Suspended Animation #318
So many talented people worked at the Disney Studios over the decades that is hard to keep track of all of them. For most of us they may be just a name that we saw on the credits of a cartoon. Some never even got that much recognition.
Today, I thought I would focus on Dick Shaw and Brice Mack who were accomplished cartoonists, good friends and worked during the Golden Age of Disney Animation at the Disney Studio and may not be well known.
Dick Shaw started work at Disney in 1941 and left in 1955. He wrote the Mickey Mouse comic strip drawn by Floyd Gottfredson from 1942-1943. He was a close friend of VIP Partch and they both loved boating. Shaw’s boat was called the Michigan.
As fellow columnist Devon Baxter has recently pointed out: “Shaw, a freelance cartoonist who wanted to get into the animation field, met Partch at a bar near the Burbank studio. Partch worked as an assistant animator in the early 1940s and wanted to pursue magazine cartooning, but hesitated to send his artwork to publishers.“Shaw sent Partch’s sketches in secrecy to Gurney Williams, the humor editor of Colliers, and they were accepted. In March 1941, Shaw received a job at the studio as an errand boy, but quickly rose through the ranks and became an in-betweener. Shortly after, his gag cartoons gained notice and he was shifted to the story department. Shaw often invited Partch (and other Disney staffers) on his tugboat and at his home on Balboa Island.”
With Partch, Shaw wrote the Donald Duck cartoon Duck Pimples (1945) and with Bill Berg did the story for Donald’s cartoon No Hunting (1955). He is also credited with Dick Kinney with the story for The Brave Engineer (1950) about Casey Jones as well as several other Disney cartoons including Make Mine Music (1946) Starting in 1955, he went to UPA as a storyman (on Mr. Magoo) until 1962.
Starting around 1963, Shaw was the humor editor for the magazine Orange County Illustrated. Thanks to Shaw the magazine had first rate cartoonists who were all Shaw’s buddies such as VIP, Phil and Frank Interlandi, John Dempsey and Matt Murphy.
Shaw’s main source of income was his relationship with the Lockheed Corporation. Lockheed published at least 2000 cartoons and illustrations by Dick Shaw (plus three or four cartoon collections that are difficult to locate today) including Flyby: A Parade of Chuckles from Lockheed that is an accumulation of “the best from five years of Lockheed Reports” that was sent to “Lockheed’s military friends”. Another compilation was Way Outer Space with Dick Shaw.
Shaw’s daughter Casey [Catherine] Shaw Shanley recalled: “I remember many funny stories about the strike at Disney, and I think Hank Ketcham was living with my parents at the time. I was born in 1956 so they were old stories when I heard them, but no one could tell stories better than those guys! I remember my mother saying how grateful she was that the Union gave milk to mothers with babies during the strike.”Dick Shaw, Virgil Partch and Disney background artist Brice Mack among other cartoonist friends had many notorious parties and adventures. In 1950, for a FORD TIMES magazine article, they drove in the first Mexican Road Race. Another time they put a train car on a barge and partied as they drove it to Catalina Island.
Mack and his cartoon comrades once put wheels on a boat and partied as they drove it to Las Vegas where a crane waited to lower it into the pool of the Sands hotel.
In 1961, they held a party on the last Red Car ride from Los Angeles to Long Beach, dancing to the accompaniment of animator pal Ward Kimball’s Dixieland Jazz band, The Firehouse Five Plus Two.
Some wonderful examples of Shaw’s newspaper cartooning for the Redwood Weekly Gazette (a small California newspaper) with other examples of newspaper strips by Disney Studio artists as well including Jack Bradbury and Dick Lundy from 1950-1951 is at this link.
Mack and Shaw were the founding members of “The Balboa Island Punting and Skulling club” and organized the first character boat parade.
Brice Mack had a career spanning five decades. He painted backgrounds for Fantasia, Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and many others.
Mack also worked as a writer in the story department and did illustrations for various Disney projects including a Peter Pan children’s book, and painting a Peter Pan mural in Captain Hook’s pirate ship at Disneyland which was completed just prior to the park’s opening.
Animation historian Harvey Deneroff did this interview with Mack.
During WW2 Mack left Disney in 1942 and became a pioneering navigator for the Air Transport Command. He delivered aircraft, cargo, and personnel throughout the world until the end of the war.
After the war, in 1945, Mack returned to Disney. In 1954 he left to start Era productions, a commercial production company specializing in animated commericals and later Unicorn Prods as well as continuing to consult for Disney until roughly a decade before his death.
In addition to working for Disney, Brice also did freelance illustrations, articles and cartoons for magazines including Ford Times, Colliers, and True. One article he wrote and illustrated was about a new activity called “skin-diving”. Brice was an early pioneer of skin diving and made his own equipment. He loved diving for abalone and lobster in the rocky coves of Catalina Island.
Cartoonist Virgil Partch came to Southern California in 1937 and studied at the Chouinard Art Institute in California. He got a job at the Disney Studios as an office boy. In 1938 he became an animator and married Helen. After taking part in the Disney Studio strike in 1941, Partch was fired and started submitting his cartoons to various newspapers.
This watercolor drawing was done sometime in 1941/1942. and featured caricatures of some of the people he worked with at Disney.
Left to right: Sam Cobean, Tony Rivera, Bill McIntyre, Vip Partch, Reginald Massie (foreground), Dick Shaw. Titled Old Inbetweeners Refuse To Fade Away, this was done while the five men would have been in their late twenties to early thirties.
Sam Cobean who became a noted magazine cartoonist was in charge of publicity for the 1941 Disney strike. Tony Rivera was Grim Natwick’s assistant on Snow White. He worked for UPA, John Sutherland and DePatie-Freleng. He was one of the original Flintstones layout artists, and continued working for Hanna-Barbera until shortly before his death in 1986.
Bill McIntyre was in and out of the animation business for many years. Virgil “Vip” Partch went on to fame and fortune as a magazine cartoonist, and doing the newspaper panel comic Big George.
Reg Massie worked for George Pal, designing several of the Puppetoons such as John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946) and the “Rome-Owww and Julie-Cat” puppetoon sequence in the all-star Paramount feature Variety Girl (1947). He went on to be an art director for magazines.
Dick Shaw, as I have mentioned, was a storyman (1941 -1955) at the Disney Studio and later went on to be a successful magazine cartoonist.