Category: Studio Art

New Scooby-Doo originals, Flinstones Storyboards and New Interview with Bob Singer

We recently unearthed some great storyboards from Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby, a Flinstones cartoon from 1993 that celebrates family, friendship, and the joy of children and grandchildren. Bob Singer, who worked at Hanna Barbera for many years, has signed this great Hanna Barbera production art, and we have them for sale on our website. Check them out HERE.

Here are a few really fun ones. We have sets of 3, and single storyboards. Click here to see them all!

Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby aired right before Christmas, and only weeks after I Yabba-Dabba-Doo!, which featured Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm getting married. (we knew that was going to happen, didn’t we?) In the movie, they move to Hollyrock, where Bamm-Bamm has hopes of becoming a screenwriter. The cartoon features the voice as Jean Vander Pyl as Wilma, who originated the character in the early 60s, when she made $250 an episode for her work! She was also the voice of Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons, and guest starred in episodes of lots of famous sitcoms of the 50s and 60s, including Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best. You’ll also find consummate voice artists Mark Hamill playing Slick, and Russi Taylor as baby Pebbles.

Here’s a preview clip showing you the cartoon, which you can rent or buy online:

This Flintstones production art from Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby shows some of the quirky elements of the show that created such a following by reinventing LA, or La La Land, as a stone-age landscape. Some of the storyboards capture that vibe, showing ‘Boulder Hills’, the ‘Hollyrock Bowl’, and other classic landmarks of the city, as well as moments from the birth of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm’s kids.

As it’s Halloween season, we are thrilled to also get original art by Bob Singer representing his favorite Hanna Barbera cartoon, Scooby-Doo, with characters Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, the Scooby Gang, and the monsters they fight every week! Bob talks about his work on the show in a new interview we did with him about his career and life, freshly posted on YouTube. You’ll be among the first to see it! Look for the moment when he pulls out old layout drawings and character studies of the monsters he created for Scooby-Doo!

I wrote another blog about Bob, (we love him) and you can find that HERE.

Check out this exclusive interview with background artist, layout artist, production designer and character designer Bob Singer:

Check out this new original Scooby-Doo art by Bob Singer featuring the Mystery Machine!

https://artinsights.com/product/scooby-gang-in-the-mystery-machine-original-layout-by-hanna-barbera-artist-bob-singer/

Interestingly enough, it turns out the lore about the iconic van says that it was originally owned by Flash Flannigan, the keyboard player for a band called ‘The Mystery Kids’. He sold the van to Fred Jones when he quit the band, and the rest is Scooby-Doo history! I wrote another blog about Scooby-Doo, and you can find that HERE.

It is particularly exciting to get this Bob Singer art, since he rarely paints anymore, being in his mid-90s. We have some great images representing his time at Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera. If you love those classic cartoons, this is a great way to get art by someone who had a hand in creating them!

To see all his Hanna Barbera art and Warner Brothers art, go to our Bob Singer art page HERE.

Let us know if you’re interested in a commission by Bob Singer, and we’ll check to see if he’s up for it. You never know! He’s truly one of the last great animators who worked at as many studios as he did, along with one of my favorite men in the world, Willie Ito. Bob is a wonderful talent and a great guy and we’re all very lucky he turned his talent towards the cartoons of Hanna Barbera!

I’ll leave you with another “COVID COMFORT CARTOON”.

Bob talked about how he designed the ‘10,000 volt ghost’, so here is a video of every scene he’s in from the original show:

Spotlight on Mickey Mouse & early original Mickey Mouse drawings

Mickey has been a classic draw for Disney fans since 1928. Strangely, the fascination in terms of collecting started to wane in the mid-90s, and only in the last few years has he started having a resurgence. Now, since the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse in 2018, collectors are snapping up the oldest Mickey Mouse drawings and cels of the character they can find. They are especially keen on art from cartoons where Mickey was voiced by Walt Disney between 1928 and 1947. The exceptions are Carl Stalling, who voiced Mickey in 1929’s The Karnival Kid, and Clarence Nash, for 1934’s The Dognapper. 

Though Mickey Mouse appears in 130 Disney cartoons, Mickey didn’t have any official shorts between 1955 and 1983. He was one of the stars of The Mickey Mouse Club, but for over 25 years there were no Mickey shorts created for theatrical release.

Mickey was created in 1928 by Ub Iwerks as an underdog that appealed to all those looking to pull themselves up by their American bootstraps. It may be that his first words, uttered in 1929’s Karnival Kid, were “hot dogs! hot dogs!”, but with his exclamations of 30s slag words “swell!” and “gee whiz!” that made him beloved by fans around the world.

Based on the swashbucklers of the silent era, Mickey Mouse was always getting himself into trouble, and appealing to folks who were feeling low from the financial strain of the depression, playing characters from all walks of life, from swanky tuxedoed mouse-about-town to mouse of the people firefighters to intrepid explorers like prospectors and world travelers. Always a lover of dogs, shorts with his pal Pluto appeal to pet lovers, just as the shorts where he and his lady love Minnie have romantic adventures appeal to couples who seek an innocent representation of their partnership. 

Steamboat Willie premiered at Universal’s Colony Theater in New York on November 18th, and was an immediate hit. By 1932, there was a fan club, the Mickey Mouse Club had a million members. By 1934, Mickey merchandise brought in $600,000 a year.  The financial success of the character really is responsible for building the huge media empire we all know today.  It’s true that, as Walt said, “It all started with a mouse”. 

To me, some of the best and most affordable animation art is the graphite art from early Mickey Mouse cartoons. To be honest, those have always been my Mickey Mouse cartoons. Early characterization of Mickey Mouse was much edgier, and more interesting. From the late 20s to the mid-30s, Mickey Mouse was rubbery, while the animators were experimenting with squash and stretch, and working out how to express action and character through animation. 

Finding beautiful Mickey Mouse production drawings from the late 20s to mid-30s is exciting for Disney fans, and one way you can tell the really old Mickey Mouse drawings is by the number of peg holes in the drawing, with 2 holes being prevalent up until 1935. You can read about the evolution of the peg HERE.

How cool is it to get Mickey Mouse drawings from back when he was in his first formative years? Those drawings are in the hundreds, not the thousands, unlike drawings from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia, which go for thousands of dollars. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is one of the most recognizable cartoons from the character, but is also right after the character’s redesign by Disney animator and member of the 9 Old Men, Freddie Moore. 

This one original drawing is interesting in that it was used for both 1930’s The Shindig and 1932’s The Whoopee Party.

Mickey Mouse cuts a rug in this original production drawing from 1932’s The Whoopee Party.

The joyful character Mickey is dancing with is a pig, in case you wondered. Here is a video from 1930:

Here are some freaky elements of the most desirable animation art images and Mickey Mouse drawings and cels: the best are when you can see both ears laying side by side on his head (and that goes for Minnie Mouse, too!). An animated expression, like one of shock or surprise, or that famous determined look he did so well, is also very important.

Many folks want drawings and cels of Freddie Moore Mickeys. Moore who was known at the resident Mickey specialist. In 1938 the famous animator redesigned Mickey’s body away from looking as much like what Ward Kimball called Mickey’s “rubber hose, round circle” design, or what made when they used squash and stretch on him look so noodle-like.  Mickey’s eyes have changed a lot through the years, but Freddie Moore ultimately gave him the smaller white eyes with pupils you see in more recent cartoons.

Here’s an original Mickey drawing from 1937, as he is changing:

Mickey Mouse Original Drawing: Mickey’s Amateurs 1937

And here are two drawings from 1939 and 1941, both from very famous Mickey Mouse cartoons:

Watch this delightful cartoon with Mickey and his beloved pup.
Speaking of beloved pups, here is an original Pluto drawing from 1933’s Mickey’s Pal Pluto

Still, the Mickey cartoons from the early 30s have a truly vintage feel and represent a time when the Mickey Mouse Club was new and animation was influencing kids just coming out of the depression. At the time, Mickey was a cheeky rogue. Minnie Mouse from that era is also fascinating, as she was stronger, more opinionated, and seemed an equal part of their partnership, pre-polka dot, and pre-bow, when she still sported a hat with a flower on top.

Here is the great very old cartoon that features Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and a host of very famous Hollywood stars, including Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, and Mae West. It’s also a movie within a movie, where these stars are all watching Mickey Mouse cartoons!

They gave her a makeover in the 1940s, and she’s looked almost exactly the same since then. The way both she and Mickey were drawn and characterized in their early cartoons is what created the love for those two from fans all over the world. It was in 1932, after all, when Walt Disney got an honorary Oscar for his creation. 

Whether you are more a fan of pre-1935 Mickey (before Freddie Moore started altering his design) or post-35, when he starts looking more like the Mickey we see today, Mickey represents classic, vintage America in a way that little else can. 

To see the collection of all the vintage Disney Mickey Mouse drawings available, GO HERE.

The Life and Art of Disney Fine Artist Michelle St. Laurent: New Art + Exclusive Michelle St. Laurent Interview

Michelle St Laurent has made an indelible mark on the Disney fine art scene, and over her career has become one of the artists whose work is the most sought-after by Disney collectors. It’s plain to see why. Read on for more about Michelle St. Laurent and for an exclusive interview!

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Movie Poster artist John Alvin and the Art of Steven Spielberg’s Hook!

It is said often online, or really anywhere where people talk movies, that the movie Hook is beloved by anyone who was a kid when it came out in 1991, while adults were less enthused by the film. Here we are, almost 30 years later, and those kids are now adults, and they are loud and proud about their fandom. There are websites and wiki pages and fan Facebook pages, all celebrating Steven Spielberg’s riff or extenuation of the story of Peter Pan. There’s even a famous, award-winning song by the musician Skrillex called ‘Bangarang’, inspired by the famous battle cry uttered by the Lost Boys. 

SHOUTS TO ALL MY LOST BOYS!….

In case you aren’t one of the enthusiastic fans of the movie and don’t remember that quote, here it is:

There are so many interesting aspects of the Hook movie that not everyone knows. 

So it’s particularly cool that we have Hook movie art! We are so excited to have an exclusive piece of movie history direct from the John Alvin estate, that occupies a unique place in movie history, in that it is both a prop and movie campaign art. There is a map, the original of which is 40 x 60, that was used in the making of the teaser trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Hook. I was talking to John Alvin’s wife about the piece, which we have in his archives. She mentioned, off the cuff, that she had all of the printed versions of the map. They were created on special paper, so that at a particular time during the trailer, the map could catch fire. We have partnered with Andrea to sell these great images, which are also 40 x 60. There are only 6 of them available! 

The movie art of an old map created by John Alvin for the Steven Spielberg cult classic Hook.

Here is a video of the trailer that uses John Alvin Hook art nearly the entire time, and switches to live action right after the map goes up in flames:

I spoke to Andrea Alvin about the John Alvin Studios working on Hook, and she relayed a few interesting tidbits fans would love to know. John Alvin was hired, initially, to do a treatment as a potential movie poster. He came up with a design of Wendy’s window, with curtains and Wonderland in the distance. He only did one graphite, and one full-color image that was 20 x 30 inches. Eventually, as most people know, the finish was illustrated by Drew Struzan. However, John Alvin also worked on the advance poster for the film, which was just a single hook. The marketing people had created a large image of the hook used by the captain, but the image looked flat. So they sent a large print of it to John, and he “Alvin-ized” it, adding light flairs and reflected light to give it a more dramatic, compelling look.

John Alvin called what he did “the promise of a great experience”, which included creating curiosity in potential viewers, often by using iconic imagery imbued with light to add a mystical, ethereal quality. He certainly did that with this Hook image!

Around the same time, the studio came to John and asked him to create a map that would include Neverland and part of the real world to be used for the entire teaser trailer, and John came up with the now-famous map, meant to look mysterious and centuries old.

He knew the map had to be big, because to use it for the whole trailer, the camera would have to pan across it. He also knew in the trailer it would be burned through. So he made the 40 x 60 map, and they printed copies on special paper that burns easily.

Explains Andrea Alvin, “We had a layout that we had to follow, for what the actual map would be, for example, where Wonderland would be. We had to follow that, and design it to look like an old map on parchment. A lot of the painting was done in thinned-out acrylics, and sponged on, to make it look like parchment. Then he drew the little locations over the top. He had to find a good compass rose to put on it to make it look old and original, so he did copious research in books, because this was before the internet had everything anyone would ever need, and he finally discovered the perfect image. John hand-lettered all the words on the map, too, which was unusual. Nearly no illustrators would do hand-lettering or design their own for their posters, but John did.”

Both John Alvin and his wife Andrea went to the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, where many other famous artists and directors have gone, including Ralph McQuarrie, Syd Mead, Eyvind Earle, Bob Peak, Drew Struzan, Zack Snyder, and Michael Bay. For those focusing in illustration and fine art, taking hand-lettering classes was mandatory. John Alvin had not only a love but an affinity for it, and you can see the expression of his talent on many of his one-sheets, including Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, E.T., Victor/Victoria, Gremlins, Willow, The Princess Bride, and The Phantom of the Paradise, just to name a few.

John Alvin knew that a great lettering design is integral to a great poster design.

Andrea Alvin continues, “Most movie poster artists hire a lettering artist and then drop it in. You can’t go buy at typeface that looks like that, and it’s essential to the art and the look of the poster.”

As to how John felt about the movie Hook, Andrea says she remembers he loved it, even though many critics panned it. “To John, it was like a musical without the music. John liked fantasy movies and he loved popcorn movies made to be entertainment. The goal wasn’t to make great art, it was to make a great movie that entertained, and that it did.”

It’s interesting that John felt that way. Originally, Spielberg wanted to make the film as a musical. His interest in the story went all the back to his childhood, and in fact he directed a story based on Peter Pan in school when he was only 11 years old. He had worked on various versions of the story in the early 80s, even considering creating a musical.

At the same time, award-winning composer John Williams and lyricist and composer Leslie Bricusse were working on a Broadway play of Hook, and wrote a number of songs, which could have been used for the movie, since Spielberg had hired Williams as the composer for the film score. Ultimately, there were two songs used in Hook, “When You’re Alone”, which went on to be nominated for an Oscar, and “I Don’t Want to Grow Up”.

The script needed some help, and one of the script doctors hired but uncredited for her work was Carrie Fisher. Here she is talking about being a fixer, and being hilarious, as usual.

Since its release, Hook has remained a favorite to many who saw the film as kids, and has expanded its fandom since then, not least because of all the quirky elements to be enjoyed. There are many star cameos, from George Lucas and Carrie Fisher playing a couple kissing on the bridge at the very beginning of the film, to Jimmy Buffett, David Crosby, and Glenn Close playing pirates, Gwyneth Paltrow playing a young Wendy, and Phil Collins playing a police inspector. Check a few of them out here:

Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Bob Hoskins are all in top form, although for Williams, another film he starred in around that time eclipsed this one, and for good reason. It was the following year, in 1992, that Disney’s Aladdin was released, with Williams as the Genie. The other high-profile cast member was a 24-year-old Julia Roberts, who was badly miscast, and also had a horrible year that led to so much tabloid talk, she had to do an interview only weeks before Hook’s release. To capture a female superstar early in her career who is clearly a novice at damage control, you can read the 1991 interview in Entertainment Weekly HERE.

In 2017, Dante Basco, who played fan favorite Lost Boy Rufio, executive produced an unauthorized short film, “Bangarang: The Hook Prequel”, that was funded through Kickstarter. It’s about how Roofus, a bullied Filipino kid, finds his courage and becomes a Lost Boy. This short is a testament to the power of the Hook fandom. The campaign raised nearly $69,000 when the goal was only $30,000! You can watch it here:

For those who are looking for a really rare, exclusive piece of film history, we can’t think of anything better than a map of the ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ world that comes directly from famed movie poster artist John Alvin’s estate. The art will also come with a certificate from Andrea Alvin designating it as one of 6 pieces that belonged to the Alvin family.

WANT IT? FIND IT HERE.

To see Hook, you can go to any major streaming service, or look for listings on your cable schedule. It’s playing repeatedly for free on mine this June, and I’ll be watching it soon. Join me. Maybe we’ll hear each other screaming BANGARANG!

We’ll end by posting part of my interview with John 11 years ago at my gallery. You’ll notice as usual, he’s wearing his iconic red shoes!

John Alvin talks about his career and some of his favorite films with Leslie at ArtInsights.

Alex Ross San Diego Comic-Con 2020 Virtual Release, and Why Collect Alex Ross?

It’s that time again, for San Diego Comic-Con 2020 and the very impressive collection of new releases that makes the Alex Ross Art booth the go-to magnet of thousands of fans and collectors that swarm SDCC every year! This year, though, the San Diego Comic-Con Alex Ross experience will be a virtual experience. That might not be the same as pushing through the throngs of geeky cosplayers like cattle, but it will be a helluva a lot safer! It’s called #SDCC@Home, and the fact that it’s virtual means you have all the more access to the work you love, through SDCC and Alex Ross Art-connected moi!

Who is Alex Ross? Here’s a segment from CBS This Morning featuring Alex:

Those of you not interested or not in the market to buy any art, skip to below the line, where you can read more about Alex Ross and see some videos with him talking about his work, inspiration, and career.

THE CURIOUS CAN CONTINUE TO SCROLL DOWN AND SEE ALL THE GOODIES…

All the planned releases are going forward, and as usual, I’m working to get #1 and AP1 of every edition. Soooo, if you’re hot for that special highly-desired number one or Artists Proof #1, you should contact us immediately via our email at artinsights@gmail.com. 

What’s coming out? Well, one we can show you, and the rest you’ll have to contact me to see an image. We would ask you not to share online in any way before the official release date of July 22nd. Don’t get me in trouble with one of the foremost figures in illustration! Let’s get to it.

First, the gallery has AP1 of this new Black Widow image, which is one of those heroines that both men and women have grown to love with surprising ferocity. Why not? She’s complicated, gorgeous, brilliant, and lethal. It was meant to be released in tandem with the live action film, slated for earlier in the year, but postponed because of the pandemic. That’s all the more reason for us to celebrate the powerful character. Ross used her original costume, as he most fondly remembers her, and injects a pop art aesthetic in the background, using the title graphic from some of the most classic and wonderful comic titles in history. 

Specs are:

edition size of 50, with 15 APs, PPs and EPs, size is 20 x 30 inches, and the price is $825 for the regular edition, $925 for #1, and $1025 for AP1. 

Here’s the image. Contact us to snap up the AP1!

Black Widow signed giclee on canvas:

DC Comics Shadows Series signed giclees on paper

Available on Wednesday, July 22nd, starting at 6pm PST!

Specs are: 

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam!

Edition size is 75, with 25 APs, PPs and EPs. Retail is $475 each for the regular edition, with APs at $675.

Each piece has an image of 13 x 25.75 and paper size of 16 x 28.75. 

The first 50 are set aside for sets, as are #1-#15 of the APs. 

The sets are $1725 for the regular edition, $2425 for #1 and the APs. 

CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO BUY (artinsights@gmail.com)

We’re very excited about the new Alex Ross David Bowie image, which has been in the works for a loooong time. In fact, he had been in talks with David Bowie and his representatives way before he passed away. David Bowie himself saw the sketch for the new release and loved it. One of Alex Ross’s favorite memories of listening to Bowie was his narration of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, which he did because he wanted to give it to his then 7-year-old son Duncan for Christmas. It was one of Bowie’s favorite projects ever. 

The dramatic image is of David and his magical two-colored eyes, but with hooves as legs, and ode to his beloved project. We can send images of these out, but please don’t share them online before the release date on July 22nd.

Bowie by Alex Ross signed giclee on paper:

You can find this piece starting at 6pm PST Wednesday the 22nd!

Specs are:

Edition size is 50 regular edition, 15 APs, PPs and EPs.Retail is $425 regular edition, with APs at $595. (AP1 is $695)

Image size is 12 x 25.75, paper size 15 x 28.75.

CONTACT ME FOR AN IMAGE AND TO PURCHASE (artinsights@gmail.com)

We have access to the AP editions for the signed lithograph on paper of Original Seven, which is a continuation of the Originals series that includes this piece, Avengers Assemble, and The X-Men.

