Thursday, June 14, 2012

Milt Kahl Sketches during WWII


Let me start this post by quoting from the Walt Disney Treasures/ On the Front Lines DVD set:

On December 8, 1941, the Disney Studio was taken over by the Military as part of the war effort. Making the most of the talent that hadn't shipped out yet, Walt Disney spent the next four years creating and producing training, propaganda and educational films for the Armed Forces.

The following sketches by Milt Kahl were obviously done during that time.
They show caricatures of servicemen and perhaps studio personal.  These sheets also look like character designs for possible propaganda shorts. And yet to my knowledge these characters were never animated. A few of the images remind me of Brom Bones, but that character wouldn't appear on screen until 1949 in "Ichabod and Mr. Toad", and certainly not in military uniform.

This is fascinating stuff, all sheets have pin holes, so they were part of a presentation.
There is so much appeal in these drawings, but then again it was Milt who redefined appeal for Disney. The full figure sketches just floor me, what beautiful rhythm going through the poses.
If anybody has any doubt whether or not these are Milt's, just read the note on the third page regarding Ollie Johnston, upper left corner.

This is the work of someone who confessed that he didn't particularly care to draw, but  didn't mind.

Oh, common Milt…..




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21 comments:

  1. Another bunch of drawings I can't stop looking at. The first page reminds me of Peter Pan.

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  2. That reminds me, how annoying it is that all the Walt Disney treasures DVDs are released in Europe

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    1. *Not are released in Europe

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    2. Not only that, but a few war time shorts were cut from one of the "Chronological Donald" ones. I realize it was probably so they would be able to sell it in Germany, but still... The Fuehrer's Face won an Academy Award, yet I can't (legally) watch it? That just makes me sad.

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  3. I believe I saw it on youtube recently, but there's an interview with Milt Kahl and they show a clip he said he was proud to animate during WWII. It was a scene of a Jewish mother calming her daughter all while the Nazi's kick in the door to their home to come for them.

    Disney's contribution to the war effort is great stuff, as well as the stuff done at Leon Schlesinger studios at the time. The Private Snafu shorts are classics!

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    2. It sounds similar, though I was thinking of a scene in "Education for Death" where a German mother tends to her sick boy while a soldier reminds her of the situation where her kid would've been taken away by the state if he didn't get better.

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  5. Milt drew the turtle on the stairs in Snow White. And as strange as it may sound, I can kinda see the same expression in the eyes of the servicemen as in that turtle.

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  6. That's pretty hilarious that he went so far as to toss in the cursing that was part of his normal speech even in the notes he jotted down to himself!

    These are some gorgeous sketches. I really don't know if I believe that he "didn't like drawing."

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  7. Not only was he an amazingly talented artist, but he could travel through time to caricature Mark Henn! ;)

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  8. Great Stuff. It's so nice to see process drawings where the guys are finding the best shapes to animate.you can see Milt progressing towards a more angular style than in previous designs(like peter and the wolf for example).
    Thanx fer sharing!

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  9. He makes something to do with war...funny and lovely. :D

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  10. just beautiful, please keep posting....

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  11. These are great, is he using a prisma color black pencil?

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  12. Very cool, Andreas. Unknown Milt. terrific drawings, as you said, especially his full figures. Peter Pan goes to war. And I wonder what was wrong with Ollie's goddam rib?

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    1. I don't think we'll ever find out. Ollie's sons weren't born yet, so I can't ask them about it.

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  13. Wow, Andreas. I remember you showing some of these at the Marc Davis lecture. I thought I would never see them again. Thanks for posting! This is really a treasure!

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  14. Man, these are fantastic drawings. Thank you for sharing these, Andreas.

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  15. The guy whit the moustaches made me istantly think of "The Martin and the Coys". Very similar looking. It's always fashinating hearing you talk about Mr. Brom Bones. I had the occasion to see "Beauty and the Beast" in the new stereoscopic version. Your Gaston's more beautiful than ever!

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  16. To me the image of the guy at the very top looks like a very young Kent Mansley. I doubt Brad Bird saw these drawings for influence, but it seems like an interesting coincidence since there's a lot of Milt inspiration in the characters for Iron Giant.

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