For my first blog of 2021, I want to talk about cartoon love, love and romance in animation and animation art. Every February, as I look around the gallery, I consider just how much of animation and cartoon shorts are focused on love and romance. To be sure, it’s a strange year to celebrate Valentine’s Day. In 2020, Much of the world wasn’t yet aware of the impending pandemic, so for many it was business as usual. Some couples went out to dinner, some celebrated with gifts or champagne, and friends got together and had a Galentine’s party. My husband and I don’t really celebrate, but last year we did make a good meal and watch horror movies, and I got a ‘secret Valentine’ from my dad, as I have since I was 10 years old.
This year is different. We are all still hunkered down. Most of us aren’t going out to restaurants. We also all need as much joy as we can muster, because we are still apart from some of our favorite people. What we CAN do this year, though, is watch cartoons. We can watch them with our partners, or make Galentine’s an event this year by planning a watch party through Disney+ . There are so many movies and shorts that celebrate love, and the streaming site has pulled together a collection to make us feel a little closer to each other.
About Cartoon love: Some of the best Disney shorts feature iconic couples, like 1938’s Brave Little Tailor and 1940’s Donald Duck Steps Out. Donald Duck Steps Out is one of the cartoons available as part of this Valentine’s Day collection. So is the 1936 classic Mickey’s Rival.
As to feature films, the first that comes to mind is Lady and the Tramp, which is actually listed in AFI’s “100 Years 100 Passions”. How about prince and princess stories like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella? There are also more recent classics like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast.
While we’re at it, we might as well add a little “I LOVE YOU. I KNOW.” to the equation. It isn’t animation, but it’s officially Disney, and Princess Leia makes everything better or at least bearable, even isolation.
Whether you are surrounded by family or braving the pandemic alone, these animated friends will help you through until we can be together again.
In honor of the month where we remember love and appreciate those who keep us close, here is the first COVID COMFORT CARTOON of 2021:
2012’s Paperman, a gorgeous and very romantic short that won both an Academy Award and Annie Award for Best Animated Short.
Stay safe out there, and remember, we’re all in this together. Let’s make sure we let those we love know it as often as possible.
Visit ArtInsights for our special Gallery Opening on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday!
There’s such a storied history for Bill Melendez and his 1965 classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. Not only have we seen it generation after generation, it remains one of the most watched specials every holiday season. Yes, it is Christian at its core, but cartoon fans of all faiths (including Atheism) love it and can’t wait to tune in, even as they have it on dvd, downloaded, or whatever newest version is available.
In 2015, I had the great pleasure of going out to LA and meeting a number of animators who had worked on the original special, and we all gathered together to toast the 50th anniversary of a great holiday tradition.
During and around that A Charlie Brown Christmas Anniversary event, I was able to interview several key artists involved, including Lee Mendelson, which you can see HERE. I also got to see some rare Charlie Brown Christmas art from their archives. As a fan myself, I was thrilled. It has been a show my family watches together since as early as I can remember.
This year, as always, I had requests throughout the year for various images from my Peanuts art and Bill Melendez art fans. In my research for great images, I discovered something. (I’m always learning something new..) Somehow I had never learned that Woodstock was named after the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival! That led to a great release from the people that run the animation art program at Bill Melendez Studios that was in honor of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. We got big Woodstocks, little ones, recognizable art from Snoopy Come Home and less identifiable but charming Woodstock art from commercials and other TV specials. We sold a bunch of them. They also stumbled onto a very few images from the original Halloween special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. We sold them in minutes, then begged for more, but they were all gone, of course!
Cut to now… In asking for some images from Charlie Brown Christmas specials or commercials, the Bill Melendez folks found some great, very rare art, and offered me a special show. We’d had such a wonderful year full of collectors embracing these beloved characters, they wanted to show their appreciation. Of course we said yes!
The result is a collection of art spanning from originals by Bill Melendez himself, to A Charlie Brown Christmas art from the book and record, to cels and drawings from I Want a Dog for Christmas as well as Christmas themed commercials to limited editions that had sold out so long ago, I didn’t even have them at our own store or had just opened, so that would date to being released around 1995-2005. a LONG TIME AGO!
The Charlie Brown Christmas art from the record and book is so exciting because all the images were actually used to make the official one and only read-along book for the Peanuts Christmas special.