The X-Men signed lithograph on paper:

You can order this image starting Wednesday July 22nd, at 6pm PST.

Specs are:

The X-Men: Wolverine, Night Crawler, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm, and Colossus

Signed by Alex Ross, APs reserved for galleries, we have AP1.

Edition size is 295, with 25 APs, PPs, and EPs. Retail is $495 for APs, with AP1 at $595.

Image size is 14 x 28, paper size 18 x 32.  Contact us through email for more information.

The Original Seven signed lithograph on paper:

You can order this image starting Wednesday July 22nd, at 6pm PST.

Justice League of America: 

Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter

Signed by Alex Ross, APs reserved for galleries, we have AP1. 

Edition size 295, 25 APs, PPs, and EPs. Retail is $595. AP1 is $695.

Image size is 39.5 x 17 image size, and 42.5 x 20.5 paper size.

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What makes Artist Alex Ross so special?

Many of you know we’ve been selling the art of Alex Ross for some time now, and we even exclusively represented him at the New York Comic-Con and other cons around the country. Ross is one of the most recognized, lauded comic book illustrators in the world, and is collected across the globe, from China to Chattanooga Tennessee. 

An artist represented in museums like The Louvre, The Andy Warhol Museum, The Norman Rockwell Museum, and many others, he has brought a new spotlight and acceptance to comic books. His iconic realism and intricate, tight illustration style, which of course is inspired by the work of Norman Rockwell and his contemporaries, has a visceral, nostalgic quality that resonates with comic fans and collectors of comic book art. 

He’s also been a bit of a muse to the filmmakers who built the Marvel and DC cinematic universes. In fact, did you know Alex Ross did the opening credits for Spider-Man 2? opening credits:  Of course you did, but you want to watch it again, don’t you? 

Speaking of San Diego Comic-Con, we get asked a lot if Alex will be at the convention. Almost without exception, the answer would be no. The reason is he is one of the only illustrators working today that creates exclusively in the traditional way. He does not do digital illustration. Here he talks about why:

“creating art is a tactile interaction so I love the fact that i get to work with real materials. I’m still working with paper and with a brush and paint. That to me is very stimulating. I’m completely ignorant of the modern tools. I’ve never taken to using computers. But for everybody else that has, there’s really no difference between them and I, in terms of what drives us. There’s no superiority in one way of working versus another. It’s all about creating something and getting it out there because however the audience absorbs it is what matters.”

I’ve contended that there is something about physical painting, or physical art created all by hand, that creates a connection between the creator and the collector, as if there’s an exchange of artistic energy. It might sound ‘woowoo’, but there’s so much attention, passion, and drive on the part of the artist during the act of creating, it seems obvious to me that the canvas or paper and whatever was used as a medium would be infused with that intention and creative energy. That’s not to say that digital art doesn’t have power. It can convey as much to the viewer as any image done traditionally. It’s just in terms of being in the presence of the physical painting, as a collector, that I believe there is a marked difference in terms of magnetic visual appeal. 

Here is a video about some of his techniques within his artistic process:

So the fact that Alex Ross works by hand, and is committed to continuing to do so, speaks to his love of the history of illustration, expands his reach back to those who influenced him, and excuses him from personal appearances in the potentially 100s of cons that happen around the world every year. 

He will, from time to time, appear at an Alex Ross exhibit museum opening, as exampled by his being at the first day of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, which is only about an hour from my gallery. Folks who wanted to meet him started lining up 8 hours before the museum opened that day. He stayed 3 hours after closing, and still didn’t meet every of the thousands of people in line. 

Perhaps you want to hear Alex talk about his life and work on, say, a podcast. I have just the thing. Comic Book Central, is hosted and produced by Emmy Award-winning producer Joe Stuber, has been called “the Actors’ Studio of comic books”, and has an episode with Alex. Start 18 minutes in after all the commercials, and you’ll enjoy their chat. He talked about the influence the show The Electric Company had on him as a child. Here’s the very first Spidey Adventure episode, which stars Danny Seagren as Spidey (he worked for Jim Henson as a puppeteer and played Big Bird on The Ed Sullivan Show), and is narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman! (interview: https://13thdimension.com/tvs-original-spider-man-breaks-his-silence/

The work of Alex Ross is not for everyone. There are some who prefer the more 60s-styled work that feels more like what classic comic books looked like, as in the art of Jim Lee. If you’re a fan of superheroes and iconic characters that help us aspire to be more fearless and more courageous in our lives, a reminder in the form of one of his images may be the perfect thing to add to your world. Wouldn’t it be delightful, if you are working from home, to have your favorite superhero looking back at you as you do what you do? 

How about Alex Ross’s Batman? He is known for how he draws the caped crusader, and his art of that character has had a huge influence on his popularity. Here he is talking about the tortured, driven, and in-need-of-therapy Mr. Wayne. 

I’ll leave you with the fact that despite the desire by the powers-that-be to keep Alex Ross as apolitical as possible, he has always found subversive ways to express his opinion through his art. As anyone who knows the history of comic books will tell you, the characters represented therein are the first “social justice warriors”. It has ever been thus. Comic superheroes defend the weak, tend to be aliens or immigrants of some kind, and stand up to oppression and bullying.  

Here is a perfect example, loaded onto his YouTube page a few weeks ago. Note the fact that nowhere does it say anything except on his YouTube page itself. It’s titled “Comic Heroes”. 

It’s only if you go onto the YouTube page that you see this (a message that states simple “black lives matter”. WE AGREE, ALEX.

Lady and the Tramp 65th Anniversary: Animation Art Collection and Celebration

Lady and the Tramp was released June 22nd, 1955, making this June its 65th anniversary. The film was so popular, a live-action version of it came out in 2019! The original movie has so much history, and such a strong fanbase, we at ArtInsights thought it would be a great idea to pull together a collection of original art available for sale to our Lady and the Tramp collectors. Check out all the art, then read on for my own experiences as an animation art gallery owner selling Lady and the Tramp art for over 32 years, as well as videos and trivia about this classic Disney film.

I have some vivid, lasting memories of my experience with selling Lady and the Tramp production cels as an animation art gallery owner. I have several clients that I’ve known nearly the entire time I’ve been in the business, who have been collecting Lady and the Tramp cels for over 25 years. When I started in 1988, you could find Lady and the Tramp production art, including cels, for as little as $200. Although the Spaghetti Scene production cels have always been the most expensive, and have never been cheap, there was always cels and drawings you could get for very little. 

I have had some wonderful key set-ups in my time selling Lady and the Tramp art. Because of these longterm clients, they usually never make it to the general public, and that’s ok. Gratefully, most of these folks are willing to let us show the art in the gallery for a few months before they take it home and it’s never seen again. 

CALL IT PUPPY LOVE

Some years ago, there was a poll done for the most romantic films of all time, (this was pre-The Notebook which I’ve never seen, by the way) and Lady and the Tramp was 2nd on the list. At the time, I thought it was odd, but if you’ve looked at any of those “Most Romantic Movies of All Time” lists, they are full of really depressing choices, and very unhealthy relationships: Gone With the Wind? Casablanca? Love Story? and Brokeback Mountain is so sad I could never watch it again. So, yes, I’m onboard with Lady and the Tramp being one of the most romantic movies of all time. It has since been one of only two animated features added to the AFI’s  “100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time”, landing at 95. Once again, however, you’ll see lots of very depressing, fatal or extremely toxic relationships on the list. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Last Tango in Paris are #89, #67, and #48…I’ll stick with Lady and the Tramp. 

DISNEY ART CORNER AND RESTORATION GEEK SPEAK 

The problem as always been that Lady and the Tramp falls during the Art Corner era of Disney art. Most of the cels from the movie were trimmed down, put against a litho background or colored mat, sealed into that recognizable Disneyland mat, and sold at the Art Corner at Disney. As I’ve mentioned before in other blogs, that means they are all stuck to their backgrounds. That the art is stuck to the background does not inherently reduce the value of the art. If you’re buying a full cel, or even if you get a Disneyland mat set-up, a few bits of separation are no big deal, and you shouldn’t restore any piece that just has a bit of flaking. Only restore art that is impossible to enjoy as it is. 

GIVING VOICE TO A CLASSIC

Some of my favorite voice artists worked on Lady and the Tramp. You may find it’s more than a coincidence, as an animation art collector, that your favorite characters from wildly different movies are all voiced by the same artist. For example, Barbara Luddy, who voiced Lady, also gave voice to Merryweather in Sleeping Beauty, and Kanga in Winnie the Pooh. *She is also in the Primal Scream episode of  1975’s The Night Stalker! Verna Felton, one of my personal favorites, lends her voice to Aunt Sarah. She’s also the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella and the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. *For fans of I Love Lucy, she’s in two episodes from 1953. 

My favorite characters in Lady and the Tramp, including the two lead stars, are all pound dogs. I love Jock, but my favorites are Bull, Toughie, Pedro, and Boris. Voice actor Bill Thompson, who had a long and successful career, played both Jock and Bull. You might find it fun to know he voiced another Scot, Scrooge McDuck in 1967’s Scrooge McDuck and Money.  He’s also Mr. Smee in Peter Pan, the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Bearing that in mind, it won’t surprise you he voiced Droopy and Ranger J Audubon. The voice of Pedro and Toughy, both of whom I LOVE, are courtesy of Dal McKennon, who was a very successful character actor on TV in the 50s and 60s. I love that IMDB says he was the voice of Max in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but he’s uncredited! 

Tramp was played by Larry Roberts, who has just the one screen credit, having been discovered onstage by a Disney insider. Before that, he had fought in World War 2 and performed for the troops during the Korean War. He was a popular guest on variety shows, but retired in the late 50s. He then turned his interests towards clothing design, which he did till shortly before his death by AIDS-related causes in 1992. 

Here’s a great video about the voice artists, including an interview with the voice of the Gopher, Stan Freberg:

A PART OF ANIMATION HISTORY 

Some of the greatest animators of all time worked on Lady and the Tramp. Hamilton Luske, who won an Oscar for Visual Effects in Mary Poppins, directed Lady and the Tramp with the same directing partners he worked with on Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, Clyde Geronimi and Wilfred Jackson. It was scored by Oliver Wallace, who won an Oscar for his score for Dumbo. He also scored about a million Disney shorts, including 1939’s Society Dog Show, and Der Fuehrer’s Face. If you love the music to Cinderella, Peter Pan, or Alice in Wonderland, you can thank Oliver Wallace. The backgrounds were done, in part, by famed artists Claude Coats and Eyvind Earle. 

I remember going to the Disney Animation Research Library when Lella Smith was in charge. It was a tour set up for members of the Disney Advisory Board. She had laid out a bunch of backgrounds, layouts, and storyboards from Lady and the Tramp. Most of the folks walking through didn’t know as much about the vintage stuff as I did, nor did they recognize the work of both Claude Coats and Eyvind Earle, as I did. I literally had to hold back tears seeing all this beautiful art. Lella saw me getting overwhelmed, and we talked for quite some time while the other members kept walking. I really believe the fact that the art moved me so much is why Lella and I became friends. 

My friend Willie Ito worked on Lady and the Tramp as an in-betweener. It was one of the first jobs he had at Disney, and he got to work on the spaghetti scene! He remembers it fondly. 

Given that Lady and the Tramp artist Willie Ito spent part of his childhood in a Japanese Concentration Camp in the US, maybe we should talk about Si and Am. 

A WORD ABOUT THE RACISM IN LADY AND THE TRAMP

Depending on where you fall on the ‘we learn from history’ continuum, you either believe the Si and Am, the Siamese cats that wreak havoc at the Darlings, blaming it on poor Lady, are an abomination, an important reminder of the history of racism against Asians in the US, or just a silly, ill-advised part of an otherwise great movie. To me, the part of the characterization that is most problematic (apart from the song) is that Siamese cats in general are portrayed as evil creatures up to no good, AND they’re voiced as Asian. I’m strongly on the side of never cutting anything out of any movie, even the blackface in Holiday Inn. Our country, as we all know, has a history of racism still showing itself today. We have to acknowledge where that comes from, recognize it, note it, and learn from it. I spent my whole childhood hating Siamese cats because of Lady and the Tramp. I don’t think I internalized that kind of judgment on Asian folks, but racism is an insidious thing. I mean, people stopped going to Asian restaurants because of COVID, somehow making a correlation there, however stupid that is, so…. 

The original pair of cats was drafted and designed in 1943, and was meant to suggest the yellow peril. They were called Nip and Tuck. In Ward Greene’s novelization, written during the production, Si and Am actually offer a tearful and genuine apology to Tramp for hiding a rat’s body in the nursery as a joke. 

The 2019 live action version of Lady and the Tramp changed the cat breed to Rex, calling them Devon and Rex. What I think should happen for the original, is the film should have an introduction by a scholar of Asian cultural anthropological studies, who can frame that part of the film for today. 

Here’s a video of Peggy Lee working on the song, and performing it, which is, no matter how you look at it, fascinating. 

THE STORY BEHIND THE CHARACTERS

Lady was designed after story man Joe Grant’s cocker spaniel Lady. She had been sidelined when Joe’s baby arrived. He showed Walt some sketches he made of her in the late 30s, who found them intriguing so he asked Grant to work up some storyboards. Walt didn’t like them, so the idea was shelved. In 1943, Walt bought the rights to a story by Ward Greene called Happy Dan The Cynical Dog, and the studio started working on some version of that, which kept including Lady in some fashion. Grant left the studio in 1949, and never got the credit for his part in making Lady and the Tramp a classic. Watch Disney historians and animators talking about the original story here:

A BOX OFFICE SUCCESS

When Lady and the Tramp came out, it was the most successful movie since Snow White, even though originally it was panned by critics. That only goes to show how wrong we movie critics can be. 

I know from personal experience just how beloved the film is, especially by Disney fans. It’s for this reason that I thought I’d bring together a collection of Lady and the Tramp original production cels and drawings for sale on this special occasion of the film’s 65th anniversary. None of these pieces are listed on the gallery website. For more information, prices, and to inquire about purchasing any of the images, email me at artinsights@gmail.com.

It’s a wonderful collection of Lady and the Tramp art actually used in the making of the film. Using the numbers listed for each image, please contact us immediately to find out about availability!

Click here to see all the limited editions available from Lady and the Tramp

We’ll leave you with a great little video that shows exactly what the dogs looked like that they used for the models of these classic characters:

HAPPY 65th ANNIVERSARY, LADY AND THE TRAMP!

Scooby-Doo Origins, and the Scooby-Doo Original Production Art Collection

Zoinks! We have Scooby-Doo original production art this week as our Wednesday Wonders, and I’m happy to day we are SUPER timely for once! Let me explain…(and then let me relay some fun facts and info on one of my favorite cartoons, Scooby-Doo!) 

This May sees the online release of the computer-animated feature SCOOB!, direct to streaming. It features the voice of Frank Welker as the title character, who is a member of the original 1969 Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! voice cast. Rounding out the Mystery gang are Will Forte as Norville ‘Shaggy’ Rogers, Gina Rodriguez as Velma, Zac Efron as Fred, and Amanda Seifried as Daphne. Riding in the wake of the On Demand success of Trolls World Tour, which broke all digital records when offered for $19.99 for home viewing, Warner Brothers is following suit.  They have decided to stick to their May 15th opening date. The movie had moved its opening date several times already, so now they’re gambling on its potential to capture a quarantine audience looking for fun family viewing. 

Here’s the trailer:

THE SCOOBY-DOO ORIGIN STORY

When you think of scary cartoons, Scooby-Doo is almost always the first that comes to mind. The character and the cartoon shows, which originated in 1969 with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, followed friends Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and his pup Scooby-Doo on adventures where they’d drive around solving mysteries in dark, creepy locations around the country, though in the end the monster, creature, or ghost wound up being a trick by the local town’s often high-profile crook.  

Originally, creators Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, who were writers at Hanna-Barbara, came up with a show called “Mysteries Five”, where a dog named “Too Much” was just a sidekick. The names of the kids and what they did were different, too. They were musicians in a band, Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda, W.W., and a bongo-playing dog, who solved mysteries when they weren’t playing gigs. 

Then the name changed to “Who’s S-S-Scared?”. It was CBS head of daytime programming Fred Silverman who renamed both the show and the character to Scooby-Doo. Though the story put out by Ruby and Spears is that Silverman was inspired by Frank Sinatra, which made good press, the likeliest origin story is from a song by the fictional band The Archies, “Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y-D.O.O.)” which had been released in 1968. At the time, Silverman had been deeply involved in overseeing The Archie Show as the head of children’s programming for CBS. The Archies are most famous for Sugar, Sugar, which was the top single of 1969!

Here’s the song that (likely) inspired Scooby-Doo!:

Scheduled opposite ABC’s The Hardy Boys, the original show became a ratings success, and led to a rash of copycat shows produced by Hanna Barbera with a team of kids and a sidekick solving crimes, including Josie and the Pussycats, The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, Speed Buggy, and Jabberjaw, just to name a few!

SCOOBY-DOO: THE CHARACTER

The character, designed by one of the most famous character designers in cartoon history, Iwao Takamoto. Knowing it was a cowardly Great Dane, he asked help in creating Scooby from a colleague at Hanna-Barbara who was a Great Dane breeder, and added as many elements that would be considered undesirable for a show dog: spots, a sloped back, and to be honest, Scooby looks like he has hip dysplasia! Scooby was originally voiced by Don Messick, who was an integral part of all the shows from 1969 through the 90s, and then passed away in 1997. Messick is also known for Astro on the Jetsons, and Muttley in Wacky Races, Boo-Boo Bear in Yogi Bear, Poppa Smurf in the Smurfs, and tons of other famous characters. 

WHAT’S BOB GOT TO DO WITH IT?

Our friend, Hanna Barbera concept artist Bob Singer, worked with Takamoto on the original 1969 show, Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? and designed a number of the monsters, villains, and creatures in the Hanna Barbera character design department. He started with Hanna Barbera before Scooby-Doo was developed, and was part of the crew of animators and concept artists who built the show from the ground up. He worked in layouts, character design, story development with storyboards, and a host of other duties in the tight group of artists, and he has the stories to prove it. Some of your favorite secondary characters were designed by him. 

You can read about Bob Singer and his contributions on THIS BLOG.

SCOOBY-DOO ANIMATION ART

This Scooby-Doo animation art collection was pulled from the first two animated features created at Warner Brothers, (Hanna Barbera became part of Time Warner in 1996, when Turner merged with Time Warner) Scooby-Doo! on Zombie Island (1998) and Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost (1999). It includes both Scooby-Doo original production cels and original production backgrounds. There are some great moments capturing Scooby and Shaggy together, and we’re excited about the Mystery Mobile cel and background and Scooby gang production cel.

We wanted, though, as you’ve seen lately, to incorporate as many folks who could benefit from this collection as possible in terms of small businesses and artists, so all the Scooby-Doo production cels will come with a Bob Singer signature and remarque drawing of Scooby. So not only will you have an original production cel from Scooby-Doo, you’ll also have an original drawing of Scooby’s head done by Bob Singer, who worked at Hanna Barbera from the beginning, and worked alongside Iwao Takamoto on Scooby-Doo! Where are You?, which means this time, when you buy these this Scooby Doo production art, you’re supporting our gallery, plus the small business that sells all the official Hanna Barbera art, as well as legend of animation Bob Singer, during the pandemic. Everybody wins, and it doesn’t get better than that! 

An original layout from 1968!

You can also buy a rare original layout from Scooby Doo! Where are You and an original layout drawing of Scooby-Doo himself. Check out all Bob Singer’s art HERE

ABOUT THE SCOOBY-DOO ORIGINAL PRODUCTION ART COLLECTION

Click to see all the Scooby-Doo limited edition and original art!

SCOOBY-DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND HAS REAL ZOMBIES?

