George: Jim Korkis is a well known name in Disney circles. He was the first person to coin the phrase “Disney Historian” and he’s spent most of his life researching the company. Jim spent many years writing as Wade Sampson and recently began publishing his stories. His latest release, Vault of Walt Volume 2, is promoted as a collection of uncensored Disney stories never told.
Jeff: Jim has proven himself to be a fantastic Disney historian over the years, and an invaluable resource for many of us. He knows his material and knows it well. This book is, theoretically, the third volume in the Vault of Walt series, and contains about 28 stories. While the stories contained within the book are good, I did have some issues.
George: Jim is a different type of historian and with good reason. He’ll be the first to tell you that many of his stories are anecdotal and work better in an informal format. He’s shared many stories that would have been lost forever if he’d not recorded them. One of my issues is that Jim makes no references to sources. He tells a great story, but there’s no way to verify his sources or read the primary sources.
Jeff: My issue is that the book is content that is just rehashed material he’s written over the years. The original Vault of Walt, with the teal cover, which is no longer in print, was great when it came out. But when Theme Park Press bought the rights to it, they re-released it in a different form, with a red cover. Some of the stories in the original volume made it, most did not. This volume, Volume 2, with the yellow cover, is about half-full with stories from the original, teal colored volume. On top of that, all but two of the stories in the book are columns that Jim was written online over the years, just lifted directly from the website and put into the book, with what seems to be little to no editing.
George: I did find it disheartening to realize, usually just after a few paragraphs into the chapter, that I’d already read these tales, whether on the web or in one of the previous incarnations of Vault of Walt. I had a friend ask me on Twitter if it was worth picking up the book if he already owned the teal one. I’m a completist, so I’ll add almost anything to my collection. Jim’s style is best described as home-spun and gentle. It’s like you’re sitting on a front porch while he regales you with tales from his youth. That being said, I still would love to see more new stories from Jim.
Jeff: Look, I’m all for Disney history books, especially ones that tell anecdotal tales. But when your book is billed directly on the cover as “Disney Stories Never Told,” you shouldn’t have 95% of the book be stories that HAVE been told before, especially when that 95% can be found, for free, on the internet. Again, the content is good, but the book just seems like a cheap cash grab to me, and will confuse people into spending money for content they already have. Sure, the argument can be made that releasing these new volumes of Vault of Walt are good, because the original, teal colored volume is no longer available. Those folks who own the teal covered volume, and loyal readers of Jim’s columns, will find themselves having a major case of Déjà vu when reading, much like I did.
George: We’ve always tried to be honest in our reviews and you have to remember that these are our opinions. Usually, our reviews reflect the work and not the person. We both like Jim and really appreciate his work and the incredible stories he’s added to Disney lore over the years. Personally, I’d like to see publishers step up their game and produce some really high-end works that are as well-done as the subjects. Even though print-on-demand is cheaper and much easier to produce, publishers shouldn’t sacrifice when it comes to layout, design and the overall fell of the work.
Are you going to pick up Jim’s book? What do you think about re-purposing and selling free content from the web?
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By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
Other places you can find George and Jeff:
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- From the Mouth of the Mouse (Jeff)
- Communicore Weekly The Greatest Online Show ™ (Jeff and George)
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