by Didier Ghez
When I lived for the first time in Madrid, sixteen years ago, the city was still full of small traditional shops, which have now disappeared: cobblers, tailors, fried chicken stores,… and small antique stores. One of those small antique stores in the historic center of Madrid used to be one of my favorite destinations on weekends, when my friends were having their siestas or gathered for a drink. I spent almost all of my very limited student budget on the some of the items that it sold: Disney related, of course, pre-1945 obviously.
One of the magazines I picked up at the time was not from Spain, but from neighboring Portugal. It was dated August 19, 1933 and I loved its cover featuring a caricature of Mickey and Greta Garbo. No article about Walt inside, unfortunately. I would not have been able to read it anyway as I did not speak Portuguese at the time. A rare magazine with a very unusual cover. That’s all I knew about this item. I did not notice the almost unreadable signature at the top right of the image.
We are now in 2007, fourteen years later, in New York at John Canemaker’s place. I am meeting John – whose work I have admired and respected for years – for the first time and can not help but ask him about his upcoming book, Two Guys Named Joe: Master Animation Storytellers Joe Grant and Joe Ranft. Always the gentleman John takes the opportunity to show me the illustrations he has selected for it. Among them a Portuguese magazine called Cinéfilo featuring a caricature of Mickey and Greta. Yes, the small signature that I could not read did say “Joe Grant” when you looked at it carefully.
This cover is particularly interesting as Joe Grant had not yet joined the Disney Studio in 1933. He had only been hired by Walt on a freelance basis to tackle the caricatures on Mickey’s Gala Premier. Which is probably also why the Studio commissioned him to create this exclusive cover for Cinéfilo. Why the Studio would want to create a special cover for magazine in such a small country as Portugal is puzzling, but is also the sign that for Disney at the time all markets were equally worth of his attention. Believe me, I like this philosophy and why I believe this cover is a worthwhile tribute to both Walt and Joe.