Tag: disney art

Remembering Ed Asner: Emmy Winning Actor, Voice Artist, & Activist

Ed Asner passed away on August 29th at the age of 91, after living a fascinating life with uncompromising integrity, a tenacious curiosity, and, despite exhibiting a gruff, tough guy exterior, an open heart to both loved ones and strangers. Though beloved by Disney fans for his role in Pixar’s 2009 film UP and appreciated by hardcore tv and film fans since the 1950s, many are unaware of his incredibly diverse career as a voice artist for other animated tv and feature films. He was also a staunch and avowed liberal who fought for and won artists’ rights. He’s a personal favorite of mine, and I have followed his career since I was a baby tv and film geek. I even met him, and he lived up to every expectation. (More about that later in the blog.)  So today’s blog is a tribute to Ed Asner.  

AWARD WINNING WORK

Asner often played the sort of old school father figures a lot of us could relate to: a tough guy with high expectations, an irascible man who had quite a bark, but also a soft side he showed exactly when you needed it.  He won two Emmys on two different shows playing a guy who fit that description as Lou Grant, the newsroom boss in Rhoda, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and later, Lou Grant. Over his career, he portrayed characters both good and bad, from Axel Jordache in 1976’s Rich Man, Poor Man and a slave trader Captain Thomas Davies in 1977’s Roots, to, most memorably, Lou Grant, who famously hated Mary Richards’ spunk but always had her back, Santa in 2003’s Christmas cult classic Elf, and the grumpy but surprisingly openhearted widower Carl Fredricksen in UP.  He was in so many classic tv shows there are too many to list, but many fans remember the episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Untouchables, Route 66, The Outer Limits, Gunsmoke, The Fugitive, The Wild Wild West, Mission Impossible, and Mod Squad in which he appeared. 

Here he talks about his love of the show The Outer Limits, and his disappointment in his episode, “It Crawled from the Woodwork”:

Here is a great video that hits some of the actor’s career highlights shown when he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Washington West Film Festival, which takes place right here in Reston Town Center:

POLITICAL PERSONALITY

It is impossible to separate Ed Asner from his politics, and he wouldn’t have wanted you to. An old school Democrat through and through, he came from Kansas City, Kansas, where the right vastly outnumbered the left. He also fought in WW2, so he had every right to expect the best from the government that sent him to war.  He was a democratic socialist before Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made it cool. In an interview in 2019, he said, “a real Democrat is a euphemism for socialist. I like it. I think Americans were shucked into equating socialism with communism. People have been placed badly by that equation. They’ve screwed themselves. Until they get over that prejudice, our social progress will be slow.” 

While working in film and tv, he was also making a name for himself as a trade unionist and political activist fighting for union and labor rights, including during his time as president of the Screen Actors Guild. He was an outspoken critic of former SAG president Ronald Reagan’s support of the right-wing military government in El Salvador and raised money for medical relief in the country. His activism led to CBS cancelling his show Ed Grant in 1982. He also took part in protests opposing the invasion of Iraq, and was instrumental in crafting the petition “Not in Our Name”, a declaration of dissent signed by thousands of people against US military involvement. 

His opinion about the current political climate? “It’s like the monkeys escaped the zoo.” He put his thoughts about politics down on paper, and you can and should pick up his book about politics called The Grouchy Historian: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs

When asked why he decided to write the book (which was co-written by Ed Weinberger) he explained, “As a progressive, it’s a story I believe and believe in. If right-wingers truly understood what the Constitution meant they wouldn’t use it as a crutch every time they screw over the poor and the disenfranchised.”

VOICE ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE 

Many of you know Asner voiced Carl Fredricksen in UP, but in over 30 years he won awards for lending his talent to dozens of major and minor characters on your favorite cartoons, and worked for nearly every studio. He was Goliath’s mentor Hudson, the founding member of the Manhattan Clan in Gargoyles. For DC, he played Perry White in All-Star Superman, Granny Goodness in Justice League Unlimited, and Roland Daggett in Batman: The Animated Series. For Marvel, he was Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. He was also featured on The Simpson, American Dad, King of the Hill, Family Guy, The Boondocks, and tons of other shows you know and love. 

