Friday, January 19, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Ok, here is the 2 posts I promised before leaving to the Kruger Park and Mozambique, where I will not have any internet connection until February 5th.
A few posts you can not miss this week:
A first and second one by Hans Perk on A. Film LA with great photos taken at the Disney Studio; a post on CartoonBrew announcing the release in English of the catalog of the Montreal exhibition and one pointing in the direction of great material about the Disney strike; and finally my answer to Michael Barrier's review of the French exhibition (now Montreal exhibition).
Monday, January 15, 2007
Great news! The post office was faster than I thought and I have received the author copy of Walt's People - Volume 4 today. This means that you should be able to order it from Xlibris starting from this Wednesday (January 17th) or Thursday. It will be available on Amazon and all the other online bookstores in 2 months.
Here is a reminder of the table of contents:
JB Kaufman: Virginia Davis
Grim Natwick: Homage to a Star
Joe Adamson: Dick Huemer
Brian Sibley: Dick Huemer
Dick Huemer: Huemeresque 1 and 2
Mike Barrier: Joe Grant
Jim Korkis: Peter Ellenshaw
Armand Eisen: John Hench
Armand Eisen: Marc Davis
Dave Smith: Lou Debney
Charles Solomon: Stan Green
Charles Solomon: Leo Salkin
Christian Renaut: Dale Oliver
Alberto Becattini: Dick Moores
Alberto Becattini: Roger Armstrong
Don Peri: Roy Williams
Didier Ghez: Brian Sibley
Christian Renaut: Ted Berman
Floyd Norman: The Other Fred
Floyd Norman: The Bullpen
Celbi Pegoraro: Floyd Norman
Christian Ziebarth: Eric Goldberg
Pete Emslie: Cover Art
To put myself in the mood for this trip I have digged up this very un-politcally correct story of Mickey released in the Serbian Veseli Cetvrtak in 1932. Enjoy!
Save the Treasures! If the news reported on the forums and on CartoonBrew is indeed correct, the year is not starting in the best possible way for Disney historians, as the Walt Disney Company seems to be on the verge of discontinuing the Disney Treasures series. Please read the post on CartoonBrew to know how to try anf avoid this.
I usually respect Disney's business decisions and dislike internet campaigns that aim to save such and such things (attractions, movies, Song of the South release,...) , but this decision and the one to terminate the Disney Magazine just feel uterly wrong and seem to justify some sort of well-educated, polite action.
If the series end up being cancelled after all, we will be able to console ourselves by thinking that the very existence of this series was improbable in the first place and that it contains the even more improbable release of the WWII productions and the complete Silly Symphonies.
Right... but let's not abandon hope yet.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Here is the cover of Serbian magazazine Mika Mis 86.
Yesterday's cover contained the following text according to Vuk Markovic:
"In today's issue we bring you the greatest sensation, 3rd part of Flash Gordon which has never been published."
And the one Vuk sent a bit earlier was the Christmas issue for 1937 (therefore in color), and the inscription Hristos se rodi! (in cyrilic) is the traditional Serbian greeting for Christmas, meaning "Christ is born!".
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
As you know Walt's People do not contain illustrations. If it did, I would have included those self caricatures of King that John was kind enough to send me. More to come this week and next.
I was working this weekend on an interview with Iwao Takamoto by Wes Sullivan that will be released in Walt's People - Volume 6, and had been reading everything I could about this former Disney artists (and creator, among other memorable Hanna-Barbera characters, of Scooby-Doo). Working on an interview gives you the impression of personaly discussing with the artist. Learning of Iwao's death on Monday was therefore an unsettling blow. I loved Tom Sito's tribute.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Mark Sonntag was kind enough to forward to me yesterday these scans (above) of one of the first letters that Walt sent to the mother of Virginia Davis, the first of the actresses who played Alice in the "Alice Comedies".
This letter pertains to the collection of Phil Sears and you can find another one, from October 21, 1923 as well as the story of how they were aquired, by checking Phil Sears' site.
A third letter (from October 24, 1923) was sold by Virginia Davis through Christie's South Kensington on Monday April 18, 1994. It was estimated at $10,000 to 15,000. I am not certain of the price at which it was sold. I have scanned it below.
[I am sure you remember that Walt's older brother, Roy O. Disney, was in a veterans' hospital in Sawtelle, California (near Los Angeles) recovering from tuberculosis in 1923 when Walt burst in and told Roy that he had a contract to produce the Alice Comedies. Roy checked out of the hospital, the spot on his lung healed (although he was still weak and had to leave work early in those early years), put his savings into the Disney Brothers Studio and was never again troubled by tuberculosis.]
That is likely to be the reason why the Disneys allowed for the use of their characters in that poster. Or is there more to the story?
