Monday, May 31, 2021

Remembering Hercules


I drew this sketch for a friend many moons ago. Before production on the film began I struggled like crazy to try and set the design for Hercules. Gerald Scarfe was our inspiration for the overall visual design of the film. I think I was the last animator to get my character design approved. The Scarfe influence is more subtle than in most of the other characters. 
Tate Donavan gave a terrific vocal performance, I think he was just perfect for the role.
The crazy thing is that when Tate was a young aspiring actor, way before Hercules, we lived next door to each other for some time in a neighborhood near Lake Hollywood. He shared a big house with a few other acting students. During that time I ran into him occasionally, but who knew that we would work together in the future. 

When the movie premiered in New York in 1997 we both did press interviews together. A lot of fun.
Unfortunately at that time my dad passed away. So I had to stop my PR work and fly back to Germany for the funeral. But afterwards I did join directors Ron and John in South America to continue promoting the film.

One thing I want to say about Tate, he is a terrific actor, somewhat underrated. Just check him out in the TV drama Damages (2007 - 2012) next to Glen Close.

Friday, May 28, 2021

A Sullivant Original II


"Darling, something tells me that the baby has fallen out of bed again."

Another original illustration by TS Sullivant, published in LIFE magazine on July 19, 1923. It measures 22 x 14". Be sure to  click on the image twice for full size and resolution. I find it somewhat unusual but interesting that the sofa chairs' armrests visually almost create two extra "legs" for the hippo couple. But that doesn't bother me, Sullivant can pull off unusual staging like no one else.

Unmatched cartooning artistry.

Monday, May 24, 2021

The Rescuers Article

John Culhane wrote this article at the time of the film's release in 1977. He inadvertently had became the model for one of the characters, Mr Snoops. As a longtime Disney fan and historian, John was elated to have been "immortalized" by animator Milt Kahl. Who wouldn't?

The article gives you a pretty good idea where the studio was at, regarding the transition from the old guard to a new generation of Disney artists.

I miss John. When it came to animation he was so enthusiastic and always fun to talk to.


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Medusa Original Rough


Medusa has just thrown one of her boots toward Snoops, when she lets out a gleeful "Ha!" There is some weird but wonderful stuff going on here drawing wise. That one line starting at her lower back  flows right past her shoulder and arm to end up in her fingertips. Crazy! I love that Milt exposed so much gum above her teeth. That adds so much character and menace. You would think that all those hair lines would boil and distract when seen in motion, but it all works.

I know that Milt Kahl would have kept on breaking conventional rules in his work had he stayed on for another film or two after The Rescuers. But he thought the overall Disney standard had fallen too low for him to stick around. In any case, Milt enjoyed eleven years of retirement before passing away in 1987.

Friday, May 7, 2021

A Sullivant Original I


Dr. Monk: Take a hundred and fifty of these pills with five gallons of hot lemonade before you go to bed tonight, and let me know how you feel in the morning.

This Illustration appeared in LIFE magazine On December 27, 1923. TS Sullivant passed away in 1926.
The image was also recently published on page 288 in the book A Cockeyed Menagerie, The Drawings of T.S. Sullivant.

I love the idea that the sick elephant is reaching for the prescription with his drippy trunk. Sullivant's search for perfection often led him to erase unwanted ink lines from the cardboard's surface, with a knife or a blade of some sort. Lines were erased under the elephant's trunk in order to set back the left arm.
He also redrew the monkey's hand with the prescription. 

So much personality in these three characters, if you count the skeleton image. (I wonder what animal that would be, a pig perhaps?).
Image size: 20 x 13 1/2 "

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Prince Philip: A Closer Look


Here is another closer look, this time at Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty. These images are photos of the original, oversized model sheet. But unlike the recently posted Peter Pan sheet (which showed photographs of Milt Kahl's roughs), in this case his animation drawings were cut out and mounted on this beige cardboard.
Again, most of you have seen this model sheet as a print or somewhere online, but I hope these hi/res images give you a new appreciation of Milt's work on the character. Sophisticated lines that define sophisticated shapes. The Peter Pan drawings (just a few years prior) are all about dynamics and fluidity. Philip is all about graphic accuracy and perfection.
It is outrageous to realize that these are Milt's rough animation drawings, you could practically ink the images right on to cels. And yet new clean up drawings were produced as the final guide for the inkers.

I want to point out again that Milt literally hated to work on this character. But that fact did not keep him from maintaining a high standard, as these drawings clearly prove.