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, a direct-to-video animated ‘horror’ film came out in 1998, after the popularity of Scooby Doo soared in the 90s due to reruns being aired on the Cartoon Network. What makes both Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island and Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost particularly cool is both cartoons feature real supernatural characters instead of someone like the sheriff or local real estate mogul dressed in a costume. In fact, the basis for the story is Daphne, Fred, Velma, and Shaggy, the members of Mystery Inc. have gone their separate ways because they are bored by all the fake ghosts they catch. No worries, this story features voodoo dolls, zombies, and even were-cats! This feature was nominated for both an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Animated Home Video Production, and a Motion Picture Sound Editors Best Sound Editing Award.

One of the best trivia stories about Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is that Casey Kasem, who originated the voice of Shaggy, was offered the role, but had recently gone vegan, and demanded that they remove all meat and dairy from the character’s diet. They recast the role with Billy West, famous for his voice acting on Doug, Futurama, and The Ren & Stimpy Show. He also provided the voices of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd for Space Jam. 

You can watch the trailer for it here. Notice the tagline “This time…they’re real!” Also notice Shaggy is already eating meat and cheese in the trailer…and lots of cats! (would cats survive in the bayou? or would they be gator snacks?)

SCOOBY DOO AND THE WITCH’S GHOST HAS REAL WITCHES, BOTH GOOD AND BAD?

Soon after the great success of Zombie Island, they released Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost in 1999, which got nominated for the same Annie award and Motion Picture Sound Editors award. Once again, this featured real ghosts instead of masked crooks. They once again replaced the voice of Shaggy, this time with Scott Innes, who was already voicing Scooby-Doo, because Billy West was busy with Futurama.  Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost features an eco-goth band named The Hex Girls, and, happily for any wiccans reading this blog, both good and bad wiccan practitioners are represented in the story. The Hex Girls band and characters, it’s worth noting, became huge fan favorites, and appeared in a number of other Scooby-Doo movies and episodes thereafter! 

*Note: This cartoon features the voice of the incomparable Tim Curry as Ben Ravencroft, reason enough to give it a watch! 

CLICK TO SEE ALL THE SCOOBY-DOO ANIMATION ART WE HAVE AVAILABLE AT ARTINSIGHTS

In the time of a pandemic, it’s great to be reminded that our pets, whether dog, cat, fish, or fowl, are our best friends, our comfort, and a part of our family, and they always have our back!

Always hungry. Always scared. Always the perfect team!

For this week’s COVID Comfort Cartoon, I’ve picked the Hex Girls performing live, with special guests that come onstage: Scooby and the whole gang! No, it’s not Halloween, but it IS a scary time. Yes, it’s cheesy, but it’s fun, silly, and distracting from our new-usual daily scares! And seriously, The Hex Girls are famous to folks who were coming of age or were questioning their sexuality in 1998 through the early 2000’s as great affirmation of innocent yet positive individual expression. Hit it, sisters!

The Delight of Donald Duck: production art of the famed cartoon character

I love finding vintage cels. I loved even more finding vintage Donald Duck production art. As much as I enjoy a Disney cartoon, I’ve never much been a fan of Mickey Mouse. Friendly, funny, and sweet, he just didn’t resonate with me. Donald Duck? The grumpy Disney duck in Navy uniform (of sorts) is another story. I could relate to his anger management issues, and his often hollow attempts to find joy. When he did find happiness, we all knew it was real.

Last year on June 9th, It was Donald Duck’s anniversary. He turned 85. We thought now is as good a time as any to celebrate the character with Donald Duck production cels. Let me tell you the story of how we came by this great original art:

A friend worked at Disney in the 70s. There was research going on for the art program, and every day they pulled art from the Disney morgue (what is now known as the Animation Research Library) and every night they planned to put it all back, and the folks in charge said, “Oh, just keep it if you want it. It’s more trouble to put back.” These were very VERY different times. This friend completely forgot they had the art. It sat in boxes for decades. When they were finally moving after many years, they stumbled onto the box of art. Interestingly, a number of them were laminated. As you all may or may not know, I don’t sell laminated animation art (see my blog about that HERE.) so I offered to sell the unlaminated animation art they had. The art included a Briar Rose and a Philip and Samson Sleeping Beauty production cel (in original condition, full cels, which is rare, since they are mostly trimmed or laminated!) a few Mickey Mouse production cels, and these lovely, iconic images of Donald Duck, which was one of their favorite characters.

Donald doing Donald things, and doing it with his pals!
Click on the image to see all the art for sale!

I haven’t found where these cels are from, and I’m not likely to track them down. I am guessing they were for TV. A number of them are hand-inked (with a thin ink-line to boot), so those are definitely from before 1958. What I do know is they are one step away from Disney, and have only been in three places: Disney, my friend’s house, and my gallery. No damage, no restoration, no trimming. Just great, affordable Donald Duck production cels, perfect for Disney fans who love the character!

Why DONALD DUCK? I mean, it did all ‘start with a mouse”. Well, Donald Fauntleroy Duck, in a lot of ways, represents Walt Disney Studios in ways that Mickey Mouse never did. Most notably, Donald was the cartoon character of choice when it came to the war effort.

During World War II, Donald was the one that Walt Disney used in all the propaganda cartoons. In fact, Disney won an Oscar for perhaps the most famous Donald Duck cartoon, Der Fuehrer’s Face in 1943, only a year after the studio won its first Oscar for a Mickey Mouse cartoon with Lend a Paw in 1942. You can read a bit more about Walt Disney’s support in the war effort on the National Museum of American History blog, HERE. Due to the fact that Donald was in so many wartime cartoons, he wound up on the nose of nearly every kind of US combat aircraft at the time. He was also the mascot for a number of fighter squadrons.

And here’s a wiki page with a lot of Walt’s propaganda films for WW2

I’m a sucker for World War II propaganda movies, be they features or cartoons. This is by far the best one of the bunch in terms of humor. 1943’s Education for Death is too shocking for repeated viewing. There are a number of cartoons featuring Donald used in the war effort.

It’s interesting to note that there was a long stretch of time when there were very few Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts released, whereas they were releasing tons of Donald Duck cartoons. While 1942-1950, Mickey made only 12 appearances, Donald was in a whopping 67 cartoons!

The most interesting thing I discovered when researching about Donald Duck, was that he is incredibly popular in Germany. Comic books in German featuring the character sell hundreds of thousands of copies, half of which are over 16. In part that’s to the credit of Erika Fuchs, who began translating Disney comics into German in 1951, and did so until her retirement in 1988. Her choices of translation led to a character far more erudite, in fact quoting classic German literature, and even injecting political subtexts into the stories. There’s a fan club called D.O.N.A.L.D that celebrates “Donaldism”, conventions celebrating him, serious lectures on his philosophies, and a museum that opened in 2015 dedicated to Erika Fuchs in her home town, Schwarzenbach an der Saale.

Visit this museum to celebrate the female writer
who brought greater popularity to Donald Duck!

I know a lot of collectors who fancy Donald and are avid collectors, but a lot of Donald Duck production cels from the older cartoons are very expensive, and few are in very good condition. Cels from the 50s and 60s are almost all Disneyland mat set-ups sold at the art corner at Disney, which means they’re stuck to their background or restored. These pieces are unusual in that they are full, untrimmed cels from an era when Disney cut their art down to smaller sizes and stuck them on litho backgrounds, making them all 9 x 12 inches. This Donald Duck production art is inexpensive, and has a great story!

Meanwhile, why Donald Duck now, in the time of COVID? Because Donald Duck perseveres. He may lose his temper, or act the prankster, but he always chooses to be optimistic and hope for the best. That’s a message we can all take to heart, even if it does come, or maybe especially because it comes from a cartoon duck.

Here is the COVID Cartoon Comfort for this week’s Wednesday Wonders: It’s a clip from the fantastic“Aquarela do Brasil” from 1943’s Saludos Amigos. There’s so much joy and friendship in this cartoon. It seems perfect as people around the world join together to show compassion and concern for all those affected by the pandemic. You can see the whole cartoon on Disney+.

You’re home. Dance like Donald is watching…

Introducing: The ArtInsights Heroes Initiative

Heroes have generally meant one thing in comics, cartoons, and film. They are the people from other worlds with superhuman strength like Superman, or tortured souls with dark pasts who choose to keep crime-ridden streets safe like Luke Cage and Batman, gods and goddesses like Thor and Wonder Woman, or people thrown into the role by a series of unfortunate events, like Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, and Black Panther. 

There’s a lot of talk about heroes these days, and what it means to be one in real life. We’ve always thought of firefighters and those in what we used to call “the front lines”. The COVID pandemic has opened the world’s eyes to the bravery of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, ambulance drivers, grocery checkers, teachers, mail people, and a host of other folk who are risking their lives to save others, help people stay food secure, and getting us all through this chaotic, unfortunate, very bad, not so good historic experience. 

Some chose those roles long ago. There’s no denying running into a burning building is a fearless, heroic thing to do. Doctors and nurses care for the sick with unwavering compassion and commitment, often working more hours than any human should be expected to work. The grocery clerks, teachers, mail people and many others around us didn’t realize they’d have to put their lives on the line just to keep food on their own tables. They are the Spider-Men and Captain Marvels of our new reality. 

With all that in mind, we at ArtInsights decided we’d like to donate 10% of sales of all superhero art, now through June 1st to COVID-19 relief efforts and support. 

Up high for the REAL-life heroes!!

In addition, this week’s Wednesday Wonders will be a sale of 10% off of select heroes art!

This includes Alex Ross limited editions. This includes a number of sold out Artist Proofs (or APs) and exclusive images you can’t get anywhere else. So our clients and friends get 10% off, and we also donate another 10% to relief and support to REAL LIFE HEROES who are helping the fight against this pandemic, and who are keeping us safe.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE HEROES IN OUR SPECIAL COLLECTION.

Whether or not the art is ‘on sale”, which will only be from Wednesday to Friday at 11:59pm, we will be donating 10% to charity. 

Our choices are: 

DIRECT RELIEF :  Direct Relief is a humanitarian aid organization, active in all 50 states and more than 80 countries, with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies – without regard to politics, religion, or ability to pay. They are coordinating with public health authorities, nonprofit organizations and businesses in the U.S. and globally to provide personal protective equipment and essential medical items to health workers responding to coronavirus (COVID-19).

NURSES HOUSE: Nurses House has partnered with the American Nurses Foundation to help nurses nationwide affected by COVID-19. Through July 31, 2020, Nurses House will be accepting applications from RNs, LPNs and LVNs who are unable to work due to a COVID-19 infection, caring for a family member with COVID-19, or are under employer mandated quarantine. In order to help as many nurses as possible, they desperately need our support. 

*If you’d like us to donate to another cause that relates to the pandemic, please let us know, and we’ll send the donation there. 

As many of you know, we’ve had a good relationship with the Alex Ross representatives, and have been fortunate to get many artist proofs of Alex Ross releases, as well as exclusive Alex Ross art in our gallery. The artist has always celebrated heroes, with his visually dramatic imagery, and love of comic book history. We love his Thor, and all his Marvel superheroes. We especially love the Alex Ross Avengers art, but we also have a soft spot for Alex Ross Batman images. 

It looks like only Iron Man is wearing a COVID appropriate mask…

If you know us, you also know we love the aspirational quality of Jim Lee’s personal story, and his very vivid, compelling art. We all know Jim Lee does it for the love of comics. Who else would make a mint selling a comic company only to keep working in the business? They didn’t name him one of the leaders of DC Comics for nothing!

Wash your hands, Catwoman!

The Jim Lee art we are offering at 10% discount between Wednesday and Friday night are our favorite Jim Lee Hush art and a release of Batman’s 80th Anniversary Jim Lee art, as well as Trinity, which celebrates Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. 

**A WORD ABOUT ALEX ROSS APs and JIM LEE APs**

There is a reason so many fans clammer for Alex Ross and Jim Lee AP1s. APs, in and of themselves, are no longer intrinsically worth more than a regular edition. Originally, when limited edition art was created, it was done by hand, and the lower the number, the more paint there would be on the paper, so getting a lower number would mean a better image. Now that limited editions are made through the giclee process, there’s no difference between #1 and #100.

HOWEVER: If a collector is buying a piece from a series and they can get either #1 or AP1, if they ever want to sell it, it will be FAR easier to sell than any other numbers in the series.  Also, when you have an edition, the APs are a smaller subset (there are usually 5, 10, or 25 artist proofs in any edition). So that makes them a bit more special. I don’t believe getting AP2 through any other number is a big deal, or even worth buying for more money, unless the rest of the edition is sold out and you are able to at least get an image. Then it makes a lot of sense. If you can buy AP1 or the #1 in any edition, though, that’s pretty great. It might cost a bit more, but as mentioned before, it will be a lot easier to sell later if you (or your progeny) should ever want to sell. 

Maybe these girls going to grow up to be doctors and nurses! Whatever they do, we love them.

Also part of this assortment are a few special pieces. We have ONE original production cel of The Powerpuff Girls signed by the creator of the show.

We know Disney would approve we are offering some SOLD OUT images of Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. We thought we’d add them for folks who like their heroes on the softer side, although, needless to say, Elsa can be pretty fierce! Honestly, we included Anna and Elsa because one of our friends is a nurse who also cosplays Elsa, so it is a tribute to her, as she is currently living apart from her family and working around the clock at hospital, helping COVID patients.

Elsa reminds us we will all see the light at the end of all this.

(She hasn’t sung “The COVID never bothered me anyway”, because there’s not much joy where she is right now.) To her, it’s all in a day’s work, even if it’s scary work without proper equipment. Still, we want to recognize her bravery, even if she doesn’t.  Lastly, we included a piece by John Alvin, because he was always very supportive of charity partnerships, and he’d want to do all he could to support our heroes. Andrea Alvin feels the same way. The Cold of Hoth is great John Alvin Star Wars art, and it will be discounted from Wednesday to Friday night and included in the heroes assortment. 

As to our COVID Cartoon Comfort? This week, we are sending you The Powerpuff Girls singing “Love Makes the World Go Round”, but with Icelandic subtitles. Iceland is a heroic country right now!

The country has done more testing of their population for the Coronavirus than any other country, and they’ve discovered that at any given time, half the population that has the disease aren’t showing any symptoms. 

So this cartoon is also a reminder that loving each other means keeping each other safe! All the best to you,

your friends at ArtInsights. 

The Art of Blade Runner by John Alvin

When a future sci-fi classic and an sci-fi-loving art geek collided

ArtInsights Gallery just got the last two original paintings representing Blade Runner created by the campaign artist who designed and painted the official movie poster in 1982. John Alvin is the illustrator for the iconic image used to promote what would become one of the classics of the science fiction film genre. He made only a few paintings featuring the characters from Ridley Scott’s film, and we can now proudly say we have or have sold every one of them. The last full color mixed media images of Blade Runner art are in the gallery right now.

A DUSTIN HOFFMAN DECKARD?

Imagine Dustin Hoffman as Deckard. It’s hard to do, and yet, he was one of the major actors not only considered but attached to the film early on. Also in play were Paul Newman, Al Pacino, and Gene Hackman. When Hoffman left the project over artistic differences, the filmmakers settled on Harrison Ford, who was just finishing Raiders of the Lost Ark at the time.

JOHN ALVIN & RIDLEY SCOTT SHARED A LOVE OF ARCHITECTURE

John Alvin wasn’t the first choice to make the movie poster, either. It’s not that they had someone else in mind, but rather, that the marketing folk had ideas they wanted to use. Alvin was in on an early meeting that included Ridley Scott, at which point he told Scott that he thought the architecture was really important to the poster and needed to be a major feature. Scott stopped what he was doing and saying and turned to John Alvin, asking him to explain what he had in mind. He explained what he had in mind for the poster, which would include Harrison Ford as Deckard, replicants Roy Batty and Rachael, with the architecture and gear featured in the film figured prominently. He would use what he called “heavy light” (what Disney executives would later consider part of “Alvin-izing”) to add a bit of film noir atmosphere. Though ultimately Roy was not part of the key art for the movie poster, the rest of John’s ideas can be seen in the famous finished poster image.

He would revisit the idea of Roy Batty as an essential part of the poster later, when he created an anniversary image that made Roy the dramatic central focus of the art.

Only four full color John Alvin Blade Runner original paintings were painted later representing Blade Runner. All are shown in the book The Art of John Alvin:

JOHN ALVIN DID VERY LITTLE BLADE RUNNER ART

A page in the book The Art of John Alvin shows his Blade Runner images

The world and look in Blade Runner was very much influenced by futuristic architecture, as well as what Ridley Scott called, “medieval meets electronics”. He felt validated in this blend of aesthetics in seeing the harbor in Hong Kong, which had both junks and skyscrapers.

BLACK & PEACH WITH A PURPOSE

Of course another major influence was film noir. As Ridley Scott said, “The hunter falls in love with his quarry.” Rachael is not strictly a traditional femme fatale, though Deckard falling in love with her certainly could lead to his downfall. In John Alvin’s Blade Runner movie poster, the image of her hovers just below Deckard’s gun-filled hands, the smoke of her cigarette drawing the eye to both the lead character and the architecture featured in the poster.

Sharp light, a broody hot femme, guns, orange, peach and black = film noir awesomeness!

FILM NOIR STYLE SAVES THE DAY

Alvin’s Blade Runner poster is as far off model as he could have gone without losing the spirit of these characters. John Alvin himself talked about that. When he was painting Harrison Ford as Deckard, the only source material he had was a postage stamp-sized image of him in costume. He had to get a jewel’s loop and a magnifying glass to draw him. He determined that utilizing the stylized yet gritty representation so popular in film noir movie posters, with their sharply lit faces and angled light, would be a way of problem-solving or working around the lack of good images of the actors in costume. Even the shards of light in the Blade Runner art are an updated take on the way light was used in the early days promoting film noir.

These are some of the very few graphites presented by John Alvin that led to the finished Blade Runner key art.
John Alvin Blade Runner 10th Anniversary image “I’ve Seen Things”

Once the go-ahead from Ridley Scott happened for the John Alvin Blade Runner key art, there were only a few detailed graphites drawn before they chose a finished design. There are often many stages required to get to the final look of a poster. Collectors and fans, no doubt, wish there were more original images. John Alvin wished that, too, since Blade Runner was one of his favorite movies of all time. Though we aren’t 100% sure, we’ve been told people have seen the original art for the poster, and it’s with Ridley Scott. The original art for the 10th anniversary image, which features a much larger Roy Batty in the poster, went at auction over 20 years ago, for almost $100,000, a record for the time.

Once photoshop made traditionally illustrated movie posters largely a thing of the past, John Alvin and his wife Andrea moved to across the country to be nearer to their daughter, who was building a career in theater and around Broadway. He started creating images for the fine art market, and became quickly very much in demand to movie lovers who knew his work and new collectors who were just starting to see the value of illustration art as “real art”, and original movie poster art as an important aspect of film history.

Since George Lucas had been one of his biggest collectors for years, and had commissioned a Star Wars art collection that John entitled, “The Force of Influence”, there were lots of studies for that work that art galleries were able to access and buy to offer to collectors.

JOHN ALVIN REVISITS A CLASSIC

Blade Runner was a different story. It was only because John loved the film so much that he decided to revisit the film and create a few images to develop ideas he wasn’t able to play with when he worked on the Blade Runner movie poster. One of the things he wanted to do was design a poster image that had Roy Batty as the biggest figure in the art, while still incorporating the architecture. The original Blade Runner art we now have in the gallery on display and for sale includes this piece, and as you can see, John was able to use better source material. This allowed the characters to be more on-model. He wove the architecture into Deckard’s jacket, but also used points of light to draw the eye across one of concept artist Syd Mead’s famous “spinner” crafts so recognizable from the film.

In this Blade Runner original illustration art by John Alvin, Roy Batty looks almost like a specter who is haunting Deckard, and making him question his own humanity. Last Blade Runner available for sale from the John Alvin Estate!

There was also interest on John’s part to create image that included Pris, played by Daryl Hannah, who is not only a fan favorite, but represents a strong female character, albeit a replicant known as a “basic pleasure model”. He also loved the character Eldon Tyrell, who he felt expressed the quality of hubris, especially as he was playing God in experimenting with Rachael in creating her, using memories from his own niece, but not telling her she was a replicant. Alvin saw Tyrell as a tragic figure, and wanted to create an image with Tyrell and his “children”, including Roy Batty, his prodigal son. Unfortunately, he never got a chance to finish this graphite in full color.