Monday, January 08, 2007
The publication date of Walt's People - Volume 4 will now depend on the speed of the US and Spanish postage services. The physical copy of the book that I need to approve was sent by Xlibris last Thursday. If I receive it before the end of this week, the publication date will be January 15th, otherwise we will have to wait until February 9th.
The reason for this is that I will be on vacation (and a few days of work) starting next Tuesday, travelling to South Africa and Mozambique for 3 weeks. Are there any readers of this blog that are from South Africa (and live in Cape Town or Johannesburg)? I would be delighted to meet them.
More on Plight of the Bumble Bee! Here is an email I received last week from artist Daan Jippes:
A friend of mine, Wilbert Plijnaar, currently storyboarder at Walt Disney Feature Animation and involved with How to Install your Home Theatre, the new Goofy short, recently brought up the subject of Plight of the Bumblebee, as he was doing research in the morgue on unfinished projects from Disney's past.
Before I became storyboarder myself there in 1989, I spent the years 1981-1988 across from the Animation Building on the lot, in the R.O.D.-building, employed at Consumer Products/Publications.
In 1981, in the Disney Archives, I stumbled upon an indexcard with the intriguing header Plight of the Bumblebee, indicating the subject, the year, and the, then current, location on the backlot (!) where the materials relevant to the aborted production were stored.
This turned out to be in the loft of the "woodshed", a structure erected mostly from corrugated iron and wood where, in those days, attractions for Disneyland were being assembled. My find existed of 3 dusty cardboard boxes, filled with stacks of animation-paper, X-sheets, rough layouts and photographed storyboards. From the X-sheets, all of which bore the production-number 2428, it was easy to identify the animators.
I clearly remember Hal King there, and mybe Cliff Nordberg. And a Dick or Don... something... a shorts animator, in any case. The fourth animator didn't require checking the X-sheet for, it was obviously Freddy Moore!
From 7 extremes out of his stack I composed a modelsheet; did some fancy "dancing"lettering for the title and presto: presumably the "modelsheet"that Floyd Gottfredson had seen, for I made a bunch of photocopies for several interested parties over at Feature Animation.
Later on, I was told, Burny Mattinson had filled in the holes in the surviving animation and put it all on reel.
Early 1999, when I storyboarded on the t.v.-series "Mouseworks", there was talk of using "Plight.."as a short for that show.
The assigned director in 1951, Jack Kinney, I met in 1988 at a booksigning in Toluca Lake, for his autobiographical Walt Disney and Assorted Other Characters. I told him about Plight's plight, so far. On hearing me out, he was delighted and sad at the same time. Sad because he remembered it as the promising "blank"on his palmares that it was.
Anyway, "Old Banananose"got over it by dedicating my copy of his book with a flourish.]
The modelsheet assembled by Daan is reproduced here.
This morning do not forget to check the great concept paintings for Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom that Amid Amid posted on CartoonModern, to watch this commercial posted by Jeff Pepper on 2719 Hyperion and to read Michael Barrier's review of the "Il Était Une Fois...Walt Disney" exhibition in Paris (now in Montreal).
Friday, January 05, 2007
Tales from the Laughing Place number 8 is out. This magazine has been getting better and better with each issue. While it may not deal with the kind of Disney history I am most interested in hearing about, it contains quite a few articles in each issue that make it worth its cost. There is at least one article I am really looking forward to read in issue 8: the interview of Imagineer Tony Baxter, which tackles the shelved The Little Mermaid attraction for Disneyland Paris.
As you know, one of the subjects that fascinate me is the history of Disney in Eastern Europe before the Communist rule. The cover of this paintbook from Serbia, which I received from my friend and blog reader Vuk Markovic yesterday, made my day. Here are some explainations from Vuk:
[Miki Slikar means "Mickey the Painter." The coloring book is 16-page long. Every other page is printed in full color, and the next page has the same image in black and white which was to be painted. All the interior pages are of the same quality as the cover. The first page carries a message by Mickey for the children. It starts "Dear children .... " and ends with "Yours Mickey."
On the last page there is the inscription that it was published by Decija umetnicka grafika S. N. Latiseva, Beograd (Belgrade). Which would translate as "Children's Art Graphics of S. N. Latisev". It is also very strange that it is in latin letters, since the vast majority of Serbian publications of the time were in cyrilic letters.]
This just in from Wade Sampson:
[Several people have pointed out that in my recent column, I neglected to mention that British actor Roger Allam played a rather unpleasant version of Walt Disney in the 1999 film RKO 281: The Battle Over Citizen Kane.
