by Ham Luske | Release Date: December 4, 2016 | Availability: Print
After Santa crashes his sleigh, his luck really turns bad. He finds himself in jail on Christmas Eve. Legendary Disney animator Ham Luske tells the tale of what happens when Santa Claus spends Christmas in a cell.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1935, went on to direct many Disney classics, and won an Academy Award for Mary Poppins.
He also wrote and illustrated this children’s Disney Christmas tale. After Ham’s death in 1968, it went into limbo, until now.
Ham Luske, the author and illustrator of this book, went to work for Walt Disney in 1931. Four years later, Walt assigned him as the first animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In the decades that followed, Ham had his directorial hand in numerous classic Disney films, including Fantasia, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and Cinderella. Along the way he won an Academy Award (Best Special Visual Effects) for Mary Poppins.
Santa Slept Here was a special project, and a very personal one. The character of Jimmy in the book is based on Ham’s son, James Luske, who went on to work for the Disney studio himself.
Ham showed the book to Walt, in hopes it might become an animated Christmas short film, but Walt didn’t think there was a market for those things, back in the late 1950s.
Several years later, both Walt and Ham were dead, and Santa Slept Here became lost, at least to those outside the Luske family.
I heard about the book in 2015. I got in touch with Ham’s son James and we worked out a deal. You hold in your hands the result.
Of course, when Ham wrote and illustrated the book, there was no such thing as a personal computer. James sent me Ham’s original drawings, but they were in no shape for print. I found a talented young artist, Laura Redding, who digitized Ham’s drawings and duplicated them exactly, based on Ham’s originals and his notes.
There aren’t many treasures left to be discovered in the attics and the archives of the animators and the artists who worked for Walt Disney. This is one of the last. I hope it gives you a few moment’s escape into a simpler, slower time.
Ham Luske joined the Disney studio in 1931. Within a few years, Walt Disney made him the supervising animator for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He directed many Disney films, including Fantasia, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, and Alice in Wonderland. In 1965, Ham won the Academy Award for Best Special Visual Effects for Mary Poppins. He died in 1968.