In 1934, Good Housekeeping Magazine and Disney began a partnership that would last ten years and prove very beneficial to both parties. Good Housekeeping would publish a Disney page in each issue of their magazine, taking advantage of the ever-growing popularity of the animated characters that Disney was creating. On Disney's side, it gave them an opportunity to publicize their upcoming animated short features in a magazine that had a readership of over two million. Thus with the April 1934 issue, Disney's Silly Symphonies would make their first appearance with "The Grasshopper and the Ants". The Disney page would tell the story of each cartoon in verse with all new illustrations provided by Disney staff artist Tom Wood.
This lavish book by David Gerstein reprints all ten years worth of the Disney pages from Good Housekeeping in an over-sized, breathtaking format, printed on heavy glossy stock. But the book is much more than just the Disney page reprints. The book also features a synopsis of each of the animated shorts featured on the Disney Page, as well as excerpts from interviews with Disney talent, pictures of rare presskit material, storyboard sketches, reprints from newspaper and foreign adaptations of the shorts, and even vintage merchandise made to coincide with the release of the films. For "The Tortoise and the Hare", the book reprints 8 pages of the newspaper strip that adapted the story.
Mickey Mouse makes his first of many appearances in January 1935 with "The Band Concert". Other Mickey shorts featured in the book include "Alpine Mickey", "Mickey's Magic Hat", "Clock Cleaners", "The Brave Little Tailor" and "Mickey's Magic Lamp". Not to be outdone, Donald Duck is featured in numerous Good Housekeeping pages for his shorts like "Donald's Ostrich", "Good Scouts", "Donald's Gold Game", "The Hockey Champ", and many more. Throughout the book the reader will be treated to rare illustrations from such great Disney artists as Al Taliaferro and Carl Barks. The book provides readers the unique opportunity to peer into the past at Disney's creative and marketing process for these shorts.
When Disney was planning the release of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", Good Housekeeping realized that a mere one page with verse and a few illustrations would not do justice to this full-length feature and thus in November and December of 1937, the page count was increased for the Disney page and instead of verse, a complete text novelization was published. The story was written by Dorothy Ann Blank, one of the screenwriters for the film and featured illustrations by renowned Swedish illustrator Gustaf Tenggren. Tenggren was already a well known artist and had done previous illustrations for Good Housekeeping prior to the Snow White novelization. Good Housekeeping would again expand their page count for the Disney section in October and November 1939, this time for the upcoming release of Pinocchio.
The wonderful aspect of "Mickey and the Gang" is its broad appeal. It will be a book that fans of Disney animation, comics, memorabilia, and history will all be able to appreciate. David Gerstein has helped shed the spotlight on a forgotten and yet very important period in Disney animation history. Gemstone has truly produced a fascinating and beautiful book for Disney fans everywhere. My highest recommendation!
Reviewed by Tim Janson