Here’s a great video compilation of his work:

Star Wars is another colossal franchise in which Asner played a part as voice artist. Not only did he play Master Vrook Lamar in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic video game, he was Jabba the Hutt in the official LucasFilm radio drama of Return of the Jedi, which you can listen to in its entirety here:

Of course to many Carl Fredricksen will always be their favorite Ed Asner role. He talks about that role here:

MEETING A HERO

I was fortunate enough to meet the actor and activist and chat with him for quite a while at D23 a few years ago. I was behind the conference hall waiting to be picked up, and so was Asner. The process of reaching us was convoluted, so it took both our drivers quite a while to get through the maze of checkpoints. I said hello, told him I was a huge fan, and started asking him about his politics and activism. That has always been, to me, one of the most impressive parts of his career. Many artists and performers keep their business and their beliefs separate, but I have always believed those in the limelight should use their platform when they can. Gratefully, I knew his history. He was surprised and pleased with the direction of our conversation, since I think he expected just another delightfully enthusiastic Disney fan. We talked for almost half an hour, and honestly it got pretty deep, including thoughts on death, dignity, integrity and personal responsibility. If I hadn’t already loved him, I would have after that conversation. He reminded me of my dad, who is also big and burly and has never been afraid of deep conversations. When our cars came, we said our goodbyes. His daughter Liza was there, and she’s still my friend on Facebook. She took these great pics of us together:

If you’ve ever wondered if he was a nice guy, I can tell you he really was. For that half hour, especially after signing autographs and talking to fans for hours just beforehand, he couldn’t have faked being nice in the kind of interaction we had. I’ve also heard and read lots of stories since his passing from other folks about what a lovely person he was, whether meeting him for a minute, spending days with him on the road, or as part of a production. I think probably everyone except Charlton Heston was a fan of his!  

DUG DAYS   

One of Asner’s last voice projects was for Disney+, on the newly released and incredibly charming Dug Days. Dug Days is a series of 5 shorts from Pixar starring Dug (voiced by animator Bob Peterson, screenwriter and co-director of UP, who also wrote and directed all Dug Days episodes), the lovable dog whose high tech collar translates thought to speech, and his human guardian Carl (Asner). Each episode features a different theme, including Science, Puppies, and of course, Squirrel!. The production took place, in part, during the pandemic, which meant the voice artists had to improvise where they recorded their dialogue. Peterson’s ‘recording studio’ was a spider-infested closet in his house. The fact that Peterson was calling the shots meant that he could add little Easter eggs. Carl and Dug’s new home is #333, the same house number that Peterson’s grandmother lived in back in Ohio. Also look for a reference to Toy Story: 4 in the “Flowers” episode. The Ferris wheel is the same as the one in that feature. As a lover of below the line artists, I love knowing that the camera on one of Carl’s shelves is named after Mark Nielsen, production designer on Dug Days. 

The trailer shows you all you need to know about why you should put a little time aside for this new series:

Check out Dug Days on Disney+!

UP ART FOR ASNER FANS

For fans of UP, here are a few fine art images that capture Ed Asner’s character Carl Fredricksen’s adventures. You can click on any one of them to buy or for more information.

Adventure Awaits by Michelle St. Laurent
Paradise with Ellie by Daniel Arriaga
Journey to Paradise Falls by Tim Rogerson
Up Goes Carl by Tom Matousek
Carl’s New Adventure by Rob Kaz

Mickey and Minnie: Iconic Disney Couple

Ah, Mickey and Minnie, that quintessential Disney couple…with Labor Day coming up, families and couples all over the country are jumping in the car or on a plane for a last vacation or getaway. It’s about making travel memories before fall, when kids go back to school, or, as might be in our future, before COVID numbers rise in our communities and around the country again. Still others are staying home for safety, and will spend the holiday reminiscing about trips past over a nice glass of wine. Since there are lots of interpretive Disney images featuring Disney fan favorites Mickey and Minnie Mouse unwinding by the beach, or traveling around the world together, it seemed like a perfect time to talk about the iconic Disney couple, and show a bunch of delightful images of them making memories. Maybe you’ll see yourself in one of them. You can see all the art featuring Mickey and Minnie together HERE.