Someone made my life really easy by posting it in its entirety on YouTube:
I was floored when I saw these for the first time. I mean, we all recognize exactly what’s happening during each image and they’re from 1977!
We also got the official limited editions that had been released decades ago, including this one:
The thing about getting this collection, is we are requested to sell the art for only 10% more or less than their suggested retail. The above piece is $8000, which is exactly what they have as retail, and I haven’t seen any at all online, but even if I did, that piece would have been at a home and being resold. This is coming directly from the studio. It just doesn’t get any more classic than this!
other sold out A Charlie Brown Christmas limited editions include the below images, Tree Lot, Dog Gone Commercial and Snoopy’s Audition, all sold out but we have one of each!
We also have I Want a Dog for Christmas art. That special is a new classic played during the holiday season, and features Rerun, Linus’s brother. By the time they made this cartoon, cels were not being used, so the studio created model cels that are completely done by hand to accompany the original drawings or layouts or color model drawings from the special. My favorite is a great cel and drawings from a scene with Schroeder, Lucy, Snoopy and Woodstock:
The most surprising part of the collection is the original marker and graphite originals by Bill Melendez himself they sent. These have to be released by the Bill Melendez estate. We’ve only had a few in our entire span as dealers of Peanuts art. I truly wish I could keep one myself. They come directly from the source, so fans and collectors who buy them feel like part of the Peanuts family! (and, I’ll say it again and reiterate what everyone I’ve ever interviewed has said. Bill Melendez was the nicest man ever to work in animation.)
There was a show called The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show that ran between 1983 and 1985. We got Snoopy, Lucy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and Sally art from Sally’s Sweet Babboo, the one episode that featured a Christmas play and Lucy and Snoopy skating!
The Charlie Brown animation art oeuvre would not be complete without mentioning the commercials these characters appeared in, and we have charming images as part of this Charlie Brown Christmas animation show!
Have you been to our gallery in Reston Town Center since it’s been renovated? We have a new floor, new windows, a new door, and a new lobby! and of course it’s gorgeous in Reston Town Center at the holidays. Stop by and ask to see our Charlie Brown Christmas specials animation art collection.
Our Charlie Brown Christmas art show will be having an opening weekend on Black Friday, November 29th, Small Business Support Saturday, November 30th, and Christmas Special Sunday, December 1st, with refreshments, art exclusively available that weekend, and special surprises! Call or email us with any questions.
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.
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 board, character sheet, character 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.
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…
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.
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!!
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!
In honor of the Women’s March in Washington on inauguration weekend, we are offering some rare Wonder Woman original production art from Justice League. They are drawings, as they didn’t use cels in the animation, and we don’t have a bunch, but the 8 we have are all wonderful, kick-ass, and represent the character well! CHECK THEM OUT HERE. We will only have them this weekend, so now is the time!
Many of you know we have a large contingent of collectors and art and animation fans meeting up at the gallery and going in to march on Saturday. That’s not to say we don’t love our ‘Right-minded’ collectors, but we all have to walk our walk as WELL as talk our talk, and that is particularly true to those of us in art and small business.
Those of us who are marching, and those supporting those who will be there certainly need inspiration and motivation, and this demigoddess is the Amazonian to give it! A percentage of all sales this weekend will benefit Planned Parenthood. CELEBRATE POWER and THE WONDER OF WOMANHOOD this weekend!
Also, all the art available for purchase is benefitting women-owned small businesses: both in the retail and wholesale! We are working with the lovely and hard-working Ruth Clampett of Clampett Studio, and her cohort Michelle Smart, who handles production art for them. I, Leslie Combemale, CRAZY FEMINIST ART LOVER, co-own ArtInsights (as you know)…Plus you will also be supporting low cost healthcare for women around the country. So what are you waiting for? Lasso yourself a great new piece of art 🙂
When I started selling animation art in 1988, there were only five galleries specializing in original cartoon art IN THE WORLD. That’s right. It’s hard for some to imagine when no one knew what a cel was, and when the thought that cartoon art was “kid stuff” was pervasive. Things have really changed. Most people know what about animation art, and many see it as a legitimate art form, but along with that the prices for animation art have risen to the point where finding unrestored reasonably priced original art is not that easy to do!
