Monday, March 1, 2010

The Pre-War Ladies of the Ink & Paint Club

An interesting article I read in Vanity Fair (weird magazine for me to be reading, I know):

"Behind the breakthrough magic of Walt Disney’s first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and his other 30s and 40s classics—Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi—toiled as many as 100 young women, the inkers and painters, working from dawn to dusk on thousands of cels that brought his dreams to life. The author recaptures their white-gloved esprit de corps, and a golden age of Disney that would be disrupted by strike, World War II, and, eventually, the Xerox machine."

It's a really cool profile of the ink & paint department of Walt Disney Studios in the early days of their feature animation in the 30s and 40s. One of the most interesting aspects is the accepted sexism that went on in those days, not unlike the popular and highly-rated cable TV series Mad Men. The department consisted entirely of young women, and it seems as though the male animators were almost encouraged to flirt with them. Look at Walt's invitation to the company Christmas party:

"All fillies should come in slacks or other very informal attire. Of course, if you want to be glamorous in a little satin or velvet guimpe for your favorite animator, that’s your privilege."

They worked like dogs, but the result was glorious. I know it's ridiculous to pine for the past when the modern computerized systems are so much faster, cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient, but doggone it, the result sure looked great.


  1. I loved when Don Draper said "I will not be spoken to that way by a woman!", and then he ended up bedding that same chick. The one whose father owned the department store.

  2. Didn't see that episode. But I like the sound of it.