1919 - Walt Disney returned from a stint as an ambulance driver for the
Red Cross Ambulance Corp and began looking for work as a cartoonist. Initially,
he wanted to land a job as a political cartoonist, but, unable to find work
in that arena, he took a job in advertising art at the Pesmen Rubin Commercial
Art Studio. There, he met another enterprising young artist, Ubbe Iwwerks
(he later shortened his name to Ub Iwerks) and the two became fast friends.
The two decided to go into business together and formed Iwerks-Disney
Commercial Artists. (They had considered the name "Disney-Iwerks" but rejected
it as they thought it sounded too much like an eyewear factory.) The enterprise
only lasted a couple of months, though, when Disney landed a job with the
Kansas City Film Ad Company (later to be known as the Kansas City Film Ad
Company.) Walt persuaded them to hire Ub on as well.
Disney was doing crude animation for Film Ad, but was frustrated by some
of the limitations imposed on him. So, at nighttime in his own garage studio,
he began making his own films which he sold to the Newman Theater Company.
And thus the Newman Laugh-O-Grams were born.
In the beginning, the Laugh-O-Grams were only about a minute long. Titles
included "Cleaning Up!!?", "Kansas City Girls are Rolling Their Own Now",
"Take a Ride Over Kansas City Streets" and "Kansas City's Spring Cleanup."
Disney based his subject matter, and won over the Kansas City audience,
on problems and corruption within the local government. Once these proved
successful, he moved on to longer shorts, using well known fairy tales and
children's stories as his subjects.
Only a few of these shorts have survived to the present time. But they
made Disney's mark, even if only locally, and started him on his way.
(Note : Synopsis on all of these shorts pretty much follow the traditional
stories, with the usual liberties. Besides the shorts listed here, Disney
also made a few 300 foot shorts from 1922-1923 called "Laffets" that combined
live action and animation. They included "Golf in Slow Motion", "Descha's
Tryst with the Moon", "Aesthetic Camping", "Reuben's Big Day", "Rescued",
"A Star Pitcher", "The Woodland Potter", and "A Pirate for a Day." There
was also one Sing-a-Long reel released in 1923 for the song "Martha: Just
a Plain Old Fashioned Name.")