Walt Disney made Mickey and Minnie’s relationship clear early on, saying in 1933, “In private life, Mickey is married to Minnie. A lot of people have written to him asking this question, because sometimes he appears to be married to her in his films and other times still courting her. What it really amounts to is that Minnie is, for screen purposes, his leading lady. If the story calls for a romantic courtship, then Minnie is the girl; but when the story requires a married couple, then they appear as man and wife. In the studio we have decided that they are married already.” 

Mickey has his sweetheart: Minnie is bottom right corner!

As many of you know, Mickey Mouse was first animated for an ode to Charles Lindbergh, Plane Crazy in 1928, but that short wasn’t released until after March 17th, 1929. It was Steamboat Willie, released November 18th, 1928, in which he made his first public appearance. He did so with his future lady love Minnie as co-star. Did you know Steamboat Willie was a parody of the Buster Keaton film Steamboat Bill, released in May of that year? Walt Disney himself not only directed Steamboat Willie, but supplied the voices of both Mickey and Minnie for the short. 

From the very beginning, Mickey was meant to have a love interest. Concept images of him showed a female mouse by his side. As with many relationships, however, it took a few years for them to become a steady couple. The early cartoons show Mickey wooing the flirtatious, musical mouse, and Minnie repeatedly rebuffing Mickey. 

It’s in 1929’s Mickey’s Follies, the short that follows Steamboat Willie, in which we learn Minnie’s name and her place in Mickey’s heart is made clear. It was in the song MIckey’s You Hoo, which went on to become a theme song used over the next 90 years. It included his first direct address to the audience, in which Mickey says ‘he’s got a sweetie’ who is ‘neither fat nor skinny’ and that ‘she’s my little Minnie Mouse’. 12 more shorts were produced with Mickey in 1929, but Minnie only co-starred in seven of them, largely playing the role of damsel in distress. 

Did you know Pluto started out as Minnie’s dog? In 1930’s The Picnic, Minnie introduces Mickey to her pet dog Rover, marking the first, albeit misnamed, appearance of Pluto. Cat lovers know she also appears in her own shorts with her cat Figaro, who was first introduced in Pinocchio. 

Both characters underwent a character redesign in the late 1930s and early 1940s, replacing their rubbery squash and stretch-friendly shapes with more fleshed out figures. Minnie’s new look was introduced in the 1939 short Mickey’s Surprise Party. At the same time, Mickey’s character went further away from troublemaker and more towards everyman. Minnie’s roles started diminishing around this time, going from 50 shorts in the 30s, to a total of 10 in the 1940s. In part, the fact that Marcellite Garner, an ink and paint artist who had become Minnie’s official voice for 1930’s The Cactus Kid, left the studio in 1941 had a huge impact on the character’s inclusion in subsequent cartoons. She voiced over 40 cartoons while continuing to work in the ink and paint department, partnering with Walt as he continued to voice Mickey. Walt was very supportive of Marcellite as she developed Minnie’s character, carving time out between recording sessions to describe and act out all the parts. 

Much like Mickey, who didn’t appear in any shorts released theatrically between 1955 and 1983, Minnie has a long break starting with a brief cameo at the end of 1952’s Pluto’s Christmas Tree and lasting until she joined Mickey in his first appearance since 1955, with 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol, where they play Bob Cratchit and his wife. 

