Friday, January 05, 2007

Jack Hannah's Adventures in Four Color

Disney Legend Jack Hannah is easily one of the veterans of the Disney Studio I admire most. He truly defined Donald Duck in the character's later animated years, and was key in the development of a wide variety of supporting characters, most notably mischievous chipmunks Chip ‘n Dale, and Brownstown Park residents Humphrey Bear and Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore, who all went on to become stars themselves. Today marks the 94th anniversary of Jack’s birth in 1913. In a post from last October, I commented on my two favorite Hannah shorts, Toy Tinkers and No Hunting.

Hannah’s contributions to Disney comics are not quite as well known as his film and television credits, but are notable nonetheless. His most famous effort in four color was his collaboration with Carl Barks on the artwork for the landmark 1942 Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold. While Pirate Gold is most commonly identified with Barks, he and Hannah split the assignment 50/50. The pair worked from a script by Bob Karp, that was in turn based on storyboards for Morgan’s Ghost, a shelved feature that would have starred Mickey, Donald and Goofy.Hannah did a handful of other comic book assignments throughout the 1940s, two of the most notable being the cereal giveaways Donald Duck Pilots a Jet Plane and Donald Duck and the Pirates, the latter essentially being a remake to some extent of Pirate Gold.

Another remake of Pirate Gold reflected an interesting coincidence involving Hannah. The comic book Woody Woodpecker #76, published by Western Comics in 1962, derived a good portion of its story content from the original Pirate Gold. At that same time, Hannah was doing work on various theatrical cartoons at the woodpecker’s home, Walter Lantz Studios.