The flow of his image gets across the conflict between Deckard and Batty, but also captures Tyrell, the father, and his replicant family. *The original is sold.

In addition to the conflict between Deckard and Batty, John believed the fascination Deckard and Rachael held for each other, though doomed from the start, was one of the aspects of the film that held the story together the most. Much like the film noir plots from the earlier 20th century, he felt their magnetism for each other is part of what made good on what he called the “promise of a great experience”. John always said that’s what he strived to deliver as a movie poster artist.

The love scene from which John Alvin got the name for the below original, called “Kiss Me”, is accompanied by music by the great score created by Vangelis, with the tenor sax solo performed by renowned British musician Dick Morrissey. The plaintive notes on the sax express the mix of idealism and fatalism in their relationship. John Alvin, who loved Vangelis’s score and played his hard-to-get copy of it often, strived to capture that duality. He also believed their story was inseparable from the world they lived in, so he wanted that expressed as well in the art.

John Alvin Blade Runner original art “Kiss Me” shows the shadow and light representative of Deckard and Rachael, and their starcrossed lives. *The original is sold.

The Blade Runner art itself is like all of John Alvin’s original art. It has a way of breaking apart close up and coming together when seen from a distance. Seeing the art in person, it is exciting to be able to dissect how he achieved the emotionally intimate quality for which his illustration art is most well-known. He was someone who did not like to paint in front of others, keeping secrets about how he reached his artistic goals, both big and small. He used any and every tool and medium at his disposal to translate what he had in his mind into physical art. It’s a shame there isn’t more Blade Runner art by John Alvin out there. He passed away over 10 years ago, and even with the release of 2017’s Blade Runner 2049, the 1982 film only becomes more of a classic. Though the film didn’t win a lot of awards, cinephiles did have the good sense to give it a Hugo Award fro Best Dramatic Presentation in 1983. Stop by ArtInsights while the art is still in the gallery to see some of John Alvin’s masterwork. If interested in the only original official Blade Runner piece for sale created by the movie poster artist, CHECK THIS PAGE.

Read an interview with Ridley Scott about Blade Runner

HERE with Harlan Kennedy. HERE with WIRED about a director’s cut.

You can read the original screenplay HERE.

Peanuts’ Woodstock & the Woodstock Festival

Snoopy's best friend, Woodstock, the Peanuts character, was named after the Woodstock Music Festival. In celebration of the 50th anniversary, Sopwith Productions is releasing original art used in the making of the Peanuts cartoons! Read all about it here, and see the rare, great Woodstock production cels and drawings on offer!

Read more

Jim Lee Batman art! ArtInsights has Batman: Hush and Batman Detective 1000 fine art exclusives

We are thrilled to announce Warner Brothers has offered us Hush and Detective 1000, two exclusive limited editions based on the art of Jim Lee, the nicest man in comics, and the co-publisher of DC Comics. Can you believe one of them is a worldwide art exclusive coming out right when they are releasing a feature film??

“Hush” by Jim Lee. Selina Kyle aka Catwoman says, “Let the latex do the talking…”

“HUSH”, is based on the 15th anniversary of HUSH, which is considered one of the best graphic series released, featuring Batman and Catwoman! It was rated #10 of the top 25 Batman graphic novels by IGN. Our art release is purrfectly timed to the release of the new animated film Batman: Hush!

For Batman Hush on paper, click here.

For Batman Hush on canvas, click here.

In July 2018, an animated adaptation was announced during San Diego Comic-Con which will feature a “gauntlet of Batman villains including Poison Ivy, Ra’s al Ghul, the Joker, and, of course, the bandage-faced mystery villain Hush”. The film is set to be released next month, on July 20th.

This adaptation of the seminal DC classic tale, Batman: Hush centers on a shadowy new villain known only as Hush, who uses Gotham’s Rogues Gallery to destroy Batman’s crime-fighting career, as well as Bruce Wayne’s personal life – which has already been complicated by a relationship with Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman.

Here is the trailer for this new release:

We are also excited about our worldwide Jim Lee exclusive of the Batman: Detective 1000 fine art giclee, which comes on both paper and canvas. You can’t go into a Barnes and Noble or comic book shop without seeing this spectacular cover, celebrating Batman Detective #1000. The image has every important villain and superhero in Gotham, even Alfred!

The editions are on paper, (numbering 250) and on canvas (only 100 available), and will make a commanding statement in Batcaves all over the world!

Alfred brings tea to a Gotham ass-kicking party, where Batman says everyone is invited!

For Batman Detective 1000 on paper, click here.

For Batman Detective 1000 on canvas, click here.

This image captures so much action and subtext, you could stare at it for hours and keep seeing new things, which is one mark of a truly great piece of art. Artist Jim Lee brings both darkness and light, creating visual flow from the left bottom corner, up through the characters, but landing on the haunting glow that is Joker’s visage, before drifting off the bottom right with Scarecrow. There’s more genius in this art than some non-comic fans might imagine, as future art historians will prove.

Detective Comics has remained in publication longer than any other DC Comics title, and indeed, the very name DC was taken from its initials! However, since Action Comics was published weekly for a short time in the 1980s, and Detective was bi-monthly for a period in the 1970’s, Action has a higher issue count. Nonetheless, in March 2019, Detective became only the third American comic book in history – after Action and the Four Color series of the 1930s-60s by Dell Comics – to publish a 1,000th issue.

Detective Comics #27 (March 1939 with a printed date of May 1939) featured the first appearance of Batman. That superhero would eventually become the star of the title, the cover logo of which is often written as “Detective Comics featuring Batman”. Because of its significance, issue #27 is widely considered one of the most valuable comic books in existence, with one copy selling for $1,075,000 in a February 2010 auction!

“Batman is one of the most enduring characters in popular culture, and his debut in DETECTIVE COMICS represented a pivotal moment in comics and pioneered a new type of superhero that would appeal to every generation,” said DC Publisher Dan DiDio. “Batman continues to have an impact on entertainment worldwide and the 1,000th issue of DETECTIVE COMICS is a testament to the creative genius of Bob Kane and Bill Finger and is a fitting tribute to Batman on his 80th anniversary.”

We are so loving our new, updated gallery space, and it was wonderful of our friends at Warner Brothers official DC art and Jim Lee to celebrate our many years as an animation and film art gallery with us. Come visit or buy these images online!

Avengers: Invincible by Alex Ross celebrates Marvel heroic mythology

We all saw the colossal success of Avengers: Endgame coming, didn’t we? Maybe how fast it has succeeded took us by surprise, but we all knew a huge blockbuster was coming..so imagine our glee when we scored the exclusive international premiere of Avengers: Invincible, the only official and licensed Avengers: Endgame Marvel art release!

Alex Ross’s Avengers: Invincible has been a piece that collectors have been clamoring for for years. There’s a reason, beyond the characters represented, that the art appeals to Marvel fans on both a visceral and artistic level. In his composition, Alex Ross uses light to move the eye from one side of the image to the other, creating a sort of visual heroism, especially as they are all turned in one direction, facing their future together. The colors he uses, too, are calming: bright without being frenetic, complimentary to each other that creates a subliminal message of teamwork. 

The Avengers: Invincible Larger than Life is big enough to be the one dramatic image in anyone’s collection, especially if they are superhero fans, but also this kind of art brings whole families together to smile, geek out, argue who is the best/worst/strongest, as Marvel fans of all ages are inclined to do…(obviously, it’s T’Challa/Black Panther..says the girl with a cat named after him) 

People who are new to all things Marvel as of the films remember the time when most of us only knew the names of a few Marvel superheroes, and only from our comic-book loving friends. Kevin Feige has changed that forever, I’d say. Avengers: Invincible features Quicksilver, Thor, Wasp, Hercules, Giant Man, Black Panther, Captain America, Hawkeye, Vision, Scarlet Witch and Iron Man. These characters are becoming household names, along with the actors that play them. How cool that we can have an artistic, authentically comic-book-based image that celebrates them? Museums are buying up originals by Alex Ross for their collections, along with other famous comic book artists that celebrate pop culture, and it’s high time! 

There are only 25 in the edition. We love that. It means true fans will wind up with this image. Come by the gallery if you live in the area, so you can see this piece in person. Or you can trust us when we say it’s evocative in a way that will keep on giving to Marvel fans as it sits on the wall looking heroic. 

Stay tuned for the next big release we get an exclusive on, it makes us happy to bring these pop culture images into your lives to bring a smile to your days!

Collecting Vintage Photostat Disney Model Sheets: Fake vs Real

In the 30+ years I’ve been selling vintage Disney art, I’ve largely avoided photostat model sheets. I mean, they are copies. They are copies created 50 years or more ago and used by character animators as a roadmap for the artists working under them of how to draw some of the most iconic characters in history, but copies nonetheless. Whenever I’ve been able to score an original graphite model sheet, it’s my absolute favorite thing to sell. They are incredibly rare, and knowing a model sheet with great provenance is in the collection of one of my clients thrills me. So there’s a huge difference about how I have felt about the original vs photostat models.

That being said, over the years, original graphites and concept art have become very expensive, and people have started collecting photostats more and more. Obviously, though, it’s very easy to fake them. I’ve seen countless images on Ebay for sale, often framed, for very little money, but that are also clearly not authentic.

Lately, I’ve become more interested in offering original photostat model sheets. They may be more expensive than they used to be, but they still have great history, and the images are so exciting. Who used them back then? Where did they keep it? (for example, often you see they have pinholes where they were put on the wall for the animators to follow)

I know with absolute certainty that the model sheets I have access to are authentic. This person has only ever bought from animators, and they are super tied into that crowd and have been for decades. Also, the collector who has them has had them for so long that they supersede the advent of giclees on paper, and copiers that could do the sort of fake they make and pass off as authentic nowadays. Granted, they are generally a lot more money than the fakes proliferating the auctions and sites now. It all comes down to how much it matters to you that the piece you’re buying was there then, a part of the history of creating the cartoon for which they were utilized.

With that in mind, there are a few rules you might want to follow when buying photostat model sheets:

  1. Know your seller. I can’t stress this enough. This assumes you’re actually after an original, not a copy of a copy. If all you care about is the image, not the history, it doesn’t matter. If you’re wanting to get a photostat model sheet that was used by animators working on that character, you have to get it from someone who traces everything they ever sell all the way back to Disney. I say this in part because there are many people with integrity who buy pieces that have changed hands many times, and they just base their buys on what the seller is telling them. It’s a bit like “Telephone”. If the seller you bought it from got it from someone who was duped, that’s several layers away from the criminal who has faked model sheets. Stick with highly rated, well-versed dealers if you want a model sheet used by Disney animators.
  2. If you buy from Ebay, or any other auction, limit your spending to under $300. To my mind, this is actually true for any sale on there. If you get a fake for under $300, at least you have an image. For over $300, and it had better be real. You’ll never know if aren’t buying it from someone with a pristine reputation who has been in the animation world a long time.
  3. As always, only buy characters you love. Original model sheets represent a part of that character being brought to the screen. There are literally many millions of fans all over the world who love them. Don’t add something about which you feel mediocre to your collection.
  4. Don’t buy them framed. If you are buying them from someone who will be framing them, look at them unframed first. There are many obvious signs of a fake model sheet, not least of which is the paper it’s printed on.
  5. How much should you spend? I’ve seen vintage photostats from $150 to $650. Beyond that price, you might just save your money and be on the lookout for an original. It will be much more, but as I’m always teaching my clients, it is better to have fewer pieces of higher quality.

We almost always have at least one original graphite model sheet in the gallery. If you’re wanting to get some photostats, we have some available right now, and we can also try to track down ones that show your favorite characters. Here are a few photostats we have at present, but contact us for availability or to have us find specific characters.

Above are two photostat model sheets of Snow White.

These Bambi and Thumper photostat model sheets really capture how they are drawn and their expressions for the animators using them.

Here are two from Dumbo, showing Dumbo and Timothy, two best friends, from all angles.

Two classic secondary characters that are fan favorites from Cinderella, Lucifer and Jaq.

Here are two of the most fragile, beautifully rendered characters in Pinocchio, The Blue Fairy and Cleo, both of whom required translucent paint.

Who can forget the characters that populated The Song of the South? I’m sure plenty of folks at Disney would love you to, but Briar Fox and Briar Bear stick with you like a briar from the patch.

If you’re interested in adding some photostat model sheets (or for that matter, some original graphite ones) to your collection, let us know and we’ll set about finding exactly what you’re after or add it to your wish list!

Good luck and happy collecting!

Vintage Disney Art from the Vault at ArtInsights

So much awesome Disney history right here!

Premiering live on March 2nd at Mindy Johnson’s Ink and Paint: The Women at Walt Disney’s Animation is a collection of vintage Disney concept and character drawings that will fascinate and excite fans and collectors of Disney art! ArtInsights already has them on-hand, but will be unveiling them at the event, which is from 2-5pm. Come see them in person!

A screen shot very close to the graphite from Canine Caddy, a classic 1941 Mickey Mouse cartoon, in which Mickey is voiced by Walt Disney. Note the touches of color on the drawing, as well as the difference in Mickey’s design between this and 1932’s Mickey’s Good Deed.

We will be showing and selling drawings from Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, Dumbo, and some fantastic shorts like Canine Caddy, The Picnic, Mickey’s Elephant, and more!

The above drawing from 1932’s Mickey’s Good Deed (also called Mickey’s Lucky Break) has two pegholes, as was the case in the earliest Mickey cartoons. This is an early example of a cartoon where Mickey’s voice was supplied by Walt Disney, and is one of the most charming Christmas-themed Disney shorts.

This concept art piece of a pegasus baby from Fantasia has an official Walt Disney Productions stamp in the corner, usually used as part of the Courvoisier Galleries releases!

He just gave Yensid back his hat and broom.
He’s had fun being a very bad apprentice!

This wonderful original production drawing of Mickey from Fantasia has a perfect expression of the trouble-making apprentice, and some great notes and extras on it!

A screen cap of the finished sequence a few moments away from the drawing.

See the Sorcerer’s Apprentice section of Fantasia here:

https://video.disney.com/watch/sorcerer-s-apprentice-fantasia-4ea9ebc01a74ea59a5867853

When Mindy does her presentation, she’ll take you through the exciting and historic elements of some of these drawings, like the color key notes on the Geppetto from Pinocchio, the influence of women on the work created for Fantasia, and how the history of women in animation plays an important role in your favorite classic Mickey cartoons from the early 1930s!

This original drawing of the Queen from Snow White is not only exquisite, it also shows the complexity of creating images for animation. Disney envisioned the character as a mix of Lady Macbeth and the Big Bad Wolf. She is the first character to ever speak in a Disney feature film, and the first character to die in one, as well. In this drawing, you can see her reflection in the mirror, a close-up of her face, as well as the drama of her costume. The screen cap next to the drawing shows what was finally put onscreen as part of the film. The notes about the production and scene, as well as the notes near her face are just the sort of special additions fans and aficionados are looking for their collections!

In all the time I’ve been selling and writing about animation, I’ve only seen a handful of graphites from Night on Bald Mountain that I could trace back to the studio. A friend of mine has one of the only cels of Chernabog in existence, and wow is it a beaut! The character was animated by Bill Tytla, who had meant to be inspired by the poses of Bela Lugosi, who had been brought in for visual reference. Instead, he used Night on Bald Mountain director Wilfred Jackson’s shirtless poses to create the images he needed.

Both images from Dumbo have added notes and color as part of their drawings. The film won an Oscar for Best Original Score. For folks who love both Dumbo and Lilo and Stitch, they do have something in common. Both used watercolor backgrounds extensively as part of their artistic aesthetic.

We hope any who are interested in great original art from Walt Disney that carries significant historical significance will contact us about acquiring these lovelies. Remember that these images are subject to availability, so check with us! Meanwhile, we hope to see you this Saturday between 2-5pm!

Mindy Johnson: 5 Things You’ll find Surprising from INK & PAINT: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation

When Mindy Johnson started out writing her book Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, her plan was to make a compact little tome that celebrated what many thought must have been a very small percentage of those in the Disney’s workforce responsible for the experimentation and advancements for which the animation studio is known.  After, as Alice might do, “going down the rabbit hole” of research and discovery, Johnson wound up writing a book with quite a bit of heft, at 384 pages and sized at 10 x 2 x 13 inches. 

We were curious, since Mindy is coming for a lecture and book signing, to get a few thoughts from her on what she discovered early in the course of her research. Of course she’ll be talking about it all in greater length when she’s here in the gallery, but we figured our friends all across the globe might enjoy knowing what got her so curious about the subject.

5 THINGS THAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU ABOUT THE HISTORY OF DISNEY ANIMATION:

  • 1. SO MANY WOMEN!

“Most books out there would lead you to think there were only a handful of women animators or artists who contributed to Disney’s animation, but it turns out there were thousands of women whose remarkable artistry inspired, defined and contributed to Disney’s classic animated titles.”

  • 2. MEN INKED! MEN PAINTED!

“We’ve been lead to believe that it was only women who did the inking & painting on these films, but men were involved at various points throughout the history of Disney Animation.”

  • 3. SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST LINES

“People thought Inkers were simply tracing the pencil drawings of the animators, but truthfully, Inkers are translating the line with tapered starts & stops, and specifically defined line widths for each character and scene — very calligraphic!”

  • 4. THEN, NOW AND FOREVER

“Women were at the forefront of the various technologies that advanced animation – xerography and Digital technology.”

  • 5. IMAGINE THOSE PICTURES OF ROSE FROM TITANIC, ONLY IN ANIMATION…

“Many remarkable women worked within Disney Animation whose accomplishments went far beyond animation – including several record-breaking pilots and ‘firsts’ within aviation, a world renowned opera star, and the founder of an international club for tall people!”

Come meet Mindy Johnson in person, get a hand-signed book, hear her speak about the history of women at Disney, and see a rare exhibit of vintage Disney art on March 2nd, from 2-5pm at ArtInsights!

Exciting Changes at ArtInsights and in Reston Town Center

So many changes in Reston Town Center, and this time they are for the better! For one thing, we are excited to hear the award-winning restaurant chain True Food is coming to the center, as is Peet’s Coffee! It will be a while, but we’re excited there’s new blood coming, and it’s fresh, hot, and trendy.

The lobby of our building is getting a complete makeover, and it will be all done at the beginning of April. Of course, our gallery is going to be in a bit of upheaval until then, but ultimately it will be so good! We are looking forward to having much larger, cleaner, more modern windows facing the lobby. You can see the new look below:

The images supplied by Boston Properties on the lobby update.

While they are doing the work, we’ll be starting to make changes inside and outside the gallery, some of which we’ll want to be a surprise for our clients, but one thing we want to let everyone know is we’ll have lots of new frames- (Come see them! They are SUPER DUPER COOL, and in all styles and sizes!)

Meet our new door out to the great wide world, finally here after 26 years!

They’ll now be across from the new door out to the street, with the table and samples more easily seen from the outside storefront. Our new door out to the street will be the new way into the gallery, but we’ll also have the lobby entrance back at the end of the renovation. Lots of pretty changes will also be happening, but you’ll see them as they develop. Bear with us, stop by and see them in progress, and come celebrate with us when they are all done!

We’ll be having some events in the meantime, and we have a few special collections we’re looking forward to announcing soon.

Some of the exciting announcements for new stores and restaurants in Reston Town Center include:

True Food KitchenMuse PaintbarJinya RamenNorth Italia RestaurantPeet’s CoffeeThe Glossary Nail SalonDC Row – and *rumor*: Apple Store Expansion

Meanwhile, we just want to say how grateful we are to you all, as many of you have been taking this retail journey with us lo these many years. We couldn’t do it without you!

Happy February, we hope to see you, and we wish you all good things throughout the month and into Spring!

