The Birth of Disney Fandom Part 3: The Disney Fanzinesby Jim Korkis, contributing writer
Disney fandom as we know it today began in the late-1960s through the early-1980s. Disney fans did not have many options to learn Disney facts, since less than a half-dozen books existed with any real information. Disney bibliophiles looked to magazines to fill in gaps about Disney facts and history.
Of course, there were the mainstream magazines, like Saturday Evening Post or National Geographic, that might do a feature article on Disney. There were also a variety of collector publications, comic book fanzines, and museum catalogs that might devote an entire issue to Disney like:
- The 34-page Lincoln Center’s Walt Disney 50th Anniversary Film Retrospective (July 9-August 4, 1973) program book with program notes by Dave Smith.
- The Library of Congress exhibition 40-page catalog, Building a Better Mouse, by Michael Barrier (November 21, 1978-January 30, 1979).
- Voice of Comicdom (June 1968) was a special issue devoted to the World of Walt Disney.
- Vanguard (1968), published by Robert Latona, featured the first published interview with Floyd Gottfredson by Malcolm Willits.
- Don and Maggie Thompson’s Comic Art No. 7 (1968), featuring the first published interview of Carl Barks by Malcolm Willits with supplemental correspondence.
- Private Screenings (1975), edited by John Cawley, was filled with articles about Disney 8mm films, plus a Dave Smith interview.
- Film Dope No. 12 (1977), published in United Kingdom, attempted to list every Disney film up to that time.
- Film Collecting No. 4 (1978) published in the United Kingdom and edited by David Wyatt, devoted an entire issue to Disney films.
Of course, most Disney fans eagerly awaited issues of the much loved and much missed Disney News for their primary information about the Disney Company.
Disney News/Disney Magazine (1965-2005)
The first issue of Disney News (winter 1965-66) was a subscription-only magazine published four times a year ($1 a year) for Magic Kingdom Club Families. It featured news and stories (sometimes recycled from official Disney publications) and, of course, was designed to get families excited about visiting Disneyland. The magazine continued to grow and was re-dubbed The Disney Magazine (Spring 1994) when it also became a magazine that was sold on newsstands for $2.95. It was still published quarterly but with expanded articles and pages. Sadly, the magazine ended with the Summer 2005 issue devoted to celebrating Disneyland’s 50th anniversary.
With the surge in Disneyana collecting, there was another newsletter that most Disney fans also received.
Disneyana Collector (1982-1987)
The first issue of this subscription newsletter was released Summer of 1982, published by Grolier Enterprises, with a mailing address of the Disney Studio in Burbank. Each issue would feature an artist or collector profile (sometimes both in a single issue) as well as a mail column, news blurbs, and brief articles on new Disney collectibles. Twenty issues were published with the last one (Vol. 5, No. 6) in Fall 1987.
However, the desire for more information was overwhelming as was the need to personally connect with others with similar interests. So, fans turned to “fanzines,” self-published, limited-print fan magazines. The great majority of Disney fans either collected comic books or toys and some of the first Disney fanzines were often just glorified sales/want lists with a sprinkling of trivia, badly photocopied pictures and not much substance like:
Walt Disney Fan Club Newsletter (1974)
The newsletter's three issues, published by Stephen Horn of Delaware, were several photocopied sheets of want/for sale lists plus an attempt at some information like a listing of the contents of early issues of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories and some trivia questions.
In the first two installments about the birth of Disney fandom, I detailed the history of two primarily West Coast organizations, The Mouse Club and the National Fantasy Fan Club (NFFC). They each had their own newsletters, The Mouse Club and the Fantasy Line Express. The NFFC still exists today and as a member, you have access to some of the back issues posted on their updated website.
Here is a brief listing of some of the other zines that in the early days would be in any true Disney’s fan collection:
Disney fandom owes a debt of gratitude to Disney historian Michael Barrier, who lit up the darkness with his pioneering research in animation and Disney history. (Not to mention all the attention he brought to Carl Barks.) He was and continues to be an inspiration to all of us who followed in the paths he blazed.
