Walt Disney Productions
Please, Mister, Don't Be Careless, 1943
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Color lithograph poster
20 x 14.25 in
Printed in 1943, by the U.S. Government Printing Office for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. The poster features the beloved Disney characters, Bambi (deer), Thumper (rabbit), and Flower (skunk) in wide-eyed shock leaning towards fear. With the slogan "Please, Mister, don't be careless" the poster is designed to tug at the heartstrings of the viewer and make them consider what actions they could take in their own lives to prevent forest fires. The poster is in fair condition. It shows normal ware and tear for a poster of this age, with mild creases and pinholes in each corner. However, there is no ink loss and the colors are bright and show no signs of fading Poster: 20" x 14 1/4" Frame: 30" x 22 1/2" Framed to conservation standards with a 100% cotton fiber matboard border and UV clear glass that filters 99% of UV Rays. UV Rays can be especially damaging and cause fading to the inks used in poster making. All of these features are housed in a contemporary natural wood frame. Smokey Bear is arguably one of America's most recognizable and beloved symbols, alongside Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter. However, before the creation of Smokey Bear, the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Campaign would run for several years with other equally as recognizable characters as its icons. Though Forest Fires had been a point of concern for the US Government before, recent developments in the Pacific Theater of WWII increased the urgency. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Japanese attacked an oil field on Ellwood Beach along the coast of California, near Santa Barbara. Luckily this attack did very little damage, however, the consequences of such a fire would be disastrous. In order to raise public awareness, the USDA Forest Service began a campaign called the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Campaign (CFFP) and released media with slogans including "Forest Fires Aid the Enemy." and "Our Carelessness, Their Secret Weapon." Soon the CFFP sought out new imagery that would lend a considerable amount of pathos to their campaign The US government reached out to Walt Disney, who already had a long history of lending his creative services to the government in past public awareness campaigns. Bambi, Walt Disney Productions' 5th animated feature film had been released in 1942. Though the film had not done as well as the company had hoped, the characters were still recognizable, and most importantly, adorable in the eyes of the American public. In 1943, Walt Disney, who was himself concerned about wildfires in California, agreed to lend Bambi and other woodland characters from the movie to the CFFP for one year. The posters were a massive success and the CFFP had proven how effective an animal was as a fire prevention symbol. Once the agreement with Disney ended the CFFP was in the need of a new animal mascot, which shortly led to the creation and first publication of Smokey Bear in 1945, and he continues to be an effective and empathetic icon to this day.