BEST WISHES,

Leslie, Michael, and the whole ArtInsights gang.

ps. Yes, Leslie had foot surgery, and so far all is well. If you visit soon, you’ll see her with her big boot and her silly scooter, which looks way more fun when you’re not the one having to use it…

One Legend Paints Another: Carol Channing, John Alvin, and the play Lorelei

We were saddened by the passing today of a Broadway, film legend, and certified character Carol Channing, who died at 97.

Known for her raspy singing voice, her huge smile, she is most remembered for her role as Dolly Levi in the musical Hello Dolly, but she was nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar when she brought her sass to the 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie, which starred Mary Tyler Moore. She won a Lifetime Tony Award and was inducted to the American Theater Hall of Fame.

For a new show called Lorelei, in 1973, Channing reprised the role of Lorelei Lee, which she originated in the 1949 play Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  The now famous classic film where Marylin Monroe sings Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend was based on the play, and Channing sang it first. Subtitled Gentlemen Still Prefer Blondes, it picked up with Lorelei, now a wealthy widow, setting sail on the SS Ile de France. It proved a popular show, often selling out, but it was more about Channing’s charm and star quality than it was about strong songs or plot, but at 51, she made it work.

John Alvin was hired to create the original play poster for a special charity engagement of Lorelei that happened as they were working out the kinks in the play early on, and he was told she absolutely loved the image he created celebrating her. He was a big fan of her work. He loved strong, engaging women on and off the screen, as anyone who has ever met his wife Andrea would attest.

We spoke to Andrea about the art, and she wrote, “John had graduated from Art Center College of Design a year earlier, and was just starting a freelance illustration career. He met a designer named Anthony Goldschmidt at a trade show, and Anthony had a job that he thought perfect for John. It was a poster for a  production of Lorelei starring Carol Channing. John had done one other play poster with Anthony for Dori Previn’s “Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign.”

The technique that John used was based on a series of paintings he did his last semester of Art Center. It was highly influenced by the Art Nouveaux poster artist Alphonse Mucha. He did a very refined drawing and then had a sepia toned print made of it.  For this particular image, he used some of the handmade crow quill paper for the background. He then used transparent dyes to paint the image with his airbrush. It is a very subtle but pretty technique. He also designed and hand lettered the title art. “

As an early example of the art of John Alvin, who was already creating beautiful work in his mid-twenties, and as a lasting monument to the talent of Broadway legend Carol Channing, Lorelei certainly fits the (play)bill.

This art is available for purchase HERE.

Here are the pieces from Art Center John created that inspired Lorelei:

Mary Poppins Returns Is Inspired by Oscar-winning Matte Painter Peter Ellenshaw

From the first moments of Mary Poppins Returns, there is reference to the genius artistry that was a part of creating the original. The opening titles, which are fanciful paintings which one assumes are concept work used to build the magical nanny’s London, are a mix of art by Oscar-winning concept artist Peter Ellenshaw created in the 60s, and images influenced him created by one of the concept artists who worked on the new release. They speak to the rich colors and evoke an atmosphere redolent with fog, mist, and chimney smoke, that places us squarely in a London of distant memory.

Many fans of the original 1964 Disney live action classic, Mary Poppins, are well aware that film won five Oscars, including a Best Actress win for Julie Andrews, who had been passed over for My Fair Lady, but won the year both films were released against Audrey Hepburn, who had played Eliza Doolittle. The song Chim Chim Cher-ee and the impressive score meant two Oscars for the Sherman brothers, who both literally and figuratively became legends in their own time. Editor Cotton Warburton, who put together many of the wackiest, most beloved family-friendly live action films, including The Happiest Millionaire, The Absent Minded Professor, and The Love Bug, garnered his only Academy Award for Mary Poppins. Artists Eustace Lycett (who worked on some of the best rides at Disneyland), Hamilton Luske (who co-directed Cinderella, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp, and a host of other Disney animated features) and matte background painter Peter Ellenshaw, shared an Oscar for Special Effect and Special Visual Effects. Ellenshaw, Andrews, Luske, and the Sherman brothers all became ‘Disney Legends’, an honor bestowed on people who make extraordinary and integral contributions to the Walt Disney Company.

Peter Ellenshaw was already known for his artistry, having been in the film industry since the late 30s. His first project was assisting on 1936’s sci-fi wonder Things To Come. He apprenticed with one of the most successful, renowned matte artists, W. Percy Day. Standouts of films on which he assisted Day are 1940’s The Thief of Bagdad, and 1948’s The Red Shoes. His first film for Disney was Treasure Island, continuing with beloved classics like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Old Yeller, and Swiss Family Robinson.

Though he lived in the US from 1953, he grew up in England, making him perfect to capture the atmosphere and visual majesty of early 20th century London.  For Mary Poppins, Ellenshaw was responsible for the gorgeous matte backgrounds that made up the skylines and rooftops of London.

Practically Perfect by Peter Ellenshaw, a limited edition based on his work as matte background artist on the 1964 classic, Mary Poppins.

There is, in his work, the perfect expression of the magic of film and the importance of collaboration in creating a movie with lasting power and beauty. One cannot imagine Mary Poppins without remembering his wonderful scenes of London through which Mary flies, or the rooftops where the chimney sweeps dance.  So evocative are these images that when Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall began the task of world building for his new movie, he and his cinematographer Dion Beebe and production designer John Myhre found inspiration from his paintings, even to the point of using his actual concept paintings to bring the audience into the world of London, giving Peter Ellenshaw thanks, and a screen credit. They wanted to get away a bit from the storybook, fantastical look of the first film, but there’s no question that the panoramic views of London used to set mood are heavily influenced by his work.

Sweeps Dance on the Rooftops by Peter Ellenshaw, created from his work on Mary Poppins, celebrates the beauty of the London of yesteryear.

I never met Peter Ellenshaw, but I visited his studio with his son, Harrison Ellenshaw, and saw huge matte paintings from Mary Poppins and 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. They were spectacular. Harrison Ellenshaw followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a well-regarded concept artist in the film industry, being nominated for an Oscar for his work on The Black Hole. He also worked on Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Tron.  and  was also Though there are still artists like William Silvers, who is still working in concept art art and creates backgrounds both digitally, and (though rarely) by hand, matte background paintings done by hand are a thing of the past.

Smoke Staircase, a limited edition by Peter Ellenshaw, created from his work as matte background painter for the 1964 classic, Mary Poppins.

The pieces above are available as limited edition giclees on canvas, signed by Peter, who passed away in 2007. It is one case of Disney appreciating an important figure in the history of film and trying to raise awareness of his work, and we at ArtInsights celebrate that and him!

We loved Mary Poppins Returns, and believe many fans of the original will see that Rob Marshall created the film in the spirit of love for not only the books of P.T. Travers, but also the 1964 classic. Now when you see it, you’ll be all the more aware of the Peter Ellenshaw art, and his influence of the look of the new film!

The three images above, by Peter Ellenshaw, are called Practically Perfect, Chimney Sweeps Dance on the Rooftops, and Smoke Staircase, and are available for purchase through ArtInsights. For all art celebrating Mary Poppins available at ArtInsights, GO HERE.

For my interview with Sandy Powell, the costume designer for Mary Poppins Returns (who is already a three-time Oscar winner) read about it on The Credits: GO HERE.

For my review of the film for Cinema Siren, GO HERE.

Movie Lovers Gift Guide 2018 from ArtInsights Gallery of Film and Contemporary Art

Movie Lovers Gift Guide from Film Art Gallery ArtInsights Offers Film Fans

Art Celebrating Cinematic Anniversaries and Releases

All By Official Studio Artists

Reston, VA -You’ve seen “alternative posters” and “minimalist posters”, but what about art by the folks who actually helped you fall in love with the movies in the first place? Somebody has to champion them, and that would be you and us! That’s right! A movie lovers gift guide that is all art by the folks who make movies and promote them! Artinsights certainly has perfectly timed for what’s happening in pop culture this holiday season, all with art that is not only officially licensed, but created by studio artists.  Steamboat Willie has its 90th anniversary on November 18th, and Yellow Submarine turns 50 on November 13th.  Both Disney and Warner Bros. have highly-anticipated tentpole films releasing in December, with Mary Poppins Returns landing in theaters December 19th, and Aquaman swimming to screens on December 14th.  ArtInsights Gallery has art representing all these properties, making  holiday gift giving easy for the loved ones of fans who search in vain every year for something special and unusual to make the season bright.  Prices range from $150 to a king’s ransom, with several highlighted pieces in the lower range to keep budgets in mind.

No movie lovers gift guide would be complete without less expensive art! There is a page on their site with a selection of dozens of pieces below $250. (https://artinsights.com/production/santas-little-helpers-presents-for-christmas-hanukkah-yule-kwanzaa-under-250/)

Fans of Mickey Mouse and the Beatles have been celebrating all year. Yellow Submarine returned to theaters this summer, and there’s a new graphic novel release of the story.  Disney is having what they’re calling the “world’s biggest mouse party”, and have a new exhibit in New York called “Mickey: The True Original Exhibition”.  ArtInsights is ready for those with friends and family who are fans, with official art by Alex Ross featuring the Beatles called “The Fab Four “ in a limited edition mini canvas for $150. 

Mickey Mouse as Steamboat Willie reminds Disneyphiles where it all began.  For them, the gallery suggests one of two limited editions by highly-collectible Disney artist Tim Rogerson, one a giclee on canvas featuring Mickey through the years called “Mickey’s Creative Journey” priced at $150, the other a hand-signed giclee on paper capturing the character in a grey-toned piece called “Mickey at the Helm” for $350.

Mary Poppins, starring Emily Blunt, directed by Rob Marshall, promises to be a huge hit, especially with fans of the Oscar-winning 1964 classic.  The gallery has a limited edition signed by Tim Rogerson called “A Mary Tune”,  that shows Mary and her cohorts painted against the sheet music for Feed the Birds, written by the Sherman Brothers, who won an Oscar and Grammy for Mary Poppins. It is priced at $495.  Also offered, for the fans who have everything, is art by matte background painter Peter Ellenshaw, who, indeed won an Oscar for his work on the film. “Practically Perfect”, which is signed by Ellenshaw, who passed away in 2007, is $1100, and would be a highlight of any Disney film fan’s collection.

For Aquaman, the gallery has an image created by famed DC and Justice League Unlimited animation director Bruce Timm, which includes not only Aquaman, but many of the members of the Justice League, including Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, all of whom have been making news in live action studio news this year, called “Guardians of Justice”. Also suggested is a giclee on canvas by DC comic book cover artist Alex Ross that features Aquaman with the lead members of the Justice League called “JLA”.  Both retail for $150.

There are a number of other pieces corresponding to film art news, including art from Pinocchio, which was recently announced as a property Guillermo Del Toro will reinterpret with a new stop-motion film. Whether purists strictly stick with the original Harry Potter series, or love the newest releases written by Rowling, art from the Harry Potter book and film series is alway popular, and coincides with  Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.  Many are created by Stuart Craig, the production designer for all the Harry Potter movies as well as the new Fantastic Beast series.

There are a number of images by Star Wars production artists, including the limited edition “The Cold of Hoth” by John Alvin, an exclusive giclee on paper for $150 from everyone’s favorite film in the saga, as well as images representing DC and Marvel characters.  Of course, there is a veritable parade of Disney princesses represented in art, which is perfectly timed with the release of Ralph Breaks The Internet, in which the Disney princesses figure prominently, (including the use of the voices from the original feature films!)  You can find all these options on the gallery’s new blog.  See the bottom of the press release for links or contact the gallery for more information. Images of available art sent immediately upon request.

ABOUT ARTINSIGHTS

Since 1994, representing a wide range of film and animation art at the gallery in Reston Town Center, ArtInsights focuses on proprietary projects and artist representation relating to the history of animation and film, and the celebration and examination of popular culture, all by artists working in the film industry. With artists like iconic movie poster artist John Alvin, studio concept artists William Silvers and Jim Salvati, and Marvel and DC cover artists Alex Ross, the gallery builds collections of original and limited edition art for their growing worldwide collector base. See the work and read the blog on  HYPERLINK “http://www.artinsights.com” www.artinsights.com. For more information about ArtInsights’ 2018 gift guide, go to https://artinsights.com/the-artinsights-2018-gift-guide-celebrates-film-anniversaries-and-new-releases/ 

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“Fab Four” by Alex Ross https://artinsights.com/product/fab-four-yellow-submarine-limited-edition-mini-canvas-by-alex-ross/

“Mickey’s Creative Journey” by Tim Rogerson https://artinsights.com/product/mickeys-creative-journey-treasures-on-canvas-by-tim-rogerson/

“Willie at the Helm” by Tim Rogerson https://artinsights.com/product/willie-at-the-helm-mickey-mouse-steamboat-willie-giclee-on-paper-by-tim-rogerson/

“A Mary Tune” by Tim Rogerson https://artinsights.com/product/a-mary-tune-mary-poppins-embellished-giclee-on-canvas-by-tim-rogerson/

“Practically Perfect” by Peter Ellenshaw https://artinsights.com/product/practically-perfect-limited-edition-giclee-on-canvas-by-peter-ellenshaw/

“Guardians of Justice” from Justice League Unlimited by Bruce Timm https://artinsights.com/product/guardians-of-justice-dc-comics-lithograph-on-art-paper/

“JLA” by Alex Ross: https://artinsights.com/product/liberty-justice-jla-mini-canvas/

“The Cold of Hoth” by John Alvin: https://artinsights.com/product/star-wars-the-cold-of-hoth-giclee-on-paper-by-john-alvin/

“Journey on the Hogwarts Express” by Stuart Craig: https://artinsights.com/product/journey-on-the-hogwarts-express-harry-potter-giclee-on-paper-by-stuart-craig/

For Mickey’s 90th Birthday, ArtInsights Celebrates Mickey Mouse Through the Years with Art

It’s the anniversary of the first appearance of Mickey Mouse, which happened in November of 1928.  I have always been a fan of Mickey Mouse as a rat, in particular.  Ub Iwerks made the awesome black and white Steamboat Willie.  He had designed the character after having designed Oswald, a character for which Disney lost control.

Steampunk Willie by William Silvers celebrates Mickey Mouse’s 90th anniversary perfectly!

Steamboat Willie wasn’t the first Mickey short created (that was Plane Crazy) but was the first widely released. It was the first Disney cartoon with synchronized sound, which is interesting, since Disney’s inspiration for the short was reportedly The Jazz Singer. Steamboat Willie premiered at Universal’s Colony Theater in New York on November 18th, and was an immediate hit. By 1932, there was a fan club, the Mickey Mouse Club had a million members. By 1934, Mickey merchandise brought in $600,000 a year.  The financial success of the character really is responsible for building the huge media empire we all know today.  It’s true that, as Walt said, “It all started with a mouse.”

Ub Iwerks, who is recognized as one of the most influential men in cartoon history, went on to animate my favorite Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Skeleton Dance.

In 1938, Freddie Moore, the famous animator known for , redesigned Mickey’s body away from looking as much like what Ward Kimball called Mickey’s “rubber hose, round circle” design, or what made when they used squash and stretch on him look so noodle-like.  Mickey’s eyes have changed a lot through the years, but Freddie Moore gave him the smaller white eyes with pupils.

You can see the changes in Mickey Mouse from Steamboat to Fantasia to Fun and Fancy Free to Today in Tim Rogerson’s piece Mickey’s Creative Journey.

That change had a significant effect, I think, on how connected fans became with the character. You can see that change in design by watching 1938’s Brave Little Tailor, and then 1939’s The Pointer, where the changes had taken place, then to, of course, 40’s Fantasia. You can see he also changed the color of his skin from pure white to a pale flesh tone. The expressiveness of his eyes, with the added pupils and eyelids, has a huge impact on his likability, and the huge following for the Sorcerer’s Apprentice short. It is nearly synonymous with Fantasia.  As Moore died in 1952, at the age of 41, his influence over the iconic character is an important part of his legacy.

Brave Little Tailer

The Pointer

Fantasia

The Mickey Mouse Club tv show, which started in 1955, brought Mickey back into popularity by bringing him into households every week.  However, there were no theatrical shorts featuring Mickey between 1953, with The Simple Things, and 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  The 1983 featurette was the first time a Mickey cartoon had been nominated for an Oscar since 1948’s Mickey and the Seal.

Even to this day, a large percentage of the sales through consumer products worldwide is derived from Mickey Mouse merchandise.

From our perspective at the gallery, there are a lot of American kids that aren’t fans of Mickey for a whole swath of their teenaged years, unlike Winnie the Pooh.  Winnie remains cool, while Mickey goes out of favor until the kids become old enough to have their own children or feel nostalgic about their own childhood.  Disney appears to be working to fill that gap by branding the character online and network television in new specials related to the anniversary. On November 4th, there’ll be a program called Mickey’s 90th Spectacular, featuring teen faves like Meghan Trainor and K-Pop powerhouse NCT 127.

Original production cel of Mickey Mouse from The Mickey Mouse Club, available at ArtInsights

We are lucky to have so much official art of Mickey for fans, created by the artists who actually work in the film industry, as well as production art from the Mickey Mouse Club we just got in.  He can be such a charmer! Mickey Mouse continues to be a character lots of collectors clamber for, especially any art depicting Sorcerer’s Apprentice, or with his lady love Minnie Mouse!

William Silvers, a concept artist who worked on Disney films like Tangled and Lilo and Stitch, and is an official artist for the studio, created this sweet original of the two lovebirds Mickey and Minnie.

If you want to see all the options for Mickey Mouse art to celebrate his long and storied career, CLICK HERE. 

And many happy returns, Mickey.  Must be nice to be wrinkle and carefree after all these years!

The Peanuts Art of Dean Spille: animation history made watercolor

We are always looking for extremely rare art to offer our clients, but hand-in-hand with that, we are always trying to find ways to promote and expand awareness about the importance of artists.  There are so many important figures in the history of animation that fans and enthusiasts know little about, and we want to change that! That’s where Dean Spille comes in…

He is just such a luminary. Dean Spille, concept and background artist for Bill Melendez Productions, is the official background artist for all the Charlie Brown and Peanuts films. Indeed, he is responsible for the color stories, the graphic design, and the finished look of Peanuts TV specials all the way from the beginning.  He worked on A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in 1968, and continued to influence these classics all the way to the TV short He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown in 2006.  AND WE JUST GOT ART CREATED BY THIS AMAZING ARTIST!!

At first, Bill Melendez, in his desire to give credit to the many contributors on A Charlie Brown Christmas, Dean was listed as doing “graphic blandishment”, which is code for concept artist, background artist, or any other element not yet isolated as deserving of its own credit.  He was named as production designer for over 20 shows, shorts, or tv specials between 1977 through 2000, and as often credited as color stylist as well.

A scene from from Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown, which is the inspiration for one of the 3 originals we are offering:

Given that the art Dean created is from his nostalgia and memory, it’s amazing how close this is to what was used in Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown.  He certainly has the French village vibe down, not least because he’s lived in France for over 40 years!  See his art below:

Inside the animation industry, Dean Spille is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated, talented concept and background artists in history.  It’s impossible to extricate the evocative, inventive backgrounds when considering the look of the beloved Charlie Brown TV specials, and they are all thanks to Dean.

Though native to California, he’s been living in France for over 40 years, and is now 92.  Imagine my thrill and excitement when we were offered an extremely limited collection of original Peanuts watercolor paintings by this treasured artist of the animation world.  We aren’t even sure if we’ll get any more than these three, all of which were created by Dean from his recollections of his contributions over his career with Bill Melendez Productions on the Peanuts cartoons.

Who doesn’t remember the scene with the kids out trick-or-treating from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?

The art Dean Spille created is below.  Classic!

If you’re a fan of animation art, Peanuts, or the Charlie Brown specials, these are exceptional, rare originals that represent an essential element of the beloved cartoons.  We may have them in-house briefly after selling them, and we’ll post about that on our Facebook page, but in the meantime, as we only have three to sell, contact us soon if interested in any or all of them!  We won’t be putting them online for purchase, but rather will sell them to those who contact us, since there only 3 and are one-of-a-kind.

