Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pay Your Dues

Included amongst the papers Ed Smith entrusted to me was a stack of "The Animator" -the West Coast union newsletter -from the mid 1940s.

They're in rough condition, very brittle. So brittle, they break apart when touched, like a teenager's lonesome heart.

I'm planning on photocopying them as an inexpensive means of preservation (of the information, at least).

This issue is from January 1945. The war was winding down (Victory would be declared in Europe on May 8 and, of course, we all know what happened on August 6 of that year), many arists and animators were still on active duty overseas (in the future I'll reprint some of their letters).

Most of the front page of this one sheet is dedicated to updates on the negotiations at each studio for a new contract. Since the War was still being waged, negotiations were under the oversight of the War Labor Board. Only the big studios were organized- Disney, Warners', MGM, Screen Gems, Walter Lantz and "PALS" (which I assume was George Pal).

The Disney strike was four years earlier but the tension was still evident in the newsletter.

The Disney update alludes to a Union grievance regarding the classification of an artist in the Story Department. It uses the feminine pronoun. I wonder if it was Mary Blair. How many other women would have been anywhere near story at that time?

She was re-classified as "Story Specialist".

Also note: members would be fined $5 if they did not attend at least one general meeting every three months.

A few interesting bits on the back page.

"Service Ribbin" [sic]. Apologies are given for the "magazine" not being finished. Sounds like a collection of gag comics by animation union members -possibly as a War ("ribbin" -get it) benefit. I would be interesting to see the final product.
From "Inbetweens": "LANTZ BOWLING TEAM now leading Universal Studio League". Also a bunch of birth and wedding and sundry announcements from Union members including soldiers on furlough and sadly news of artists such as Major Willard Bowsky, formerly of Fleischers', killed in action and Marvin Firotkin, former cameraman of Jam Handy, reported missing in action on the Western Front...

1 comment:

David Nethery said...

There were a few other women working in story or story/visual development at Disney in the late 30's and in the 1940's aside from Mary Blair.

Possibly Bianca Majolie , Sylvia Moberly-Holland , or Retta Scott who all worked in the Story Dept. at Disney. (Retta Scott was also an animator at Disney ; for many years she was one of the only women at Disney's who was officially designated as a full- fledged animator.) There may have been others. Dorothy Ann Blank was a writer who worked on a number of Disney projects, including Snow White. (I think that Snow White may be her only official screen credit; as you know many people did not receive screen credit for their work on Disney shorts in the 30's and 40's). I'm pretty sure that Dorothy Ann Blank also worked on Bambi.
I'm not sure when she left Disney.

Thanks for preserving these documents. I hope you'll scan and post some more.