Mickey Mouse by Jack King
'Mickey Mouse', 1930.

Jack King was a U.S. animated film director, best remembered as an animator for Disney. Between 1929-1933 and again from 1936-1948, he worked on various shorts for the studio, starring Mickey Mouse and later predominantly Donald Duck. He became one of their most productive animated short directors from the late 1930s until the late 1940s. King also contributed to the 'Silly Symphonies' series and Disney's animated features. Between 1933 and 1936 King briefly worked for Warner Brothers' animation department too. As a comic artist, his career was brief. For a few weeks in 1930, King did some filler work on the 'Mickey Mouse' newspaper comic. 

Early life and career
James Patton King was born in 1895 in Birmingham, Alabama. He started his career at Raoul Barré's studio in 1917, after which he joined William Randolph Hearst's 'International Film Service (1916-1918), followed by the Bray Studios. Here he worked on animated adaptations of the newspaper comic strips 'Judge Rummy' and 'Silk Hat Harry's Divorce Suit' by Tad Dorgan, as well as George Herriman's 'Krazy Kat'. Among his colleagues in those days were Raoul Barré, Wallace Carlson, Shamus Culhane, Clyde Geronimi, Milt Gross, Burt Gillett, David Hand, Frank Moser, Grim Natwick and Pat Sullivan. Of these, Culhane, Geronimi, Gillett, Hand and Natwick would later join Disney, where King also found employment from 1929 on. In the mid-1920s King also worked for Bill Nolan's animation studio, where he worked on cartoons based on George Herriman's 'Krazy Kat'. 

Jack King first worked for Disney between 1929 and 1933. He was animator on various 'Mickey Mouse' cartoons, of which 'Mickey's Orphans' (1931), 'Mickey's Nightmare' (1932), 'The Mad Doctor' (1933) and 'Mickey's Gala Premier' (1933) remain the best-known. King was also closely involved with several 'Silly Symphonies' cartoons, such as the Oscar-winning 'Flowers and Trees' (1932) - which was the first colour cartoon in history - and 'The Three Little Pigs' (1933). While chiefly known as an animator, King was briefly employed by the comic strip department too. For a few weeks, between 9 and 21 June 1930, he pencilled the 'Mickey Mouse' daily comic strip, filling in for Floyd Gottfredson.

Mickey Mouse by Jack King
'Mickey Mouse', 1930.

Warner Brothers
In 1933, King was hired by Warner Brothers' brand new animation studio, where he stayed for three years. Originally he was just an animator, but when one of the directors, Earl Duvall, got drunk and into an argument with Warners' producer Leon Schlesinger, Duvall was fired and King appointed as his successor. Most cartoons King directed revolved around the now-forgotten characters 'Buddy and Beans'. He directed four 'Porky Pig' cartoons too, namely 'Fish Tales' (1936), 'Shanghaied Shipmates' (1936), 'Porky's Pet' (1936) and 'Porky's Moving Day' (1936).  While King did oversee the rise of Warners' first enduring cartoon star, 'Porky Pig', the studio was still far behind Walt Disney in popularity. His successors, Friz Freleng, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones and Frank Tashlin, would eventually revolutionize Warners with more zany characters like 'Daffy Duck' (1937) and 'Bugs Bunny' (1940), but King had already left by that point. Still, his time at Warners should not be viewed as a failure. He provided the studio with valuable technical skills and tips from his own personal experience at Disney. These modernized Warners' animation department enough to eventually become Disney's true competitor from the 1940s on.

Mickey Mouse by Jack King
'Mickey Mouse', 1930.

Return to Disney
In 1936 King returned to Disney with the prospect of becoming a director and being able to make colour cartoons, which was still something few other studios besides Disney could afford in those days. His first short was 'Modern Inventions' (1937), a Donald Duck cartoon co-scripted by Carl Barks. King would direct 50 cartoons starring the short-tempered duck. In the 1930s he directed 'Modern Inventions' (1937), 'Donald's Ostrich' (1937), 'Self Control' (1938), 'Donald's Better Self' (1938), 'Donald's Nephews' (1938, which introduced Huey, Louie and Dewey), 'Good Scouts' (1938), 'Donald's Golf Game' (1938, co-animated by Bob Wickersham, among others), 'Donald's Lucky Day' (1939), 'The Hockey Champ' (1939), 'Donald's Cousin Gus' (1939, which introduced Gus Goose), 'Donald's Penguin' (1939) and'The Autograph Hound' (1939).

In the 1940s, King directed 'Donald's Dog Laundry' (1940), 'Mr. Duck Steps Out' (1940, which marked the debut of Daisy Duck), 'Donald's Vacation' (1940), 'Window Cleaners' (1940), 'Fire Chief' (1940), 'Timber' (1941), 'Early to Bed' (1941), 'Truant Officer Donald' (1941), 'Old MacDonald Duck' (1941), 'Chef Donald' (1941), 'Donald's Snow Fight' (1942), 'Donald Gets Drafted' (1942), 'The Vanishing Private' (1942), 'Sky Trooper' (1942), 'Bellboy Donald' (1942), 'The Spirit of '43' (1943), 'Fall Out-Fall in' (1943), 'The Old Army Game' (1943), 'Home Defense' (1943), 'Trombone Trouble' (1944), 'Donald Duck and the Gorilla' (1944), 'Contrary Condor' (1944), the war-time cartoon 'Commando Duck' (1944), 'The Plastics Inventor' (1944), 'The Clock Watcher' (1945), 'Donald's Crime' (1945), 'Cured Duck' (1945), 'Old Sequioa' (1945), 'Sleepy Time Donald' (1946, which was adapted into a comic strip version too, by Jack Hannah), 'Donald's Double Trouble' (1946), 'Wet Paint' (1946), 'Dumb Bell of the Yukon' (1946), 'Defense Against Invasion' (1946), 'Donald's Dilemma' (1947), 'Wide Open Spaces' (1947), 'Drip Dippy Donald' (1948), 'Donald's Dream Voice' (1948) and 'The Trial of Donald Duck' (1948).

He was also a character animator on the short 'The Wind in the Willows' (1949) and directed some animated sequences in 'Pinocchio' (1940), 'Dumbo' (1940), 'Saludos Amigos' (1942) and 'Make Mine Music' (1946), though - as was practice at the time - most of his work remained uncredited at the time. King's cartoons are notable for occasional darker comedy than typical Disney cartoons and often end with a chase scene. 

Final years and death
In 1948 King retired. He died ten years later, in 1958, in Los Angeles. 

Jack King's 'Donald's Dilemma' (1947) was an inspiration to the animated intermezzo 'Dental Hygiene Dilemma' in Frank Zappa's cult movie '200 Motels'. This animated short, based on designs by Cal Schenkel and directed by Charles Swenson, not only has a similar title and similar visual ideas, but also features a grotesque cameo of Donald Duck. Obviously without permission of the Walt Disney Company. 

From left to right: Walt Disney, Carl Stalling, Ben Sharpsteen, Ub Iwerks, Les Clark, Burt Gillett, Johnny Cannon, Wilfred Jackson, and (standing) Jack King.

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