What a wonderful palette Dean created for this scene! The original he created is below, and it may be my favorite.  Dig his subjective use of color, and how well it works, or how well we recognize it from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!

We really want to find Snoopy lovers, those who watched the animated specials as kids (or with their kids!), and art aficionados who get excited by the opportunity to have an original by an artist who is so important to animation history!

MORE ABOUT DEAN SPILLE:

In the fifties, Mr. Spille began working with Bill Melendez at Playhouse Pictures, a studio created by innovative artists who made up UPA. Peanuts’ television endorsement of the Ford Falcon, created at Playhouse Pictures, was the beginning of a partnership and friendship that lasted a lifetime for Melendez and Spille. After leaving for Spain in 1963, Dean returned to find that Melendez had created his own studio. Spille worked on the first three specials while teaching design at California State College, Long Beach. Later a sabbatical from teaching took Spille to live and work in a small town in the hills of Provence. Working on “Babar the Elephant” and later “Dick Deadeye”, he also continued working on the Peanuts films, while splitting his time between Los Angeles and France.  A definitive move to France was made as an additional project was in the works, the Emmy winning “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Dean Spille was, without question, an integral contributing artist to the success of Bill Melendez Productions, Inc.

Dean’s academic studies began at UCLA where he earned his BA in Cinema, furthering his studies at California State University earning his Master Degree in Fine Art. Dean continued his studies at the Accademia Delle Belle Arte in Florence, Italy and at Kokoshkaschule in Salzburg, Austria. Dean is also a former professor of Art at the California State University, where he taught Graphic Design and Animation. Today, he devotes his time to painting, and sells his traditional imagery throughout Europe, where he is known and celebrated for both his animation and fine art works.

Spille’s work is liberally shown through out the book, “The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation, Celebrating Fifty Years of Television Specials” .  Page 30-31 speaks of his process.

Limited Editions from Peanuts TV Specials Make Us Want To Do a Snoopy Happy Dance!

We just discovered we have a few super rare and hard-to-find Peanuts limited editions created for the anniversaries of the Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown TV specials. Given how much we at ArtInsights love all things Snoopy and Charlie Brown, it’s like we got an early Valentine’s Day gift!

What a coincidence.  Fans of the beloved Peanuts animated cartoons just celebrated the anniversary of the first airing of the 1975 Peanuts TV special Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown.  Although there are over 40 animated TV specials created over the years through Bill Melendez’s studio, many fans actually remember a few of them really well.  For me it was Snoopy Come Home, for which I had the board game, the Valentine special, and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. As an adult, I can to love this weird one that it turns out is the favorite of many of the animators who worked on multiple films for Melendez, What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown!. However, we can all agree that A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown are the most classic, right?

MELENDEZ AND MENDELSON MAKE TV MAGIC

Beyond the fact that the Peanuts Christmas special was a huge deal in that it was the first time the comic strip characters by Charles Schulz were translated to animation, it was also the first religious-based animated special to ever be played on tv, and offered a wonderful jazz score by Vince Guaraldi.  This cartoon has been played during the holidays every year since it played in 1965. The music was also a huge success, selling millions of copies.  At the time, A Charlie Brown Christmas was seen by 45% of those watching television in the US.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown quickly followed the Christmas special in October of 1966, although it was the third, not the second, coming after Charlie Brown’s All Stars in June of the same year. It was nominated for an Emmy. Longtime Peanuts specials producer Lee Mendelson, (who brought Schulz and Melendez together to translate the Peanuts comic strip into a cartoon, among many other important roles in the history of Peanuts specials) was outvoted in the discussion about Charlie Brown getting rocks instead of candy.  He wanted him to get his fair share.  Apparently the audience that year agreed with him, sending the character thousands of bags and boxes of candy to Melendez’s animation studio!

My childhood is filled with memories of watching the specials with my dad.  We also played my Snoopy Come Home board game a lot together.  We quoted lines from all the cartoons and the comic strip, and I’d even say seeing them every year influenced my going into a career selling art and promoting the artistry of animation.

Dog on Duty, a limited edition with three hand-painted layers, was created for the anniversary of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Dog on Duty, a limited edition with three hand-painted layers, was created for the anniversary of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. It included the drawings that capture Snoopy’s struggles and bravery as a flying ace.

It was quite an experience the one time I got to eat dinner next to Bill Melendez at an event some years ago, only to discover what a wonderful sense of humor and quick wit he had.  I had already heard he was famously a great boss, according to many people in the industry who had worked at a number of studios.  In the interviews I conducted more recently, that compliment was repeated by everyone who had ever taken part in the creation of the Peanuts specials or any other Melendez studio project.

ANNIVERSARY PEANUTS LIMITED EDITIONS

This "Snoopy's Audition" limited edition was the first one released for anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas. #SnoopyVulture
This “Snoopy’s Audition” limited edition was the first one released for anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas. #SnoopyVulture

2015, the anniversaries were coming up for both the Christmas and Halloween specials.  The company connected with the Melendez family and his studio, who sells all things Peanuts and Bill Melendez Studio related in terms of art, planned a big event to celebrate with Peanuts art.  They spent a long time, with the help and design artistry of Peanuts specials director Larry Leichliter, creating an anniversary collection of Peanuts limited edition cels.  There were only 65 and 66 in each editions.  When the first piece was released, we all called those folks who had always bought art when the company released art.  They were allocated, so each gallery could only get a few of these A Charlie Brown Christmas limited editions and the It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown limited editions.  (I think I got as many as any gallery was allotted, with 6 of each edition).  Those who bought the first one, got right of first refusal on each subsequent piece so they could match the sets.  So some said yes to them all, some skipped one, and so it went.

My Peanuts collectors tend to leave their art with me for a while and come in only a few times a year.  One thing led to another, we did inventory, and POOF! We actually have a few Peanuts Charlie Brown and Snoopy limited editions (and of course some with the whole Peanuts gang!)  available for sale!  Imagine my surprise!

This Peanuts limited edition cel, "Dog Gone Commercial" captures when Snoopy was decorating his dog house for the holidays.  Classic!
This Peanuts limited edition cel, “Dog Gone Commercial” captures when Snoopy was decorating his dog house for the holidays. Classic!

Anyway, this is all to the benefit of big Peanuts fans who will fall in love with these images.  The largest Christmas and Halloween limited edition cels each took weeks to complete, there was so much hand-work involved.  If you think they look cool online, they are truly spectacular in person!  We look forward to a fan or a few fans who grew up with the cartoons and Peanuts comic strips like I did winding up with these pieces.  They can bring them home as a wonderful, nostalgic reminder of holidays gone by.  Or rather, holidays to come, because they will be playing these Peanuts TV specials every year until our great-grandchildren think they came out for them!

In this blog are all the images of the pieces we have.  Click HERE to see them all, or on each image for more information for those specific pieces.

The work-intensive A Charlie Brown Christmas limited edition art created for the anniversary called "50 Years of Joy and Wonder"
The work-intensive A Charlie Brown Christmas limited edition art created for the anniversary called “50 Years of Joy and Wonder”

The anniversary It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown limited edition that we have for sale sold out immediately when it was released, with only 66 created. Linus and Snoopy steal the show again!
The anniversary It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown limited edition that we have for sale sold out immediately when it was released, with only 66 created. Linus and Snoopy steal the show again!

Remember if you love Peanuts and the Charlie Brown TV specials, there are some original production cels available from a number of cartoons you’ll remember we get directly from the Bill Melendez Studio.  None from the Christmas or Halloween specials, but we’ve found a few choice ones for fans from Snoopy Come Home, several Valentine specials, and others that would excite you. Contact us!

We’ll leave you with this an interview I did with the producer Lee Mendelson, talking about the history of the Peanuts cartoons:

Spotlight on Studio Art: Buying Original and Limited Edition Animation Model Sheets

I thought today I’d talk about my very favorite kind of animation art, model sheets.  The explanation of animation model sheets, according to wikipedia:

“In animation, a model sheet, also known as a character boardcharacter sheetcharacter study or simply a study, is a document used to help standardize the appearance, poses, and gestures of an animated character. Model sheets are required when large numbers of artists are involved in the production of an animated film to help maintain continuity in characters from scene to scene, as one animator may only do one shot out of the several hundred that are required to complete an animated feature film. A character not drawn according to the production’s standardized model is referred to as off-model.

Model sheets are drawings of posed cartoon or comic strip characters that are created to provide a reference template for several artists who collaborate in the production of a lengthy or multiple-edition work of art such as a comic book, animated film or television series. Model sheets usually depict the character’s head and body as they appear at various angles (a process known as “model rotation”), includes sketches of the character’s hands and feet, and shows several basic facial expressions.

Model sheets ensure that, despite the efforts of several or many artists, their work exhibits unity, as if one artist created the drawings (that is, they are “on model”). They show the character’s structure, proportions, attire, and body language. Often, several sheets are required to depict a character’s subtler emotional and physical attitudes.”

Finding original model sheets of characters that millions of people know and love always brings me great joy.  Actually, even finding obscure model sheets from movies or characters only loved by diehard fans or super-geeky animation fans is great fun.

In my 30+ years selling animation art, I’ve sold some amazing original model sheets.

There are two I remember the most and I’m the most proud of….One was from Alice in Wonderland, of Alice.  It was the one the animators actually used, that had been photocopied and you could find the photostat versions often online.  I think it looked something like this:

I also found a great Pongo model sheet, and since he’s one of my favorite characters, I was very excited to sell that one (so don’t fall in love ;).

Over the years, I had Snow White and the dwarfs, Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty, The Ugly Duckling, and a bunch of various Mickey and the rest of the fab five like Donald Duck and Goofy.  In 30 years, I’ve maybe found one a year.  Partly that’s because I have always done a ton of research to know where they’ve been before they get to me, and the more popular and collectible animation art has become, the riskier buying anything you can’t trace gets.

Interestingly, not that many people are as big a fan as I am of them.  I’ve always attracted more collectors who love production cels.  But..the characters that have been seen by millions and continue to be seen are created and kept consistent through these images.  It’s a big deal!  It’s the artistry of the character design sitting there on the wall!

I’m not trying to pitch you guys to want to buy them, because I do so rarely find them.   I just want people to understand the beauty and genius behind them. We do have one right now, and it’s one of those that are cobbled together by animators who want to keep a character consistent by seeing it from every angle…but it also has more than one character on it.  Another love of mine as an animation art dealer is the art of Fantasia.  The film is a classic, of course, but it also has an artistic quality that is unique in all of of Disney history.

Here is the model sheet we’ve got right now, and actually I’m looking at it in person, because it makes me happy, especially this time of year.

Unicorn model sheet from Fantasia available at ArtInsights
Unicorn model sheet from Fantasia available at ArtInsights

There are plenty of photostat versions of model sheets for collectors who either can’t find the original, can’t afford one, or just want to collect a variety of pieces from the time that capture the art behind the films they love. For example, there are lots of photostat model sheets from Alice in Wonderland, as many different ones as the number of characters represented in the film.

Here are just a few, so you can see how wonderful they are and how perfectly they capture less “popular” characters…

great examples of photostat model sheets from Alice in Wonderland
Two great examples of photostat model sheets from Alice in Wonderland

I’m toying with the idea of finding more photostat images to sell to my clients.  I didn’t use to have them or carry them, because they are some hundreds of dollars, and have been for some time, because they come from the time.

Contact the gallery if it’s something you might be interested in, because I know a bunch of old-time collectors who have them.  How wonderful would these look in someone’s office?!  Yes, they are esoteric aesthetically, but that’s what makes them work in a professional environment.  The same is true for a house that has a lot of tradition art in it.  Either original or photostat model sheets will work there when other animation might not!

For those who love Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera, there are some great images available from those studios as well.  We have an original from 1959 that’s more of a layout and a model sheet that is clearly from back when they are designing characters.  How awesome is it to know these characters hadn’t even been placed in a cartoon yet?  Fans of Quickdraw McGraw will get a kick out of that, and it’s definitely a piece of animation history.

A layout/model drawing of Hanna Barbera characters from 1959 available at ArtInsights
A layout/model drawing of Hanna Barbera characters from 1959 available at ArtInsights

Here are some limited editions with Tom and Jerry,Wile. E. Coyote and Roadrunner, and the gang from Scooby Doo.  The designs for Tom and Jerry are particularly interesting, given they were created while Hanna and Barbera were at MGM and the duo won seven Oscars and were nominated for another 7!  To put things in proper perspective, Bugs won only one Oscar!!

A limited edition of an early model of Tom and Jerry available from ArtInsights
A limited edition of an early model of Tom and Jerry available from ArtInsights

The Mystery Machine Gang and Scooby Doo Model Sheet available at ArtInsights
The Mystery Machine Gang and Scooby Doo Model Sheet available at ArtInsights

A limited edition based on a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner model sheet available at ArtInsights
A limited edition based on a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner model sheet available at ArtInsights

These do a great job of mixing the artistry behind the characters and the color and pop of production cels.  Again, they show the brain behind the movement and characterization of these classic cartoons, but in the above images you also get the color, hand-painted cel so many collectors want.

What it comes down to for me, is model sheets really represent the history behind animation.  They show our favorite characters in positions and doing things that sometimes they haven’t even done yet in a cartoon. They also capture just how talented not only the character animators are, but also those working with them who have to stay on model regardless of what is happening in their scenes.  There is so much skill, discipline and artistry in animation.  There’s no greater example of that than in animation model sheets.

If any of you collectors or animators have any great images, put them in the comments or email them to me, I always love seeing them!

Spotlight on Studio Art: IN HONOR OF THE LAST JEDI, a look at STAR WARS ART (and a review of the great new film!)

Many of you know I’m also a film critic.  I got to see the great new Star Wars release on Monday, and there’s a review on our sister site, Cinema Siren.  But for all you fans who want to read it who DON’T go on there regularly, it’s at the bottom of this article.

*it’s verified SPOILER FREE by Michael Barry, who hasn’t seen the film and doesn’t want to know any plot points*  If you don’t want to read it, you can stop at the art by Alex Ross and look no further on the post.

STAR WARS ART

In honor of The Last Jedi, I am writing a bit about the official Star Wars art we have at ArtInsights:

The art of Star Wars has always been collectible.  In fact, as many of you know, George Lucas has such a vast collection of art and artifacts from the saga, he’s building a museum to house it and his other fine fine art.

My experience of people who collect Star Wars art, not just toys or models, is they are some of the most enthusiastic, geeky collectors of all fandom.  They are notoriously obsessed with accuracy.  John Alvin created a number of images for the first three films, then for their re-releases and was thrilled to create the official images for Star Wars Celebration.

The Trench official Star Wars A New Hope limited edition by John Alvin
The Trench official Star Wars A New Hope limited edition by John Alvin

He often referenced times when a fan would come up and tell them how he got everything about a particular ship or craft right, and it was always when he was at his happiest.  He himself was an absolute Star Wars geek, and at the time of his death he left behind dozens of completely crafted, painted, and completed models of everything from X-Wings to the Falcon and various ships of the Galactic Empire.  It’s why he was thrilled when LucasFilm came to him to create an image called “The Trench” as official art for their website.

 

One of my favorite images John ever created as a limited edition is “There Will Be No Bargain”.  At the time there was no official Star Wars art featuring Salacious Crumb. We created a piece that highlighted the characters in Return of the Jedi, but included Salacious Crumb as a main feature.  Often when people come into the gallery and point out the piece, I’m temped to do my impersonation of his laugh (but I stop myself).

There Will Be No Bargain Star Wars Return of the Jedi Limited Edition by John Alvin
There Will Be No Bargain Star Wars Return of the Jedi Limited Edition by John Alvin

The art for the Star Wars Concert has a long, strange history.  The poster for the Star Wars Concert is the most highly prized original poster collectors look for from the saga. John Alvin’s art was used for the poster announcing a concert to be held at the Hollywood Bowl with John Williams.  Only 1500 were to be made and when the show was cancelled, they stopped printing.  No one knows just how many posters were created, but not anything close to 1500.  I love the concept art for the poster, because R2D2 and C3PO are two of my favorite Star Wars characters.  Like two bad pennies, they just keep showing up! 😉

Star Wars Concert Poster art and images from the concert poster from the book "The Art of John Alvin"
Star Wars Concert Poster art and images from the concert poster from the book “The Art of John Alvin”

Mike Kungl’s Star Wars art has been hugely popular, also because of the precision the artist used in creating his images.  His work was so popular, it wound up being featured on the set of the Big Bang Theory.  Even now, people come into the gallery and recognize his style from the show.

This "Patience" Jedi Master Star Wars limited edition by Mike Kungl is a reminder we've waited all year for The Last Jedi!
This “Patience” Jedi Master Star Wars limited edition by Mike Kungl is a reminder we’ve waited all year for The Last Jedi!

He excels at creating very dramatic renderings styled after propaganda posters, and that’s what Star Wars fans love about his art.  Every one is very iconic.  Here he is talking to me about his art:

We got Roger Kastel, who created the Empire Strikes Back poster to create art for us. At the time, he wasn’t even doing any illustration work any more, he was doing traditional paintings.  He created a number of graphite images based on both his work on Jaws and Empire Strikes Back.  He stopped doing them some time ago, but we still have one.  I did love working with him, and really his ESB image is by far the most iconic of the entire saga!

An original graphite by The Empire Strikes Back movie poster artist Roger Kastel
An original graphite by The Empire Strikes Back movie poster artist Roger Kastel

As to new art, since we have felt strongly a long time about only working with artists who have create art for the actual campaigns or LucasFilm projects, we don’t sell a lot of art from the new movies.  If one of the artists we know who worked on older films will do a commission, we will do those with our clients, or if artist Steve Thomas does something, we make an exception.  His advertisement-styled graphic images are very popular and reasonable for fans, and they are official Star Wars art, so we try to get as many as we can of those, because they generally get released at $89 and only go up a bit to $150 right before they sell out.  We have BB8 which sold out quite some time ago, but we have!

rolling-droid-bb8-star-wars-force-awakens-artinsights
We have this sold out Star Wars Rolling Droid limited edition by Steve Thomas!

 

Signed Star Wars: Celebration art by Alex Ross
Signed Star Wars: Celebration art by Alex Ross (which should be called, “Watch where you’re shooting, pal!”)

Alex Ross did a special piece that was for one of the comic books (still canon!) and we have that, too!  It’s a well-priced piece that was released for a convention, and we have it in the gallery.  Our favorite scoundrel is front and center, as we remember him.

If you’d like to see all the Star Wars art we currently have, CLICK HERE.

For those of you who are going to see the new movie soon, let us know what you think of it in the comments here or on our Facebook posting of this Spotlight article.  NO SPOILERS, please!  A Star Wars release always makes December even more the most wonderful time of the year!

May the force be with you.  Always.

 

 

 

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STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Review:

The Character Development is Strong With This One

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is so good that it will thrill and surprise everyone from the first generation of fans to its newest recruit. It reaffirm to all the power of the force. This film, as written and directed by Rian Johnson, moves the saga forward dramatically, but in truth, it is all about character.

The Last Jedi is unquestionably Johnson’s baby, which given how controlling the LucasFilm powers-that-be can be, speaks to their faith in his vision.  When asked how he approached crafting the story, Johnson said, “This is the 2nd chapter. The Force Awakens created these vibrant new characters, it was the job of this movie to pick them up and really test their mettle and put them through their paces.”   

It’s best not to discuss any plot points. Fans already know Luke Skywalker is in the movie, because he’s the biggest character on the one-sheet poster.  Audiences will learn more about the characters they’ve always known and loved, and more about both the sophomore and freshman classes.  As to those from A Force Awakens, Poe, Rey, Kylo, and Finn equally get their chance to shine, and show the complexity and motivations of their characters.  There are also some great new additions to the cast.  Most notable is Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico and the dynamic she brings to her scenes with John Boyega. In an interview, Tran talked about why. “From the beginning we clicked during the audition process. I don’t think there’s a better partner anyone could have when you’re going into a movie like this.”  Their chemistry is undeniable.

tran-boyega-last-jedi-cinema-siren

Kelly Marie Tran also talked about the continued theme in the Star Wars Universe of having strong self-aware female characters.  “From the beginning, the Star Wars films have always been groundbreaking in that way.  What keeps people interested is they continue to do so.”  Another new strong female character portrayed by Laura Dern has a very interesting arc we see unfold in what almost feels like real time.  The potential for spoilers dictates no more is said about her role, or that of other Star Wars newcomer Benicio Del Toro, but they fold themselves and their storylines convincingly into the saga.

