It spite of the company turmoil, our little group of writers and artists continued working away in the Publishing Department. We were located in the Roy O. Disney building, a facility that housed our consumer products division. King Features Syndicate still published a number of Disney comic strips and much of the work was done in house. Our boss, Greg Crosby, wanted to put together the best creative team at the Disney studio and he came darn close to doing just that. I still consider it an honor to have worked side by side with such talented veterans as Cal Howard, Don Ferguson, Willie Ito, Carson Van Osten, Mike Royer, Bob Foster, Tom Yakutis  and many other remarkable Disney artists and writers. Though we managed to stay out of the spotlight for a few years I knew the day would come when Michael Eisner and Frank Wells would focus their management eye on publishing. Many in our department began to quake with fear, but those fears were unwarranted. Our new bosses did not want to cut our department - they wanted to expand it. The early nineties ushered in many changes at the Disney company. Our little creative group suddenly became The Disney Publishing Group consisting of Disney Press, Hyperion Books, and Disney Comics. Big shot executives from New York took charge of the prestige units. However, our little comic book company was regarded as insignificant. I’m not joking when I say that our editors did a lot of their early work on cardboard packing boxes. The Disney Company had given the artists and editors a firm deadline on getting the books to press but they had no furniture available. Naturally, the mouse house entered the world of comic book publishing with their usual snotty attitude. The company not only paid the lowest page rates but also refused the artist’s request to retain their original art. Word of the management's arrogance spread throughout the comics industry and before long, many industry professionals were eagerly anticipating our doom.

    In spite of our lackluster management, the artists and writers did their best to produce eight Disney titles a month. They managed to do this and maintain a pretty high level of quality. I enjoyed the opportunity to write comic books again even though I continued to script the daily Mickey Mouse strip. Even as the Disney executives continued their "synergy" lip service, Comics received little support from the rest of the company. When the unit failed to meet the inflated expectations, Disney Comics was unceremoniously shut down. This rather strange pattern would continue throughout the nineties. In the meantime, I continued to gain confidence as a writer and published several children's books during this period. I finally began to feel comfortable in the world of publishing and considered my days of film making were probably over. However, I stayed in touch with Disney Feature Animation because much of the work we did was driven by the animated product. For a time, I even had my own work station in the Glendale animation facility during the production of "The Lion King." Once again, I had no idea the circle would soon be complete and I would once again be returning to Walt’s animation studio. Disney Publishing, like much of Consumer Products, continued going through management changes. My old boss, Greg Crosby, would soon be replaced by a new manager and our friendly little department was totally gutted. Knowing my days at publishing were probably numbered I called in old favors at animation. By the time Disney Publishing had cleaned house I had secured a job in the development department of Walt Disney Feature Animation. Another ten years had passed and I was ready to enter into a brand new phase of my long career.

 

It was fun writing Mickey Mouse adventure stories in Disney's Publishing department back in the eighties.

It was fun writing Mickey Mouse adventure stories in Disney's Publishing department back in the eighties.

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AuthorFloyd Norman