Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Madam Mim

Of all Disney animated classics, "The Sword in the Stone" was the last one I saw way back, in a re release in theaters. I was already an art student by then and appreciated beautiful design and animation.
When Madam Mim appeared on the screen I was blown away. There is great sophistication in her design, and her acting is fresh and full of life.
Walt Disney assigned Milt Kahl and Frank Thomas to this character, knowing that if you combine their creative forces, nothing but great stuff would come out.
Milt had perfected the way he drew hands in his animated scenes. The fingertips are squared off, and the fingernails are placed with realistic perspective. 
To give the design contrast, her body is kept short and chubby, her arms and legs are very thin and boney.
Both animators just loved working on Mim, and they agreed that there should have been more of her in the movie.
Milt's animation is full of inventive moves, like funky dance steps and hops. When Mim turns into a "beautiful" witch, her moves are almost risque.
Frank had a lot of fun with her dialogue scenes. His acting is eccentric, too, but it feels very believable and grounded.
Here is the first part of her intro in pencil test form.

These are a few of Milt's rough key drawings, beautiful and perfect.

Here you can see how Milt helped out with Mim drawings for a few Frank Thomas scenes. In doing this, graphic continuity was guaranteed.

These scans show you how Frank handled Madame Mim. His drawings are a mix of caricature, subtlety and realism. I have almost all rough drawings from this scene, where she comes up with her own rules for the Wizard's Duel (One of my all time favorites). 
I will add a few missing inbetweens myself and show the whole pencil test at a future post.

A gorgeous cel set up from the opening scene.