One of the most romantic stories involving Mickey and Minnie begins with the introduction of artists Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor as the voices of the the cartoon couple. Allwine was only the third person to provide Mickey’s voice, and did so for 32 years, from 1977 till his death in 2009. Taylor, who was also an award-winning sound and sound effects editor, won the role of Minnie in 1986, when she beat out over 200 other hopefuls for the job. Allwine and Taylor worked closely together for years, falling in love in the process and secretly getting married in 1991 in Hawaii. 

“Hula in Paradise” by Trevor Carlton

Explains Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy, “Everyone saw it coming. Just watching them work together, I could see their relationship develop into something deeper than a working relationship.” They kept their marriage private because they didn’t want it to color how fans saw the characters, who had remained unmarried. (As far as we know! The two mice might have had a secret wedding too!) Both Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor were made Disney Legends for their contribution to Disney history. They were said to have made each other better people, which is what love should do. It was after Russi passed away that Farmer is quoted as saying, “When they were together, like Laurel and Hardy, they were just meant to be together as a team, and as a lifelong team. They were just so in love and so wonderful together. I think that love came out in their performances, and gave it a little something extra.” 

There were a number of cartoons during the couple’s heyday that celebrate activities couples do together. 

From dancing, playing instruments, singing together, or going out on the town in The Barn Dance, Mickey Steps Out, The Shindig, The Whoopee Party, and Mickey’s Gala Premiere… 

“This is Bliss” by Trevor Carlton
“Cubist Couple” by Tim Rogerson

…going on international adventures or navigating exotic climes as they do in cartoon shorts like Mickey in Arabia, The Klondike Kid and Hawaiian Holiday… 

…to celebrating holidays together in Mickey’s Surprise Party, Mickey’s Birthday Party, and Pluto’s Christmas Tree… 

There are the times they just show their love, like in Puppy Love and Mickey’s Christmas Carol, but they also enjoy sports or practical activities, as in On Ice, Camping Out, Plane Crazy, The Beach Party, The Barnyard Olympics, Building a Building and The Steeple Chase… 

Of course they are always getting each other out of scrapes and jams, as good partners do, like in Shanghaied, The Firefighters, The Gorilla Mystery, Pioneer Days, The Dognapper, and Brave Little Tailor.

Whatever the scenario, this couple is enduring and steadfast, as their 90+ years together attests! You can watch a fair number of these cartoon shorts on Disney+ (although they don’t have a section specific to shorts, remarkably) or of course if you’re curious about any of the many cartoons in which these lovebirds co-star, you can find them by typing them into google or searching on YouTube. Meanwhile, here’s hoping you all get up to some fun and fancy free activities together this Labor Day weekend whether at home or off on an adventure. Remember to find some joy and stay safe, and when all else fails, watch some cartoon shorts with your favorite Disney couple!

You can see all the art featuring Disney’s iconic couple, Mickey and Minnie HERE.

Super Dads on Celluloid: Film Art for Father’s Day Gift Guide

With all the Father’s Day gift guides out there, I thought it was time to create a Father’s Day gift guide specific to animation and film. Dads love movies and cartoons, so we’ve curated a collection of fun images of superlative cartoon dads and great characters the whole family will love.

You can see them all HERE.

Pulling those images together got me thinking about some of my favorite dads in cartoon and film. Some are decidedly dysfunctional, while others set the bar very, very high. Not all are dads in DNA, but all help shape those in their care, for better or worse. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Bob Parr aka Mr. Incredible

Incredibles to the Rescue, by Disney artist Tim Rogerson

In the Operation Kronos database, Mr. Incredible is given the threat rating of 9.1, the highest of all the supers, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a beleaguered dad just trying to get through the day without one of his kids burning the house down or another disappearing into an existential crisis from which there is no recovery. He shows great respect for his wife and partner Helen, stepping up when she gets chosen as the face of the superhero legalization campaign. Bob is voiced by Craig T Nelson, who has played a number of classic dads in film and TV, including Steve Freeling in 1982’s Poltergeist and Zeek Braverman in the small screen version of Parenthood.

