Saturday, January 08, 2011
Here's an interesting piece from the Walt Disney studio. It was apparently issued as a Christmas card in the 70s, but I believe the illustration actually dates from the 30s. You'll need to click on it to see the close up detail - extremely fine work indeed.
This was sent to me by the exotically named Rocket Calcutta, a musician and artist who has worked on Disney films himself. Mr.Calcutta wondered whether I could help to identify the illustrator.
I can't say for sure, but I'd take a guess at Gustaf Tenggren. The piece is very much after Arthur Rackham, and Disney was a known fan of the man. He employed Tenggren during the thirties, and Tenggren himself was heavily influenced by Rackham so it's not a huge leap to suggest that Tenggren had a hand in this.
Whilst this scene is superbly executed I feel that the two styles, cartoon and scraperboard, sit slightly uneasily together. I think maybe it's a case of Walt trying to weld a bit of instant class to the cartoon medium - rather like Hollywood studios drafting in George Bernard Shaw and Graham Greene to sprinkle stardust on their screenplays. In fairness, though, WD was always reaching for the highest standards.'Quality control' embodied.
And Disney are reknowned for maintaining the same standards today. I visited Disneyland Paris a few years ago with my then young family. We stood together on Main St., and watched the Grand Parade. A pretty girl clown on a kid's scooter twirled to a halt in front of me and gave me a brilliant smile. Awww, I thought, there's cheerful, and I smiled back at her.
We were with a group of friends, and before parting we all arranged to meet the next day, same place, same time: 4.30 pm. As we arrived the parade was once again in procession, and at bang on 4.30 the same pretty clown did her little twirl in front of me and treated me to the same dazzling smile. Blimey, I thought, it's Groundhog Day.
The sourine intention here, which I'm sure the Mouse would defend, is that the same flawlessly choreographed experience be delivered to all. There will be no off days in Disneyland, and no detail will be left to chance. We got talking to some of the 'cast' later in the week, guys from the Tarzan set. They told us that after a long campaign they'd finally won the right to wear their own underwear. Now that's quality control, Disney style.
UPDATE: Rocket has discovered that the above illustration was produced by Hank Porter - a new name to me. Excellent. I shall look him up.See more below, and at Rocket's site.
FOR MORE EXAMPLES of scraperboard work on this blog, take a look *HERE*...
...and a few bits and pieces of my own can be found *HERE*