Funnyworld began as a self-printed mimeographed contribution (October 1966) to an amateur press alliance called Capa-Alpha, the very first comic book apa. The first issue of Funnyworld was 14 pages and the original focus was on funny animal comic books, usually those inspired by their animation counterparts.
Six months later (Funnyworld 5, April 1967), Barrier included in his fanzine his first animation information. Little did Barrier suspect that animation articles and interviews, especially Disney-oriented, would soon almost completely displace all talk of comic books. A year later (Funnyworld 9, 1968), the fanzine had expanded to 46 mimeographed pages and Barrier was selling the extra copies he printed for $0.50.
The summer of 1970 saw the release of Funnyworld 12. It was the first offset issue and sold for $1, and received its widest distribution, sometimes appearing in bookstores.
The magazine continued to be published sporadically until Funnyworld 16 (Winter 1974-75), which was intended as the final issue. Its infrequent publication caused it to become a money-losing situation and resulted in Barrier stopping the publication to concentrate on his research on a book about the history of animation.
Funnyworld was revived in 1977 when the magazine was sold to publisher Mark Lilien, while the editorial control remained with Barrier. However, after six issues, Barrier withdrew because of strong disagreements with the way the magazine was being handled. His withdrawal officially sounded the death knell for the magazine with issue No. 23 (Spring 1983).
The Duckburg Times (1977-1992)
Originally written and published by teenager Paul Anderson, beginning December 1977, The Duckburg Times, “Dedicated to the work of Walt Disney and Walt Disney Productions,” cost $1 an issue. It was a mixture of very short articles, reprinted material and traced drawings.
With issue No. 8 (October 1980), Frank and Dana Gabbard took over the publication and editing of the magazine and upgraded the format and content. Those issues included fascinating interviews with Disney artists and articles by writers like Brent Swanson, Andrew Lendaky, Steve Eberhar, Joe Torcivia, and me. The final issue was the double sized Nos. 24/25 published in August 1992.
Disneydom (March 1969)
An offset Disney fanzine published by Dan McAvoy, Disneydom was filled with articles on many different areas of Disney. Threats from Disney legal resulted in the second issue published in October 1969 being called A Fanzine (devoted to the work of Walt Disney). That second issue included a plea from Dave Smith, not yet a Disney archivist, for information to complete his Walt Disney bibliography that “will eventually be published though the format has yet to be decided upon.”
Mouse Rap Monthly (1988-circa 1995)
Mouse Rap was a few pages stapled with a single staple and began in November 1988 by Don Schockow of Ojai, Calif. He sent it free to a handful of people who were interested in Disneyana collecting. In January of 1990, he renamed the publication Mouse Rap Monthly and changed it into a magazine format and charged $25 for a year subscription. By the end of 1994, he had formed Rainbow Ridge Publishing that not only produced the magazine filled with news, but also started Theme Park Video Magazine, which was a one-hour video tape with information and stories about theme and amusement parks in the United States. At least four of those tapes were produced.
Magical Moments & Memories Disneyana Enthusiasts Club. (Early 1990s).
This publication was part of a larger club run by Sue Langbeer in the United Kingdom.
Ken Anderson’s Mouse Magic (1995)
This was a monthly magazine publication of IDEA™, the International Disneyana Enthusiasts Association, in San Francisco. Anderson had been the editor of the NFFC’s The Dispatch. This magazine lasted less than a year.
StoryboarD (1987- 1995)
In early 1987, a few Disney fans were sitting around talking about all things Disney. One of them was enthusiastic about a magazine he had just discovered on Civil War memorabilia. It was slick, with color photos, lists of dealers and more. Using that magazine as a template, StoryboarD was created (with the final “D” being large to suggest “Disney”). The first issue appeared the end of 1987. George Timmons was the original editor and publisher. However, since it was just a part time enterprise that quickly grew too large for the small group, by issue No. 6 (December 1988) it was taken over by Bobit Publishing.
Unlike other Disney fanzines, StoryboarD looked like a real magazine with slick pages, color photos and impressive graphics. Its focus was on all things Disney and became a popular location for animation galleries and collectible dealers to advertise.
