Friday, November 25, 2011

Animation's Most Beautiful Squirrel

There are many great squirrel characters in the history of animation.
Tex Avery's hysterical Screwy Squirrel, Chuck Jones' charming squirrel from
"Much Ado about Nutting", and the list goes on.
To me the most beautiful and elegantly designed is the squirrel from "Sleeping Beauty". Based on rough character sketches done by Tom Oreb (first Image), it was Milt Kahl -again- who drew the final design and animated a few important personality scenes. The drawings below are actual animation keys, which were cut out and mounted on to this model sheet.
I purchased a single pose from it (the one on the top right) a few years ago. It had been separated from the sheet and then reproduced for Disney's  "The Art of Animation" exhibit, which toured the world in 1959 to help promote the release of "Sleeping Beauty".
To my absolute delight, the original model sheet (minus that one drawing) was offered to me years later, and I was able to complete it again.

The animation of the character is charming with a lot of spunk. My favorite scene is when the squirrel reacts to Aurora's resignation, that the prince exists only in her dreams. Milt animated the most heartfelt, sympathetic's adorable!

Yet when you study these drawings up close, you'll find out that they are much more than adorable. There is a graphic perfection, a conviction that this is the best and ONLY way to draw this squirrel. And yet it doesn't come across as cold, calculated precision.
On the contrary, these drawings are so alive because Milt thought about appeal,charm and personality when he was doing them.

A little character with a small role, but a high point in the career of Milt Kahl.