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

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

Alex Nikolavitch and Felix Ruiz, trans. from the French by Montana Kane. NBM, $19.99 (112p) ISBN 978-1-68112-266-3

While Nikolavitch (H.P. Lovecraft: He Who Wrote in the Darkness) aims to monumentalize the brotherhood of Roy and Walt Disney, this dramatic biography trains its focus on the grasping, brilliant, brutally cruel man whose name lasted as company founder. This Walt is the Steve Jobs of the mid-20th century: a middling craftsman who redefined his trade through vision, micromanagement, and stubbornness. While Ruiz’s quirky lines, raised eyebrows, and jaunty colors echo the style of what the Disney brothers put on-screen, the engine of the story is more business than art. Roy did the money and is mostly presented gnashing his teeth at Walt’s extravagances. Walt’s only setting is full-speed ahead (“We’re idling, gentleman!” he shouts in frustration at his artist bullpen) and he erupts at any industry interruption, whether unionizing animators (“they’re all commies”) or WWII (“their stupid war!”). Nikolavitch frames Walt’s drive and imagination as twinned reaction and homage to his unhappy Missouri childhood, an ersatz Americana vision of which was mined for his posthumous Florida theme park. The result manages to capture Walt’s genius without skirting his “Uncle Scrooge” side. Disney loyalists may not appreciate this critical take, but open-minded graphic bio fans will be treated to a peppy tale of a complicated American icon. (Dec.)