Recently a client/collector friend of mine showed me a collection of Disney lobby cards he had just gotten his hands on. Most were from the original release dates. These were smaller images released by the studio used to promote the film in theater lobbies across the country. It occurred to me that my collectors and people I knew who love Disney would be excited about the prospect of having these, what essentially amount to pieces of memorabilia and art mixed together.
It isn’t as if lobby cards can’t be counterfeit. Of course they can be. The trick is to find someone who knows where they’ve been since removed from the displays at the theater! How wonderful, though, to imagine them a part of the thrill of release in 1946 of Song of the South, or 1950 of Cinderella, or any number of other Disney classics!
I do love two of the images we got most, and those are the lobby cards created for England. They are smaller, and they come from a slightly later time (a few years after the initial releases) but check out these British Snow White and Fantasia lobby cards, I especially appreciate that they are based on concept work from the films:
In my own house, I have production art, and movie posters. Lobby cards are the perfect way to add something small (they are all 11 x 14) and substantial to represent other favorites, or enhance the images in the production cels nearby. That’s what I did with mine. Personally I always want my lobby cards to be from the original release, and almost all the ones we have in the gallery are. You can tell what year they were released by checking the number in the bottom right hand corner, making sure the first number corresponds with the year the movie was released..(like 55 for the Lady and the Tramp lobby cards, and 49 for the Ichabod and Mr. Toad lobby cards, for example)
Check out all the lobby cards (and the two collections) on our Disney vintage gallery page:
ArtInsights at the AFI for Bugs Bunny Anniversary!
The AFI Silver Theater is showing some great cartoons in honor of Bugs Bunny’s 75th birthday, which happened July 27th, (those carrots are great at keeping a rabbit looking youthful!) and ArtInsights will be there!
Leslie Combemale, intrepid ArtInsights co-owner and lover of all things Looney Tunes, will be doing a short pre-screening lecture on August 8th and 9th at 11:30 am.Tickets are $5, and there are some great cartoons showing!
As you all know, Leslie works at educating and advocating for acceptance of animation as an important art form, and many of the artists who created cartoons as fine artists worthy of the highest acclaim.Come hear a few bits of information you may not know about your favorite Looney Tunes artists and cartoons, and help celebrate superstar Bugs Bunny in 35 mm on the big screen!
Click the dates for a link to purchase tickets and more information:
I’m so incredibly excited that the 50th anniversary of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, which is being celebrated next week in LA, means that I get to go to LA and interview animators AND get first access to special art being pulled specially for the event.
That’s right.I am the FIRST gallery that gets to go in and choose art for my clients from what they’ve pulled from the archives for this event.How did that happen?I guess the Snoopy Puppy angels smiled on me.In any case, any of you folks– pals and clients of mine –who love Peanuts and remember the wonderful specials fondly interested in getting something rare and unusual, please contact me in the next few days!
A few great images from the cartoons…
I’ll be sending images and selecting art for all my clients on Tuesday June 23nd starting at 12:00 pm E.S.T, and can add you to the list of collectors to connect with that day.
What will be available?The rarest art is the key set-ups, which means the original art and backgrounds that belong together, from the specials many will recognize.There won’t be Christmas special pieces, but yes, there will be art from the late 1960s and some from one of my favorites, “Snoopy Come Home”.There will also be some spectacular layout and finished drawings.All I know is they’ve never done this before, so without a doubt they will be bringing out “the special stuff”.Generally the prices for these originals are between $500 and $5000 depending on what it is, how old it is, and how many characters are in it.
Also, the second of the limited editions being released based on A Charlie Brown Christmas is being released on Thursday at the celebration.None of us know what it looks like, but at only 65 in the edition, and the desire to represent the best scenes from the special, i’m sure it will be wonderful! There also may be some very sold out limited editions made available—who knows?!
One of the three pieces released as part of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special 50th Anniversary
I’m going to be doing some interviewing the studio insiders and animators about the historical scoop and personalexperience behind these great animated favorites, and i’ll post on YouTube when i’m back.
Of course with the new Peanuts movie coming out, this is a perfect time to pick up some art, before a ton of new fans are made around the world, and a few old ones get reminded of how great these characters really are!(many of you know my story of the one piece of art I regret not getting was a Linus cel i’ve never seen anything like again..let’s not go through that again!)
I’m in a unique position here to actually get all the very best images available for people I am representing, so HAIL TO ALL PEANUTS FANS! Let’s get some awesome art!!
(Just a few of my favorite Charlie Brown specials!)