Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sullivant in Color

Each time I discover a new TS Sullivant illustration I can't help but smiling from ear to ear.
Today brought such a moment when I found this beauty online, "Going to the Races".
Apparently monkeys are in charge here of the rest of the animal menagerie. 
Sullivant loved animals like no one else, being able yo infuse his characters and compositions with such exuberance and joy. 
I have posted plenty of his work on this blog, but there's more coming from my Sullivant files and Life magazines. Some of us just can't get enough of this man's genius.

Here is a link to my first post on TS:

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Jungle Book Art at Auction

Here are some wonderful pieces from The Jungle Book that were recently sold at auction. 
The piece above is a cel set up (matching cel with painted background). I don't know who painted this background, but the animation is by Milt Kahl. What I particularly like about the painting is the fact that some dark line work was maintained to match the characters' outlines.
I would call this a quintessential scene from the movie.

Below are a couple of concept paintings by Art Riley, who was one of Disney's great background painters. Google him and you'll find tons of his personal watercolors.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Story Sketches

It is astonishing to realize that Disney allowed his story sketch artists to work in a graphic style that was comfortable to them, and personal.
Sometimes those sketches were mere character animation poses, other times the whole background scenery was included. It was up to the story sketch artist to put down on paper what would communicate best to Walt, the animation crew, and eventually the audience. The opening scene from Robin Hood by Ken Anderson.

Not sure who boarded "How to Ride Horse" from 1941, but you can see that this story artist was all involved with Goofy's animation business.

Disney's first features were all about light and shadow, so the story sketch artists rendered  the environments as well as he characters.

James Bodrero boarded the entire Pastoral sequence from Fantasia  in color. It helped to visuals what the final film might look like.

Marc Davis did story and character design work on Bambi for quite a few years.
I think Bambi's characters works so well because of Marc's extraordinary contribution.

A fantastic story sketch by Pill Peet for Song of the South. He practically provided the animators with
key poses that could be adapted directly for final animation.

A beautiful story sketch from Cinderella, perhaps by Joe Rinaldi.

David Hall's illustrative style for Alice in Wonderland is complex and a little haunting.

Bill Peet didn't enjoy boarding this sequence for Sleeping Beauty, he much preferred working on material involving Maleficent's Goons.

Bill Peet single handedly storyboarded 101 Dalmatians. Every animator loved working on material Peet developed for a Disney animated film.

This story sketch from Jungle Book reminds me of Bill Peet's children's book illustrations. Simply staged and full of personality. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Beautiful Things

Heritage Auctions is yet again offering unique and rare pieces of original animation art.
I just love this concept/layout piece from Cinderella. One of my favorite sequences not only in animation, but in film period. This is how the scene was established, even though we never see this particular staging in the film. So powerful, so much personality in just one sketch. I am not sure who drew this, perhaps Ken O'Connor or Ken Anderson.

Anita and Perdita in Regent's Park in London. A beautiful experimental sketch by Ken Anderson.
I posted a similar piece a while back.

A publicity cel set up with Walt and Ludwig Von Drake. Magic!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Ludwig Von Drake Dilemma

Ludwig Von Drake is a great TV character, created late in Walt's life during the early 1960s.
According to one artist who was there at the time, one of the animators who was assigned to this new Disney personality was Marc Davis.
Marc had just finished Cruella De Vil, and he was not eager to "step down" to do animation for a TV character. Marc did produce some animation of Ludwig, which did not meet approval.
Marc moved over to Imagineering instead, and the rest is history.
Milt Kahl took over and designed Ludwig's earliest scenes for his first TV appearance in the 1961 episode "An adventure in Color". Needless to say...brilliant work.
Ward Kimball was put back into animation on Ludwig after Walt's dissatisfaction over Ward's involvement in the mostly live action musical Babes in Toyland.
In the end I believe that Milt and Frank Thomas  MADE the character into the personality we all know today.
A befuddled, often confused yet likeable professor.

More on his personality here:


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Joe Grant

Joe Grant was one of a kind. I am pinching myself when I think about all those years working with him on various Disney films.
Many of you know know that Joe had a Disney career twice. First from the early 1930s to the mid 1940s, and then again from 1989 until his passing in 2005 at the age of 96.
His quirky sense of humor is evident in his 'Idea" sketches. He would do a series of those, and a new film sequence was born. Or a complete short film. 
Joe didn't mind answering our questions about the Golden Age at Disney, but he rather preferred to discuss the present and the future of animation. He watched almost every animated programing from The Simpsons to SpongeBob. Joe was a student of fine art, some of his favorite "cartoonists" were Kley and Sullivant.
I will never forget right after Joe returned to Disney for a second run, Frank Thomas phoned him and asked: " Why on earth are you back at the studio ?"
Joe replied:"Why aren't you?"

The brilliant short film Lorenzo was Joe's idea. His sketches are on the left, director Mike Gabriel's
designs on the right.

A brilliant caricature by John Musker. Man, would I love to animate this design. 
Oops, I just had an idea for another short film!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Ed Aardal

Ed Aardal lived from 1910 to 1988. He worked for Disney for twenty years starting in 1935. He originally did effects animation, but was soon sent over to the character animation department.
Perhaps because of his effects background Ed was assigned to complex scenes like this one from Lady and the Tramp.
It is amazing to realize that in the final film you barely see a dark silhouette of the dog catcher's wagon, taking Tramp to the dog pound. Yet in animation every detail was analyzed as if this was a daytime scene.
Ed Aardal is one of those unsung heroes who we need to shed light on for his important body of work in animation. I believe this was his last film for Disney before moving on to other studios like Hanna Barbara. An animation legend!
For a 1984 interview with Ed go here: