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"Well, what am I supposed to read now?"
I've been getting e-mails like that all month. In the wake of the Walt Disney Company's decision to officially cancel publication of "Disney" magazine.
Typically, what I've been doing is pointing people in two directions: Those folks who seem more interested in Disneyland's past, I've been noodging toward Jack Janzen's great "The 'E' Ticket" magazine. While those who are more curious about what Disney will do in the future at its theme parks, I've been sending (with some mild reservations) over to "Tales from the Laughing Place."
Now with 42 issues under its belt, "The 'E' Ticket" is considered by many to be THE definitive authority when it comes to the history of "The Happiest Place on Earth." Filled with great photos & illustrations, the latest issue of this fine fanzine takes an up-close look at the creation & construction of the Matterhorn. That article's a great read. As is Jack's in-depth interview with Bob Penfield, the president of Disneyland's "Club 55" alumni association.
Now I know that there were a number of you out there who were concerned that -- what with Leon Janzen's sad passing in September of 2003 -- that "The 'E' Ticket" might slip in quality and/or cease publication entirely. Well, I am pleased to report that Jack has kept this amazing magazine right on track. And that this most recent issue of "The 'E' Ticket" is just as enjoyable as any issue that both of the Janzen brothers have produced over the past five years.
Whereas "Tales from the Laughing Place" ... Well, this LaughingPlace.com spin-off is no " 'E' Ticket." Yet.
Though -- to be fair -- I guess I should mention that "Tales" has only just released its second issue. And it does take a while for any new publication to finally find its feet.
Don't get me wrong, folks. I don't mean to infer that "Tales of the Laughing Place" is bad. Far from it. "TOTLP" is actually a handsome looking magazine that's printed on good quality paper. It also has a unique design and layout that reminds me quite a bit of Imagineering's old in-house publication, "WD Eye."
And -- as for this magazine's contents ... This most recent issue of "Tales from the Laughing Place" features some amazing photographs (I loved the one taken of Disneyland's Town Square from inside of Walt's apartment as well as that shot of Wally Boag and the rest of the cast of "The Golden Horseshoe" revue standing around inside that Frontierland venue) as well as some entertaining articles. Lee MacDonald -- for example -- does a great job with his interview with Randy Thornton about the "Musical History of Disneyland" CD set.
Okay. So that's what's good about "Tales from the Laughing Place." Now what's not-so-good about this new Disneyana magazine? Some of Lindsay Cave's articles. Which take a rather academic approach toward the subject of Disney theme parks. One story in particular -- "Diverging on Disneyland" ... God, just thinking about that article again makes my head hurt. I actually read that densely written piece twice, with the hope that I then might be able to understand its subject matter. But I'll be damned if I could now tell you what this essay was supposed to be about.
Mind you, not everything that Cave contributed to this issue of "TOTLP" was incomprehensible. I actually enjoyed Lindsay's piece on the "Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years" exhibit. Which revealed that veteran Disney animation director George Scribner had storyboarded & directed all of the animated sequences in this Steve Martin / Donald Duck movie. And that master animator Eric Goldberg had handled the animation of Donald in the finale of this film.
Those sorts of stories, I enjoy. Over-wrought essays that feature lines like "... in an innocence of expectation to a reality of realization ..." I can do without.
Here's hoping that -- by the time the third issue of "Tales from the Laughing Place" finally goes to press later this spring -- that Doobie, Rebekah and Lee can rein Lindsay in a bit. So that Cave then can concentrate more on writing light informational fare rather than more of those difficult-to-decipher think pieces.
Because -- these small reservations aside -- "Tales from the Laughing Place" is already a publication that shows plenty of promise. Here's hoping that -- in the years ahead -- it could eventually come to fill the hole left by "Disney" Magazine. Or -- at the very least -- be as enthusiastically embraced by the Disneyana community as "The 'E' Ticket" is now.
Which could possibly happen. IF "Tales from the Laughing Place" can just avoid running any more articles like that deadly dull "Diverging on Disneyland" essay. Your thoughts?