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A Farewell to a Journalist
Once upon a time, before the average Joe and Jane were using the World Wide Web, before everyone had an networked e-mail address, before everyone had digital cameras, before cell phones had cameras and walkie-talkies built into them, before everyone was using Usenet newsgroups like rec.arts.disney, before everyone was using DVDs, cable modems, or DSL, Disney fans hungry for Disney history had only publications like "The 'E' Ticket" to savor and get our fix.
I think it is hard for the younger people of today, with all of that technology and hyper-paced lives to fathom just how important such publications were to us, and continue to be to the documentation of Disney heritage in a journalistic - not sensationalistic - way.
I love LaughingPlace.com, of course, but I can't hold it in my hands and put in on my coffee table.
When my longtime friend Rick West told me over the phone that Leon Janzen had passed away, he sounded like he could have been talking about his best friend, because he was talking about someone who was a highly respected colleague. I received the news as someone who considers Leon Janzen as a hero of sorts. Not hero as in someone who runs into a burning building to save the life of another, but someone who took the initiative to provide Disneyland Park fans everywhere a labor of love chronicling the heritage of Walt Disney’s labor of love.
It isn’t easy to regularly publish a fan publication, let alone one of such quality and one so nicely formatted. "The 'E' Ticket" has been the only unofficial Disneyland Park-focused publication, or unofficial general Disney publication for that matter, to stand the test of time with regular publication.
Publications such as "Storyboard" - which had two incarnations, and "Theme Park", were glossy, color publications, but they had their problems and the sudden death of their editor was the end of them. "Mouse Rap Monthly (Mouse Rap Magazine)" had a nice run, though never made the leap from being more of a monthly newsletter, eventually transforming into the video-medium "Disneyana TV". Persistence of Vision still has a website up online, but much time seemed to pass between issues - the last issue came out years ago. "The D-Word" I can't really comment on, because I never saw an issue - and then it was gone.
Rick's publication, "Theme Park Adventure", was originally going to kick off with an extensive feature on a non-Disney park, but that issue faced clearance complications. In the meantime, Rick started a monthly "newsletter" that he kept plussing to the point it eventually grew into the kind of irregularly published extensive publication he'd first envisioned. Issues on the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, The Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade, Tarzan's Treehouse, and the unparalleled Pirates of the Caribbean issue (so popular, I understand, there have been illegal copies made, so collectors beware), focused on Disneyland Park, but Rick also documented other themed entertainment achievements, such as those in Las Vegas. Alas, life changed, and as Rick started a family and decided to switch from a printed publication to a CD-ROM format, his public efforts focused on ThemeParkAdventure.com.
Sure, the National Fantasy Fan Club, a long-established organization, has churned out newsletters.
But Jack E. Janzen and Leon J. Janzen have been the only people to build a stand-alone publication that was unrivaled in consistently delivering the goods when it came to Disneyland Park history. What started in Winter of 1986 - well before Storyboard - and often featured articles on other southern California parks, eventually became a regularly published color glossy focused mainly on Disneyland Park history.
Earlier this year, we lost David Mumford, who, along with Bruce Gordon, chronicled Disney from the inside. Now, we've lost Leon, who along with his brother, Jack, chronicled Disneyland Park from outside of the Corporation. If "The 'E' Ticket" never has another issue, it will still have been unequaled in duration and consistency. I sincerely hope it will continue, even if in another format.
I've never made myself known to the Janzens in person. I've simply purchased and read their fine publication, enjoying it as a fan. It was always nice to see them and collector shows. They both seemed friendly, happy, and professional. My sincere condolences - and thanks - to the Janzen family for educating this Disney fan, whose parents hadn't even met when Walt Disney passed away.
-- Ken Pellman
Ken Pellman is a writer with a BA in Thematic Environmental Design who has collected Disneyana, especially publications. He is known to hang out at the Disneyland Resort and is an animation fan. Ken can be reached directly at Kenversations[at]flash[dot]net or at http://www.Pellman.net, where you can learn more about him.
Kenversations is most often during the second and fourth week of each month.
The views, opinions and comments of Ken Pellman, and all of our columnists, are not necessarily those of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.
--Posted September 14, 2003
©2003 Ken Pellman, all rights reserved. Licensed to LaughingPlace.com.