However, it was Jeff Kurtti who pointed out that Christian Hoff, who won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Featured Role for the original Broadway production of Jersey Boys played Walt as a boy in the 1981 TV Special One Man's Dream. You might want to share this information on your site.]
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Two outstanding articles that you really should not miss today:
- The Man Who Was Walt by Wade Sampson (which will explain the illustration of this post) and
Also discovered recently on ebay is this great shot of Clarence Nash which I had never seen before. The caption read:
"1950s Buffalo, NY. visit of The Mickey Mouse Club to WGR-TV, sponsored by the Atlantic dealers. "Ducky" Nash, Donald Duck, Capt. Bob Lawrence, Mickey and Corky."
In the comments to this post David Lesjak adds:
[Clarence Nash and Florence Gill (the voice of Clara Cluck) traveled to Canada on June 20, 1941, where they did some live radio bond promotion gigs in Toronto. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has knowledge of this trip.]
I would too.
I have been collecting vintage Disneyana items for so long that I am rarely surprised by any of them. This advertising tin box from the Netherlands created by Simon de Wit was an exception, though, and when I saw it on ebay, I knew that, even though I could not afford it, I would have to mention it at some point on the blog.
For our French readers: I just dicovered this book, which is available on Amazon.fr Although I have not read it yet and it only deals peripherically with Disney, both the subject matter and the reviews are so good that I had to mention it on the blog. I was made aware of it thanks to a review by Pierre Floquet in the newsletter of The Society for Animation Studies.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
This just in from Are Myklebust:
[Walt Disney’s “Laugh-O-gram Film Inc.” business card from the early 1920’s was offered on ebay in March 2006.
Here is the description from the auction:
“VINTAGE WALT DISNEY BUSINESS CARD From 1920's!!!
This business card was found in a career scrapbook compiled by Bert Sylvester of Los Angeles, CA.
Mr. Sylvester founded one of the first electrical lighting companies in L.A. during the Silent period. Two of his proteges went on to found the Mole-Richardson Company, which is today one of the largest and most successful movie lighting companies in the world.
Bert Sylvester was right in the center of moviemaking during the early Hollywood years and would very easily have known and worked with Walt Disney in any number of ways.
This card has been authenticated twice.First, it was confirmed by a dealer in Disneyana who surmised that the handwriting on the card must be Walt Disney's own and that this is in fact, a contract by which Walt promised to produce title cards (or "banks") for some vendor (perhaps Bert himself) who wished to use them in a film or in a movie house, projected onscreen between films. Since the card still has Walt Disney's Kansas City address, it is likely that he handed this out when he first arrived in L.A. in (1923).
The second authentication came in 2003 when Antiques Roadshow came to my hometown of San Francisco. I signed up for an appraisal just to see if this card was real. The woman who appraises collectibles and sports memoribilia took a look at it and claimed that I had found Walt's "Rookie Card".
(The winning bid was US $1,802.77.)
Some further comments from me:
The drawing inside the “O” in the “Laugh-O-grams” logo is the same drawing Walt made to his letterhead in the early 1920’s.
A similar business card for The Laugh-O-gram Film Inc. employee William “Red” Lyon’s can be found on page 40 in Adrian Bailey‘s book Walt Disney’s World of Fantasy (1982). ]
Three things to check out online this morning as a priority:
- First is Ben Simon's very in-depth report about the Grand Palais Disney exhibition. You know how I feel about this exhibition, so you can imagine how enthusiastic I was to read such a detailed and well informed article / interview about it.
- Then, if you have not noticed them yet, have a look at Ward Kimball's page on MySpace and at Hans Perk's post about Disney artist Bee Selck.
[I confirm that the story is Sergio Asteriti's The Artistic Thief (http://coa.inducks.org/story.php/x/S+73215//).
Interestingly enough, your version has been edited to adapt the Italian 2-panels-per-row format to the French 3-panels-per row; the abstract paintings in the middle column of the French edition were not present in Asteriti's artwork. Also the big sculpture on the bottom-right of the first page was added by your editor!
The first French publication of the story isn't indexed yet in INDUCKS, but it probably took place in Le Journal de Mickey around the mid-Seventies. Maybe the "1947 Disney cartoon" was in fact a typo for "1974 Disney comic".]
This 17 page story was first released in Italy in November 1975.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Hans Perk reminds me that The Plight of the Bumble Bee "mystery" had already been solved by him, Amid and Jerry from CartoonBrew a few months ago (how could I forget that?). You can check this link to find out more. Amid had mentioned at the time:
[There is a wealth of material in the Disney vaults and archives, developed and produced under Walt's watch, which never made their way to completion. The two in particular I'm thinking of are Mickey Mouse shorts: The Talking Dog and Plight of the Bumble Bee. Both were shelved late in their respective production schedules, in the early-1950s. Both have existing dialogue and music tracks, storyboards and were 98% animated (by the likes of Freddy Moore!). Two new classic shorts—just sitting there, simply waiting for ink-and-paint!]
