To most guests entering Disneyland on Wednesday morning, Main Street, U.S.A. looked no different, save for a small poster outside the old Bank of America, now home to the Disney Gallery. Through the entranceway to the first room of the current exhibit, celebrating Disneyland’s 55th Anniversary, sat a small table draped with a black tablecloth.
Two small posters identified the tall, salt-and-pepper haired man sitting behind the table—John Canemaker, renowned Disney and animation historian signing copies of his tenth book with Disney, a parallel exploration of two of the greatest story men in animation entitled Two Guys Named Joe: Master Animation Storytellers Joe Grant & Joe Ranft.
As Canemaker signed copies of his current favorite book (he admitted that his most recent project is always his favorite), he answered questions about the genesis of the book—a lunch with Disney publishers in which they asked him if he had any new ideas and he outlined one that looked at the two great storytellers. “We had a deal by the time the lunch was over,” said Canemaker. I asked him about getting started as a writer and the former actor succinctly articulated his career path, as he grew up a Disney fan and wrote small articles, then shopped them around to anyone who might publish them. After a few years, Canemaker had his first book published; The Animated Raggedy Ann & Andy (1977) delved into the process of making the animated feature Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977). Through the years, Canemaker met with numerous Disney legends, official and unofficial and got to know the two guys named Joe rather well. Despite knowing his subjects as friends, Two Guys Named Joe is told “with warts and all.” Canemaker assures his readers, “I just want to tell the truth.” Anyone who has ever read a Canemaker book knows that he will deliver.
Disneyland was a perfect outlet for a book signing—small, intimate and sitting among the memorabilia of the place where the stories of great storytellers are brought to life every day, the appreciation emanating from the master animation historian was palpable. Canemaker brings two legendary storytellers to life in his new book and any animation fan will feel like part of the magic.
For more of John’s own words on his latest endeavor, check out this video:
You can also visit John’s website for more information on his many projects.
Purchase Two Guys Named Joe on Amazon: