Monday, February 24, 2014

Between Books - More Cute Stories Volume 3: Museum of the Weird

As a Disney fan and a comic book guy, I've been paying a lot of attention lately to the Museum of the Weird.  I have enjoyed the behind the scenes story of this old idea that has been dusted off by Marvel Comics to become Disney Kingdom's Seekers of the Weird.  So when I saw that Rolly Crump had put together one of his oral histories recounting his history with the idea, well I knew I had to hear it since Walt Disney developed the concept after reviewing some Crump designs.

Like the other offerings in this series, More Cute Stories Volume 3: Museum of the Weird is all Rolly all the time.  In this title he provides the story of how the Museum of the Weird was created.  And it all starts with the beloved Haunted Mansion!  He details how Yale Gracey and himself were working on the Mansion attraction and reassigned to work on the World's Fair attractions.  And he discusses how Walt Disney created the Museum of the Weird for concepts that Rolly developed.  But Walt Disney pulled Rolly off the Mansion and assigned him to New Tomorrowland.  By the time this project was completed, Disney had passed away.  And the head of Imagineering Dick Irvine was more interested in the contributions of his own generational peers than the younger Crump.  So Crump was made Disneyland's Art Director and mostly worked with maintenance!  Crump provide listeners with an overview of how the Museum would have been laid out and what his hopes for the Museum's future are now that it has been rediscovered by Marvel.

What really fascinates me in these presentations is Crump's take on people.  Dick Irvine is painted, as in other places, as someone who did not understand this young Imagineer that Disney seemed so interested in.  And Marc Davis, who I have remarked in the past has at times been absent in this series, is seen as someone who also did not understand Crump's work.  Or more importantly, Davis did not understand what Walt Disney saw in Crump's work.  But the person who really stands out in Crump's memory is Walt Disney.  Crump reinforces again and again it is Disney that created the Museum of the Weird, Crump paints himself as only providing concepts.  It is Walt Disney that saw the potential of a full-scale attraction that could be combined with the Haunted Mansion.  As Crump typically does he paints Disney as a hero.  And any Disney fan has to enjoy Crump's discussion of Walt Disney on the set of the Wonderful World of Disney, a showing that Disney handpicked Crump to attend.  

For me one of the best segments was listening to Rolly describe what the Museum of the Weird would look like.  First, it would be a Museum.  The Museum would be designed as a walk through attraction that would designed to meet the guests expectation of what a museum should be.  Second there would be a large rotunda and and a series of hallways.  I will not spoil the whole tour, but one of the first things I did was take out my copy of Disney Kingdom's Seekers of the Weird #1 and compare the Disney Legend's description of the rotunda to what I see in the pages of the comic.  In many ways I fell like they nailed the feel that Disney and Crump were looking to set.  My only real question was the described placement of the gypsy wagon which I felt was improperly placed based on Crump's discussions.  But after looking through several other panels I think they may have hit the proper placement and my imagination may be slightly off kilter. 

This honestly is my favorite of the three volumes.  Since Crump is only discussing one central subject, the discussion flows smoothly and logically.  But best of all, you really feel like Crump is getting on a roll as he talks.  You can imagine this entire disc as one stream of thought.  I found myself getting excited as he told his behind the scenes stories of what could have been. You can really get caught up in his enthusiasm, especially since one can tell he cares for Walt Disney's idea.  Crump is excited and you feel excited!  

I have really enjoyed volume 1 and volume 2 of this oral history series.  But More Cute Stories Volume 3: Museum of the Weird is my favorite to date.  And honestly that enthusiasm is not about the comic.  But really I would enjoy this volume without a comic because Rolly is so enthusiastic about this topic.  The star is Rolly Crump and hearing his voice gain steam as he gets excited about Walt Disney's Museum of the Weird.  As if an attraction can kick-off a movie franchise and Marvel Cinematic Universe movies based on comics are making huge profits for Disney, who knows what the future holds for the Museum of the Weird!      

Copy Provided for Purposes of Review 

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