You know those books that you really wish you hadn’t read? The books that make you so angry that you just end up shouting at them before throwing them across the room in an unjustifiable fit of pique and temper? Unfortunately, The Disney Bros is one of those books, which is mainly due to it being a tale of two halves, namely the art and the narrative. While Felix Ruis’ cartoonish, gorgeous illustrations capture the energy, spirit and infectious ambition and drive of Walt Disney, and to a lesser degree, his brother Roy, Alex Nikolavitch’s retelling of the Disney legend distorts and twists the truth and turns what was, and is a complicated tale of a multi-faceted, sometimes flawed , but always brilliant man into a thinly veiled character assassination.
I’ll happily admit to the fact that I’m a Disney geek, but because I am a fanboy I’ve readily and eagerly consumed as many books about Walt as I can, so I kind of know what I’m talking about. I just wish that Alex had followed a similar example and based his take on Walt and Roy’s story on more than a single, discredited and disavowed primary source, namely Marc Eliot’s Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince. Maybe if he’d read Neil Gabler’s biography of Walt as well, he would have adopted a more rounded and historically accurate approach to this book, but he didn’t and relied solely on Eliot’s half-baked trash bible instead, which is a shame, as Nikolavitch is a great writer. bAnd even though I get the angle that he was chasing, that every creative force of nature is always driven by personal demons and sometimes that darkness and makes a better story, I just wish that he hadn’t been inspired by Eliot’s mendacious and self-aggrandizing celebration of urban myths and mistruths. The truth is stranger, and far more interesting, than this homage to spurious fiction… Tim Cundle