The Disney Bros.: The Fabulous Story of Walt and Roy

NBM. Dec. 2020. 112p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781681122663.
Gr 9 Up–As a counter to the plethora of idealized biographies of the Disney empire’s sibling founders, this nuanced graphic profile doesn’t paint them as out and out villains—but it does acknowledge Walt’s ruthless mania for total control of his productions and the possibility that he was an FBI informant during the McCarthy era, not to mention the warm reception Roy received on a business trip to Nazi Germany. The language is occasionally rough, too, as Walt fulminates about being “screwed over” by business partners and rejects naming his soon to be iconic mouse “Mortimer” because it sounds “fruity.” Using a cartoon style reminiscent of that in classic Disney shorts, Ruiz focuses on the two men to the near exclusion of their families, their associates, or even passing reference to most of their works. Though he inserts frank scenes of the Disney boys with their physically abusive father, he is generally oblique with biographical details, only presaging Walt’s early death from lung cancer with increasingly frequent scenes of him lighting up, for example, and leaving Roy just months before his death sitting alone on a bench in Florida’s newly opened Walt Disney World. A prose afterword analyzing the Disney formula for enduring success provocatively compares the Mouse to another potent cultural symbol, the Nazi flag.
VERDICT Readers who grew up steeped in the “Magic Kingdom” version of the legend may be in for a rethink.

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