With all the newer members of the cast, lovers of the franchise can rest easy about the old guard.  Carrie Fisher’s Leia is luminous, as always.  Her swan song took a 1977 ingenue albeit fearless princess, and turned her into both a general, and a powerful wise-woman.   Even at that, it is Luke’s story that is most enriched, having several wow moments that legitimately rival the last act of A New Hope. 

As to the expanded diversity in The Last Jedi, it’s not something that hits the audience on the head, but really feels right.  In a story where there is conflict and resistance, it makes sense that those who believe in freedom and equality would be coming from every perspective and gender, as well as a wide variety of alien species. 

Visually, the audiences are brought through everything from cityscapes, to deserts, vast galactic spaceships, and desolate island landscapes. Some of the most exciting scenes of dogfights in space take us through such spectacular environments they will make your eyes pop. 

Also, as one would expect, there are some spectacular sets, and, as has always been the case for the films of Star Wars, there is a great balance of the real and the digital.  Says Johnson, “We had a huge amount of practical sets for this film. Part of the lived-in feel of Star Wars is something we really wanted to capture.  At the same time, the other end of Star Wars is constantly pushing the envelope in terms of special effects.”   “Rian’s script at first count had something like 160 sets,” said production designer Rick Heinrichs, (Pirate of the Caribbean, Beetlejuice), but they wound up with around 125 sets where it was filmed at Pinewood Studios in England, as well as other locations around the world.  For example, they built a cave that was changed and relit to work for three other settings.

There’s so much going on it’s almost impossible to remember the entire story (not that it would be shared in this review..) Which of course, may be a ploy to get audiences all to see it multiple times.  At 2 hours and 23 minutes, it is definitely on the long side, and there are so many plot threads it feels like they could get knotted up in the viewer’s brain.   It’s possible there’s an even better movie that could have been carved out in the editing room.  However,  a shorter film might have sacrificed the strong character development, which is what will remain with fans long after the credits roll.

Lovers of Star Wars are incredibly lucky to have Johnson at the helm, who is clearly a super-fan of the saga. He took the stories, archetypes and mythology, and expanded and enhanced it in nearly every way.

A-

Spotlight on Studio Art: The Queen Transforms Disney Publishing Original Disney Storybook Art Illustration

I wanted to tell collectors about one of the rare times we could buy Disney storybook art directly from Disney.

Quite a few years ago, around the time Disney was deciding whether to keep having an art program or not, someone who had been working in and around Disney for many years contacted me about the likelihood of Disney Publishing opening up to sell art to galleries.  Obviously, I was ecstatic!

There are a lot of artists who created Disney storybook art that are great talents, and some of them are even legends now.  Claude Coats, Retta Scott, Bill Peet…just to name a few!  I had the great pleasure of selling a whole collection of illustrations for Retta Scott’s Cinderella book.  It was for the puppet book, not the original storybook, but they were glorious and finding and placing it with a collector is one of my favorite memories as an art dealer.  Regardless of the fact that whoever was building the program at Disney for illustration art sales wasn’t branding the art based on the artist, but rather the subject matter, I was still all in.  I knew my clients would be thrilled.

As a test to see whether there was interest, Disney was doing some low key selling of original Disney storybook illustrations on Ebay.  This was back before Ebay had unintentionally created the garage sale feel they have now. I scoured the site for when they posted art.  They only did it for a very brief time, and I knew about it from the beginning.

One of the images they placed on there was this original Disney publishing illustration from a storybook about Villains.  You can see the space to the right where the words go.

"The Evil Queen Transforms" original Disney storybook art from Disney Publishing
“The Evil Queen Transforms” original Disney storybook art from Disney Publishing

What I love about a great Disney storybook art for a well-known story is you get both color and story in one place . To me the composition and story elements of the Queen transforming into the wicked witch are wonderfully vibrant and compelling.  The skull that the poison gas is creating, and how it connects you visually with the skull of poison on the apple is scary and beautiful at the same time.  We can tell there is very bad magic at work, and the plot is about to go south for poor Snow White…

What is also great about illustration in general is that very rarely is there just one medium used.  It might be drawn on illustration board, with gouache, but enhanced with airbrush, or pen and ink.  Illustrators use whatever will solve their design problem or build the aesthetic they are after for that project.

We bought the art from Ebay, and promptly sold it to a villains collector.  Oddly, even then they didn’t know or weren’t willing to tell us who did the actual illustration. (Yet another reason I should have been working inside Disney…CREDIT, people…CREDIT!) Years later we were thrilled to be able to offer it again to another lover of illustration and villains, or rather misunderstood heroes.

Sadly, the folks inside Disney publishing thought better of selling the art out of their archives.  I do wish they’d lost their head and sold a bit more before coming to their senses!  I remember my friend Lella, who used to be the head of the Disney archives, would bemoan the fact that the company sold so many backgrounds from their movies to the public through Sotheby’s.  At least they DID.  We were only able to get about three pieces before collectors got wind of what they were doing and then the prices often went above 10k.  Lucky for us we knew about it at the beginning!

For collectors of Snow White and villains, this piece is particularly great, since it’s so prohibitively expensive to get both the Queen and the evil witch. Also, since the vast Snow White art collection owned by Steve Ison was sold back to Disney, finding original art representing the characters has gotten a lot harder and more expensive.  

I have seen cels of the moment of her transformation before, but they are very strange and also very expensive.  Here’s a way to represent the darkness of the character, tell story, and celebrate wonderful illustrative talent at once.

 

Spotlight on Studio Art: The Art of Alex Ross at ArtInsights and on Video

Alex Ross has become the #1 collected artist in comics.  His style changed the world of comic book art, and he brought an illustrative, more Norman Rockwell style, with realistic, hyper-realistic depictions of superheroes as real-life humans, albeit with way more muscles.  As a gallery that specializes in pop culture, we have carried the work of Alex Ross for over 20 years…Now, his agents have finally started making videos where Alex himself talks about his work and inspiration.  I thought i’d talk about some of my experience selling his work, and post some of the videos here:

He talks about his realism in art here:

As great as Alex Ross’s work is, he wouldn’t be nearly as famous in terms of art collecting had it not been for the Warner Bros stores.  They got behind his work and promoted it as real art as well as a collectible.  His images were some of the crowning glories in the stores, always put in a place of prominence. His new limited editions were released to increasingly committed fans who were quickly becoming completist collectors.

I had my own taste of Alex’s enthusiastic fandom when ArtInsights was the first and only gallery to represent Alex Ross Art at a comic convention.  We had a booth at New York Comic Con showing only The Art of Alex Ross.  Alex’s representatives were kind enough to give us some great exclusive limited editions, and we also had full color and graphite originals.  No other art gallery before or since has had that exclusive.

Crisis on Infinite Earths Giclee on Canvas by Alex Ross AP1
Crisis on Infinite Earths Giclee on Canvas by Alex Ross AP1. We released this image in our Alex Ross booth at NYCC.

I had been working with what is now the head of the collections of Alex Ross limited editions for over 20 years at that point, and she knew me well, so she knew I would represent the art with integrity and honesty.  The same agent had been in charge of the Warner Bros. stores before they went out of business, so she knew everything necessary to design and implement a fine art portfolio for Alex Ross.  She’d been doing it for decades.

From the first day of the convention, we were swamped with convention attendees.  Some of them were just fans in love with his work, but not interested in buying art.  Others were avid collectors looking to buy the latest exclusive.  We had a Doctor Strange, Captain America, and Batman exclusive signed lithograph that we sold out of the first day. Had there been any DC Comics original art of the Justice League, a concern in the far east would have bought every one of them.  Alas, he has not been working on DC projects for some time, so there was no art for sale.  Apparently this one group will buy absolutely anything, with almost unlimited funds.  This is one reason why mere mortal collectors should look to graphites if they want something original of his art.

Many people wonder why Alex never comes to conventions.  There’s an easy explanation for that, but I think fans and art collectors often don’t consider it.  Alex still paints in the traditional way.  For the most part, he is not creating inside a computer.  He still uses brushes, models, and paint.  That means that when other working artists can make adjustments by clicking on the mouse of their computer, Alex Ross would have to completely repaint the art.

He talks about physical painting and why he does it:

He is a traditional illustrator in a digital world, but he likes it that way.  His idols are Norman Rockwell, Leyendecker, and the rest of the geniuses of twentieth century illustrative art.  He was particularly influenced by Andrew Loomis, who was not only a great illustrator, but the author of instructional art books essential to the craft.

If you know the work of Norman Rockwell AND Alex Ross, you may recognize the strong influence and reference Alex Ross used from some of Rockwell’s works in Ross covers for Kingdom Come and Justice.  Here is a video of Alex Ross talking about his inspiration for The Justice League paintings:

To my mind, when Alex Ross creates images like the Marvel Shadows and the DC Shadows series, he does his best work.  I usually prefer his images of single characters.  To my mind, we get to see shadows and light playing on the subject more distinctly, seeing more specific choices he’s making.

My favorite images to date, by far, are his images inspired by Universal Monsters.  Created entirely in shades of grey, black and white, these pieces show the nuance with composition, shadow, and light only a great illustrator can express.  There are times when Alex’s color art is so frenetic and intense, I have a hard time focusing.  That’s not to say it isn’t compelling, I just think in Alex Ross’s Dracula, for example, or his Bride of Frankenstein, you almost feel like you could step into the painting and become part of the story.  They are at once evocative of the films represented and seductive as unique illustrations, separate from the subject matter.  Whether you know the stories or not, you are drawn to the tableaus he has laid out before you.

ALEX ROSS UNIVERSAL MONSTERS:

Not only are all the Universal Monsters officially licensed images, the folks at Alex Ross Art got permission and became officially connected with Bela Lugosi and even has the logo of his estate on the certificate of authenticity.  Much to absolutely no surprise, his Universal Monsters giclees on canvas were the hit of San Diego Comic-Con.  They outsold all the Marvel and DC images! 

The whole set of Universal Monsters giclees on canvas by Alex Ross
The whole set of Universal Monsters giclees on canvas by Alex Ross

There were only 15 put aside as matching sets, and they are far less than if you buy them individually and we have #13 if anyone is interested in the whole set.

ALEX ROSS SPIDER-MAN:

We love Alex Ross Spider-Man art.  Whenever we get the opportunity, we get whatever Alex Ross Art releases for our clients.  Alex has loved Spider-Man his whole life, and actually his first memory of him is the live-action character on The Electric Company! 

Spider-Man: Rockomic by Alex Ross Signed Limited Edition Lithograph
Spider-Man: Rockomic by Alex Ross Signed Limited Edition Lithograph

We have a piece called Rockomic and another very sold out one called Spider-Man Visions, plus the more recent Spider-Man: Marvels. My own memory of Spidey is from the Saturday Morning Cartoon, which was the best!  It came on at 6:30 am and I got up especially to see it.

 

Am I the only one who really loves Aquaman?  I mean, he’s not just some stupid character to be made fodder for jokes in Entourage!  Whether he’s the blonde character I know from the Superfriends or Jason Mamoa, who nearly singlehandedly saved the new Justice League movie, I enjoy having him around to manipulate water, make jokes, and talk to fish… Apparently, Alex loves him, too.  

He talks about it:

(If you like the image below, you can find a limited edition of Aquaman HERE.)

If you’re a fan of Captain America (which I am!) and Iron Man, here’s Alex talking about what he enjoys about creating images of these superheroes.  And you can find some great Captain America art HERE.

One of the latest releases from Alex Ross is of Wonder Woman, and it’s called “Wonder Woman: Goddess of Truth”.   After the image was posted on the Alex Ross twitter feed, Patty Jenkins saw it and fell in love with it and sent Alex a note saying how beautiful it was.  The best aspect of Alex Ross’s Wonder Women: Goddess of Truth is how perfectly it translates into giclee. 

Wonder Woman: Goddess of Truth Giclee on Paper by Alex Ross
Wonder Woman: Goddess of Truth Giclee on Paper by Alex Ross

Giclees are basically a very high-quality ink-jet printer.  Instead of only 4 different inks, there are many different ones that spray microscopic drops of paint that read the original within a millionth of a difference in color.  This original watercolor gets translated so perfectly, it really looks like the original.  Actually, I call it “Colors of the Wind” Wonder Woman, and we only have APs. For obvious reasons it was very popular when it was released and sold out immediately.  This image is my very favorite superhero portrait he’s ever done.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll leave you all with videos of Alex talking about his career and sharing advice to artists:

Click here If you want to see all the art by Alex Ross on our site…

and for those artists out there, find inspiration here and wherever you go.  If Alex can do it, so can you.  Make a plan, and stick to it.  Work hard, and stay positive.  For the rest of us, we can be the vital ones who support these visual artists by hanging their art on our walls!

Spotlight on Studio Art: On Pearl Harbor Day, The Evocative Band of Brothers Art by John Alvin

John Alvin did art for the campaign to promote the wonderful, timeless HBO mini-series Band of Brothers, which won 6 Emmys.  I thought on the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I’d examine the story behind John Alvin creating Band of Brothers campaign art and find out more about the process, and the general fascination with World War II history I recall John having and discussing with me on a regular basis.

Concept art for Band of Brothers by John Alvin
Concept art for Band of Brothers by John Alvin

I remember John Alvin and I talking many times about World War II.  He never mentioned his personal history, or how he was connected to it.  I told him some of the stories about my family, which he found very compelling.  My grandmother Colette had been working in London when France fell and Charles de Gaulle made his speech about the importance of everyone doing what they could do in the war effort.  She was working directly under Rene Pleven, as part of de Gaulle’s Free French Forces.  She went to de Gaulle and asked him how she could help, and he told her he needed her in New York.  She had grown up in New York, spoke both French and English, and knew many important people in the US who could help, so he sent her there to organize relief for the Free French.

My dad, who was only 5 or 6 at the time, had to come from Paris to Vichy, France, to North Africa and onward to New York to reunite with her while she was doing her work for de Gaulle.  My dad told me during that time he saw a man get kicked down a long flight of stairs in the subway by a German officer, cracking his head open.  He remembers it vividly to this day. He doesn’t remember Pearl Harbor, because in France, they were already deeply into the war.   

John was fascinated. He never told me his story himself.

Concept art for Band of Brothers by John Alvin
Concept art for Band of Brothers by John Alvin

When he spoke to me, it was about that book and that series, and how great he thought it was.  I, too, fell under its spell, especially as so many great actors took part.  I’d been a fan of Tom Hanks since Mazes and Monsters. His second collaboration with Steven Spielberg, the Emmy Award-winning miniseries was about “Easy” Company, a parachute infantry regiment. It made Damien Lewis famous in the US, (a gift that keeps on giving..) and was at the time the most expensive TV miniseries ever made by a network. The first episode premiered on September 9th, 2001, two days before the September 11th attack.

I just spoke to Andrea Alvin about why she thought he was so connected to his work on Band of Brothers. As you’ll see, John Alvin’s connection to the subject ran deep.  His father, Albert Alvin, had been a career military man.  He was a captain in the Army, and spent World War II as a military intelligence officer stationed in Italy, because he spoke fluent Italian.  His mother Rena had been an Army nurse and followed Patton’s troops.  She was at the Battle of the Bulge, where she worked right behind the front lines caring for the injured from all forces; American, German…anyone who needed urgent medical intervention.   The battle lasted from December 16th, 1944 to January 25th, 1945.  For the rest of her life, she would get weepy every year around Christmas remembering the horrors of that traumatic experience.

Graphite concept art for HBO's Band of Brothers by John Alvin
Graphite concept art for HBO’s Band of Brothers by John Alvin

Also, as a young child, John Alvin lived for about four years in Germany.  His father was part of the occupational army helping rebuild Germany*.  When John was 4 or 5, his dad took him to an abandoned Messerschmitt factory.  It was like a graveyard of airplanes.  He was allowed to climb on and in the planes.  It made a huge impression on him, and Andrea counts that experience as one of the main reasons he was so obsessed with building models.

The art John Alvin created for the Band of Brothers campaign, though not ultimately used, has an emotional quality and visual authenticity derived from his love of history, interest in research, and his personal connection to that time. The color images look like they are done in pastel, but John never worked in pastel.  He worked on pastel paper, and used Prisma color pencils and freehand airbrush to get the effect of pastels.  Though not sure, Andrea thinks John may have also used some actual pictures of his father as reference.

Whatever his inspiration, he captured the bravery, and the intensity of focus and commitment the men of Easy Company must have maintained as they struggled through the terrifying experience of surviving war.  On the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we think of all those men and women who gave their lives or lost their optimism and their innocence, and who fought bravely to keep this country safe. 

We also remember that standing up for those being endangered around the world, as well as on our own shores, is the true mark of patriotism.

If you’re interested in any of these great images, click here for the John Alvin Band of Brothers art page. 

*years later, John would find out that the entire time he lived in Germany, they had a bodyguard who followed them everywhere.

 

Spotlight on Studio Art: The Harry Potter Concept Art by Production Designer Stuart Craig

Production Designer Stuart Craig has quite a CV. Beyond being the BAFTA award-winning designer for the entire Harry Potter film series, he has also won three Oscars, for The English Patient, Dangerous Liaisons, and Gandhi.  He has worked on over three dozen films, including as art director on classics A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Superman (1978).  Do you love Notting Hill, The Mission, or The Elephant Man? He worked on those, too. He has continued his part in translating J.K.Rowling’s vision for the cinematic world with last year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and is currently working on The Crimes of Grindelwald, which is being released in 2018.

He is essentially the architect of the world we see onscreen for all the Harry Potter movies.  Indeed, as directors came and went, his involvement stayed consistent.  An argument could be made that continuity, and the loyalty of fans to commit to every film, are largely to his credit.

Journey to Hogwarts by Jim Salvati

When the Harry Potter studio tour at Leavesden was opening, Ruth Clampett, who has always been the conduit between Warner Bros. and the art world for all things Harry Potter, worked to get the art used to create the environments, that so compelled fans of the franchise, into the tour.  She wanted Stuart Craig Harry Potter prints to be available for purchase by his fans.  Ruth has always been a great judge of what Harry Potter fans want, since she herself is a superfan.

I remember when I spoke to Stuart Craig, he said he couldn’t imagine anyone wanting his concept images.  The pieces Ruth wanted to release were of finished and “in process” concepts, which were created by both Stuart Craig, who drew out the graphites, and architectural and concept artist Andrew Williamson, who finished them in colorful, fully rendered concept images. Williamson is now the Global Head of the Art Department at Double Negative.  Double Negative has worked on Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Justice League, Blade Runner 2049, and many more of the biggest films of the last nearly 20 years.

Ruth went about selecting images evocative of the film series, that would resonate with fans in both the UK and the US.  It required quite a bit of convincing to get the art into Leavesdon, but when she did, they were a huge success, much to Stuart Craig’s surprise.  Production designers see their work as a means to an end.  It was hard for him to picture fans wanting to put Stuart Craig Harry Potter prints as art on their walls.  My experience is quite the opposite.

Because I was involved in selling official Harry Potter art to collectors from the very beginning, I knew many of the collectors who loved and bought the art of book cover artist Mary GrandPre who had embraced the films would also collect art by the man partially responsible for bringing the world of the books to the screen.

I love seeing how a movie comes together.  I love seeing design, alteration, and creativity as it develops ideas into physical form.  Not enough people realize how much the production designer and their team influence the finished film and how it’s received.

Take a look at the many wonderful images of Harry Potter concept art by Stuart Craig on our ArtInsights page for the production designer.  Because we were in it at the beginning, we get to have limited editions by him that say “Warner Bros. Studio Tour London” on them.

