During the 1930’s depression had taken its toll over the country. The stock market that crashed had in 1929 had created the depression of the 30’s making poverty prevalent. It spread even more when a severe drought, the Dust Bowl took over the mid west. The land was nothing but a shade of brown dust that swept through the country. Hitler had taken over German, Franklin Roosevelt was president, Amelia Earhart flew over the Atlantic, while the ‘Star Spangle Banner,’ became the nationals anthem. So much was happening and all the while Walt Disney was building his studio animation.
To become part of the Story Department at Disney in the 1930’s was a long, windy road. The Inbetween Department was known as the tryout room. It was where everyone started a illustrious career in the animation world. If you were ambitious you would ask about getting ahead. Unlike the Inbetween Department where you needed a letter of introduction just to tryout, you would submit your cartoon samples (or gags as they were called) to the Story Department. If they liked you they would give you a two week tryout in the Story Department, at your own expense, of course.
By then you were desperate. Money was tight and you still had to pay for your food and board. Do you give up by now or stuck out for the next two weeks to see if you had a chance? This was the opportunity to prove yourself, to see if you had the knack, the passion and drive. Animators have come this long, why blow it. Animation wasn’t popular or in demand. Cartoons were shown as short reels before a movie began. They were to fill in the slots as commercials do now. It wasn’t until the before Warner Brother had the Looney Tunes to compete with Disney.
The Story Department was a different space all together. It was usually a small room with a window or two share by three or four other fellows. During this tryout, they would give you an outline of a story and had to draw up any gags you can think of. The two weeks would roll around and you would watch as the paymaster would come around handing out pay checks. The weekend came and you were in a state of nerves. Money was running low, no word of encouragement, no other prospects and worst of all, you had nothing to fall back on.
Was it time to quit and get a real paying job?On Talking Terms