Animation Artifacts &Disney &Models &Peet &Story & Storyboards 06 Jun 2008 08:25 am

Recap Friday – Wizard’s Duel Storyboard

– Here is a preliminary storyboard done by Bill Peet of the Wizard’s Duel from Disney’s Sword In The Stone. It’s another gem on loan from John Canemaker, and is a companion to the piece I posted last Friday by Peet. The oddity of this board is that it’s dated April 1949. (The numbers at the bottom of the board clearly read “449.”) I didn’t have any clue that this film was in development that early. The book was published in 1938, so it’s quite feasible.

If that date is accurate, it’s amazing how close the characters stay to their final models. This could easily be explained with the heightened us of xerography in animation after 1958. Post 101 Dalmatians, this loose style was easy to translate into animation, and Ken Andersen was easily able to adapt to this style by Bill Peet that all of the animators in the studio loved.

Click on any image to enlarge

Note in row 2 how the spider turns into the tiger’s face; it’s a graphic turn. This never would have made it to the final in a Disney film, and it didn’t.

I love how extra drawings which have been pulled make it to the bottom of the second board.


- I always thought Disney’s The Sword In The Stone a somewhat underrated film. The background art is sensational, and several sequences are brilliantly animated.

Bill Peet‘s adaptation from TH White‘s book, The Once and Future King, loses some of its poetry in the adaptation, but the book’s storyline features a lot of rambling making it hard to construct a screen story. I’ve watched this film quite a few times over the years, and somehow it always gives me a bit of a charge that comes with many of the older classics.

The extras on the dvd seems to consist predominantly of storyboard drawings by Bill Peet. So why not show them off? There’s no continuity to attend to, hence the images are gathered in small clusters. The sequence everyone jumps to analyze and discuss is the Wizard Duel between Merlin and Madame Mim (animated by Milt Kahl.) Consequently, a lot of the drawings on the dvd come from this sequence. I, personally, would have loved seeing some of the squirrel section. I found it quite moving and full of real character stuff. It would be nice to see how Peet developed this.

There’s no hint of a continuity on the dvd, but I’ve heard that the storyboard drawings in the vault are just placed in manilla envelopes with no suggestion of an order. It would make sense that they’ve just plopped these images on the dvd as they have with no order, details or related information.

_______Here’s a creature that never made it to the battle of the wizards.

_________________________(Click any image to enlarge.)


___________Another fantastic creature that didn’t make it into the film.

I’m not sure if this drawing is also from the duel. Or was it another sequence where Wart becomes an animal – cut out of the film?

This looks like it may have been planned as a home for Merlin. Did it inspire anything for The Rescuers?

___________It’s magic !


Here are a couple of models Peet obviously did –
_______________________probably more for himself than anything.








14 Responses to “Recap Friday – Wizard’s Duel Storyboard”

  1. on 06 Jun 2008 at 9:24 am 1.stephen said …

    beautiful. thanks for the post.

  2. on 06 Jun 2008 at 10:41 am 2.Tim Rauch said …

    Bill Peet has such a strange knack for an interesting drawing. I look at these and think about them in comparison to Ward Kimball or Milt Kahl’s drawings or damn near anyone else at the studio at the time and while they seem to lack some of the “high design” of those other artists, they still have a very personal flair and there’s something about them that I can’t look away. They’re packed with character and story. Thanks for the post.

  3. on 06 Jun 2008 at 11:27 am 3.Chris P. said …

    so great to see, and how interesting! thanks for the post.

  4. on 06 Jun 2008 at 12:22 pm 4.Tom Sito said …

    Beautiful work. I recall once asking story artist Vance Gerry about Sword in the Stone. I said it when I saw it as a child, I never understood the ending. The Wizards Duel was great, and pulling the sword out was cool. But then Arthur is in a room alone and Merlin zips in with all these anachronistic 60′s Surfer Jokes, totally over the head of this little Brooklyn kid.
    Vance said:” Gee, uh…we just thought it was kinda funny..”

  5. on 06 Jun 2008 at 1:23 pm 5.Jenny Lerew said …

    My gosh. Peet earned every fit he ever threw, that’s for sure. What an artist.

  6. on 07 Jun 2008 at 2:05 am 6.Eric Noble said …

    Awesome. I love Bill Peet’s drawings. There is just something to them that draw your eye. I loved the fact that he modeled Merlin after the boss. Incredibly cool.

  7. on 11 Jun 2008 at 12:14 pm 7.PCleland said …

    What an awesome collection! I always enjoyed the sword in the stone as a kid and this was a real treat to see. the drawings were quick and tight and I especially loved all the creative ways merlin and the witch changed forms.. that was very impressive.

    it looks like storyboards then didn’t influence the way the final product looks as much as they seem to in television animation. it seemed like more of a way to flesh out the story and visualize ideas.

  8. on 14 Jun 2008 at 5:28 pm 8.Eddie Fitzgerald said …

    Thanks ten million for this! Very, very interesting!

  9. on 06 Mar 2011 at 10:26 am 9.Steven Hartley said …

    The reason why Wart pulls the sword from the stone out is because he was the chosen one by God, in the film the narrator says “It’s a miracle, ordained by heaven – this boy is our king.” I don’t know why people find the ending confusing – it’s easy to follow through. Probably why they are confused is because they don’t know the King Arthur legends well.

  10. on 06 Mar 2011 at 10:41 am 10.Michael said …

    Steven, I think Tom was confused by the reappearance of Merlin wearing modern clothes and speaking like a “surfer dude.” If anyone knows the Arthur legend, it’s Tom Sito. However, I understood it wen I first saw it in 1963. (I was 16, but then, I’m about 5 years older than Tom.)

  11. on 06 Mar 2011 at 11:08 am 11.Steven Hartley said …

    Oh I see, forgive my interference. Maybe Merlin traveled to the future or something – but it isn’t explained. Tom does have a point.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the film – the animation is good and I like the characters. Its a shame that it’s not recognized well as other Disney features – and I wonder if Walt Disney had any personal involvement in it?

  12. on 06 Mar 2011 at 11:14 am 12.Michael said …

    You’re right; it is a gem of a film. The Frank Thomas squirrel scene is just the best, and I always liked the intro of the characters at the beginning. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll post this one again this week. Bill Peet’s work always deserves a second or third viewing.

  13. on 06 Mar 2011 at 11:20 am 13.Steven Hartley said …

    Indeed – the Frank Thomas scenes are a favourite. The facial expressions are funny, the acting is brilliant and Frank really gets some good stuff to do.

    Although I do feel sorry for the girl squirrel at the end of the sequence. She was heartbroken.

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