Meanwhile, I spoke to Stuart in 2011 before the release of the first of the two last films.  I just posted it on YouTube as a video (it is mostly just my phone interview, but there are pictures of his art accompanying it)–if you want to hear a bit about his career in his own voice, check it out HERE.

 

Spotlight on Studio Art: Star Wars Visions Deluxe book and limited editions

Star Wars: Visions was released on its own, and in a deluxe edition with five hand-signed giclees.  They include art by Alex Ross, Moebius, Donato Giancola, Daniel Greene, and Jamie Wyeth. The deluxe book also includes 40 extra pages focusing on the artists’ processes, complete with sketches.  There were only 500 created.

It sold out immediately, as collectibles of this nature do.  We got as many as we could at the time, and of course didn’t open them, that being the privilege of the collector who takes them home.  So we never got a close look at the prints. The one copy we still have sits unopened. 

The images were curated by J.W. Rinzler, who was the executive editor at Lucasfilm. He is also responsible for New York Times bestsellers The Making of Star Wars and The Making of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and The Complete Making of Indiana Jones.

George Lucas decided, as an avid collector of both the art used to make and promote the Star Wars films, and fine and illustration art, to go out and find artists he loved in the fine art world to create images relating to his films.  This is a great idea, obviously, but here’s a little-known aspect of that project.  When an artist creates art relating to Star Wars, they have to, as part of the contract, offer their art to George Lucas as the lowest market price.  That is to say, if the artists involved usually work through galleries or agents, Lucas would have to have the right of first refusal for the art before even the galleries or agents had access.  This seems perfectly fair for those who usually create art for the franchise.  What about those outside the usual Star Wars Universe?

A number or artists used in the book are very famous in the world of contemporary fine art.  What a genius move for an art collector to get the lowest possible price for art by these successful artists, while getting them to create unique commissions for him.  Win-win? Yes!  Indeed there were only a few artists that didn’t sell their pieces for the book to Lucas.  As someone who is artist-centric, i’m going to say that’s a solid win for artists everywhere.  Now that, years after the release of the book and his acquisition of the art created for it, we know the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be built in Los Angeles, we can look forward to seeing at least some of these originals in person on its walls.

The beauty of this book, ultimately, is the continuing belief by Lucas, and his support of it through the creation is this art, that there should be no distinction between “high” art and “popular” art.  This is a notion I’ve been standing behind for the 25 years i’ve had a gallery dedicated to film, animation, and contemporary art.  I look forward to seeing the many paintings he bought from John Alvin, as well as his huge collection of art by Norman Rockwell.

AS TO THE BOOK:

Since the release of the book, Moebius has passed away, so getting a signed limited edition by him as part of the set is reason enough to buy the deluxe edition.  We’ve not really been promoting that we have a copy, because we certainly don’t want someone to buy the book and break up the limited editions and sell them separately.  This is one of those collectibles best reserved for a collector who will know how nice and right it is to keep them together!

There’s a great video about the collection of the artists HERE.

Spotlight on Studio Art: FOUND! Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

We just unearthed this set of Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin!  A fan asked us about availability of art from Gremlins, so we started researching the archives of the Estate of John Alvin, and lo and behold: a full set of storyboards for a finished advanced movie trailer!

Each one of the 17 images, posted below in sequence, were painted by hand as 5 x 7 fully executed paintings. The script is below the paintings and is original from the time, of course! If that doesn’t show us all just how much the movie and illustration worlds have changed, I don’t know what would! Beyond how great and exciting these are for fans of Gremlins, seeing the actual teaser trailer and finding exact moments captured from the storyboards…that’s just ultra-cool for movie geeks, especially when those storyboards were done by John Alvin, who did the official one-sheet for the film!

Sad to say, John did do some other sets of storyboards that became trailers, but the art from them has gone the way of whatever art director he was working with at the time. Notably, he did several of them for Jurassic Park. Two sets were used for the finished promotional trailers for the film, but none of the art survived.

Here is the Gremlins trailer, though, which you can watch to see his paintings come to life, and enjoy the messaging recreated in voiceover.  (Here is a link if you can’t see the video here.)

For those with interest in purchasing this set, I’m happy to report (and sorry to break it to interested parties) that we sold the whole set to a big fan and they are thrilled to add it to their collection!

Whether you might have been in the market or not, we’re betting it’s still going to be the coolest Christmas movie production art you’ll see this year!

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboard by John Alvin

 

A screenshot of the advance trailer, which follows John Alvin’s storyboards very closely!

 

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Eggs making a mess in the advance trailer, as in John’s storyboards.

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

A broken clock is about to strike 12 am, as in John’s storyboard.

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

The clock strikes! The shadows on the finished trailer are the same as in John’s storyboards.

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Discovery is imminent, as indicated in John’s storyboards.

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

John’s storyboard was used, right down to the box with holes. COOL!

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

“Mom’s gonna kill us!” as created in John’s storyboards.

Wouldn’t it be so great if more of this historic art existed now, having survived the process of filming and campaigning the movies of our youth?  At least here we have a great example of hand painted campaign art by John Alvin for 1984’s Gremlins, a true Christmas cult classic!

Spotlight on Studio Art: Concept Art for Disneyland by Walt Peregoy

We were so excited when we gained access to images created by Walt Peregoy.  It was when he was alive, and we got to speak to him and meet him on several occasions.  He was truly a consummate artist, just like so many artists who were integral to the creation and development of Disneyland.

Finding rare and authentic art actually used to create a film, or build an enduring world like Disneyland is one of our greatest joys.  So many people online are finding and buying art created after the fact, or by fans.  Many of these fans are wonderful artists, but they are still creating fan art!  When we are able to offer concept art for something loved the world over, (in this case, Disneyland) it goes in our memories as yet another reason why we stick to small business and owning an art gallery.  Somebody has to be the custodian of the production art!  To us, there is a difference.  Putting our hands on the art, knowing it was toiled over, designed in some mid-century modern office, and even better, to recognize the avant-garde design style that went on to influence 101 Dalmatians, and inspire Disney to give the designate “LEGEND” to the artist.  Well, that’s the whole point of “film art by the filmmakers”.

Born in 1925, Peregoy knew early he wanted to be an artist.  He started taking classes at the ripe old age of nine, in Berkeley, California.  Through his teenage years, he studied at Chouinard Art Institute, (where animation luminaries Chuck Jones and Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston went, among many others) and at 17, quit school altogether to work at Disney, before abruptly leaving to fight in WWII, and then studying at arts universities after the war in Mexico and Paris.

In 1951, he came back to Disney.  Along with working on the designs for Disneyland, he and another artist also known for his stylized artistry, Eyvind Earle, worked on 1958’s Paul Bunyan, for which they were nominated for an Academy Award. He went on to be lead background painter on Sleeping Beauty, and became color stylist on 101 Dalmatians and The Sword and the Stone.

There’s a great Disney documentary called, “Four Artists Paint One Tree”.  What makes it so great is the fact that four illustrators who worked at Disney and in commercial art were highlighted, Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle, Joshua Meador, and Peregoy.  Walt Disney always believed the artistry required for animation and imagineering was “fine art”, and there were no qualifiers to the artists who worked at the studio.  To him, they were as impressive and talented as those in museums, and he promoted that perspective as often as possible.

What this documentary shows, and what I talk about all the time when people come into ArtInsights and ask about the artists represented, is that regardless of what these artists are working on, be it a character like Cruella, a background from Sleeping Beauty, or concept art for Disneyland, they are able to infuse it with their aesthetic, AND follow the guidelines required for the project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Dg8w6gk4cE

FANS OF ART AND ANIMATION SHOULD SEE THIS!!

I could watch this documentary over and over.  (and went down that same rabbit hole I go down every time I watch it…fascinating!) Are these artists stilted when they speak about their creations?  Yes.  Who cares?  Seeing them paint and explain their designs is ever-fascinating.  For any artists wanting to learn about how to express their own aesthetic, it’s superb.  For the lucky person who buys the concept art from 1955 for Disneyland by Walt Peregoy, it just reaffirms his genius.

ArtInsights Has Gifts for all your Disney, Marvel, Warner Bros., Star Wars, and DC fans!

It’s the holidays. Gifts are needed, stat! Not only does ArtInsights have a brand-new, easy to navigate, purchase-friendly site, we also have a lot of great images in stock, ready to ship, or ready to be wrapped and carried out.  Why is this an awesome thing?  There comes a time when we all need new, exciting, surprising gifts for our loved one.  What’s a person to do?  Come to ArtInsights!  Almost everyone loves movies, or cartoons, or superheroes, or all of the above! If you come home with the art actually created by the folks who make these essentials of pop culture, who work at the studios, make the posters, make the cartoons, you will be most valuable player of the holiday!! NO, buying a great gift isn’t the way to someone’s heart, but as Marilyn Monroe would say, “Gee! Doesn’t it help?” It shows you care enough to go out and find something super special that no one else would even think of.

Of course, if you buy at ArtInsights and it isn’t well received (a rare occurrence), you can always bring it back and trade it for something else!

We have art in all price ranges, from $50 to $98,000. (Want to buy an original by John Alvin, created in the process of making the Beauty and the Beast movie poster?)

Do come by and see what we have in our gallery in Reston Town Center, or check out the gift guide online.  It’s easy to buy and we’ll ship it right out to you!

Some of the art we have available:

Toy Story art by Andrea Alvin, The Avengers art, Guardians of the Galaxy art, Wonder Woman art, and Doctor Strange art by Alex Ross, sold out C3PO and R2D2 art by Steve Thomas, Frozen concept art as well as Frozen art by Amy Mebberson, production art from Fantasia, Batman and Wonder Woman art by Jim Lee, vintage Hanna Barbera art from The Flintstones, art from Harry Potter by production designer Stuart Craig, Lilo and Stitch, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella art by Michelle St. Laurent, Tim Rogerson, and Rob Kaz, and so so much more!  Click here to see a bunch of options, or contact us directly to request a specific film or character.  Don’t forget we also have new contemporary art from the Ten x Ten x Ten and Art Outsiders projects by genius pop artist extraordinaire Tennessee Loveless!

We will be at the gallery all weekend this weekend, Friday from 10am to 6pm, Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm…if you come into the gallery remember to register to win a sold out Marvel Captain America image by Alex Ross!

and if you are far-flung, on the web we are ALWAYS open, so great gifts are just a click away!

Contact us with any questions. artinsights@gmail.com or 703-478-0778.

Happy Holidays from ArtInsights!

John Alvin’s Blade Runner Movie Art from 1982 at ArtInsights

Blade Runner by John Alvin.  Everyone knows what that poster looks like….John Alvin is known for a number of images, although sometimes not by name.  The prolific and genius movie poster artist called it “the promise of a great experience”, when he created the key art for over 200 movies.  If you remember, when recalling a movie, the poster instead of a scene from the film, that’s a great movie poster. John Alvin did that many many times. The Lion King, E.T., Young Frankenstein, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Blazing Saddles, and of course, Blade Runner, are just a few of the posters he created.

Blade Runner 2049 is releasing to overwhelmingly great reviews.  Seeing it and writing about the film for Cinema Siren,  I couldn’t help but think John would have loved the new movie as much as he did the one in 1982.  He talked about it a lot to me during our friendship.  One thing that the new movie has done is yet again reinvigorated interest and appreciation for the classic sci-fi film and its poster.

So, we have a few images created by John Alvin that those of you who love traditionally illustrated movie posters and the great movie from 1982 can buy and have for yourself.  There are two limited editions, and in several versions.  Neither is signed by John Alvin, but they are both gorgeous, and capture the cyber punk aesthetic and emotional power of the film.

We also have one of the “I’ve Seen Things “ that was sent to John for approval before they created the edition. He had intended to keep it and frame it for his own studio, and so he signed it.  It’s the only signed piece from the edition, and is oversized.  It might be best purchased by someone within driving distance, although, for what will be fairly expensive endeavor, we can ship the framed piece anywhere.  The size of it is 40 x 53 inches. We also have one original graphite from 1982 used in the making of the finished poster.  If you’re interested in that, give us a call.  It’s pricey, but a piece of film history.  Several collectors recognized the importance of John Alvin’s work as part of film history when his key art for E.T. went at auction for $400,000.  There are movie lovers all over the world, after all!

The edition called “No Choice, Pal” has been created with the estate of John Alvin, and has a number of versions.  Delivery takes about 4 to 6 weeks, although will get faster as we continue on our path to doing more publishing for both John’s work and the work of our other artist partners.   

Here’s the info on “No Choice, Pal”:

Giclee on paper: edition size 1982, 6 APs, 6 PPs. size 14 x 19, image size 10 x 15. Retail $125.

Giclee on canvas: edition size 263 with 6 APs, 6 PPs. size is 19 x 23.75, Image Size: 15″ x 19.75 Retail $495.

NEW SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON ART 2017 RELEASES SEEN and APPROVED!

Marvel Shadows Set Alex Ross

Oh San Diego Comic-Con, how we love you and love/hate you.  Two gazillion folks wandering the aisles at once.  We should all be making Mooing sounds.  And yet, there’s no better place to have an art release, especially by fan favorite Alex Ross.  We had seen the images, but had to see them in person to report back to anyone “on the fence” or wanting to hear our opinion of how dramatically they presented in person.

As always, at SDCC 2017, we are double-focused. We get to see all the new releases, especially by Alex. We also scour the con for new artists or artists we want to work with more.  We found a few potential future partners, so we’ll see how that develops, and will update you as we do.

Meanwhile, we made a direct march to the Alex Ross booth first thing on Wednesday night, accompanied by clients who wanted to see them with us. Sure enough, there were some gorgeous pieces released, like the Universal Monsters pieces, the Marvel shadows pieces. Did what we love sell the best? Were we spot-on with our prediction of  which would be the hottest and best received?

In a word, YES!  Surprising me not at all, the Universal Monsters series was the most popular. I knew the images would be a big hit, even though they aren’t comic-book derived.  There’s something about seeing Alex Ross’s art in shades of grey, without his usual color palette, that really shows how well he uses shadow and light. You can see the influence great illustrators have had on him, like J.C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell, who were both geniuses with light.

There were only 15 sets of the series put aside as sets, and they of course sold out.  We have several we have bought for our clients, so contact ASAP if you’re interested, or love all things monsters.  The Dracula and the Creature from the Black Lagoon are our favorites in terms of images, but everyone loves the Bride of Frankenstein!

We sold as many Marvel shadows series sets as we could get our hands on, and are still trying to see if anyone who had right of first refusal says no, so do let us know if you’re interested in them as well! We have the images individually if there’s a superhero you love more than the rest.  We’ve had hundreds more hits on Iron Man, although we love Thor the best. They are $825 each unframed and rolled.

OMG BATMAN DETECTIVE #31 AND SCARS

Detective Comics 31 full image

Tucked into the interior of the booth was one of my two favorite new releases, the Detective #31 piece, inspired by an old comic book most of you fans will know inside and out.  I was driven to read the old classic from seeing Alex’s new interpretation of the cover.  I knew it would be gorgeous in person, and I brought several of my clients in to see it, and actually sold 3 more for the booth while I showed the piece to my own clients!  My favorite colors, red and purple, are featured.  What’s not to love? 

(see below for the original and one of the first homages of Detective Comics #31) 

Detective Comics 31 - Batman 227

The other piece I knew would be a huge hit is Scars, but as intense as the subject matter is, it’s still impressive as art.   I see the symbolism and metaphor of outside scars vs. inside scars, as well as the power of Alex using black and white, but it was for Batman Black and White, a BIG DEAL book they did at DC that Batman fans always list as one of their favorites.

There are other releases, but those are the ones that struck us the most, and those are the ones that made the fans and collectors crazy in the best possible way.

Balancing our Cinema Siren / Women Rocking Hollywood panels with our work for ArtInsights is always a challenge at San Diego Comic-Con.  Those of you who know us here, know our passion for changing the status quo for women in film, both in live action and animation.  It is a natural extension of working with the art of film and Leslie being a film critic.  We were thrilled, then, to be able to succeed in our panels (videos coming soon!!) and see some great new art that we can wholeheartedly approve and get behind.

We are always working on our next great new partnership, and we’ll let you know when we get there—we take things slowly now so we know we are in something supremely cool and future-bound!

For now, bask in the awesomeness of Alex Ross 🙂

Happy Anniversary Harry Potter! This Harry Potter art gallerist and fan looks back

Making a Great Exit

Happy Anniversary Harry Potter!

I can’t believe it’s been 20 years.  These are the books that spawned a thousand ‘ships’ and fanfics, not to mention creating one of the richest women in the world, the highest paid actress, blockbuster movies, Wizard Rock, many conversations about acceptance and tolerance, kids that read voraciously for the first time, a crazy powerful fandom,  conventions that broke records and brought friends together, positive actions in the form of charities like the HP Alliance, and of course, art.

At the very beginning of the series, when it hadn’t even gotten to the states yet, my friend Ruth had interest in the series, and she paid attention to when Scholastic released them in the US, going after the license to release the art here, with all the art created by illustrator Mary GrandPre. She told me years later no one believed it would sell.  I was the first person to promote them when she announced the collection.  They were beautiful, created by a female illustrator, and celebrated reading! How could I not be excited?

Harry Potter: Counting the Days

I started to work with her as much as possible, and when new pieces were released, I was the person who promoted them the most.  This led to getting some exclusive pieces for the gallery, and to being part of a number of Harry Potter fan panels at San Diego Comic-Con, where I met some wonderful friends I am close to and respect to this day.

Here is me on the panel with Darrin Criss, before he got hugely famous, but not before he had become the Harry Potter version of one of the Beatles. Seriously, there were shrieks from his fans during and after the panel, and someone proposed to him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaAXLumvEUM

One of the weirdest things about being part of the Harry Potter world and selling the art, is I became a strange sort of minor celebrity in the fandom….not like the StarKids or MuggleNet or the Wizard rockers, but still, people knew who I was. After the above panel, two teenage girls came up and asked me for my autograph.  What?? I showed them where the line was to meet Darrin….but they said I was the reason they were going to study art, because they wanted to be part of creating the official art and in my various talks I’d explained about the value and importance of illustration art. It’s the one and only time it happened, but it was very sweet. It also made me feel good about what I do for a living.  I was particularly pleased when the collection of art by Mary GrandPre wound up in a Buzzfeed post and it got viewed, well, lots and lots and lots. It was posted on June 26th, as well, only in 2013!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/16-rare-harry-potter-illustrations-from-the-books-artist?utm_term=.etR3DqnwpM#.tsXqP15Bd2

When Leavesden was opening and they were going to have an exhibit of art and a shop with items for sale, Ruth was able to talk them into releasing art signed by Oscar-winning production designer Stuart Craig, that showed his ideas for various locations in the movies, with the fully rendered images created by architectural and movie concept artist Andrew Williamson.  Again, they didn’t think they’d sell, and again, they proved hugely popular.  Here is one of my favorites:

Journey on the Hogwarts Express

I also, in the time that HP got more and more famous, became closer friends with artist Jim Salvati, who had actually worked on the films as a concept artist, and so I got some art from him he had done for the movie.  That was incredibly exciting, and those who love the movies can really appreciate how the intensity and passion as an artist fits with the themes of the movie.  Here’s a limited edition with Harry and Hedwig:

Harry and Hedwig by Jim Salvati

Every day I encounter some reference to HP, or think of one.  This morning on my walk, I was going to once again avoid the walking tunnel that goes under a big road because it looks creepy, dangerous, and frankly, it reminds me of Death Eaters.  Today, though, I ran through it in honor of the anniversary (crazy, but what can I say?) and as I checked my fitbit, the number was 7,777. 

I had to laugh.

Thanks, Jo.  You’ve inspired millions of kids to read, write, draw, find acceptance, and aspire to more.  We’ll keep reading the books, watching the movies, writing the fanfic, and creating art, and when we do, we’ll think of you, and of Harry, the boy who lived.

L.

ps. If you want to see all the official art of Harry Potter available for purchase, go HERE.