Disney by James Zee
Introducing Australian Disney Reprints
Between 1946 and 1978, Australian Disney comics were continuously produced by W.G. Publications (renamed Wogan Publications in 1974)—although other companies published some Disney comics for Australia before, during and after that time.
John Sands published a few Disney comics in the 1930s, with a handful more by Ayers & James in the 1940s. The Australian Woman's Weekly also published at least one in the 1940s, with free promotional comics from Nabisco (Wheaties) in the 1950s and Mobil in 1964.
After Wogan ceased publication, US printed comics were distributed in rebound editions with new Australian-printed covers until the mid 1980s. There was a short-lived revival Australian published Disney comics by Magman International in 1984 and later attempt by Otter Press in 2004/05.
However, the dominant figures of Australian Disney comics are Walter Rogan Granger and his son, Walter Arthur Granger—the "WGs" behind W.G. Publications, and personal representatives of Walt Disney in Australia.
Walt Granger Sr was sales promotion manager for John Sands Ltd in the 1930s.11See for example p.10 SMH 17/10/1933. The item reports an impending trip by Walt Granger Sr to the United... The Sands family company had been founded 1837 as an engraving and stationery business in Sydney, but expanded into board games and greeting cards in the 1920s, and opened branches across Australia from the late 1930s.22See John Sands website. The company was family run until 1978. John Sands established a partnership with American Greetings...
Granger Sr appears to have been an advocate of innovative marketing. He extolled the virtues of packaging to support the sale of products;33See p. 8 SMH 28/2/1934 "Mr. W. R. Granger, sales promotion manager of John Sands, Ltd., who returned from... worked with Queensland pinapple growers to promote the industry;44See p. 42 The Queenslander 10/9/1936. "Queensland pineapple growers are sitting on a river of gold if they can... proposed strategies for the promotion of tourism in Australia;55See p. 2 The Canberra Times 1/5/1936. "Cities Not Much Encouragement to Tourists ...The publicising of large industrial cities... and helped revive St Valentines Day in Australia.66See p. 10 SMH 22/12/1936 "Representatives of the Retail Traders' Association, confectionery manufacturers, and others, adopted a proposal to...
In 1935, Walt Granger used a speech to the Millions Club77The Millions Club (renamed the Sydney Club in 1963) was established to accelerate British migration and make Sydney the first... to argue that "Mickey the Mouse" and "Min" had a psychological benefit for stressed adults and provided moral lessons for children.88See p. 11 SMH 2/5/1935 "Mickey the Mouse. Means of Relieving Worry. Psychologists' Opinion. Mr. W. R. Granger, in... This was not just a casual social engagement, but reflected his early marketing of Walt Disney products.
Granger had travelled to the US on business trips between 1933 to 193599Granger travelled to the US for John Sands from October 1933 (p. 10 SMH 17/10/1933) to February 1934... and it seems likely he met with the Walt Disney company at that time, leading to production of the first Australian Disney reprint comics around 1934/35.