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Walt Before Mickey: Disney's Early Years, 1919-1928 by Timothy S. Susanin

Timothy S. Susanin Looks at Walt Disney's Successes and Failures as an Artist and Animator

A review by Charles Solomon

When the extraordinary success of Steamboat Willie made Walt Disney an overnight sensation in 1928, he'd already spent nearly a decade working in animation. During those years, he'd had successes and failures, as Timothy S. Susanin recounts in great detail in his new book Walt Before Mickey.

In 1919, while Disney and his friend Ub Iwerks were working as commercial artists in Kansas City, they taught themselves animation. Disney began exploring the medium with the "Newman Laugh-O-Grams," a series of one-minute topical cartoons for local theater owner Frank Newman. He quit his job and started a studio with money borrowed from friends and relatives. Although the studio went broke, Disney completed the live action/animation Alice's Wonderland, then joined his brother Roy in Los Angeles.

Distributor Margaret Winkler offered Disney a contract for a series based on Alice that would continue the premise of a live-action little girl in a cartoon setting. The series proved successful...



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