Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ken's and Milt's Shere Khan


Storyman Bill Peet had done just a few sketches of the villain from The Jungle Book before he departed from the studio. Ken Anderson picked up the pieces and tried to go beyond a typical, evil  Disney tiger. It was his idea to go for personality traits like arrogance, self assurance and sarcasm.
When actor George Sanders was hired to do the voice Shere Khan’s character came to life, and everybody loved the concept. 
These are Ken’s design explorations.








Milt studied George Sanders’ facial features and drew Shere Khan resembling the voice actor.
Animating the tiger turned out to be one of Milt’s favorite assignments. He was originally concerned though that Shere Khan turned up so late in the movie.
After an early screening of the story reels, Milt turned to Walt Disney and said: “Don’t you think this would be a good time to discuss where we are going with the story, and at what point the tiger should enter?”
Walt petted Milt on the shoulder, assuring him that things would turn out alright. “You guys take care of the personalities, let me worry about the story.” (Milt recounted this episode during a 1984 interview).
Before Walt died in1966 he did see Milt’s pencil animation of Shere Khan interrogating Kaa, the python, about Mowgli’s whereabouts. He liked it and approved the sequence for final color.

Here are a few Milt’s key drawings from various scenes. I think he reached a new personal level of excellence with Shere Khan. He invented new expressions, which gave great authenticity to the acting. One for the ages! 










19 comments:

  1. Hey Andreas thanks for the post. You have so many great observations on these animators. I am learning a lot from each post. Walt Disney (the man) and The Nine old Men have been a huge influence in my life.

    You mentioned Milt was worried about Shere Khan coming in too late. I listened to his interview on The Animation Podcast from a lecture he did in 1976 (or 77) at Cal Arts. The students asked him what was the last great movie he felt he worked on and Milt said "Sword in the Stone". Do you know if he was or wasn't too happy with the final outcome of The Jungle Book? I know this movie was a huge deal to you. I could see how it is just a feast in terms of great Character animation. However, I personally am not as fond of it because the story isn't as strong. Then again, Sword in the Stone wouldn't be my favorite Disney film either :/. Thanks for the wonderful insight and posting so many great pieces of art from these wonderful artists.

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    1. In other interviews Milt said that he liked Jungle Book, and thought it was the last "good one" he worked on. Despite the simple story, he thought the characters were good and that the whole thing had a nice flow to it.
      I couldn't agree more.

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  3. When Milt Kahl left Disney something truly ended there....
    I can compare this "ending of a great era" when certain artists named like Glen Keane and Andreas Deja retired from the Studio....

    I am confident that this is just a temporary suspension of activities for inspirational and creative regeneration..... :)

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  4. Hi Andreas, first of all, thank you so much for sharing all this beautiful and inspiring artwork.
    Being an animation collector myself, I was wondering if you can help to identify if a drawing belongs to Milt or not.
    I have two matching drawings of Shere khan and Kaa from the scene where the tiger leaves the scene.
    The drawing of Shere khan doesn't have a time chart, it has the number nineteen twice, one circled and one is not. Both drawings have the initials "mk" at the bottom.
    Do the initials have any meaning?
    Thanks again

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    1. I would have see the drawings to be able to tell you if they are authentic. Milt did not initial his drawings, so that's a bit odd.

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    2. Is there any way I can send you the images?
      my email is: aviblyer01@gmail.com

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  5. I think Shere Khan is a strong contender for the high point of the entire medium! (if there ever was such a thing)
    I kind of like the films with simpler stories. Jungle Book and Sword in the Stone seem to be designed as platforms for great character animation.
    Especially with Sword in the Stone- for the most part we're just hanging out with Wart, Merlin and Archimedes, and it's super entertaining. The story just gives them some stuff to do while they're there.

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  6. That is one heck of a post, I loved the character animation of Shere Khan and of course George Sanders is perfect for the voice.

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  7. I remember the interview with Kahl done in the 80s where he drew another Shere Kahn in retirement, and I was floored at how his face was imitating the exact same expression that the pencil was sculpting on the paper. He wasn't looking at a mirror, but he felt every single plane as his pencil swiped down such a beautiful drawing. That's masterful talent.

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  8. Wow!!! Such beautiful drawings!! Thank you for sharing Andreas!

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  9. Wonderful drawings. The best thing I learned from the older stuff : Those figures had weight. Really great work. Still fun to watch.

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  10. Andreas,

    thank you so much for sharing these sketches as well as the picture of George Sanders! Milt Kahl certainly had such refined skill. Looking at his art is always such a delight. And Sanders...well, he was in a class of his own and is one of my very favorite actors. His velvety voice made Shere Kahn come to life.

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  11. Each time we revisit Shere Khan in these posts, I learn something incredible and new.

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  12. "Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.

    George Sanders"

    In death (his suicide note) as in life, dramatic to the core.

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  13. Andreas, I know you had commented awhile back that you purposely didn't watch Jungle Book while working on Scar in The Lion King. Did you worry that Scar would turn out too much like a Shere Kahn imitation if you had?

    I'm just curious to know if watching Shere Khan for inspiration would somehow (albeit subconciously) work it's way into your Scar animation.

    Again, thanks for all that you share with us, and providing constant stimulation and inspiration. :)

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    1. I thought the two characters had things in common, so I stayed away from Shere Khan and instead focused on the potential Jeremy Irons gave me.

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  14. I just adore Shere Kahn. My favourite from these pics has to be of him clapping the vultures singing. Amazing how that close up shot works so well. If it was a full body shot, it would have looked rather weird seeing him keeping upright on just his back legs.
    In fact was it Milt who re-used this trick in The Aristocats when Duchess first met O'Malley and applauded his singing?

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    1. You are right.
      For Scar I only used human gestures in close ups or medium shots. As you said, full body drawings would not have worked.

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