The Fall 1990 issue was renumbered Vol. 1, No. 1 and renamed StoryboarD: The Art of Laughter (The Journal of Animation Art). Steve Fiott, who was an animation art collector and gallery owner (and folk musician), took over the publication of the magazine with his Laughter Publications Inc. While the primary emphasis remained Disney, Fiott expanded the focus to other animation studios and related collector products especially limited edition animation cels. The final issue was Vol. 6, No. 3 (May/June 1995). Fiott died June 6, 1995.
Fiott also started his own series of conventions called Disneyana Showcase. The first one was held at Pan Pacific Hotel in Anaheim May 20-22, 1994. The event had a mascot, a beaver named Wally (after Beaver Cleaver’s older brother in the popular television show), designed by animator Nik Ranieri.
The second Disneyana Showcase was held October 15-16, 1994 at the Inn at the Park. By 1995, the show expanded so there was a Disneyana Showcase East held in Virginia on April 30, and a Disneyana Showcase West held at the Inn at the Park in California on May 28.
In addition, Fiott published limited editions (less than 1,000 copies) of books like Van Arsdale France’s memoir of working at Disneyland, Window on Main Street (and an updated, expanded version was in the planning stages at the time of Fiott’s death), Ken Anderson’s children book Nessie and the Little Blind Boy of Loch Ness and Andreas Deja’s children book Puss’N’Boots.
Theme Park (Winter 1992-Summer 1993)
Steve Fiott also published four issues of a slick magazine that resembled his StoryboarD: The Art of Laughter. It focused on theme parks, not just Disney but Universal, Busch Gardens and more.
Just the Write Touch (1995)
Consultant and frequent contributor to StoryboarD: The Art of Laughter Doris DiFonzo tried to “keep the magic alive” of that magazine after Fiott’s passing with this single issue that was almost a clone of its inspiration. There was no second issue.
E Ticket (1986-2009)
One of the most beloved and most valuable Disney fanzines was The E Ticket, first published in Winter 1986 by Leon and Jack Janzen. These two brothers grew up in Southern California in the 1950s and 1960s, and wanted to recapture some of their memories of that time period by sharing photos, facts and stories of not only Disneyland, but Knott’s Berry Farm, Pacific Ocean Park and other venues. However, it gradually became focused solely on Disneyland.
It was Jack’s wife, Mary Ann who came up with the name of the magazine. The first issues were sent out anonymously because they were fearful of what response they might get from the Disney Company, and only charged three $0.22-cent stamps for those first issues. The first issue had a print run of 200 copies.
Glossy, coated paper was first used in issue No. 15 and limited interior color in No. 21. It was until No. 23 that the format became a new color cover and full interior color. While they shared the duties of editor, proofreader and art director, Leon Janzen did most of the writing while Jack Janzen painted the covers and did interior art.
It evolved a 14-page, photocopied double-stapled fanzine to a slick 46-page (or more) magazine with full-color that unfortunately ended with issue 46 (Summer 2009). The brothers had planned to “steam through”, as Leon said, to issue No. 50. Unfortunately, Leon Janzen died of a massive heart attack on September 9, 2003, just as issue No. 40 was completed. It took his brother another year to publish the next issue because he was so heartbroken.
In the Summer of 2009, he produced the final issue (No. 46) and invited friends to enjoy “one last ride” on the Griffith Park carousel where Walt had supposedly began thinking of place where a daddy and his two daughters could spend some time together. On December 31, 2009, Jack Janzen announced he had officially retired the magazine. The good news was that the Walt Disney Family Museum acquired all the assets of the magazine, including back issues and CD ROMs and sells them at their museum store.
There were two annuals (1988, 1991) featuring a mixture of new and reprinted material published in addition to a special very-limited edition Mr. Toad’s Enchanted Evening at Disneyland issue (October 1999) and three CD-ROMs that collected the first 24 issues along with some additional material. The index created for the magazine was produced single-handedly by long time Disney fan Jerry Edwards.
