Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Genius of HANK PORTER..

I was cruising thru sections of eBay a few nights ago.. When I came across a Seller that was auctioning off samples of 'Original Art', by Disney artist: Hank Porter.. Most of these, look to be developmental sketches.. Or perhaps, ideas that never made it Final Art.. But they're still mighty cool to look at!


After I attended Sheridan College in the early 1980's.. I spent some time working retail for 'The Dragon Lady' comic-book shop, here in Toronto.. It was then, that I first discovered Porter's work as a Designer of military insignia for various WW2 detachments. The designs would occasionally appear as full-page promos, in the older issues of 'LIFE Magazine' that we'd sell..

There was something about these Designs, that fascinated me.. Seeing familiar Funny Animals, acting in overtly aggressive ways.. These emblems seemed an ideal blending of Cartooning & Illustration disciplines. Iconic poses of animated creatures, delineated in rich colors & lush inklines!


Not long afterwards, I wrote to the Disney Archives, asking if they could help direct me to find more of this WW2 material? Their Archivist: David R. Smith wrote back a kind letter, stating that almost ALL of the Disney insignias were printed in a Stamp series once, designed to raise funds for the War Effort.. But that due to a lack of interest, little of this material has ever been republished by the Disney Company.. And he felt that there wouldn't be significant public demand, to reprint them now, etc.

Well, he must've received a few more inquiries, after mine.. Because only a few short years later (in 1992), 'Abbeville Press' published the terrific 'Disney Dons Dogtags' book! An album that I dearly love.. Yet I wish it had been more complete, too.. As it contains only a fraction of the overall artwork, actually created.


Hank Porter began running his own successful Commercial Art studio in Buffalo N.Y., in 1925. He later applied for a job at Disney, in 1936.. Where he became a valuable staff artist in their Publicity Art Department, 'til 1950.
From the very beginning of WW2, different military units began adopting divisional "mascots" as their representative insignia. And though both the 'Walter Lantz' & 'Warner Bros.' studios also contributed insignia designs,-- the lion's share of them, were still created by Hank Porter thru Disney Studios..
Porter headed up Disney's official 'Military Insignia' department.. Designing & drawing most of the emblems, himself. And supervised the work of others.. including, artist: Roy Williams. Simultaneous to this work, Porter also contributed artwork for many of the illustrated adaptations of Disney's 'SILLY SYMPHONY' cartoons; that appeared monthly in 'Good Housekeeping' magazine..

If you can still find the 'Disney Dons Dogtags' book.. I heartily recommend getting a copy!
To read (and SEE!) more about the career of Hank Porter (and others),-- I'd also direct you to visit the most-excellent David Lesjak BLOG entitled: 'Toons At War'..

See ya!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would have been very nice if you had contacted me before you POSTED various Preliminary Drawings that I had listed on eBay. The owner of this collection is very upset that you took it upon yourself to just post without asking permission. Nex time you copy private photographs, PLEASE ASK PERMISSION.

David said...

Thanks for mentioning my blog...I appreciate the link.

I too, love the work of Hank Porter. He was an excellent draftsman and could draw every major character spot-on.

I was very fortunate and was able to track down Hank Porter's two surviving children. His third child, daughter Diane, died almost three years ago.

The two surviving children sent me over 60 color and b/w 11x17 xeroxes of their father's work. Several images were included on each xeroxed page, so I have an excellent sampling of his military insignia and merchandise department work.

Porter's son also provided me with numerous other reference items, including a copy of the impressive resume he submitted with his application to work at Disneys, as well as numerous family photos and one montage of three pictures that shows Porter at work in his Buffalo commercial art studio.

I have amassed a database of almost 1,100 Disney military insignia. My goal is to find a publisher for the topic. There is a huge demand for a reference book showcasing both military and non-military images of his work.

I plan on including a chapter devoted to Porter and his work at Disney's in a revised issue of my book Toons At War, which I hope to complete by the fall of 2007.

So, thanks again for writing about Hank Porter and thanks again for mentioning my blog.

David said...

I also meant to add that I interviewed both Porter children extensively. His daughter worked as his assistant in the summer of 1944 and had some great insignia-related stories to tell.

Rich Dannys said...

anonymous - I think your displeasure would carry more weight with me, if you had had the courage to 'post' under a genuine identity..

Even so, I have a difficult time believing you would take such great umbrage with my reuse of the Auction JPEGs, here..

This Post was intended purely as a "celebration" of Hank Porter's own artwork. NOT the current owner of the collection, that is selling the artwork now, on eBay?

In any case,-- eBay is a very PUBLIC Forum (whether you realize it or not).. And my reposting of these JPEGs, falls well within the 'Fair Use' protocols, of current Copyright Law..

So you'll please forgive me, if I refuse to edit this Post!

david - I can't tell you how gratified I was, to read your Comments, here!! And, how appreciative you were, of the content!

After writing this Post,-- I made myself a mental note to Order the 'Toons At War' book, I saw on your Website?
What a nice coincidence, to have the principal BEHIND that Project, find (let alone drop by, for a visit!) my humble Blog..

Interesting information, re: Hank Porter & his career.. I truly hope you're able to publish that book on his work.. It sounds like you've done a substantial amount of Research already. I know I'd love a copy of it!

In any case,-- I DO promise to e-mail you privately, to Order the book in it's current form!

Thanks!!

Dominic Bugatto said...

Fun post , great drawings.

rajesh said...

wang dang update =D

Rich Dannys said...