Goofy and Pluto

Super Goof by Trevor Carlton

In various spots on the internet (including official Disney sites!) it says Goofy is the only one of the fab five, which includes Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto, to have a son, but that’s not true. Pluto and Fifi have puppies in 1937’s Pluto’s Quin-puplets. This very sweet and pup-tastic short shows a dad who isn’t quite up to the task of watching his little ones, but what parent with 5 babies wouldn’t find wrangling them a challenge?

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

Goofy, on the other hand, has a long and storied relationship with his son Max, who first appeared as ‘Goofy Jr’ in 1952 in Fathers are People. Imagine one of those ‘How To’ shorts like How to Ski or How to Have an Accident at Work that starred Goofy, but call it ‘How to Father’. It’s a spoof on the many classic live action shorts that capture life in the 50s. They couldn’t seem to decide on the name for Goofy’s son, calling him George in 1953’s Father’s Day Off (This short is the one time Jr/George/Max is voiced by voice artist extraordinaire June Foray). Max finally became a permanent name for Goofy’s son in Goof Troop. Max has his dad’s laugh and is as often as accident prone as Goofy. What’s special about Goofy’s fatherhood is we see an arc in which he and Max deal with father/son issues and grow from them.

Batman

Shadows Series Batman by Alex Ross
Batman production cel of the Caped Crusader and patriarch of the Bat fam.

Bruce Wayne appears to have been a busy guy in terms of building family, and it’s no wonder after the losses of his childhood. Is he a great role model? Probably not, but he definitely has a strong work ethic, and even as a vigilante he does have an unbendable moral code. What skills as a father he does possess are probably from Alfred, who is not only his butler, but a genius and father figure. There’s a long list of adopted kids in Wayne’s history. First is Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, who arguably surpassed his mentor/adopted father in skill and positive public perception. Jason Todd, aka Robin and Red Hood, became Wayne’s second son after he met the street kid trying to steal the tires off the Batmobile, but their relationship is complicated. Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, is also adopted by Wayne, after Jason Todd is killed (but before Todd is resurrected. Ahh, comics…). Wayne also has several biological children, including Damian Wayne aka Robin, and Helena Wayne, who is the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle (aka Catwoman). Whether or not Batman is a great dad, he certainly tried to show acceptance and love of a sort to many a lost child. As to whether all things Batman are great as Father’s Day presents, that depends on the dad in question. Most fathers I know would love anything from a Batman c, to a coffee cup, to the original Batmobile, which sold in 2013 for 4.2 million.

See all the DC Comics art HERE.

Mufasa

Father and Son: Mufasa and Simba by Michelle St. Laurent

Probably the best of all cartoon dads, Mufasa (which means king in Swahili) is king of Pride Rock, and loves his son with all his lion-heart. He has a great relationship with his son Simba, teaching him how to be respectful of all things, show courage, and understand the circle of life. He also sacrifices himself to save his son. His appearance as spirit is inspirational to those who believe their lost loved ones are looking over them. It’s interesting to note that James Earl Jones, the voice of Mufasa in both the animated feature and the live-action film, also has one son, Flynn Earl Jones, who has followed in his father’s footsteps as a voice artist. You can find some of his work on Audible.

Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi

Anticipation of Hope: Yoda by William Silvers
Patience: Yoda by Mike Kungl

Perhaps you thought I was going to choose Darth Vader. Vader really is one of the most famous fathers in film history, and probably the best of parental cautionary tales, but I’m going another direction. I submit that Yoda and Obi Wan are better and stronger father figures to Luke, teaching him self-reliance, strength of character, courage, and the power of the force. Luke was lucky to have two masters of the force as mentors, and not all those who inspire are parents. If we could only learn and live by Yoda’s words, ‘there is no try’, the world would be better off.

See all the available Star Wars art HERE.

