Tom Wood & Hank Porter

Among the many talents working at the Walt Disney Studios during the golden age, two are considered to stand out from the rest of the crowd: Hank Porter and Tom Wood. Original art by Porter and Wood is highly coveted by Disney art connoisseurs today, and quality artworks of theirs are extremely hard to come by. This section features the small selection of original art created by these two super artists from the golden age of Disney.

Thomas R. Wood (1887 – 4 October, 1940), AKA Tom Wood, was a prominent staff artist with the Disney Publicity Art Department from 1932 to 1940. Between 1934 and 1940, he created promotional text comics based on Disney cartoons for the women’s magazine Good Housekeeping. He was also a cover illustrator for Mickey Mouse magazine. He was born in 1887 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Not much is known about his early years, except that he held his first exhibition at the L.A. Cartoonist Club in 1928. In 1932, Wood became a publicity artist for the Walt Disney Studios and within a year he was already head of the department. He was one of several artists to create publicity stills of Disney cartoons to be put on display in movie theaters. In 1934, Wood became a regular illustrator for the women’s monthly magazine Good Housekeeping. He created several text comic adaptations of many ‘Mickey Mouse’, ‘Donald Duck’ and ‘Silly Symphonies’ cartoons, directly based on the storyboards of such. The dialogue was written in rhyme, so parents could read it with their children. Some pages can be considered as text comics, others are mostly texts with illustrations. Wood also created covers and illustrations for Mickey Mouse Magazine between 1937 and 1940.

Hank Porter (1900-1951) came to Disney in 1936. Once at the studio, Porter worked in the animation department on the already in production feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Porter eventually moved on to be a staff artist in the Disney Publicity Art Department where he drew some of the Sunday comic pages for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio. But it was during the WWII era at Disney that Porter is noted as one of the most prolific artists at the studio. He is credited with creating more than a thousand insignia and emblems for the various branches of the military, other US Government agencies and charity organizations involved in the war effort. To Walt Disney, Hank Porter was often referred to as “the one-man art department.” Aside from having produced the bulk of the Disney insignia, Porter was one of the few artists at the studio who was authorized to reproduce Walt Disney’s signature for autographs. All of the insignias that Porter created are signed by him using Walt Disney’s name. It is also believed that Porter was responsible for crafting the iconic “looping D” that adorns Disney’s signature. Porter passed away on October 7, 1951 of cancer at the age of 50. An untimely death for an artist who was hitting his artistic stride and had already made a significant contribution to the Disney studios.

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