Thursday, October 08, 2009

Disney Eye Candy - Alice and Friends

I'm not crazy about Disney storytelling, but I have to admit that their cartoons sure are fun to look at - and even when they are translated into books by great artists like Mel Crawford and Al Dempster.
Mel Crawford has a more distinct style and his details are clearer, but on the other hand, Dempster's compositions and moods are wonderful.

Is there really any doubt that this wasn't a Golden Age for kids? What do we have today that can come even close to the fun and beauty of these?

2 approaches to holes.

Trees: I think Mel Crawford is a tree master. Dempster is below.

These illustrations are from Barbie's collection, which she is kind enough to share with the world.

Barbie's Disney Books

This is a beautifully drawn comic from a tiny digest I bought at a swap meet, so I'm sorry the definition isn't sharper.
I have no idea who this artist is, but he sure as hell can draw!

Look at the perspective and positioning of Alice's cankles. Fantastic drawing!

There is a modern painter of eye candy too:


DrSpecter said...

Alice In Wonderland is probably the only underrated Disney animated feature. It has surprisingly dark undercurrents, and is genuinely interesting for me to watch at age 42. Alice just really isn't the typical saccharine Disney fare.

Paul Penna said...

Is there really any doubt that this wasn't a Golden Age for kids?

When I was a kid (1950s), I wanted to live in the illustrations in Little Golden Books, particularly the Disney ones. Hell, I still do.

Iron maiden said...

hey john I always wanted to know what you thought of the film alice in wonderland

Meenx said...

These are beautiful and just overall fun to look at.

Bryce Johansen said...

“If drawing is sure to result in victory then we must draw!”, John K said that!…and I think he knows a little more then you do, pal. Cos he invented it! And he perfected it so that no living man could best him in the ring of honor.

Then, he used his cartoon money…

…to buy two of every kind of pencil on earth, and then he herded them onto a boat…

…and then he beat the crap out of every single one of them.

And from that day forward any time a bunch of pencils are together in one place it’s called a “John”!

Unless it’s an office!

Aaron M said...

These are great paintings; where'd you get the scans of these things ?

jim said...

I actually own a copy of the Alice in Wonderland Big Golden Book. My mother received it new as a gift when it was first published, in about 1954. Even when I was small, I recognized that there was something special about the art in this book -- it was several cuts above anything else I had seen. Of course, I couldn't have articulated it back then!

This is only the second time I've ever seen another copy of this book; I blogged about the first:

O gato said...

I have a HUGE box filled with golden books in my house from when I was a kid. It really is eye candy.

Weirdo said...

Alice in Wonderland is my favorite Disney feature. Terrific post. I also have the Alice in Wonderland comic book. Such beautiful illustrations.

HemlockMan said...

I'm so glad that I had unlimited access to comics from the 1950s and earl 1960s (and the comic-like stuff such as the Golden books).

It was, indeed, a Golden Age of comics for kids. There were so many titles and so many good artists working in the industry. It's a shame what has happened to it. There really aren't good comics for little kids anymore.

Chris leonido said...

Wow, those drawings are great. I cant remember the last time I watched a Disney movie. But however I do know two things. Disney's animated movies had a bunch of good animators while of some them today are mostly underrated.

I cant even find anyone who remembers watching The Great Mouse Detective or even Robin Hood. I think I might watch a few flicks of Disney movies when i get the chance to either this weekend or just when I feel like it.

David Gale said...

The labyrinth panel from the comic is stunning! I think it's even better than the painted one.

nktoons said...

Very appealing illustrations....I especially like the ones
at the beginning of the post. Nice painting/colors!!!

Kristina said...

hey john I always wanted to know what you thought of the film alice in wonderland

I second this. "Alice in Wonderland" was always my favorite Disney movie. Apparently Aldous Huxley had a hand in the screenplay, so maybe that has something to do with why it's so much darker.

Also, have you seen the 5-minute clip of "The Princess and the Frog" that's been leaked? I thought I would be rolling my eyes at another princess movie, but instead I got nostalgia pangs from seeing real cell animation after so many years of 3d.

Mr. Semaj said...

One thing I loved about these books is how they interpret the story differently from the movie they were based from. It adds an all-new perspective.

Kali Fontecchio said...

I know how John feels about this movie, the same way I do.

The last time I tried to watch it on tv, on a Sunday afternoon, five or ten years ago I fell asleep haha.

It's weird though because the idea and the story is great, it's the weird pacing of the Disney version that's odd. It's gorgeous though!

Mel Crawford and Al Dempster are geniuses. I don't know which version I like more! I'm torn! But I definitely need to get my hands on a copy of this Mel Crawford one.

John A said...

Mary Blair has been praised for decades for her influencial color and style work at Disney's, But you don't hear as much about Al Dempster and Claude Coates,who did some of the best looking Disney stuff of the '40s and '50s. They really did know how to make eye candy back then. Our greatest sin as a culture was taking all of these riches for granted at the time, and consequently our punishment is the stuff we have today.

The Artist Aficionado said...

Its visually interesting thanks to hundreds of artists that Walt took credit from.

Though the downside with Disney is that they were never and still aren't innovative storytellers.

In my opinion this is because they have always been over focused on lifelike detail and design. Much less focused on the story and the animation.

Jim Meadows said...

As a kid, I accepted Disney art from the animated cartoons to the Sunday funnies as being all of a piece. But the difference in styles that you note is more obvious to me now. For instance, I'm pretty sure I had some Golden Books by Al Dempster as a kid, although not Alice in Wonderland.

I DID have that Alice comic book, however --- not in a digest edition, but in a 1960s reprint under the Gold Key logo. I remember that the "My Goodness" panel as Alice enters the maze in the forest was blown up or redrawn to 2/3 or a full page -- perhaps to cover for an ad that had appeared in the original edition.

Now I'm wondering --- who drew the Disney jigsaw puzzles from that era? And the coloring books? And who created the models for the Disney View-Master 3D photos?

Mars Cabrera said...

Recommended reading for you; "Disney Animation, the Illusion of Life"

Disney was first and foremost an innovator!

Disney worked with his storymen and animators and practically invented the storyboard!
That's the main reason, Alice and the other features which he was involved still exist today and most likely FOREVER!! They are unsurpassed!!! Which regards to animation ; Name one animator better than Milt Kahl ? & With these cutesy bitsy features, Disney built a monstrous empire! He is force to be reckoned with... How's that for innovation?

The Artist Aficionado said...

Mars, There art is visually stunning, no denying that. The best example would be Pinnochio and Fantasia which was the studios peak technically.

Though Walt never animated any of these pieces and has this facetious legacy as an artist. He took credit from others including a brilliant draftsman such as Kahl.

Also yes I know that him and his staff developed the story boards in the late twenties, as a way of communicating ideas to each other.

My problem with their story department is they did and still have a tendency to adapt and refine public domain fairy tales for much of their body of work.

While Fleischer, MGM, and Termite Terrace improvised more often with exceptionally good results.

I'll give that book a read though thanks.

Thomas said...

"This is a beautifully drawn comic from a tiny digest [...] I have no idea who this artist is, but he sure as hell can draw!"

I guess that would be this Digest:

The artist is Riley Thomson.

kurtwil said...

Another Disney Eye Candy specialist was Al Hubbard, who drew the 1959 Dell: Walt Disney Sleeping Beauty Comic's interiors.
Dell:Sleeping Beauty and the Prince's cover was also drawn by Al.