How Walt Disney Used His Kansas City Library Card

E.G.Lutz from “Motion Picture News” October 2, 1920

When the word “Disney” is mentioned, it’s almost impossible to separate it from the craft of motion picture cartoons. Whether it’s used to describe a multinational entertainment corporation, or it alludes to Walt Disney the man, it’s easily synonymus with the technique of film animation. This was obviously not always the case. In 1920, animated cartoons were well known and part of a growing and thriving movie industry, but this is also when the 19 year old Walt Disney was just beginning as a cartoon filmmaker in Kansas City, Missouri. This post presents one of the important reference pieces he used as a catalyst to learn and expand his knowledge of animated cartoons.

(I strongly encourage reading Michael Barrier’s wonderful book, “The Animated Man” University Of California Press 2007. I’ve used Barrier’s book to put together a brief sketch of Disney’s early years.)

Disney was born in Chicago in 1901. In 1906 the family moved to Marceline, Missouri but by 1917 he was back with his family in Chicago. He briefly took classes at the Chicago Academy Of Fine Arts as well as the Kansas City’s Fine Arts Institute. (This appears to be his only formal art training, but he also did cartooning while at McKinley High School in Chicago). When his brother (and later life-long business partner) Roy was called up to serve in WWI, Walt decided he too wanted to participate in the war effort and with the help of a little document doctoring (he changed his birthdate from 1901 to 1900) he found himself as a driver in the Red Cross/American Ambulance Corps. He contracted the flu in 1918 and by the time he arrived in France the war had ended, but it still afforded him the opportunity and experience to be overseas for almost a year. While in France he submitted cartoons and illustrations he’d done to humor magazines back in the States but received nothing but rejection responses. By 1919 his brother Roy had been discharged from the service and was in Kansas City. Walt followed him there. By the year 1920, Walt Disney was working as a commercial artist/cartoonist and had even formed a company with his friend Ub Iwerks called Iwerks-Disney to produce commercial art.


Laugh-O-Grams building in Kansas City circa 1920’s.

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Laugh-O-Grams building March 2013.

It was short lived, and he (and Iwerks) soon thereafter took a job with the Kansas City Film Ad Company doing still advertising images that were projected as slides in motion picture theaters. It was here that he first gained exposure to rudimentary animation techniques and became interested in the potential of film animation. It was also during this time that Disney obtained a copy of the newly published “Animated Cartoons – How They Are Made Their Origin And Development” by Edwin George (E.G.) Lutz, from the Kansas City Public Library.

First editions of the British and American printings with dustjackets

Other than an issue of “Scientific American” from October 14, 1916, a twenty page chapter in Homer Croy’s 1918 book “How Motion Pictures Are Made” (Harper & Brothers Publishers) titled “The Making Of The Animated Cartoon”, J.R. McCrory’s “How To Draw For The Movies” also from 1918, and a small “Lesson One” edition written by Winsor McCay and printed as part of Applied Cartooning, Division 11, (a correspondence course from the Federal School of Applied Cartooning in Minneapolis 1919), there seems to have been little available to the public that presented how animation was done or could be produced. E.G. Lutz’s book appears to be the first book dedicated exclusively to the subject of cartoon animation.

Scientific American October 14, 1916

“How Motion Pictures Are Made” by Homer Croy – Harper & Brothers 1918

John Robert McCrory’s 72 page booklet “How To Draw For The Movies” 1918. (go here:, for link to complete booklet)

Cover of  “Applied Cartooning” 1919 edition.

Contents page of 1919 edition.

Contents page of 1923 edition (Kathleen Quaife)

(Please note, I revised this paragraph 3/20/13 to include the following: Alex Jay has done some valuable research regarding Lutz’s background and discusses it here in his blog: “The Tenth Letter Of The Alphabet”. (Thanks Alex !) When I originally wrote this article in 2011, a basic background/bio on the cartoonist/author Edwin George Lutz was strangely elusive considering that he was the author of no less than seventeen books between 1913 and 1941, and supplied the illustrations for most if not all of them, but that all changed in a wonderful way when I received a surprise email from Frank Lutz in Arizona. Frank is the great, great nephew of E.G., and has launched a marvelous website dedicated to E.G.’s life and work ! Thanks to Frank’s efforts, we now have a complete picture of the man – go here:

It’s no secret that “Animated Cartoons” played an important part in Disney’s growth as an animator. He spoke freely about its influence and animation pioneer and Disney staff animator Hugh Harmon also mentioned Lutz’s book as having been a crucial source of reference in the early years in Disney’s Kansas City studio. What’s interesting is the mention of the Lutz book in the 1956-57 Disney biography “The Story Of Walt Disney” by Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. In it, she credits the book as being by “Carl Lutz”. As a result, future Disney biographies that used his daughter’s book as reference make the same unfortunate mistake. Lutz’s name is also miscredited as “F.C. Lutz” within the 1920 edition of “Animated Cartoons” printed in Britain by Chapman & Hall.