Crush and Marlin

Cheer Up, Dude: Finding Nemo by Tim Rogerson

Finally, my very favorite animated dads are from Finding Nemo. Crush watches over his baby boy, Squirt, but also chooses to help even random strangers, as he does with Nemo and his dad Marlin. Teacher, Australian current surfer, and all around rad dude, the 150 year old green sea turtle is all about doing good and bringing joy. That might explain why he’s voiced by Finding Nemo’s writer/director Andrew Staunton. Marlin, as neurotic, pessimistic, and overprotective a clownfish as he is, is still a great dad. His love for his son sparks a fearlessness and determination that leads to powerful change in himself, and also leads the way to his lost son. Marlin and Crush are polar opposites showing all kinds of dudes can be wonderful parents to their sons and daughters.

THIS FATHER’S DAY, FIND LOTS OF OPTIONS FOR YOUR FAVORITE MENTOR OR FATHER FIGURE BY CLICKING HERE.

We end this blog with a video celebrating dads, with Matthew A Cherry’s Oscar-winning, gorgeous ode to fatherly love, Hair Love:

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL!

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!

Read more

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…

Need Last Minute Gift Ideas? Give the Gift of Film Art! DISNEY ART, STAR WARS ART, AND MARVEL ART FOR $150 and under!

It’s getting down to the last minute for getting Christmas presents and holiday gifts! We thought we’d help the folks out there who are still struggling to find something wonderful, and suggest film art.  Disney art and Marvel superhero art, just to name two, make crowd pleasing, inventive gifts for family and friends who love movies.  Our experience in the gallery is it can be the sort of art people don’t buy themselves, but love and enjoy, and would be so happy to get as a gift! We have so many visitors who frequent our store and know all about the movies, and come by just to see what’s new.  They respect and look up to the artists that are represented here.  I’m also so excited when someone close to them comes in and gets them a piece.  It’s always so well received!

With that in mind, here are a few pieces that are ready to display and are $150 or under:

How many of my longterm clients know that the mice and birds in Cinderella are some of my all-time favorites?  I’m not alone.  John Rowe does a great composition of them and the star of the film, Cinderella’s castle…ummm, I mean, Cinderella.

The Life She Dreams Of by John Rowe Treasures on Canvas gift idea for $125
The Life She Dreams Of by John Rowe Treasures on Canvas for $125

Oh that haughty iris is such a great character.  There are so many minor characters that are memorable in Alice in Wonderland.  Here are just a few of them, created in a great Disney fine art piece by Michelle St. Laurent:

A Conversation with Flowers by Michelle St. Laurent Treasures on Canvas Disney Fine Art gift idea for $125
A Conversation with Flowers by Michelle St. Laurent Treasures on Canvas $125

What a wonderful piece this Dig A Little Deeper is! Heather Theurer has gotten lots of press for her live action reinterpretations of Disney princesses. Here is her version of the first African-American Disney princess:

Dig a Little Deeper by Heather Theurer Treasures on Canvas Disney Fine Art $125
Dig a Little Deeper by Heather Theurer Treasures on Canvas $125

Did you love Moana? Of course you did.  This is one of the best scenes in the whole movie, captured in Disney fine art by Rob Kaz.

Moana's New Friend Treasures on Canvas by Rob Kaz $125
Moana’s New Friend Treasures on Canvas by Rob Kaz $125

You’d be surprised at the number of adult fans this pixie dream girl has.  She should be the original “not bad, just drawn that way”, but regardless, many a fan would love to have this sometimes-sweet fairy.