So my next question is: does anyone one of you have more information about which artists were involved in The Talking Dog project and what the plot line of that short was?
Here is the Freddy Moore related mystery I promised you last week.
I have been working recently on a short interview of Floyd Gottfredson by Christopher Finch and Linda Rosenkrantz for a future volume of Walt's People when I stumbled upon this story:
[Floyd Gottfredson: "This big model sheet up here was all made from drawings that [Fred] made for… now I don't know whether this was to be a feature or a featurette, called The Plight of the Bumblebee. Mickey had a bee that could buzz operatic numbers, he was a great virtuoso that way. But the bee had a weakness, he was a nectarholic: he'd get drunk on nectar, so Mickey had trouble controlling him this way. Fred got that picture about 90% animated, I understand, and Walt dumped it because he got scared of the alcoholic connotations. It was a little too early in the picture business."]
An unknown Mickey short with its animation almost completed by Freddy Moore!? I don't know about you but I find this bit of info pretty exciting. Would any of the readers of this blog have any knowledge of this project? Has anyone been lucky enough to see some of the sequences done for this short?
The illustration above is from the short Mickey and Claudius the Bee and, according to its caption in Charles Solomon's The Disney That Never Was, has been drawn by Harry Reeves. It might not be related at all to the project mentioned by Gottfredson.
Along with Michael Barrier's biography of Walt and Jeff Kurtti's Walt Disney's Legends of Imagineering and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Parks, Disney's Lost Chords by Russell Schroeder is the book I am most looking forward to receive this year.
Russell was kind enough to send me the following information about the making of the book and how to get it:
[I first became aware of the quantity of songs that were written for Disney films in the late 1970s while I was working in an art department at Walt Disney World in Florida. In the department’s library was a book produced by the Walt Disney Music Company that listed the songs that were written for each film – including the ones that weren’t used! The unused songs were a part of the catalogue, because at the time they were written they had been copyrighted by the Studio’s music publishing division.
What I found were hundreds of songs that had been composed, and in most cases recorded for demonstration purposes or as accompaniment to initial storyboard visualizations, but for one reason or another had been deleted from the final film scores. Since I have enjoyed collecting Disney sheet music and records since my pre-teen years, I was intrigued by these “lost” musical numbers.
When I transferred to Disney’s Burbank, California studio in the 1990s, the opportunity arose in which I could satisfy that curiosity. Over a period of several years I was able to research these deleted songs in various files and storage areas maintained by the Walt Disney Music Library and the Walt Disney Music Company. Wanting to understand the songs within the context of the films for which they had been written, my research also included many enjoyable hours spent in the Walt Disney Archives and the Walt Disney Feature Animation Research Library identifying storyboard drawings and inspirational art, and reading memos and early script treatments.
My appreciation of the Disney songwriting process was enhanced by the abundance of musical creativity I had uncovered. But being a Disney fan, as well as an employee, I also realized that other fans of Disney music would enjoy discovering these compositions that had for the most part never been heard outside the hallways of the Disney Studio.
It wasn’t until my retirement several years ago that I was able to put the wealth of material I had collected into a format that could be shared by others. The result is the book Disney’s Lost Chords, licensed by the Walt Disney Music Company. It includes 77 songs that were written for films personally produced by Walt Disney, including Bambi, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, and The Jungle Book. As a special treat I have added some of the songs from three projects that were never produced: Rainbow Road to Oz, Chantecler, and Hansel and Gretel. Accompanying the full vocal/piano sheet music arrangements of the songs are over 225 photos and illustrations, many of them appearing in book form for the first time, along with a text giving background on the songs and the films.
Disney’s Lost Chords is a hard cover, dust jacketed, numbered limited edition of 1,000 copies, numbering 312 pages. It is scheduled to be available at the end of February, 2007 by mail order in the USA from
2055 Lower Tuskeegee Road
Robbinsville, North Carolina 28771
ORDERING INFORMATION (all dollar amounts are in U.S. currency)
COST PER BOOK: $75.00
North Carolina residents must add applicable sales tax.
SHIPPING AND HANDLING (per book)
First Class Priority $5.60
Parcel Post $5.12
Global Express $24.60
Economy Parcel Post $19.00
France, The Netherlands, Spain
Global Express $43.05
Air Parcel Post $31.70
Global Express $43.85
Air Parcel Post $36.75
Global Express $42.45
Air Parcel Post $38.30
Insurance (optional) $2.30
International orders must use PayPal. PayPal address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Countries not listed above, please inquire for shipping cost.]