Misspelling of E.G. Lutz in the 1920 British release.

I can’t say that I’ve read Lutz’s book cover to cover, but I have referred to this “how to” manual over the years. I got my first copy in 1982 from journeyman New York cameraman Lou Marcus. The drawings are dated, the details concerning things like preparing artwork for filming and the use of acetate celluloid are obsolete, but as sophisticated as film (digital) animation has become over the course of the past 30 years, it’s fascinating how applicable the basics in this book still are. If you strip away all the aspects concerning 1920’s motion picture technology, the fundamentals still are helpful to an entry level animator.

Lutz also mentions the work of the 19th century photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Muybridge is most famous for his motion studies concerning the analysis of human and animal movement. Before the invention and use of motion picture film, he devised a way of sequentially photographing subjects in front of a grid to present how the human and animal “machine” behaved while in motion. Muybridge’s “The Human Figure In Motion” and “Animals In Motion” are a staple in most animators’ reference libraries and are still available to this day. Disney actually checked out three books from the Kansas City Public Library – the Lutz book on animation, and the two Muybridge collections.

Eadweard Muybridge’s “Pigeon In Flight” image (circa 1887) used in Lutz’s “Animated Cartoons”.

I’ve included a choice selection of images from the original 1st edition of “Animated Cartoons” below.

(You can flip through an entire copy of the 1926 edition by clicking on this link:

1. Title pages to 1st edition with tissue.

2. Same as above revealing full title page.

The New York Times review of the book, October 24th, 1920.

Other books by E.G. Lutz (I’ve included links to the entire e-book where available):

1. “What To Draw And How To Draw It” –

2. “Practical Drawing” 1915

3. “Practical Art Anatomy” –

4. “Animated Cartoons” 1920

5. “Drawing Made Easy” 1921

6. “Instead Of Scribbling” 1924

7. “Practical Graphic Figures” 1925

8. “Practical Pictorial Composition” 1926

9. “The Motion-Picture Cameraman” 1927

10. “Practical Pen Drawing” 1928

11. “More Things To Draw” 1928

12. “Practical Art Lettering” 1929

13. “Practical Landscape Painting in Oils” 1930

14. “Animal Drawing In Outline” 1931

15. “Practical Water-Color Sketching” 1931

16. “Practical Engraving and Etching” 1933

17. “Practical Course In Memory Drawing” 1936

German editions were published by W. Knapp in 1927. “Der Gezeichnete Film. Ein Handbuch für Filmzeichner und Solche” With translation and additional material by  Konrad Wolter.

lutz german023

lutz german024

In 1998, Applewood Books published a reproduction of the 1920’s edition with a modified version of the original dustjacket.

Read more about Walt Disney and his “muse” Albert Hurter, here.

More Design Resources:

18 thoughts on “How Walt Disney Used His Kansas City Library Card

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  4. nilknarfmot

    From Who’s Who Among North American Authors Volume 4 (available at
    LUTZ, EDWIN G.: artist, sculptor, writer; b. Philadelphia, Aug. 26, 1868; H, John M. and Ernestine L. ; educ. Penna. Museum Sch. of Art, Penna, Acad. Fine Arts (both Phila.), Julian Academy, Paris. AUTHOR: What to Draw and How to Draw It, 1913; Prac- tical Drawing, 1915; Practical Art An- atomy, 1918; Animated Cartoons, How They Are Made, 1920; Drawing Made Easy fnew edit.), 1921; Instead of Scribbling- (a drawing book for chil- dren), 1924; Practical Graphic Figures (Drawing for Cartoons and Fashions), 1S25; Practical Pictorial Composition, 1926; The Motion Picture Cameraman, 1927; Practical Pen Drawing, 1928; More Things to Draw, a Sequel to Drawing Made Easy, 1928; Practical Art Lettering, 1929. Former contrib- utor drawings to X.ife; on staff N. Y. newsps. as writ, and artist. HOME: 119 Howard St., Dumont, N. J.

  5. Martin De Cicco

    You’re welcome. I’ve enjoyed your high definition scans. I have the 1998 edition and does not look as good. It’s a shame noone has a date of death for Lutz, not even a picture of him. There must have been one in a newspaper or something. I mean, he wrote a lot of books, and I think they were quite successful, at least a few of them.

