Nov 27, 2009

A Dynamite Disney Item that got away...

Hal King seems to have redrawn "Bacchus" as Fred Moore in departing Disney employee Sally Holmes' book

Some readers of Blackwing Diaries have noticed that my entries weren't as frequent after 2007 got going. Those who read everything I've written and have an excellent memory and/or know me personally can figure out why that was, but I do feel a not unpleasant nagging urge to keep it more up to date than I have.

Life will keep happening though, and while a recent(and not quite uncompleted) move, a change of jobs, and the signing of a book contract mean time's even more elusive, there are so many interesting and exciting things going on in animation now that I expect the Blackwing posts will appear much more often.

And then there's the flip side of writing: reading. In tandem with less blogging there's been substantially less reading of other blogs. Truthfully, this has bothered me more than neglecting to post on my own blog, as once one falls out of the habit it's difficult to keep up. And it seems more talented and uniquely interesting artists are starting blogs everyday. Thank goodness they're doing them, and that some veterans have decided it might be worth it to maintain an online place to post their own work, too.

There are probably three blogs I've never stopped checking almost every day: the ubiquitous Cartoon Brew, and two others-one by a writer, historian and critic, the other written by an animator and longtime owner of his own Manhattan studio:: Michael Barrier and Michael Sporn, respectively. I can't exhort all of you who are serious about animation too strongly to visit them on a regular basis. I know many often disagree with the opinions expressed in them-I certainly have-but they continually post important and rare material, as well as views, news and serious discussion about our medium that you're missing out if you don't have a look.

And those are just three. There are dozens more with marvelous stuff every day. This post is the result seeing of something I missed because I hadn't dropped by a blog in too long: in Mayerson On Animation, Mark Mayerson's blog, he shared a (sadly ended) Ebay auction item's webpage...and what an item: a woman named Sally Holmes who worked at Disney through the early 1940s left to start a family. In lieu of a going-away card a mind-boggling array of animators signed and illustrated her copy of the large, lush "Fantasia" book that had been published concurrent with that film's release (this isn't the first time I've seen that book used as a yearbook by Disney employees-Bob Thomas "Art Of Animation" book of the late 50s would serve that purpose a decade later).

You've got to see these to believe them. How about Ward Kimball doing his thing-and Milt Kahl finding Ward an irresistible act worth following. So to speak:


And of course, Fred Moore:
John Sibley:

A beautiful little painting by Jesse Marsh

He signed it, too.

There are loads more where that came from, including a NSFW Donald and Goofy (actually they're safe for our line of work, but if you work at a more conservative establishment, well...). The original seller's page is here. As he notes, this was sold a few months ago, so that's that. I'm sure it has a good home.

Nov 6, 2009

Richard Williams' A Christmas Carol

This youtube posting is not of the very best quality to say the least, but I was reminded of this special yesterday and the impact it made upon me when I first saw it-old Magnavox, living room floor, Hancock Park, the 70s. One viewing cemented Richard Williams for me as someone working among animation's elite, although if I remember correctly he got a lot more press later for his "Return of the Pink Panther" titles.
But this TV special was just wild. It still is--even in these few clips, just the layout alone...amazing. And while I'd put the Ghost of Christmas Past in the Alastair Sim version a close second, the way it's done here is the most faithful to Dickens' description--a great marriage of film, drawing and concept realized together. And Marley still shocks me.