Snow White artwork Ask Dave
Q : I have some old artwork from the early days of Disney Animation that I was hoping you might be able to shed a little light on. The piece is a sketch with watercolor of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Now, I've seen similar prints that were used as promotional fan cards at the time the movie was released, but this is the real deal. Up close, you can see very plainly that it is hand-drawn and colored, as opposed to being a print. There are erased guidelines throughout and around each of the figures. It lacks the richer color and shading that the prints had, and of course it's void of the WDP trademark stamp that adorned all distributed copies. Furthermore, I've got a note explaining that the piece is an ""original Disney"" gifted to a family relative of Walt's on his mother's side--Rilla Hussey. Ms. Hussey then passed the gift along to a young piano student of hers in 1939. I came into possession of it many years later by a fortunate accident. It's an amazing piece of animation history, and I'm very proud to be its current caretaker. I was wondering if you might be able to tell me a little more about these fan card prints that were seemingly popular at the time--what relation this piece might have to them--what artist may be responsible for this piece, etc. I also wasn't sure about the signature. I assumed that an animator probably signed Walt's name, but didn't know if you could tell by the handwriting which one, or if there's a chance Walt himself may have been responsible for the signature, considering the piece seems to be a one-off, and a gift for a family member, at that.
Ryan, Indianapolis, Indiana
A: From your photo, I cannot tell if your item is artwork or the printed fan card. It does look exactly like the fan card, all of which showed the erased guidelines, and your item may be faded. The signature was most likely done by Disney artist Hank Porter.
Stephen, Saugus, Massachusetts
A: The Disney company does not have an official vision statement, but Disney CEO Robert Iger has stated that his vision for the company focuses on three fundamental pillars: generating the best creative content possible; fostering innovation and utilizing the latest technology; and expanding into new markets around the world.
Kimberly, New York, New York
A: The Walt Disney Archives has a large collection of Kem Weber’s designs. You can contact the Archives at
Q : My question concerns the early Disney artist Henry Lyon Porter (1900–1951). Hank Porter was born and raised around here in Albion, New York, one of the Erie Canal towns near my suburban Rochester home. I am attempting to gather biographical information about Hank Porter's career at the early Disney Company which began in 1936 with his Disney hiring and move from Buffalo, New York, to Glendale, California, and concluded in October 1951 at Mr. Porter's untimely passing, sadly, due apparently to degenerative chronic ailments. I am aware that Hank Porter—who had an office in the Disney promotions department—was Mr. Disney’s “go-to guy” for original cartoon character designs (and, in some cases, redesigns.) For example, supposedly, Hank Porter is responsible for the redesign on Dick Lundy and Fred Spencer’s originating design for Donald Duck. My aim, my goal, is to write a detailed monograph, consisting of several pages of biographical information about Hank Porter’s particular workdays at the Disney Company (1936–1951). During World War II, Hank Porter and his Disney colleague Big Roy Williams (who would be a on-screen cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950s) created original character designs for the U.S. Military Insignias. One Hank Porter mascot/ insignia supposedly caught the approving eye of General Claire Chennault for his “Flying Tigers” squadron of military transport planes which flew the Pacific and into Southeast Asia. General Chennault gave special commendations to Hank Porter and Roy Williams for their “Flying Tigers” insignia design.
Mark, Rochester, New York
A: We cannot add much to what you already know about Porter. After he was hired at Disney in 1936 as a publicity artist, he penciled and inked several of the Disney Sunday comic pages for newspapers (from 1937–40). With the coming of World War II, he designed insignias for over 1,000 military units.
Eury, Groton, CT
A: Disney designed over 1,200 insignias for various military units (including submarines) during World War II. One book which pictures many of them is Donald Dons Dogtags (1992); perhaps you will be able to find a copy. There have not been any books that have published illustrations of all of the Disney-designed insignias.
Michael, Beverly Hills, California
A: We appreciate your offer, but Disney does not acquire artifacts of Anaheim history. Have you tried the Anaheim Museum?