    1. J. J. Sedelmaier Post author

      Hi Martin –
      I recently updated the dust jacket information of the Lutz book. I’d love your opinion regarding the two images sent to me from Mike Westby. Feel free to reply here in the comments section. . . Thanks, J.J.

  6. J. J. Sedelmaier

    Martin – Thank you for sharing this information. It’s the most comprehensive profile of Lutz I’ve seen to date. This should be immensely helpful to anyone doing research on the man. Now I’m very curious about Royd C. Lutz. . . Once again, thanks so much for your generous contribution to this piece !

  7. Martin De Cicco

    Hi J.J., sorry about the delay. I was trying to gather some more information. I took advantage of the free trial at to look at some of the pictures I couldn’t. I found that someone else had already done a great job searching for Lutz. However he had nothing regarding his death, and I couldn’t find anything either. All I can say is that he was still living when he renewed the copyright of “Drawing made easy” himself in August 8, 1949. His books’ copyrights had to renewed every 28 years. But on September 17, 1952 someone else named Royd C. Lutz renewed the rights of “Instead of scribbling”. He appeared as an “executor”, not as his son nor a next of kin. I don’t know if Lutz had any children; perhaps he was a nephew of his. The thing is he must have been dead by this time. This person renewed all the remaining books.
    He was born in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in August 26, 1868. His father John Martin Lutz worked as a book keeper, and he and his wife Anna Ernestine Hall were from Wurttemberg, Germany. They died at a young age in 1878 and 1879 respectively, leaving him an orphan at 11 years of age. He had a a sister called Flora J Lutz (or maybe Flera or Fiona) born in October 22, 1873 and a brother called Ernest Martin Lutz, born in July 25, 1877. I believe there were a few others.
    He studied at Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, in Philadelphia, from at least 1885 to 1888. He appears as a General Designer in this Institution’s 1888-1889 catalog, living in Philadelphia and in the 1904-1905 one living in New York. In the one from 1918-1919 he appears as a comercial illustrator working in New York. His brother Ernest figures also in these last two as an Architectural modeler.
    In 1892, when he was 24 years old, he married a woman from New Jersey, called Ellen Ludlam Dangler in Philadelphia. He was still living there in 1893, at 25. He appears in a city directory as a designer. By April, 1910 he was renting a house in Manhattan, and working on his own as an artist/illustrator. He was still living there in January, 1920 in a rented house.
    By August, 1925 he was living in Weehawken, New Jersey and he appears as single, which I believe should be divorced. That was his marital condition in April, 1930, when he lived in Dumont, New Jersey in a house of his own, which was worth 8000 dollars. He appears as an autor of art books. He was still living in Dumont when he renewed the copyright of “Practical art anatomy” in 1946.

    I think those are the most important facts.

  8. J. J. Sedelmaier

    Martin – trying to assemble consistent and comprehensive info on Lutz (as I’ll wager you know well) is very difficult. I’ll dredge up my reference and either confirm or revise. Do you have a date of death for him ? I’ve also seen him listed as having lived in Dumont. NJ. Does this sound familiar to you ?

  9. Martin De Cicco

    Hi, J.J. You said Lutz “was the author of no less than seventeen books between 1913 and 1941”. I know these seventeen but the last that I know of is “Practical Course in Memory Drawing”, which was published in 1936. Do you know another book after this one? Though there had been republications after 1936. Perhaps this is what you mean. Thanks.
    I am trying to find some info on Lutz, especially through a genealogy site and the copyright renewals of his works. I don’t want to pay any subscriptions, though, so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to find.

  10. J. J. Sedelmaier

    Martin – Wow ! You know your Lutz ! I’ve amended the DJ info above. Thanks for the perceptive catch !
    Regarding the accumulation of multiple editions – As I mentioned, when I’ve come across the book with a DJ at a reasonable price I’ve grabbed them, but not for hoarding purposes. I’ve donated and gifted no less than 5 copies in the past. ASIFA auctions and the like have been primary beneficiaries. . .EBay and are good sources to periodically check. . .

  11. Martin De Cicco

    Thanks for the pictures. What puzzles me is that the dustjacket has a flap on Practical Graphic Figures, which was not published until 1925. Are you sure that’s the one of the first edition?
    I love you Animated Cartoons collection, but I think you should not buy so many of these. This way it is much more difficult for others to get a copy. I would like to buy one, yet I cannot find a copy with dustjacket.

  12. George Griffin

    Wow, J.J.
    9 copies of Lutz’s “Animated Cartoons!”Isn’t there some medication for that condition?
    Seriously, it’s one of my favorites, as you know, so I really do understand your obsession. Excellent context, overview, and reproductions. Also loved that “Scientific American” cover with the cameraman shooting under the lights.