Wednesday, October 23, 2019

From Vance Gerry to Milt Kahl

Story artist Vance Gerry boarded Medusa's introduction sequence from The Rescuers.
You can see that Vance was still kind of hanging on to her classic depiction, in which her hair mass is actually a bunch of snakes.
Milt Kahl who animated the villainess didn't go quite as far and drew her hair more conventionally.
This of course makes  complete sense since we are not dealing with Greek mythology here but instead with New York during the 1970s.

But Milt kept Vance's overall idea for the character's staging.
He mentioned in an interview that Medusa treats the phone's hand set as if it were Snoops. She is mad at him for not being able to control Penny. So she shakes the hand set, pokes it with her finger etc.
That thing represents Snoops to her. A fun way to approach this scene from an acting and animation point of view.






A few terrific thumbnail sketches for this section of the film.



A felt pen sketch that shows Medusa's unusual and entertaining body proportions.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Mickey Mouse, 90 Years

This is a reject for a proposed illustration to help promote Mickey's 90th anniversary.
Theme park Mickey and Steamboat Willie take a selfie together.




Friday, October 18, 2019

Flying Horses

I have always loved the design and animation of the Pegasus pair in Fantasia.
Beautiful simplified anatomy combined with an elegant art deco style. And did they ever work out perspective challenges of those wings. I don't know who drew these construction model sheets, but Eric Larson did a fair amount of gorgeous animation with these flying horses.
By contrast the juveniles in this sequence look a bit too cute and cartoony to me. Their overall animation is fine, but a certain solid body structure is missing.

To me it's the adults that steel the show.






Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Appeal, Flair & Magnetism



For some reason I have a difficult time finding those attributes in recent as well as upcoming animated feature releases.
Look at how Donald Duck's world was presented in this 1944 ad. So incredibly charming and inviting. You can't take your eyes off this -I believe- Hank Porter illustration.

I could give you hundreds of other examples from the past that tell me something is missing in today's animation offerings. Not that I expect animation today to look like 1940s Disney. It's just that there was integrity and artistry to cartooning. A higher standard!
I am reminded of what Joe Grant told me, what seems like just a few yers ago: "We had the same problems making animated movies back then. It's just that we drew better."

I could argue that the advent and influence of video games has been toxic on animated features from an artistic point of view. Call me crazy, but I kind of believe that.
Yet box office success speaks for itself. Like someone said: "You can't argue with money in Hollywood."

Anyway, tons of appeal in this James Bodrero sketch for FANTASIA.




The master of appeal, Fred Moore.



I remember that these were the first Disney animation drawings I saw as a kid. This photo of Kimball was included in a small brochure that came with a Disney Super-8 film clip.
I kid you not, my heart was racing. Magnetism on a grand scale.



I am confident though that eventually more artistic "left-turns" will be made in animation. 
Art has a way.....


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Cinderella Photostats




A small selection of photostats from Cinderella
Filming all that live action to help the animators maintain realism in their work resulted in a very short animation schedule. I remember Frank Thomas telling me that they did the whole thing (animation) in six months. Unbelievable!!
Frank gave a LOT of credit for the successful portrayal of his character, Lady Tremaine, to actress Eleanor Audley. He loved her sinister, powerful voice as well as her nuanced live action performance.






Monday, September 30, 2019

WDFM Mickey Mouse Book

Get this book!
The catalogue/book that covers the Walt Disney Family Museum's current exhibition is gorgeous.
My co-curator Micheal Labrie and I had the greatest time compiling this unique selection of images and objects that cover Mickey's astounding career. 
From early black & white short films to color and TV shows, merchandize, Disney parks and a whole lot more. 
This was a labour of love for everyone involved. The exhibit is ongoing in San Francisco, and I can only hope that Walt's daughter Diane would be happy with what we've done. I'll never forget that day when she asked me a few years ago to take on such an endeavor.

We dedicate this book to her extraordinary, supportive husband Ron Miller. I was so pleased when he gave us his blessing after having seen the exhibit's layout and design.
Diane was very much on all of our our minds while we were planing to pay tribute to her dad's most iconic character.

The book includes artwork never before seen, like Mickey and Minnie dancing in the second image. 
From the estate of Les Clark.

Go get this Book! Click on the the Mickey image to the right, which takes you to AMAZON.















Saturday, September 21, 2019

Can't Get Enough of Kley



I really can't.
Each new Kley piece I discover online or at auction takes my breath away. Maybe it's our common German background.
This drawing was titled by Kley "The Patient". Not sure of the date.
What a wonderful whimsical situation. An unwell dragon, an eccentric doctor and a princess.
Just for a moment...imagine this being animated, moving, as is in the illustration!
What a glorious film this could be....





Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Genius of Milt Kahl



Another example of the immense creativity of Milt Kahl during the production of Lady and the Tramp. Milt was able to animate just about any situation with a four legged animal at this point.
He knew a dog's anatomy like nobody's business, and he could animate any scene believably in a masterful way. Milt liked this movie, he thought this film represented some of the studio's better efforts.

More on Tramp here:

https://andreasdeja.blogspot.com/2019/03/a-lady-tramp-masterpiece.html

https://andreasdeja.blogspot.com/2012/06/one-year-anniversary.html

https://andreasdeja.blogspot.com/2011/07/tramp.html

Friday, September 13, 2019

A Father Daughter Story



I remember animating this sequence from The Little Mermaid. 
King Triton is having a serious conversation with his daughter, who has disobeyed the rules by going up to the ocean's surface. 
His tone of voice has concern, anger, frustration and disbelief. I was in the middle of animating this, when suddenly it dawned on me that all of his feels too familiar. My older sister Christa had started dating way back, and she would go out to have a good time at a nearby disco. 
My dad told her to be back home by 11pm, but of course Christa had a habit of being late. My father would wait in the living room until she returned in order to face her and read her the riot act.
He was very loud in his rants, and he got close to my sister, pointing at her, but never touching her. 
My sister held her ground. 
How could I not reference my dad when animating this? It was a case of art imitating life.