I'm well overdue on an update..
I know, I KNOW! heh

Just finally got myself hooked-up with a cable connection.. And I guess I've still been too busy catching up on what I've been missing.. Rather than 'posting' new stuff, like I should be?

It's a-comin' tho..

Greer453 said...

Hi--I have to agree with "anonymous" regarding your posting of images from eBay auctions in which you didn't actually participate. No, I am not accusing you of any proprietary violations per se, but there is often a difference between what is strictly legal and what is right. You have at least two of my drawings posted, and if you had asked me in advance, I would have gladly given you permission to reproduce them and the many others I have been buying on eBay. Your fellow blogger David has done the same thing--he even went so far as to apply his own watermark over my drawing to discourage others from copying the image--as if he were the owner! Anyway, I will gladly share my Porter drawings with anyone who has the courtesy to ask me first.

DisneyDave said...

Hey Greer, I don't apply the watermark to discourage people from copying the art that is pictured. Quite the opposite. I use the watermark to direct people to my blog so that they can learn about this chapter in teh Disney Studio's history.

Do I have a hissy fit when people blatantly cut and paste paragraphs of text I have created on my blog and drop them into eBay listings? No. I hope they give me credit. Some times they do. Most times they do not. I'm just happy to share the info with others.

And I find it hypocritical for some to claim horros when others use "their" images, when they themselves have done the same. Gail used an image out of my book without permission in one of her listings, plus she has used images from the "Disney Dons Dogtags" book.

If anyone wants an image without the watermark I am more than happy to send them an email with the image sans watermark. (And as a matter of fact I have done this numerous times)

And by the way, any three year old with a rudimentary understanding of photoshop can erase the watermarks. Gail has been watermarking all of her auction pictures, but those markings can and have been erased by others. No big deal.

Any items I own are marked as such in the narrative attached to each post.

I also received a huge number of images of the drawings from Gail sent via email, before she started listing on eBay. Greer, you have no idea which drawings she sent, so you cannot comment with authority on whether or not the images I have posted were taken from eBay listings, or if I had those images beforehand.

The whole purpose of my blog is to share Porter's art with others and detail the Disney Studio's involvement in the war.

BTW, if you knew the real history of how the Porter estate was handled, I think you'd truly be disgusted.

In closing, I don't know who you are "Greer" as you are quite anonymous, but if you want to correspond, feel free to send me an email.

I've kept a database of who has bought what in Gail's auction, the prices paid, etc., so I guess I can just work backwards from the pictures posted on this blog and see who's bought what. That would at least give me an idea who you are.

In the meantime, enjoy my blog.

Rich Dannys said...

I didn't respond to that last posted Comment by "Greer", initially. Because frankly, I found the premise of the ideas in it, entirely ludicrous!
Yet, I'm glad that Dave stepped in, to add some clarity, just the same..

The drawings I've posted, were indeed all grabbed off of eBay. But well BEFORE the Final Bid was entered. And no, I didn't bother to follow up with e-mails to the winning bidder, to ask their "permission"..

I certainly would've done so, were I to have used the artwork.. towards some kind of personal financial gain. But this Blog is simply intended to share artwork & ideas, with the wider world..
I can't fathom why anyone would be so upset to see artwork THEY own, presented in this manner?!

If you check my CAF Gallery, you'll find examples of some of the comic-book 'Original Art' that I personally own.. Feel free to post it on your own Blog, if you have one..
I can promise that my reaction to your doing so, will be substantially less-silly & much more civil..

Greer453 said...

The lady (ladies, I should say) doth protest too much, methinks. Rich, I know you meant well in displaying the images, and like I said, I am happy to share copies of the Porter drawings I have purchased with interested parties. I didn't accuse you of a heinous crime--my point was simply that people who pay good money for unique works of art that are for the most part uncatalogued have a proprietary interest that should be respected. If you disagree, fine, but your difference of opinion does not make my position "silly," nor was I remotely uncivil in my tone. And David, I know you love to share your knowledge of Disney during World War II, and I think that part of it is terrific, since I am extremely interested in the subject myself. But you completely lose me when you paste a self-promotional watermark over other buyer's purchases. As you might put it, any three-year-old with a rudimentary understanding of reality isn't going to be mollified by the explanation that the watermark was put there for the greater good of the Disney enthusiast community. To convince me of that, you'd have to be selling copies of Toons at War at cost. And to Rich and David collectively, you both have seem quite agitated by the fact that "anonymous" and myself did not post under our own names (really, David, you get positively creepy about it at the end of your posting). But the fact that I know your names tells me absolutely nothing about either of you and lends no weight to your arguments, so I am not sure why you consider such information relevant. Using screen names is a very common practice--unlike courtesy.

Passionate Teacher said...

Hi there...I am a teacher at a private school in Chicago and one of my students is doing a report on Walt Disney. I told him that my great grandfather was an artist for Walt and that I would try to locate some of those photos online for him to see. As I stumbled on your blog I realized that Diane was my grandmother who passed away a couple of years ago and my father William is Diane's son. Either way we have several original artwork from Hank. As I just got off the phone with my father he just enlightened me that he did indeed send you xerox photos of his work. His original work is beautiful. My grandmother Diane told us that someone stole more of his work from her home. I wonder where it is today? Well thank you for keeping Hank alive.

Ed Jagodzinski said...

My wife puchased the Pluto insignia that you have on your blog. I misplaced the information that said what unit the insignia was designed for. I noticed that you mentioned you kept all that information. Could you please post that information? Thanks!

DisneyDave said...

Hello Ed.

The Pluto and Eaglet design was created in the fall of 1944 for the 5th Fighter Wing, 8th Radar Calibration Detachment.