The Carl Fallberg Book That Never Was

Suspended Animation #269

Carl Fallberg

At an American Bookseller Association gathering in the 1980s, a small publishing house, Heimburger House Publishing, announced their upcoming list of titles including:

DISNEY’S MEN, WOMEN AND MOUSE:
The Fascinating Story of Walt Disney’s Golden Age of Animation at the famed Hyperion Studios in Hollywood
by Carl Fallberg

“The Disney Studio was located at 2719 Hyperion Ave. in Hollywood from 1926 to 1940. The Hyperion Studio assumed a legendary aura synonymous with the Golden Age of Animation-a period when the animated cartoon developed into a true art form in a remarkably short time.

“In DISNEY’S MEN, WOMEN AND MOUSE, Carl Fallberg recalls working at the Disney Studios in the 1930s as an assistant director and storyman on Disney’s landmark animated features such as SNOW WHITE, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, FANTASIA and BAMBI.

“Included in this illustrated history are personal interviews with men and women who worked for Walt, along with a look at Walt’s decision-making capabilities, his personality, creative ability, sincere dedication to his dream, his affection for his employees and a glimpse at what it was like to work for Disney.

“Tentative book length of 200 pages, 8½ x 11.”

Carl Robert Fallberg was born in 1915 and joined the Disney Studio in 1935. He was listed as an assistant sequence director (assisting Perce Pearce) on Snow White and is credited as a storyman on Bambi and the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment of Fantasia.

Many of Fallberg’s Mickey comics have been reprinted recently by Fantagraphics.

He left the Disney Studio during World War II and joined the Marines. After the war, he apparently found some work at various animation studios before settling in to the life of a freelance writer turning out tons of work for the DELL/WESTERN/GOLD KEY line of comics.

His work for those comics included almost every character in the Walter Lantz, Warner Brothers, Hanna-Barbera, DePatie-Freleng and more stable of animated characters. More importantly, he was a very important contributor to the Disney line of comic books.

Remember those classic Mickey Mouse multi-part serials in the back of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories illustrated by the great Paul Murry, who had been an assistant to animator Fred Moore? Murry’s first serial written by Fallberg was entitled The Last Resort and was published in WDCS 152, in May 1953. Up until 1962, it was Murry and Fallberg who produced almost all of those serials in WDCS for close to a decade.

Fallberg worked for DELL/WESTERN/GOLD KEY from 1952 until 1977 where he wrote Disney stories about The Li’l Bad Wolf, Jiminy Cricket, Ludwig Von Drake, Scrooge McDuck, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and more familiar character names that would fill this page to overflowing. (I believe the last comic book work that was written by Fallberg was “Goofy the Kid” which appeared in Disney Comics in 1990.)

In the Seventies, Fallberg wandered back into animation working at Warner Brothers on The Speedy and Daffy Show and at Hanna-Barbera where he worked on shows like The Three Robonic Stooges, Laff-A-Lympics, and The All New Popeye Hour among others.

Fallberg also worked on “special” projects like writing Adventure in Disneyland (the Richfield Oil Giveaway comic book from 1955 that was offered at Disneyland) and the 1976 Mickey and Goofy Explore Energy comic book for Exxon.

Did you have a copy of the Sears Winnie the Pooh Coloring Book from 1975? Fallberg wrote and designed that book along with issues of many Disney magazines like Wonderful World of Disney from1969-1970. Do you have the Whitman Big Little Books from the mid-Sixties like Donald Duck and the Luck of the Ducks or Donald Duck and the Fabulous Diamond Fountain? Carl wrote those as well as other books that featured licensed characters from the major animation studios.

In addition, he found time to write for syndicated comic strips like Bugs Bunny and Roy Rogers in the Fifties and Sixties and later Disney’s Treasury of Classic Tales newspaper strip as well as some of the Disney’s Christmas oriented strips that appeared in newspapers each year during the holiday season from 1960 -1987.

For nearly six years after he got out of the Marines, Fallberg wrote and illustrated a monthly strip for Railroad Magazine entitled “Fiddletown and Copperopolis”.

Originally compiled and published as a book by Hungerford Press, Heimburger House reprinted Carl Fallberg’s classic book of turn-of-the-century railroading cartoons with the blurb: “This delightful collection of railroad cartoons by Fallberg of Walt Disney fame is a 144-page, softbound, 9 5/8 x 6 1/4” book illustrating the trails and tribulations of a narrow gauge ‘uncommon’ carrier.

“To anyone familiar with the lore of America’s three-foot railroad lines, the feeling persists that within these pages lies a disguised pictorial history of prototype narrow gauge railroads in a very humorous vein. The key word in Fallberg’s illustrations is exaggeration.”

As much fun as the railroad book is, I was much more excited to see a book of memories about Disney’s Hyperion Studio. Every ABA, I asked Heimburger House about the book which was still listed as “coming soon” and was assured by the representatives at their table that it was close to completion.

However, unlike Disney fairy tales, this story had a very, very unhappy ending.

I used to write a column about animation for the ASIFA-Hollywood Newsletter, INBETWEENER, and in one of my columns in 1995 I was bemoaning the fact that I was going crazy waiting for this book to be published.

I was saddened when the editor of INBETWEENER forwarded me a note sent to the newsletter in regards to that column by Fallberg’s daughter, Carla: “Thank you for your interest in my father, Carl Fallberg’s involvement in the art of animation. He was in the Story Department at Disney’s. After the war, he worked in various animation studios and eventually ended up working freelance for Disney writing comic books. He is now 79 years old and living in a senior board-and-care, unable to take care of his daily duties because he suffers from brain damage due to early alcohol abuse.

“I am just glad that he still has enough of his mind together to sign his name. He had to stop work on his book about the old Disney days because of his disability. Sadly, the right side of his brain, the creative side was affected the most. Keep enjoying the art of animation-old and new-and I will let him read your appreciation.”

Apparently, Carl did not suffer much longer. He passed away May 9th, 1996 taking with him many great untold stories. A few years later I heard that Carla Fallberg was looking for a writer with an understanding of Disney history to help put together her father’s notes and rough draft chapters into a book that would be a final tribute to her father but that project apparently never happened. Who knows whatever happened to all that raw research material?