Thursday, December 23, 2021

An Old Tossed Idea

At Disney during Walt's time, there were numerous projects in development over the years, but then cancelled for one reason or another. One of them is Reynard the Fox. Developed in the 1930s at the studio over a few years, it was eventually shelved one day. The main character was too much of a thug and a rebel. Qualities Disney did not want to see in a title character. 

Many years later, after Walt's death, the studio decided to produce the tales of Robin Hood, but with animal characters. Robin was going to be a fox, so for internal research, the artists referred back to what had been drawn for Reynard the Fox

Milt Kahl ended up animating Robin, and I know that he referenced this vintage story sketch for one of the character's opening scenes. This is no coincidence. Look at the two poses! The old inspires the new. Lightning is going to strike me, but I have to admit that I prefer the lively story sketch over Milt's version.

This sketch is currently offered by Heritage Auctions. 

Heritage's latest online auction also includes this beautiful cel from one of my favorite Robin Hood acting scenes. 


  1. I think it's super fascinating and cool when old ideas and imagery find a new home later. Miyazaki does it all the time too (not just with unreleased/unfinished projects)

  2. I will say I still prefer Milt's drawing, but that truly is a great story sketch.
    I wonder if a little bit of Reynard's character ended up in Nick Wilde from Zootopia as well, the description seems fitting, even though it's most likely just the type of character that is usually best represented by the fox in popular culture.

    1. There's also de la Fontaine fables and others like Reynard where foxes are portrayed as the bad guy. So a very old tradition it seems. Maybe this just stems from foxes plundering chicken coops and hindering agricultural activities earning them a bad reputation in folklore? Also had to think of upcoming dreamworks film "The Bad Ones" which looks really fun!

    2. Very true! I did read that they had Robin Hood in mind when they developed Zootopia, so a little recycling of ideas from older Disney projects is possible, but like you said it's most likely primarily centuries of folklore.

  3. any references about the sketch's author?

  4. I think every artist/author has a treasure at home: Notebooks filled with ideas or/and sketchbooks filled with drawings.
    This are books that represent a great collection of mostly unused ideas in a bookshelf. Pages which still waiting for a better time or for more inspiration! :)

    Thank you to show us how important it is to collect ideas, concepts, projects...! :)

  5. Why 101 D & sword in the stone & jungle book Have better quality than after movies? Isn't that because Disney passed away?