For the past six years, I have been at the helm of the blog Voyages Extraordinaires: Scientific Romances in a Bygone Age. Devoted to Victorian-Edwardian Scientific, Imperial and Planetary Romances, Retro-Futurism, Victoriana, silent and early cinema, and authentic tales of history and exploration, that blog also served as my de facto Disney website where those subjects intersect. For some time I have considered fissioning off a journal specifically for Disney content, and finally decided to take the charge with someone who is as delighted by the subject as I am.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Disney's other retro-Victorian stories of Sci-Fi were one of the paths that drew me back into an affection for Disney as an adult. In my childhood I enjoyed racing home every afternoon to watch Ducktales, Welcome to Pooh Corner and the original Mickey Mouse Club on Family Channel, Canada's response to the Disney Channel. I was born in time to see The Great Mouse Detective and a re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in theatres, but my most potent Disney memories are of the annual Halloween program, watching as Hans Conreid as the Magic Mirror introduced The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Night on Bald Mountain before we went out to scare up some candy. After falling out with Disney as a teenager (as some are wont to do), it was my turning to Goth that led me back. Gothic aesthetics makes fine intersections with Victoriana and Victorian Science Fiction, fairy tale Romanticism and the Haunted Mansion.
Ashley, on the other hand, grew up with a love of fairy tales. An avid reader from when she was reciting the Three Little Pigs from memories of bedtime reading on the laps of her parents all the way up to hanging off the edge of the bed to catch the light from the hall late into the night, nothing inspired her imagination like fairy tales. Luckily Ashley was just the right age to catch the films of Disney's renaissance on their first run: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. You can probably guess which was her favourite princess! The most worn book in her collection is a little volume of Brothers Grimm. Ashley also has a passion for musicals, social justice, historical fiction, and costuming, both their history and construction, sewing her own studies. When we first met about three years ago as coworkeres in the same museum, I knew that Ashley was the one for me when I learned that we had so much in common, including a rare love of fairy tales, Victoriana and Disney. I had the privilege of taking her to Disneyland USA for the first time in 2012 and proposing to her in Disneyland Paris earlier this year (she said yes!).
Approaching the subject of a Disney blog, we knew that we did not want to simply replicate the multitudes that are already in existence. We ultimately took a queue from my other blog, as well as blogs like Dan Olsen's Long-Forgotten and FoxxFur's Passport to Dreams Old and New. To paraphrase the latter, if one limits themselves only to Disney, then one is operating from a far more limited cultural experience than the writers, animators, directors and Imagineers who created these films and attractions to begin with. One does not live by Disney alone. All great art should serve to broaden one's scope and point to that which is beyond it, and that a broad scope can in turn deepen one's appreciation of great art. I am convinced that Disney can and usually does aspire to be great art.
Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy will take a two-fold approach, for the most part. On the one, we will be looking back at the original source material that inspired Disney's films and attractions. This adventure will take us through everything from the historical Davy Crockett to accurate 14th century French fashion to Tchaikovsky ballets to Lone Ranger radio shows. Our main regular feature will be called "Belle's Library" and will have us posting the original stories behind the films, chapter-by-chapter, each weekend. For those of you who never even considered reading Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, for example, come back next Sunday to start in nice, digestible, weekly installments!
On the second, we'll occasionally diverge into hopefully critically-minded and thought-provoking discussion of Disney-related subjects. By "critically-minded" I do not necessarily mean negative (though I'm certainly not above dissecting Disney's creative missteps). What I refer to is the classical, academic sense of careful, intelligent, rational reflection on creative works. We are fans at heart, of course, and there is most certainly a need for pure emotional enjoyment of something. We happen to feel that any great work of art also engages the mind as well as the heart! But every now and then we might just sneak in some photos of our travels too...
Ashley and I hope that you will enjoy what Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy has to offer. We look forward to seeing you again often!