The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Subversive Art #1:
Disneyland Memorial Orgy
(by Wally Wood)


One of the great flourishes in satiric art, illustrator Wally Wood's poster, Disneyland Memorial Orgy, was in fact a work conceived and commissioned by veteran radical Paul Krassner for his venerable underground newspaper The Realist. In those days, The Realist was operating as something of a New Yorker for the barricades, with an emphasis on cultural satire (their contributors in this period included the likes of Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce), and Wood's twilighted vision of a chaotic memorial bacchanal for Uncle Walt within the shadow of the Magic Kingdom, which was published anonymously in The Realist's May, 1967 issue, remains an essential part of that paper's legacy; a strangely powerful work of cultural subversion, rendered as artfully as it was gleefully.

In a later account, Krassner detailed his initial thinking behind the work:

"After Walt Disney died, I somehow expected Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the rest of the gang to attend his funeral, with Goofy delivering the eulogy and the Seven Dwarves serving as pallbearers. Disney's death occurred a few months after Time magazine's famous 'Is God Dead?' cover, and I realized that Disney had served as God to that whole stable of imaginary beings who were now mourning in a state of suspended animation.

"Disney had been their creator, and had repressed their baser instincts, but now with his departure, they could finally shed their cumulative inhibitions and participate together in an unspeakable Roman binge, to signify the crumbling of an empire.

"I contacted Wally Wood, who had illustrated my first article for Mad, and he unleashed their collective libido, demystifying an entire genre in the process. I told Wally my idea, without being specific. In a few months, he presented me with the artwork, unsigned. I paid him $100. The Disneyland Memorial Orgy was a Realist center spread that became our most infamous poster."

Oddly enough, the Powers-That-Were at Disney elected not to sue. Perhaps they were still reeling and recovering from their founder's passing within the last year, or perhaps they simply didn't want to give Krassner and his paper the publicity which would have certainly follwed such an action; whatever the case, they let the image stand unchallenged. That is, until an inspired bootlegger a few years after the fact began creating and marketing Black Light posters utilizng Wood's masterwork. Only then did Disney seek redress in the courts for what they characterized as wanton theft and a cruel debasement of their cherished animated iconography. In a dramatically limp denoument, the parties eventually reached an out of court settlement.

Wally Wood appears to have gotten away with his part in the burlesque scot-free, and these days Paul Krassner's selling reproductions of the poster on his website (The Realist folded a few years ago after a long and honorable run on the so-called underground publishing wheel). It is our hope here at If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger . . . that a new generation of subversives will find such succor as there is to be had in images like this and will go on to feed the tributary of cultural dissent by producing their own.

7 comments :

Rob said...

One of my favorite Wally Wood pieces - he was a comics God, possibly at the top of the pantheon. Witzend and Sally Forth - the original sensual naif - just jumped out at you with quailty work. His work for Mad was unrivalled, and this poster was a cherished item for years in my brother's room - he got to keep it when he moved out, dammit, so I had to wait 'til I could buy one of the various bootlegs out there. The scuttlebutt at the time had Disney hunting hi and low to wipe it off the face of the Earth, as quietly as possible, so when you boght one, it almost made one look one's shoulder for the Mickey Mouse equivalent of black helicopters.


BCNU

sleepybomb said...

possibly one of the funniest pieces of art . . . thanks guys!

swac said...

I agree...I haven't seen this in years. Poor Wally...another candidate for People Who Died, if that ever comes back from the dead.

Read your Sex Pistols review SB, je suis tres jalouse. I've seen the Damned (which is my fave Brit punk band) but still, the Pistols in their prime...my hat's off.

slyboots2 said...

I read somewhere that several animators at the Disney studio did a gag reel of Snow White gettin it on with some dwarves. Walt saw it- laughed- and canned the lot of them. And the reel disappeared into oblivion. It's no doubt up there with the other holy grail the director's cut of The Magnificent Ambersons for desirability...Walt had no sense of humor re. sex and his creations. No sir.

Tom Sutpen said...

Slyboots2 wrote:

I read somewhere that several animators at the Disney studio did a gag reel of Snow White gettin it on with some dwarves. Walt saw it- laughed- and canned the lot of them. And the reel disappeared into oblivion.

*****
I've heard that story as well, but I have to wonder why the animators would have shown it to Disney in the first place. He'd never exactly gone out of his way to endear himself to his employees and it would have been a long stretch indeed to assume he'd have reacted positively to anyone, let alone his animators, burlesquing his studio's creations.

It's no doubt up there with the other holy grail the director's cut of The Magnificent Ambersons for desirability...Walt had no sense of humor re. sex and his creations. No sir.

*****
He had no sense of humor regarding his creations, period. I'm still waiting for someone to write a comprehensive biography of Disney that lays out a full canvas portrait of the man. Until that day comes, there's still Richard Schickel's extraordinary 1967 study, "The Disney Version"

Tom Sutpen said...

Stephen wrote:

Read your Sex Pistols review SB, je suis tres jalouse. I've seen the Damned (which is my fave Brit punk band) but still, the Pistols in their prime...my hat's off.

*****
Hey, can I read that, too? Pleeeease? I'm used to being perpetually 'jalouse' of other writers.

swac said...

Hey Tom, just click on Sleepybomb's name, and you'll get taken to his profile page and blog, where he prints his recollection of seeing the Pistols in Baton Rouge, with a couple of photos. Amazing stuff.

As for the Snow White porno...there *is* a pornographic Snow White cartoon, but it was done in Germany, imitating the Disney style, albeit rather crudely. I suppose over the years it could have been mistaken for the work of actual Disney artists.

I'm more curious about the origins of Buried Treasure...the infamous '30s porno short featuring the adventures of the significantly endowed Everready Everhard (who sort of looks like Disney...well, he has a moustache). I don't have a copy at present, but it looked like something that came out of a New York studio...maybe not Fleischer, but possibly Mintz or Lantz or something like that. Anyone know anything about it?