In the early nineties, Bruce Gordon and the Disney Imagineers were working on a total revamp of Tomorrowland at the Anaheim theme park. I was lucky enough to be invited over to Imagineering for a sneak peek at this amazing new park attraction. Better yet, Bruce even gave me a crew jacket that celebrated the creation of Tomorrowland 2055. However, company management was not as thrilled as we were. And they nixed this wonderful project in favor of a more scaled down (dare I say cheaper?) attraction.

Undaunted by this setback, Bruce Gordon poured his heart into this less than stellar attraction. A dedicated Imagineer, Bruce always gave his best. When Disneyland's submarine ride was shut down, Bruce continually worked to find a way to revive this special underwater attraction. When "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" failed to find an audience, that revamp was abandoned. Finally, Pixar's "Finding Nemo" became the spark that would bring the Disney submarine ride back to life.

If you knew much about Bruce Gordon, you knew he had to be right all the time. He was opinionated, stubborn, and a curmudgeon. Yet things were always made a little bit better because Bruce gave his input. He was generous with his time, and actually enjoyed helping people. He was the kind of guy Walt Disney would have wanted on his team. Like Walt, nothing escaped his watchful eye. And if you were lucky enough to have Bruce give your project the once over, you knew it was going to be all the better for it.


Bruce Gordon always had to be right. And doggone it, he usually was.

The Walt Disney Family Museum will continue on without Bruce Gordon, but his spirit will continue with it. Though I was looking forward to working with Bruce again, I know I'll never be able to make a another drawing without thinking that somehow Bruce is looking over my shoulder.

Bruce Gordon was a Disney kind of guy. He was funny, irreverent, and totally dedicated to his craft. He was a guy who had a thorough knowledge of the Disney legacy, and fought like heck to maintain it. Finally, Bruce Gordon acknowledged something that you and I already know, but so many people have forgotten. It's a Bruce Gordon quote that should be carved in stone.

"Walt was right."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Bruce Gordon wasn't the only guy who produced a series of Disney-related books. Floyd Norman is also an author. And if you'd like to learn more about this Disney Legend's exploits, you can do so by picking up any of the three books that Floyd currently has on the market. Each of which feature a collection of Norman's infamous cartoons that take an affectionate look back at his time in Toontown.

These volumes include Floyd's original collection of cartoons & stories -- "Faster! Cheaper! The Flip Side of the Art of Animation" (which is available for sale over at John Cawley's cataroo.com) as well as Norman's two follow-ups to that popular paperback, "Son of Faster, Cheaper" & "How the Grinch Stole Disney." Which you can purchase by heading over to Afrokids.com.

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  • PingBack from http://all-books.fastlanenews.info/2007/11/20/toon-tuesday-a-disney-kind-of-guy/

  • Thanks Floyd!

    A great remembrance of a fine individual.

    And thanks for the story behind the "pin"! I've had one for years and didn't know what or who was behind it. Now I'll wear it proudly.

  • Both Bruce Gordon and David Mumford were imagineers that had the opportunity to work with the "Legends" of Disney. They were always asking them what it was like when Walt was still with the company. First hand information was passed on about what Walt Disney was trying to achieve. That is why the two of them were able to bring us so much history about the company and its people. Now they have left a legacy of their own through their work and their books. They were two grand guys of Disney.

  • why did Bruce leave Disney?

  • He didn't.  Disney left him.

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