Years later I told my father that his personality and demeanor made it into a Disney animated film.
He wasn't sure if this was a good or a bad thing.

More on King Triton in this sequence here:
https://andreasdeja.blogspot.com/2016/03/king-triton-stuff.html
https://andreasdeja.blogspot.com/2015/12/king-triton.html


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Mystery Video Tape



This item is currently being offered on Ebay.
The year is 1994, and Disney Art Editions invited Marc and me to have a conversation about our careers and animation in general. The video would be distributed to animation art dealers in the mid 1990s.
Disney Art Editions in those days produced re-created cels of Disney characters from the films' memorable moments.
This is 25 years ago, and I remember vividly what a hot afternoon it was. And also what an amazing honor to spend time with Marc on camera in front of the original Burbank animation studios. What I don't recall is what we talked about specifically.

I actually owned a VHS copy of this, hopefully I will find it and have it transferred to a digital file.
And then post it!





Update: Found it!

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Princess and the Frog at the Academy




Great night at the Academy last Thursday. A 10th anniversary screening of the film and a panel.
So nice to see everybody again. I was asked: "Does it feel like 10 years ago to you?"
Heck yes! So much has happened since we made that film. 

After Frog Disney  gave us one more shot at pencil animation with Winnie the Pooh.
As soon as it was announced that that film's release date had changed to go head to head with the last Harry Potter film, we knew...

Anyway I had fun working on both films, Mama Odie was a blast to animate (she should have had one more sequence in the film though, perhaps the at the ending)

Here are a few Vis Dev pieces by various artists from the movie.



















Saturday, September 7, 2019

Mickey Mouse at 20

In 1948 members of the National Cartoonists' Society congratulated Walt Disney on the occasion of Mickey's 20th birthday. Quite the line up of who is who in American comic strips.




Which reminds me to remind you all that the exhibition MICKEY MOUSE, FROM WALT TO THE WORLD at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco will run until early January. 
Go visit the wonderful museum and the Mickey exhibit next door. 

For more Infos:


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Richard Williams



Just like all of you I was saddened to hear about the passing of Dick Williams.
This is how I remember him most, working on Who Framed Roger Rabbit. We had met before this, in LA at Academy events and film festivals. I shared Dick's profound enthusiasm for animation, and we enjoyed just talking about Disney, Warner Brothers, or the medium in general.
One day he called me and said that he might work for Disney after all. There was this high level project in development at Disney and Amblin, a combination of animation and live action. But it would have to be done in a way never attempted before.
I recall him coming to my house for dinner and telling me a little bit about the film whose main character would be an animated rabbit. Before leaving, Dick pulled out of his car's trunk a model sheet of Roger filled with his drawings. 
A few weeks later he phoned me and asked if I was interested in joining the animation crew in London to work on the film. Of course I would still be employed by Disney. Here's the thing: I said no, I had just been in LA for a few years, and that I wasn't ready to return to Europe.
I think another couple of weeks passed and animation producer Don Hahn and Dick asked me out for a Mexican dinner. I believe it was Don Cuco in Burbank. 
Anyway we had dinner and margaritas... and I signed on.
One of the best decisions I ever made regarding my professional career.

After my flight to Heathrow I was picked up by a driver, not to my new apartment, but straight to the studio in Camden. There was no time for jet lag...here is your first scene...GO!!!
It had the ostrich from Fantasia in it, interacting with Eddie Valiant. Photostats and all.
It really was the beginning of a terrific year, there was a buzz around the studio I'd never experienced before. We really were doing things that had never been done.

Here is the link to a post about that first ostrich scene:


Monday, August 12, 2019

For Alan



Here again are some interesting pieces up for auction.
Apparently a young Disney fan named Alan celebrated his 10th birthday in 1979. How he was able to get so many Disney artists (some of them had already left the studio) to do character drawings for him is astounding. And there are many more pieces than I am showing here.












Friday, August 9, 2019

Dwarfs Revisited



An interesting piece is currently being offered at auction. Fred Moore drew these four dwarfs ( Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy and Bashful) probably sometime during the late 40s or early 50s.
You can see how Fred's drawing style had changed. 
From round, thoroughly dimensional designs for the original film to spunky, graphic depictions of their personalities. 
Of course I like both approaches, because Fred Moore, at any time, couldn't make a drawing without tremendous appeal. 
So much fun to discover this sketch!

Here's how Fred drew the dwarfs for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:
https://andreasdeja.blogspot.com/2016/02/dwarfs.html


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Wouldn't You Know?



I have often wondered if there are any Disney feature film characters that didn't get the final Milt Kahl polish, when it came to finalizing the designs.
I have never seen any Cruella De Vil sketches by Milt Kahl, or Luzifer, the cat, or Tony and Joe from Lady and the Tramp. But Milt did have something to do with the look of most Disney characters.
As he proclaimed in his episode from The Disney Family Album: "I WAS the Disney style!"

Well...he sort of was. In most cases his final designs were based on other artists' rough concepts.
Bill Peet, Joe Rinaldi, Ken Anderson and others.
So I shouldn't be surprised to find the above sketch of Cinderella from the dance sequence with the Prince. Currently for sale at Van Eaton Galleries.
That, for sure, is a Milt Kahl drawing. Eric Larson animated those scenes. There were based on live  action reference and needed to be drawn subtly and perfectly. I bet you Milt even did key drawings for the Prince in this scene. It might be Eric's animation, but the solid and appealing drawing style is all Milt.