The Ascent of Walt

As you can imagine, I have enormous respect for Walt Disney and consider the man an American icon. If you’ve taken the time to read any of the biographies written about the Old Maestro you already know what a remarkable individual he was. I had the rare opportunity to come to the Walt Disney Studio when Walt still ruled over his kingdom. Over time, I was granted the opportunity to work with the boss and even attended private meetings on occasion. What’s even more remarkable, I was allowed to do this while still a know nothing kid.

Walt Disney was tough task master and he demanded nothing less than our best. He had the remarkable ability to focus like a laser and nothing escaped his watchful eye. His intuition when it came to story telling was amazing and I’ll confess he was rarely wrong when pin pointing a problem. Disney was a gifted story editor who made every sequence in a film that much better. Though I’ve often portrayed the boss as dour and grumpy, I’ll admit I was just having fun. Walt displayed a healthy sense of humor and enjoyed a joke as much as anyone.

I have no doubt the Old Maestro would smile if he saw himself portrayed in this series of cartoon drawings. Actually, most of us could probably sum up our lives in a few cartoon sketches as well. There’s something about cartoon drawings that are clear, concise and to the point. My sketches begin with a brash, young Walt Disney eager to prove himself as an artist and filmmaker. The second sketch portrays a totally confident Walt at the top of his game. Having added a few pounds, the fifties Walt was already world famous and no longer needed to prove himself. Though older, he still had the drive and enthusiasm of a young man. I knew the sixties Walt, and I often portrayed him as the grumpy boss. It was all in fun, of course. Disney still managed to retain his youthful enthusiasm even though his health was failing.

This time of year should always be the most joyous, yet it remains less so for me. November and December continues to be remembered as a time of loss. The loss of friends, family members and my old boss, Walt Disney. Perhaps I’m using this cartoon sketch to lighten things up and enjoy a chuckle and a fun look at a remarkable life.