Saturday, October 31, 2015


If you'd ask me what Disney villain is the scariest, most evil, answer would be The Devil on Bald Mountain from Fantasia. Not much character development here, but a glorious  animated nightmare. Animation, effects, art Milt Kahl said:"There has never been anything like that since."

When it comes to villains in live action films, I can think of a few that scare the popcorn out of me.
Here are a few in no particular order of frightening degree.
Anthony Hopkins plays Dr. Hannibal Lecter so believably as a psychopath with cannibalistic habits, it's hard to look at the screen when he looking into the camera. This film frame alone...

Heath Ledger was so terrifying as the Joker in The Dark Knight, I went home after I saw the film and watches a sequence from The Aristocats (to calm down).

Jack Nicholson was made to play villains. He almost ended up voicing Hades for Disney's Hercules.
Talking about a gifted actor who has fun portraying evil.

Villains can be very good looking. It's a strange, but powerful concept.
Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth in Schindler's List.

Anthony Perkins in Hitchcock's Psycho.

Kathy Bates as the ultimate obsessed fan Annie Wilkes. Great film, difficult to watch.

I saw Clockwork Orange only once, will never watch it again. An amazing movie...too intense for me.
Actor Malcolm McDowell as Alex.

Movie bully #1, Zack Ward as Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story. One of my favorite films.

Another one of my favorite films, Spielberg's Jaws. Amazing script, actors, and the fact that you saw the shark only a few times helped elevate this film to classic status.
(Btw, right now we are having more sharks, Great Whites and Hammerheads, off the Southern California coast than ever before..scary stuff).

To me this character just might be the scariest of all screen villains. Actor Helgi Skulasson played a murderous tribe leader in the 1987 Norwegian film Pathfinder. This man has the look of death in his eyes. I apologize for the low res image, this is the only one I could find on the internet.
I really like the movie. Simple powerful story, great casting and....him!!


Here is a link to a recent article about the villains I animated at Disney for Disney Insider:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

They Drew as they Pleased

You need to get this book!
Didier Ghez has compiled the most beautiful Visual Development artwork, representing the 1930s at Disney Studios. You will find gorgeous sketches, watercolors and pastels by artists like Albert Hurter, Ferdinand Hovarth, Gustaf Tenggren and Bianca Majolie. Their level of artistry and invention is mind boggling.
Today's animation industry can learn a lesson or two from the unconventional approach of these early Disney artists. These folks were feverishly experimenting, a quality I would like to see again in today's animated output.

Didier passionately chronicles the life and artistic style of Disney's early idea artists.
The illustrations are beautifully reproduced. Get the book!

Here are a few of Hovarth's design concepts for various projects, not included in the book.

Drawings Disney/Heritage Auctions

Monday, October 26, 2015

Jungle Book Thumbnails

I really don't know who drew these small thumbnail sketches for The Jungle Book. They might have been done for the original, darker story treatment, based on Bill Peet's concepts. The rhino Rocky shows up in one of the images, a character Milt Kahl was about to start animation on, before Walt suggested to remove Rocky from the film.
It is interesting to see how certain situations were either restaged or entirely cut from the final version while others reflect scenes we know from the movie.
These original pages were offered at auction a while ago, I kept scans of some of the sketches.
Beautiful stuff!

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Some fun Goofy material.
The beautiful watercolor illustrations above were published in Good Housekeeping Magazine.
The quality of the art in this page as well as in many other ones, based on Disney short films of the time, is outstanding. The characters were in their prime, in areas like animation, comics and illustration.

The following clean up drawings from the 1936 short Moving Day show animator Art Babbit's insight into the personality of Goofy. In this scene he is interacting with a piano which shows considerable personality. It refuses to get moved into the new home, and Goofy tries hard to meet this challenge.
No dialogue here just good old vaudeville pantomime. I wouldn't call these drawings refined or sophisticated, but the overall poses are very strong, and they communicate Goofy's state of mind in very entertaining ways.

A cel followed by a couple of rough animation drawings from the 1937 short Clock Cleaners.
It's interesting to see how loosely the animators worked when dealing with comedic action scenes.

A few pages from the How to Draw Goofy booklet, which used to be sold at Disneyland.

I never realized that Goofy had become a fashion trend setter. Those slipped down pants are back in style today.

I've always loved seeing sequential poses in Disney publications. What makes the Goofy run unusual and specific has to do with pose # 2. The knee moves way up with the foot dragging, toes pointing backwards, before snapping in to a forward position. This is an "out of the ordinary drawing" which breaks up the regularity of a normal run.

I had the pleasure of animating scenes involving Goofy for The Prince and the Pauper, and more recently for How to Hook up your Home Theatre, a short I am very fond of. It was always fun to get assigned to classic Disney short characters and try to give them a little Encore in life.

Some images, Heritage Auctions:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Aladdin Buddies

Two friends of mine are currently part of the the enormously popular universe of Aladdin "On Stage".
Jonathan Freeman is the first and only actor who voiced a Disney animated villain and then went on to portray the role on stage.
I loooved animating to Jonathan's voice, and he is dynamite in the Broadway show. If you anywhere near New York, treat yourself to a fantastic evening.

John and Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) in rehearsal.

A different, non Disney production of Aladdin is happening right now in Paris. My friend Alexis Loizon plays the title character. Here is a group shot with the main cast, Alexis is the one with the six pac case you wondered.
Our Disney connection is actually Beauty and the Beast. Alexis played a forceful French Gaston in the Disney stage production of La Belle et La Bete.
I am thrilled that he will also appear in Disney's upcoming live action movie Beauty and the Beast, not as Gaston though. Stay tuned!

Alexis getting ready to hit the stage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Eric Larson Art

It looks like Eric Larson is being handed what might be a ring from Disney Studio Chief Ron Miller to celebrate an anniversary during Eric's long career as an animator and teacher.
His first feature assignment on a feature film were those very labor intense scenes showing often large animal groups in Snow White.
It is interesting to see that in this drawing all animals are on the same sheet of paper. This means that none of the critters ever came to a stop (which would require a separate sheet to show them in a held position). But doing it like this certainly made it easier to orchestrate the overall motion of the group.

Scenes like this one -based on live action- needed to be scrutinized very carefully, or your characters would float on the screen. Look at how many times Eric altered the follow through on Cinderella's dress.

Great silhouette on these two rough drawings.

From one of my favorite sequences, Cinderella is pleading with the Stepmother, who is firing off orders and insults from her bed.

Eric animated many scenes during the opening sequence from Alice in Wonderland.

A couple of key drawings from a Peter Pan scene, in which Milt Kahl probably had a hand in as far as drawing the character on model.

This still is a publicity set up, but Eric did animate the complicated multiplane scenes featuring Peter Pan and The Darling children as they fly over London toward Neverland.

Peg became one of Eric's signature characters. A flawless performance in the Dog Pound sequence!

Some drawings come from Howard Lowery's auction website: