The Wonderful World of Publishing

I worked in the wonderful world of publishing back in the early eighties. We were still located on the Walt Disney Studio lot and we were conveniently located right across the street  from the Animation Building. This served us well because we still had access to the studio library and remained in touch with our animated colleagues. Suddenly, my life had veered off in a new direction. I was still a Disney storyteller, but unlike my film counterparts I no longer had executives breathing down my neck. Blessed with creative freedom I could darn near write anything I wanted. As long as the story was a Disney story, it was pretty much accepted. In time I would come to realize I probably had the best job in the world.

The early eighties ushered in many changes at the Walt Disney Company. Our little creative group located in the Roy O. Disney Building suddenly became The Disney Publishing Group. The group consisted of publishing units such as Disney Press, Hyperion Books, and Disney Comics. Big shot executives from New York took charge of the prestige units but our comic book company was so lowly regarded our editors did a lot of their early work on packing boxes and shipping crates. Disney had given the artists and editors a firm deadline on getting the books to press. However no desks were available. As expected, Disney entered the world of comic book publishing with their usual snotty attitude. The company not only paid the cheapest page rates, they also refused to allow the contracted artists to retain their original art. Word of Disney's arrogance spread throughout the comics industry and before long, many competitors 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 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 comic strip. Even as the Disney executives continued their "synergy" lip service, Disney Comics received little support from the rest of the company. When the publishing unit failed to meet the inflated expectations - Disney Comics was immediately shut down. Launch a company - then shut it down, would be the business pattern of the Walt Disney Company throughout the nineties.

I continued to gain confidence as a writer and managed to published several children's books during this period. I finally began to feel comfortable in the world of publishing and was convinced my days of film making were probably over. 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 during the production of "The Lion King." Little did I know in the not too distant future I would be returning full time to Walt Disney Feature Animation. However, that’s another story.