Thursday, February 21, 2013

Disney Animator Gag Drawings for Joe Magro, 1937

  • Gag drawing by Disney art director Hugh Hennesy. Animator Joe Magro goes nose to nose with the Old Hag. Mixed media.

Who was Joe Magro? The good folks over at Cartoon Brew give us the answer...
Italian-American artist Joe Magro was hired at Disney in 1936 during the studio’s expansion to produce Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Originally from Rochester, New York, Magro was attending Mechanics Institute (now Rochester Institute of Technology) when his teacher Fritz Trautmann suggested that he apply to the Disney studio.

Magro left Disney in 1937 and returned to the East Coast. He apparently stayed long enough at the studio to make friends with the other artists. We know that because when Magro left, his Disney colleagues presented him with a “good luck” book filled with gag drawings. The drawings from that book are currently being auctioned by Heritage Auctions and include pieces by Fred Moore, Ward Kimball, Bill Tytla, Grim Natwick and Marc Davis, among others.

Since Joe was at the Studio during the height of the Snow White production, the majority of drawings within the “good luck” book included some kind of reference to the film. All the pieces were created on 12-field 5-peghole sheets of animation paper (12" x 10").

  • Gag drawing by Marc Davis. Snow White thinks Joe is "chicken". Mixed media.

  • Gag drawing by Vladimir "Bill" Tytla. Note Mickey Mouse on the blackboard and Dopey as one of the students. Graphite and colored pencil.

  • Gag drawing by animator Dave Rose. Original layout drawing of the poison apple antidote has been collaged with another piece of art. Graphite and colored pencil.

  • Gag drawing by Grim Natwick. The fairest on the beach meets animator Joe Magro. Rendered in colored pencil.

  • Gag drawing by Fred Moore. Snow's red bow in hair. Tongue-in-cheek caption reads: "But -- what could you possibly do with me in New York?" Mixed media.

  • Gag drawing by animator, Jack Larsen. Joe Magro in the lap of luxury. Colored pencil.

  • Gag drawing by Marc Davis and Charles "Nick" Nichols. Another humorously cheeky piece. Mixed media.

  • Gag drawing by Charles "Nick" Nichols. Grumpy says goodbye. Graphite and colored pencil.

Images via Heritage Auctions.

The rest of the (non-Snow White) drawings can be seen at Cartoon Brew. Learn more about Heritage's Animation Art Signature Auction in the previous archive entry.


  1. Inside and artist-to-artist jokes always provide an interesting (and amusing) insight to what goes on behind the scenes. Very fun! Thanks for sharing these!

    1. Definitely a different side to the artists that we don't get to see everyday. :)

  2. -B-
    So sweet:


  3. Replies
    1. It's always fascinating to see the animator drawings that were not officially sanctioned by the Disney studio back then.