Persistence of Vision (1992-1998)
Ten issues of this groundbreaking and much-loved magazine were published by Paul Anderson. The magazine was intended to be called Walt’s World with a logo drawn by Disney Legend Ken Anderson. Just two days before taking the first issue to the printer, Paul Anderson received notice from Disney legal that the title was unacceptable so he had to quickly invent another title.
Beginning with the second issue, subscribers also got a homemade cassette tape filled with audio treasures from Paul Anderson’s collection. After the publication of the 10th issue, he seemed to disappear from public view because of family and health issues. Also, the research on Disney and World War II that he had put into the planned issue No. 11 has expanded into a definitive book on that subject being published soon. Along with Todd Pierce, he now hosts a website devoted to Disney history.
Tomart’s Disneyana Update (1994-Current)
Published by Tom Tumbusch (a frequent speaker and dealer at Mouse Club East Disneyana shows in the early days of Disney fandom), it is not just a supplement to the four-volume Tomart’s Illustrated Disneyana Catalog and Price Guide (1985) but a valuable historical resource for Disney fans and researchers. The current issue I have in my collection is No. 74. Fortunately, you can purchase an entire collection at reasonable prices. While some Disney fans only know of Tomart for the Disney pin collecting guides, there is much more to Tom and Tomart.
There were several publications devoted just to the work of artist Carl Barks who had an impressive career at the Disney Studio as a story man primarily on the Donald Duck cartoons and then left to work for Western Publishing writing and drawing Donald Duck comic books where he created the character of Uncle Scrooge.
The Barks Collector (1976-1990)
In August 1976, what started as a series of individual pages by John Nichols of Suffolk, Va., with a single staple, and primarily a listing to buy and sell Disney comic books became an offset quarterly magazine format with issue No. 6 (Oct. 1977), with articles in addition to the advertisements costing $1 an issue. The final issue was No. 42 (Spring 1990) and by then the cost of an issue was $3. In April 1983, the first and only Barks Collector Annual (with reprints from the German fanzine, Der Hamburger Donaldist) was published.
Nichols and his Bear Mountain Enterprises also established the non-profit Barks Foundation in 1983, a registered charitable foundation in the state of Virgina to honor the spirit of Barks’ duck stories, where contributions went to needy children. Eventually thousands of dollars were raised. In 1982, Nichols produced BarksCon, a two-day convention devoted to fans of Carl Barks. Being a dealer, Nichols also published The Barks Catalog which was a huge listing of Barks and Disney comic books for sale.
- Vacation in Duckburg (January 1971) published by Dan Lewonczyk in Connecticut. Its primary focus was the work of Carl Barks. The second issue was published April 1971.
- An Informal Biography of Scrooge McDuck (1974 Mirage Press) by Jack Chalker. Chalker used information found in the Scrooge stories to create a coherent fifty-seven page timeline of the character’s life with a bibliography by Kim Weston.
- Vacation in Duckburg No. 1 (June 1981). After turning over The Duckburg Times to Dana Gabbard, Paul Anderson tried publishing this fanzine but it only lasted one issue. Paul liked the name of the previous defunct fanzine of the same name and used it for this thirty-two page single issue publication costing a dollar.
- Barksburg (1982, two issues published). Dan McIntyre of Pennsylvania wrote everything. $1.50 for several sheets stapled together.
- Scrooge Hunter (1992) was one issue published by Pat Hanifin of California showcasing his impressive Uncle Scrooge collection of toys. He only printed 50 copies. In 1995, after he moved to Oklahoma, Hanifin published The Duck Hunter with articles and photos of several Uncle Scrooge collections and followed it will a second issue that featured 100 more pages of the same.
This article doesn’t discuss all the collector’s magazines, animation magazines and fanzines and dealer auction catalogs (like the wonderful ones by Howard Lowery) that contained information about Disney animation and memorabilia. That may be a story for another time. In the interests of full disclosure, my earliest writing about Disney history appeared in some of these fanzines as did the writing of other Disney historians recognized today for their groundbreaking contributions.