Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Milt Kahl Autograph that almost didn't happen

During one of my visits to see Milt in Northern California I brought along a Colonel Hathi sketch, I had just purchased. Milt didn't animate any scenes with elephants for The Jungle Book, but he was involved with their designs.
When I asked him to sign the sketch, Milt hesitated. He said he doesn't like the way he drew the tusks coming out of Hathi's upper mouth. He used his fingers to describe the way it should have been drawn. "No, I don't want to sign this." My facial expression must have been utter disappointment, because that's when his wife Julie, who was also present, spoke up: "Oh Milt, come on."
He then picked up the rejected drawing and autographed it. I was happy!
It is unbelievable to realize how critical Milt remained long after leaving animation behind. I could never get an on the spot drawing out of him. At that stage in his life he felt that he wasn't up to his old standards anymore. I certainly respect him for that, and feel privileged that Milt took the time to meet with me.


  1. great post. Is it always necessary to visualize the whole drawing in our head before drawing on the paper?

  2. That's a cute story. I love how Milt's wife was telling Milt to sign that sketch you bought. Did you get the drawing from an auction?

  3. Beautiful sketch by Milt - Andreas, very fortunate to have this one. I love the stretch with the mouth shapes and of course the angles and curves he used on the raised trunk - again, beautiful design.
    Just Wondering .... what was bothering him with the tusks ? What was his thoughts when he was telling you how it should had been drawn ?

    - Mark

    1. Milt mentioned that the far tusk doesn't connect correctly with the upper skull. I checked images on google, and it really would be a challenge to draw this from that angle. Still, I think this sketch is remarkable.

    2. I know, it's beautiful. I have to say, this is one of my favorite drawings i have seen from him. The solid body structure along with the amazing looseness of the elephant skin - again beautiful ! Let me know if you are ever are looking to sell it :-) - hope you're doing well down there

  4. It's interesting that he thought he wasn't up to his old standards any more. I've definitely seen some animators who, get out of practice and lose their skills.
    Although I think Milt would have to have gone a LONG time without working to do a bad drawing by my standards.
    Really looking forward to your virtual animators thing next week, Andreas. They said it would be the first of a series, so I'll try to get to all of them

  5. Thank you so much Andreas for your blog. Looking at both the Nine Old Men and your work has inspired me to become an animator.