Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sullivant this November

Wil Raymakers alerted me earlier this year about the publication date of this LONG OVERDUE book on our favorite cartoonist TS Sullivant. It looks like this time it is actually going to happen after previous failed attempts to see a project like this one through.
I wished the folks involved would have contacted me, I could have provided them with hi/res scans of about 15 Sullivant originals. Perhaps they found larger collections. 
In any case, I am very much looking forward to the book. And I love the cover!

This was my first post an Sullivant, American genius:

Monday, July 6, 2020


I don't always have the time to read all of the comments posted on this blog, particularly when they appear much later than the original post date. 
In early 2016 I published a Dallas newspaper article here. It featured Milt Kahl talking about his work on Robin Hood. It also included photos of Milt drawing Robin and Little John. 
At that time I sort of wondered where these beautiful sketches might have ended up. 
Wouldn't you know in November of that year Greg Barton added a comment with the link to the framed drawings he now owns. 
I want to thank Greg (years later) for sharing his treasures. I am glad that you used UV/filter glass in your framing because these felt pen/marker drawings would fade dramatically under normal glass.
Look at Milt's lines, they seem to dance on paper as he defines shapes, volume and texture.
Pure joy.

Discovering these sketches today during difficult times everywhere makes me very, very happy!!

Here are links to Milt's visit to Dallas in 1973:

Friday, July 3, 2020

Alfonse's Restautant

There are a few restaurants/bars in the LA/ Burbank area that have a strong Disney connection.
Let's start with this painting by Marc Davis. He describes it like this:

"Alfonse's Restaurant in Toluca Lake was a favorite haunt of several Disney artists. Because I ate there regularly, they wanted something of mine to hang. This represents four drinks at Alphonse's:
a Martini, an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan and a Highball. It used to hang over a table for two. When Alfonse's closed, they gave me back the painting. All the years of cigarette smoke filtered up from that table gave it an interesting patina. I've cleaned some of it off, but traces remain."

Alfonse's closed quite a few years ago, and I don't know what year it opened.
Here is a vintage photo of the restaurant's outside.

Eric Larson took me to Alphonse's before I started working at the studio. Eric always had his own table reserved, no matter wether he showed up that day or not. It really felt like a longtime Disney hangout. The California sun was shut out with window blindes. The atmosphere was "loungy" and relaxed. The staff loved their regular Disney patrons. Eric would have a sherry before his meal. Even though being a Mormon, he allowed himself this guilty pleasure during visits.

So this is the place where Marc Davis would have a long lunch during the early 1960s, while animating Cruella de Vil. 2 - 3 Martinis were not uncommon, but bear in mind that in those days a Martini was a LOT smaller. Not to be compared to the serving size of today. 

Another interesting thing about this place:
During the late 1980s sculptor Andrea Favilli started to schedule lunches there by invitation only.
The idea being to bring Disney old-timers and newcomers together at the same table for lunch.
It was called the Dinosaur Club!
I was lucky enough to be included, which resulted in several very memorable lunch times.
Guess who showed up at these lunches? Not regularly but off and on:
Frank & Ollie, Marc Davis, Ken Anderson, Claude Coats, Bill Layne, John Hench and other artists from Disney animation and Imagineering. 
I will always remember when my German buddy Hans Bacher presented Ken Anderson with a scrapbook of artwork and photos from 101 Dalmatians. Ken was so touched to see that his work was still being studied and appreciated. These were historical encounters!

Hans has posted about The Dinosaur Club here:

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Milt Kahl at Auction

Recently there have been a few offerings of Milt's drawings at Heritage Auctions. While other animation art items saw record prices, these pieces went for relatively modest dollar amounts.

The Mickey Mouse sketch looks like it was drawn in the late 1940s or 50s. To my knowledge Milt animated Mickey only one time for the short Mickey's Circus. And that was his debut as an animator in 1936.
That hand is too large.

When Milt drew characters for fans, he mostly sketched them in black and white. This is a rare color piece. It was drawn sometime during the 1950s. The style and line work is more graphic here than in his earlier production drawings for Bambi. Thumper has a resemblance to the rabbits from Sleeping Beauty.

The three Witches of Morva for The Black Cauldron. He recycles graphic character traits from his earlier animated personalities. But the top draughtsmanship is still there.

More on Milt's character designs for The Black Cauldron here:

Monday, June 15, 2020

Missing Puppies

I've always loved this still from 101 Dalmatians. Cruella de Vil is reassured that her plot has been successful. The newspaper reports on the stolen Radcliff puppies.
This illustration had to be made during an early phase of the film's production. Anita is drawn according to her initial design. Her face and hair as well as her outfit differs from the actual film. Milt Kahl drew Anita and Roger for this "press photo", I assume Ollie Johnston drew Nanny.

It is interesting to study some of the newspaper's text, as it reflects topics from the the late 1950 and early 60s. The write up about the stolen puppies is on the left of the image. It actually talks about people being rescued after an earthquake. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020


Marc Davis animated this beautiful scene at the beginning of the "Sweet Nightingale" song sequence.
No doubt based on live action reference performed by Helen Stanley. But it is the way Marc analyzed her movement and the way he drew it that is simply stunning. These are not Marc's drawings, his animation keys would have a more constructive, rough feel about them.
In those days it was common for in-betweeners and clean up artists to study the work of the animator by tracing the roughs. This is one of those sheets.
It shows Marc's thorough understanding for what's going on here. First of all the camera angle is a bit tricky to draw, a slight down shot. And it's a rear view with foreshortening challenges. How do you draw that and make it look fascinating?
To begin with there is anatomical accuracy. The first drawing shows clearly that Cinderella's weight is on her right hip. The left leg is relaxed.
By contrast the last drawing indicates the opposite. The weight has shifted to her left hip.
Feet and shoes can be tricky when drawn from a perspective like this one, but they do look nice and simple here.
All pencil lines just flow through her body. Simplifying human anatomy to this degree is NOT EASY.
What I am trying to say is that this could have been an ordinary continuity scene...but not in the hands of Marc Davis!!