Enchanting Encounter Tinker Bell Disney Sculpture from the retired Walt Disney Classics Collection gift idea for $150
Enchanting Encounter Tinker Bell from the retired Walt Disney Classics Collection $150

 

And what about Star Wars: The Last Jedi?  You loved it? You hated it?  Either way, you’re probably a fan of the saga, and so is that loved-one.  Here’s a sold-out Star Wars limited edition of BB8 the Astromech droid by Steve Thomas that no one will argue about.  The best of the new Star Wars characters captured in official Star Wars film art!

rolling-droid-bb8-star-wars-force-awakens-last-jedi-gift-artinsights
BB8 Rolling Droid Star Wars limited edition by Steve Thomas $150

Maybe that hard-to-buy-for friend or family member is a fan of Marvel. If everyone didn’t love Thor and company before Ragnarok, they do now!  We have framed special-release posters from San Diego Comic-Con of both Ragnarok and Black Panther that will be a great gift and tickle their fancy.  We also have a sold out Captain America limited edition and a great New Avengers piece…

All New All Different Avengers Marvel Art by Alex Ross last minute gift idea $150
All New All Different Avengers Marvel Art by Alex Ross $150

OMG! You can get Thor, Cap, and Iron Man by Alex Ross for your Marvel-obsessed loved-one! Can there be a better gift? No.  The answer is no.

Avengers with Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor limited edition Marvel art by Alex Ross last minute gift idea $150
Avengers with Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor limited edition Marvel art by Alex Ross $150

Of course there are lots of other options on our “GIFTS IN-STOCK” page, which you can get to by clicking HERE. 

We’ll be here in the gallery Christmas eve until at 2pm, as well as…

Thursday 10-6pm, Friday 10-6pm, Saturday 10-6pm, Sunday 12-2pm, but check with us if you need to stop by outside these hours.  We are here to help!

so come and see us and let us solve the age-old problem of gift-giving…You’ll be grateful, and the receiver will be thrilled!

Best of the holidays to you all,

Leslie and Michael

ArtInsights

Restoration & Enhancement: Vintage Animation (pt. 2)

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So…to restore or not to restore…and what does a collector need to ask or look for when considering vintage animation art for purchase?   How might the art have been altered or restored?

What to do when a cel is damaged you are considering or gets damaged while on your wall or in your collection?

My opinion on this is that it is absolutely fine to restore cels.  However, the world of animation art needs to set parameters of what is acceptable and it is essential as a part of the “industry” to know BEFORE you buy a cel whether it’s been restored already or not.

IN addition to that, backgrounds created for cels need to have very clearly indications that they are created specifically to enhance the set up, and that they are NOT original from Disney.  This has recently become quite a problem.  When we have a background created for collectors, we have our artists sign the back and the style is about 30 to 40% off from the original style of the actual background, so that it is clearly not from the studio and cannot be passed off as such.  (there have been problems with cels that have “hand prepared backgrounds” being passed off as preliminary or original studio backgrounds in recent auctions)

While the collectors I know are perfectly willing to buy art that has been repaired or even needs repairing, there are often cels that are sold from old collections that have little to no paint and are completely repainted.  As long as the potential collector is aware of that, no harm done.  However, if they are under the impression that the paint is original, that seems disingenuous.  Also, ArtInsights often buys art for more money for the very reason that it hasn’t been touched by restorers.  There are many dealers and collectors buying art for next to nothing and having that art restored, then selling it for less but without stating the art’s history with restoration.

Also, part of “restoration” or “giving the art more eye appeal” may involved adding cels that are not production to a set up that enhances the image.  Now this is not referring to putting together cels that come from different sources, that is perfectly fine.  This is referring to opening up eyes that were previously closed…or adding more to a registered cel to complete a cel where the arm, or half a wing, or whatever, is missing… or adding Tramp to Lady, when the cel set up previously only had Lady there, and the Tramp cel has just been manufactured to add “eye appeal”.   These are all practices that border on fraud.

It is part of the reason ArtInsights sells less animation now, because we’d rather just follow our own rules without calling attention to what any other dealer may or may not be doing.

As a collector, here are some questions you may want to ask when purchasing art, whether from ArtInsights or from another gallery, dealer, collector, or auction house.  While there is no guarantee anyone will be completely transparent, at least you’ll know you’ve asked the right questions… PLEASE REMEMBER to always watch the movie to find the cel therein.  If the gallery or company with whom you are transacting has already done it (which they should have) or knows where in the film the image originates, have them tell show you, and/or reaffirm by watching it yourself.  There are certainly cels that come from cut scenes, or edited scenes, or are more concept than finished, but whoever you are working with should know that and tell you so.

