Thursday, September 29, 2011

Prince John

Prince John as a tiger?
Milt Kahl considered this for the villain from "Robin Hood" at least momentarily,
as you can see in some of these early design sketches. 
But his brother King Richard "The Lion Hearted" obviously had to be portrayed as a lion, so the tiger idea was dropped.
Ollie Johnston of course animated this character. I remember Ollie talking often how much he enjoyed animating Prince John (as well as Sir Hiss), and he thought that Peter Ustinov for his voice was just great.

Here is a funny story Ollie told me about Milt Kahl and the issue of screen credit for "Robin Hood":
" Milt liked what I was doing with Prince John, he was very complementary about my animation. One morning he came into my office and said that I should get top billing this time within the "Directing Animators" credits. Milt usually got that honor,
because he designed all the characters. Milt was going to talk to management that afternoon. So I said OK thanks, and almost forgot about it. The next morning Milt stormed back into my office, this time with an agitated attitude. 'You know, I am the character designer around here and do all this extra work. I should get top billing on this film.'
I just said, that's fine by me, Milt, no problem. I later found out that he had discussed the credit issue with his wife the night before, and she wasn't  too happy about it."

There you have it, 1970ies politics at Disney.

That being said, I find all of these drawings just beautiful!


  1. Awesome drawings! Love all these insights into the disney greats! Thanks so much for posting!

  2. For me personally, these Robin Hood posts are some of the most inspiring pieces I have seen in a long time! They remind me of why I became an animator in the first place, and are truly inspiring for me as I try to take a break from CG and get back into traditional animation. Thank you so much for sharing!!! Not to mention Prince John is my favorite (after Robin of course), and Ustinov is BRILLIANT in his vocal performance. Love it!

  3. This is one of my favorite characters in Disney. Some people dont like this film. But I really love it for many reasons.
    That Milt, Ollie story was really funny would have liked Ollie to make a caricature about the supervisor meeting between Milt and his wife. I wolnder how Milt would react, lol.

  4. i like the drawing of prince john sitting in the throne upset, it sums up his whole bratty persona

  5. So funny. Thanks for sharing.

    If there ever was a drawing I'd like to hang on my wall it would be that pose that is the fourth picture from the top. Prince John looks like a little devious kid with his crown overlapping his eyes. So inspirational.

    Best blog by far!!!

  6. Those drawings are great :) thanks for sharing them Andreas. And the animation of the film is great also.

    Curiosity... on those years who was responsible for the continuation of the scenes?
    On this scene of Prince John on the throne, sometimes he has his rings on the fingers and sometimes the rings are not there. And when Prince John condemns Robin Hood to dead, suddenly Lady Mary has five fingers on her hands instead of the usual four fingers.

    I love your blog. Thanks for doing it.

  7. The ticked off Prince John.. Lol! And a faint Sir hiss, it's that pencil barely kissing the paper thing that, Glen Keane was speaking about on the Frank and Ollie Documentary. wow!

  8. You know, I think I could have bought a lion with a tiger for a brother. Prince John was always such a highlight from that film and I can't think of another villain like him before or after.

    That is a fantastic story! It's really fun to hear the human side of things, because it's so easy to lose sight of the fact that the nine old men were just regular guys instead of art demigods.

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  10. As I was downloading the images from this post I saw the image filenames and couldn't resist a smile and a laugh. Just seeing the letters PJ brought back to memory the scene with 'The Duke of Chutney' and Prince John, "P... J... I like that. Hiss! Put that on my luggage!" Such mileage those gag writers were able to get out of these characters.

  11. I guess Milt just loved using stripes. He put 'em on his version of O'Malley in Aristocats and here they are on Prince John as a tiger. I wonder if somewhere there are pre-production sketches of Medusa in a zebra-patterned dress ?
    (You can hear Woolie yelling: "Dammit Milt, every stripe costs us $10,000 , cut it out man! )

  12. Being originally conceived as a tiger would certainly explain the absence of a mane on Prince John. As much as I love the character, it always struck me odd that PJ lacked a mane while brother Richard was blessed with quite a full one. As others have already stated, thanks so much for this series of posts on "Robin Hood", Andreas. Though it may be somewhat pedestrian in regard to story and layout, the film remains a favourite of mine for its inspired and fun character animation. I particularly enjoyed your post on Alan-a-Dale the rooster, as that role also introduced me to the music of that crazy rascal, Roger Miller, who voiced the character. I've been a fan of his ever since!

  13. @Pete, Just a thought after reading your comment. Maybe the lack of a mane in the Lion world would be the equivalent of going bald. Maybe his brother got the strength, the looks and the kingdom. But, PJ doesn't even have a full "head of hair" so to speak.

  14. Pete,
    stay tooned for more posts on "Robin Hood".
    There will be artwork nobody has seen before.
    By the way, I am a big fan of your art.

  15. Hey Andreas,

    Just wondering but do you own any model sheets or animation from Warner Bros. or MGM stuff like Tex Avery? Or is it mostly Disney? Anyway, looking forward to other Disney productions you have coming up on your sleeve.

  16. Pete Emslie - I always figured he was like the maneless lions of Tsavo - smaller, balder, and meaner!

  17. I absolutely love the animal version of Robin Hood, especially the minstrel rooster, who I later found out was Chanticleer plan but it slightly became this.

    1. I heard from several sources that most of these designs Ken Anderson salvaged from a failed 'Les Romanes de Reynearde' pitch.

      If you look at it, you'll notice:
      Badass antihero fox (who Ken drew in footy pajamas) and devoted wife,
      Large flabby bear,
      All powerful and overconfident lion,
      and the model of the Sherriff who ended up a wolf (it was Reitherman's choice; Ken wanted a goat but happened to have the wolf drawing laying around)...
      And after concern that the church would take offense, he threw Friar Tuck the Pig out and brought out a design he had for the Badger.
      Seriously! It's insane! 0.0

      the Marc Davis designs for Chantecler had a chance at getting past executives. That's the titillating part.

  18. And to think, these days the executives for features will come up to you, after you've drawn the titles, and then say 'Oh, the contract says Jim Pickerford's name can't be on more than .75 times longer than Mariet Barmbleschmitz; and the gaffer demands in his contract that he be placed next to the best boy, not under it.'
    And you hope to God they're joking, seeing as how you've finished the whole thing and changing it would mean retiming it to fit the music and redrawing about half the titles.

    That's simultaneously the best and worst thing about the Reitherman features; the all-powerful control the Four Oldest men had. Despite having both Vance AND Ken AND Larry on story staff, an animator could conceivably sit in a hole and draw, and they would throw it into the film. If it's Milt or Frank or etc. then it's awesome; but the second stringers were going by the seat of their pants and doing shots that disrupt overall continuity... and everything is character animation; little distinctive voice or expressive movement or subtlety or smoothing effects...