Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Milt Kahl, Celine & Andreas

I have a mixed bag today.
To start off, here are a bunch of Milt Kahl ruffs of Merlin, King Louie, Shere Khan, George Hautcourt and Edgar from "The Aristocats".
These are scans of copies of the original key drawings.
Waaayyy back I had the chance to talk to Woolie Reitherman about Milt's work on 
"Sword in the Stone". Woolie said:"When I first saw Milt's animation of Merlin, I told him that theses drawings are so good, you could hang them in a museum. But Milt just said, aah you're full of it."   Except he didn't say "IT".
I would have to agree with Woolie, there is a perfection in Milt's drawings that is astonishing. They hold up beautifully as single pieces of illustration. 
But Milt also got criticized for this by other animators: 
"Oh, Milt is only interested in the drawing aspect, his acting falls flat."

Look at the drawings of King Louie, when I saw those for the first time, I noticed that here his eyes are smaller than the version in the film, and he has less hair on his head.
I asked Milt about this and he said:" Walt didn't like his beady eyes, he wanted them larger and he also asked for more hair on his head. I just threw the already animated scenes to my assistant Dave Michener and told him: YOU change it!" 

Switching gears again with a photo.
Alright...laugh you guys!!

Last March a few friends of mine were visiting from Paris, and part of their trip included a stop over to Las Vegas to see Celine Dion's show, amongst other things.
They invited me to come along, and I thought wouldn't it be cool to meet her before or after the show. I remembered of course that she sang the Pop version of "Beauty & the Beast" withy Peabo Bryson. 
So I turned to Disney for help to make this meeting possible. It all worked out and me and my six friends were ready to meet Miss Dion before her performance.
Because I didn't want to show up empty handed, I had prepared the drawing for her you see in the photo. The idea for the gift was to combine my character Gaston from "B & B" with her and that "other" hit movie she was part of.
When I handed it to her she said very seriously : "You know, I've been given things over the years, but this is very special. But let me ask you, is Gaston going to hold on to me or drop me in the ocean?"
She surprised me with that question, and the only answer that came to my mind was: "Well, he didn't get the girl in his last movie, so he's probably going to hold on to you...but be careful with that guy !"
There was a photographer standing by to take our picture, so we both held the drawing for a photo. All of a sudden Celine goes:"No, no, no.....let's do the pose from your drawing."
So here I am finding myself playing Titanic with Celine Dion. 

You can see from my grin that I had a good time, and her show afterwards was fantastic.


  1. Andreas Deja; that is absolutely the gayest photo I have ever seen in my entire life.

    I love it!


  2. It was Titanic after all, so add another line to the song: "No one sinks like Gaston..."

    King Louie is one of my all-time favorite Milt Kahl incarnations. However, what I can't figure out is the moments where either Milt is animating him or when Frank Thomas took the reigns. I love the shot where Milt animated Louie standing on one arm while pointing to himself with his remaining hands and feet. Genius stuff.

    I agree with Woolie Reitherman. Those drawings of Merlin are good enough (and should) to display in a museum!

  3. Cant help humming the Titanic theme looking at the photo.....

  4. Great stories, Andreas, and thanks for the Milt Kahl images. These are some of my favorite characters in animation. I suspect I was a Milt fan long before I even knew who he was!

  5. Beautiful drawings. As always I am deeply grateful for your generosity in sharing this artwork to inspire us and remind us of the beauty of hand-drawn animation.

    Question: was the Milt assistant mentioned above who was tasked with enlarging King Louie's eyes James Michener or Dave Michener ? I haven't come across the name James Michener as a Disney artist before , but of course many fine Disney assistant animators have been more or less unknown and anonymous in their work. However, I am familiar with Dave Michener who was later an animator, story artist, and director at Disney and other studios.

    (or perhaps Dave Michener is one of those fellows who went by two names earlier in his career , like "James David Michener" or "David James Michener" before settling on Dave Michener for the bulk of his career ? )

  6. These are great. Thanks again. The "Titanic" shot is terrific:)

  7. Well, I am a amateur actor and I can tell you guys that the fact that Milt has said the s*it word during the making of the movie has a brought Merlin a lot of luck. Here in Italy Merlin is one of our favorite Disney characters thanks to his voice actor Bruno Persa. It's really a shame that Randy Thornton has never made an OST of the movie. (The discussion is extended to Robin Hood, the Rescuers and The Fox and the Hound too).

    Coming to the vignette, I have just one thing to say. Celine: "Gaston... I'm flying". Gaston: "Of course not! It's just that we serve a very strong beer at the Inn!" Thanks for posting this goodies!

  8. David, you are correct. Of course it was Dave Michener,
    my mistake.

    1. You like Celine Dion too, just like me i love her songs of Beauty and the Beast and my Heart will go on from Titanic i like 2007 beter than now i was 14 wen i saw her in Las Vagas

  9. Great art one more time ! Shere Khan is my favourite here. I love his chin so much ! And the photo is amazing ! Haha ! Your grin is so unique !
    Thank you for sharing.

  10. My God the expressions in each drawing are priceless. They should be in a museum. That picture of you and Celine is great. Looks like so much fun.

    Thanks for posting.

  11. Ha-ha, that's awesome that you got to hang out with Celine Dion. It was also nice of you to paint her a picture. I’m sure she really appreciated it.
    By the way, thanks for posting so much on Milt and so many other fantastic artist. I've learned so much. I look forward to seeing more :)

  12. his acting falls flat? Crazy talk. Theyre just hating. hahah great post by the way. I live in Vegas and actually got to see Celine's show. My wife worked at the mgm at the time and scooped us free tickets. Good show.

  13. You actually met Celine Dion? That's kinda cool.

  14. good story & this post has made me miss my favorite, now defunct, blog on Tumblr "Ridiculous pictures of Celine Dion" hah hah. Is it odd that I wanna see Gaston & Celine animated?

  15. Haahaha! This photo is amazing! And what a great memory to have!

  16. Love this picture! Thanks for sharing your story!