  • Has the art been restored in any way?
  • If so, by whom?  If that is considered proprietary information, at least ask whether it has been restored in gouache or acrylic paint.
  • If restored, was there any line work done?  (the ink line is on the surface of the cel and paint is on the back.  Even very liberal dealer/collectors believe there should be minimal line work done–i.e. outlines repainted–as part of restoration ….At what point does the art lose all original integrity?
  • If restored, was the art trimmed and reapplied to another cel?  Some believe this effects the value, but this is another argument in the animation art world…because “CEL” refers to the whole piece of plastic, not just the part with the character.  When you buy a cel, you are buying the piece of plastic, not just the image of the character.
  • If the restored cel is a Courvoisier set up, or an Art Corner piece from Disneyland, are those aspects of the restored cel being included with the art being purchased?  Make sure the Courvoisier background is original and not fabricated.  There are some that were being briefly recreated through a new license with Disney. I don’t think it’s being done now, but check the provenance of the art to know for sure.
  • If not Courvoisier or Art Corner, and there is a background, is it hand prepared, preliminary, or studio background an original background from the film? (sometimes someone will call a background a studio background because it is FROM the studio, but NOT from the film.
  • If the art is cracked or there is paint separation, can the provision be that if there is further damage it will be taken care of by the company from which you are purchasing the art?
  • Whenever possible, ask for an image of the art before restoration.  This way you’ll be sure to know what’s been done to it, what might have been added, and reaffirm color was reapplied more or less correctly based on the original. (for example, there are scenes of Lady where she is very dark from part of the movie at night and some dealers have had those repainted to a more palatable color, which is not consistent with the original color used in those scenes.  The same goes for Alice’s hair, which is sometimes an odd green color but looks normal onscreen, and almost all of the highlight hair on Peg during “He’s A Tramp”.)
  • Avoid restored limited editions unless you are buying them for nearly nothing, as well as cels that will be restored that have seeping color in the cel, (like the bright pink of the Cheshire Cat) unless you are willing to have the art trimmed to the outline and reapplied to a new cel.

When considering restoration for art you already own, remember to ask these questions:

  • How do you want to have the art restored?  In gouache means it may get damaged again in the same place and in the same way, but it is being done with the same kind of paint as the original.  In acrylic you are restoring it permanently, but it is paint that may not have been used back when the film was being made
  • How long will the restoration take?  Some studios take a LONG time.  Like, years.  Ask for a due date, and have it written as part of the exchange.  If the restoration takes several months longer than that, consider having it returned.
  • Obviously you’ll want to have an estimate given.  Don’t believe there’s only one game in town.  By the same token, make sure you have read or heard good references for the restoration studio you are using.

That is all I can think of at the moment, but it may have confused you.  This restoration business is rather complicated.  It really is a matter, as collector, of deciding what you are comfortable with and knowing what questions to ask and what kinds of restoration you believe acceptable based on the art you’re buying.  Certainly if you are buying a piece that has been almost completely repainted, you should expect to pay way less unless it is the rarest of the rare. (and remember the dealers more prone to hard sell will tell you everything is the rarest of the rare.  RAREST means things like Chernabog, the Queen from Snow White, and things along those lines…but in those cases, you’d better know where the art you are considering has been since the moment it left the studio…)

I hope this information is elucidating and helpful to those of you who love vintage art, and isn’t too discouraging.  To all of us at ArtInsights, we believe you are better off knowing more and being more aware as a collector.  If this leans you in the direction of using us to find your art, so much the better.  We love creating loyal clients.  Even if you never buy from us, at least you’ll go into your own transactions with eyes wide open, and they won’t have been painted that way.