Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Pure Joy!


Here are a few items that ease my anxiety and frustration during covid lockdown.
They seemed heaven sent as we all need inspiration these days to get us out of our funk. The two Tex Avery Blu-ray volumes contain fantastic transfers of Avery's best cartoons. Very few animated films make me laugh out loud, these do constantly, no matter how many times I watch them.
My all time favorites: Bad Luck Blackie and King Size-Canary

The Sullivant book is finally here!! And is is magnificent...and big. 400 pages that show this master illustrator's work in chronological order. Also included are short essays by a few top cartoonists and scholars. You just have to get this book...end of sentence!

The 6 part book series by Didier Ghez titled They Drew as they Pleased is now complete. Disney's visual development artists finally get their due in these incredibly well researched volumes. Insightful information about their art as well as their lives. Needless to say the illustrations are breathtaking, most of them never been published before.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

"Duchess...wherever have you been?"

This is an interesting animation drawing by Milt Kahl of the butler Edgar from The Aristocats. This scene was cut from the movie. It is my guess that Edgar is "welcoming" Duchess and her kittens back home after their long absence. This pose, as a full figure, also appears on the Edgar model sheet. This means that at least two of Milt's scenes were cut.

What ended up in the final film version is this scene. Edgar has just let the cats back inside the house, and in this close up he fakes a sense of relief to see them again. Milt has him overact on purpose, because Edgar is giving a performance here toward the cats.

Great perspective drawings, and that typical, subtle head shake between #45 and #51 (on ones). 














Monday, January 11, 2021

The Tam O'Shanter

Here is another restaurant that was popular with Walt Disney and his artists, the Tam O'Shanter in Los Feliz, a short drive from the Disney Studios. The restaurant opened in the early 1920 and still operates today. These days only for food delivery and pick up until indoor dining will be possible again.

I love the sketch above showing Kimball and Disney dining at the Tam. Probably drawn by Walt Kelly.

Over the years I've had many terrific dinners there with Marc and Alice Davis (who's residence is very close by), Frank and Ollie, members of the Disney family and others. It is a very special place. 


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Marc Davis, Anatomist

I love Marc Davis anatomical studies, because they dissect not only the construction of the body but also its motion range. Marc made these illustrations for a planned book, called The Anatomy of Motion. Unfortunately he did not finish the project. There were more drawings to be added as well as text. The main reason why Marc paused was the fact there was no interest in the publishing world for this book, if you can believe such a thing...

He mentioned that he was aiming toward artists and art students, but also physicians. "I wanted to show how things are put together and how they WORK!" 

When you combine all that knowledge with a superb sense for design and artistic flair, you are looking at an artist who became invaluable to a place like Disney. 

The images are from the 2014 book: Marc Davis, Walt Disney's Renaissance Man


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Atlas of the World

Before King Triton, Gaston and Hercules there was another bodybuilder type I animated. 

If I remember correctly, toward the end of production of The Black Cauldron I discovered certain storyboards in the basement of Disney's original animation building. (We hadn't moved out yet to a warehouse in Glendale.) These storyboards looked beautiful, and I found out that Dale Baer had drawn them, and that his studio was producing the animation for an educational film to be shown at EPCOT.

So I contacted Dale to find out if he needed any help with this project. To make a long story short, I ended up animating a bunch of scenes with the character of Atlas, who was the host in this film.

Here is what D23 says about the project:

Animated Atlas of the World, The (film) Short animated film telling of the geological and meteorological aspects of the ocean, for showing in Seabase Alpha in The Living Seas, Epcot. Opened on January 15, 1986. Directed by Mike West.

Dale gave me the film's opening to animate. I also drew a few more scenes throughout the short. I don't recall if there were other animators that helped out, but I don't think so. Dale's Animation shines here, as it always does. He was and is a phenomenally gifted animator, who was mentored by John Lounsbery in the Disney training program during the 1970s. 

My own footage still shows some inexperience, I think, but thanks to Dale's guidance it was good enough to be included in the film. A funny thing about a "host" type in an educational film: The focus is on the information being conveyed. But the character himself still needs to be interesting and entertaining to watch. So you are looking for acting patterns that show some personality without detracting from what's been taught here. Jimmy Cricket and Ludwig van Drake are classic examples of that.

Dale was married to Jane Baer at the time. Before I moved to London to work on Roger Rabbit, they presented me with two cel set ups, scenes I had animated. They were both wonderful to work for.

Here is a link to a video version of the film. Someone filmed it off the screen many, many years ago. This was posted on YouTube just recently: