Friday, October 3, 2014

Snow White and The Seven Dwarves, 1970s style

From the fifty-cent shelves at the local library, I present:


This is #8 in the 1970s iteration of "Disney's Wonderful World of Reading." I regularly pick up vintage Disney books for collage purposes, but I also enjoy seeing the stylistic flourishes of whatever era they were published in. The corporate art directors don't seem to be as harsh about sticking "to model" when it comes to children's book illustrations.

Unfortunately, the artists on these books were never credited. I guess we're to assume that Walt himself is drawing these things from beyond the grave. Perhaps he takes over the bodies of young interns in order to complete his earthly mission of safe, family-friendly storytelling.

The Seven Dwarfs are drawn fairly close to their movie appearances. Everything else about the pictures however, screams of the 70s to me. The line work, the beautiful color washes and something that is not quite definable: the tendency for spot illustrations to be womb-like, keeping the eye within a circular area.

There are also a few great drawings of the Wicked Witch. Coinciding with the general occult air and rise of "second wave" feminism, there were a number of witch-y books for sale during the decade, probably culminating in Erica Jong and Joseph A. Smith's fancy 1981 tome.

Not that there's anything feminist about this adaptation. The story is still about Snow White being rescued and married. No Anne Sexton or Angela Carter, here. The movie itself wasn't put into re-release until 1975, so for a few years this would be the main delivery system for the Disney version. Given the tenor of the time, it's no wonder that many young women would come to prefer the fantasy of subversive witches over the corporate presentation of the heroine as housewife. 


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