Daily post 23 May 2009 08:04 am

Disney 23, 24, & ’77

- The new Disney magazine twenty-three hit the streets this week. I mean that literally. While walking past some street vendor selling used books out of old cartons, I noticed a copy of this magazine sitting there bright, shiny, new and cellophane wrapped. We haggled the price until he sold it to me for $5. Cheap at half the price, but I wanted to find out what it contained.

Actully, the issue has been available for a little while now. The magazine is probably expensive (I can’t find a price anywhere including the website for it.) I guess you’re supposed to buy a membership in D23, a fan club. Regardless, I was still curious.

This issue contains, of course, an obligatory story on Up as well as another story about touring Pixar, plenty of articles about forthcoming films and Disneyland sites. There’s also one about Annie Leibovitz shooting stars to look like animated princesses and princes. It reminds me of an expensive version of an old fanzine they used to have called the Mickey Mouse Club Magazine. This is obviously more glamorous, exciting and expensive, but it’s still all just advertising for Disney product.

They’ve taken their cue from Vanity Fair (without all those board advertising plates – coming soon?) and use a lot of slick photos, and lots of type: white against black. The one article that caught my interest (no, not the piece about the “Modern day Gepetto”) was one on Tim Burton’s forthcoming Alice in Wonderland. It didn’t really say much about that film (slick photos, though), however there was a list of Burton’s films. Included on it was a 45 min. “Hansel and Gretel” he did for the Disney Channel in 1983. Why isn’t this out and available? I want to see it! Regardless, I look forward to his Alice.

(Having written this, I must confess that I was just interviewed by John Canemaker for an article he’s writing for the magazine about Snow White.)


(Click any image to enlarge.)


Part of the “Finding Pixar” story.

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- Variety reports about a Christmas Special, “Prep and Landing“, in production at the Disney TV unit. It didn’t take long for the story to go from Variety to the NYTimes to USA Today.

Dave Foley is the starring vocal talent involved. Apparently, according to the article, John Lasseter asked for suggestions for possible shorts. Chris Williams, director of Bolt, came up with this idea but was too busy to take it into production.

BlueSkyDisney has a post about this and other shorts in production.
In April, the ever vigilant Cartoon Brew posted
this image from Disney’s book catalogue highlighting forthcoming books.

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- Hans Perk, on his inimitable site, has a post that’s been holding over for a couple of days. For some reason this piece has stayed with me since he first posted it.

It features those boxes they had on the wall of the first floor of the Disney Animation building way back when. I saw them in 1977 when I was granted a tour of the studio. The animation department was deep in the throes of completing Pete’s Dragon and I wasn’t permitted a tour of the second floor. They didn’t want to disturb any of the hard-working animators. So I had to contend with viewing these boxes and seeing a couple of the live-action sets for Pete’s Dragon.

I had a light (meaning laughing a lot) viewing of the boxes and didn’t really take them seriously. However, they obviously stuck hard in my memory. Every one of these boxes posted by Hans remained clear and real in my memory, despite only viewing them once. I was impressed that the artist had done so successful a job. In fact, I was surprised when Hans noted that it was Bill Justice who designed them. That guy was a talent. I’ll have to write about him someday soon.

Thanks to Hans for posting them and touching some recessed memory.

9 Responses to “Disney 23, 24, & ’77”

  1. on 23 May 2009 at 9:51 am 1.Lionel said …

    « Disney 23 Magazine » is, in fact, a glorified version of the old “Disney Magazine”, published between 1996 and 2005. The problem which those is that they are only exercises in PR and take Disney as a cult, there’s never any perspective, however erudite the articles may be. An article on Pinocchio may be given the same length as an article on whatever recipe in whatever restaurant in Disneyland, or The Little Mermaid Broadway musical. I’m sorry, they’re not equal, but, reading such a magazine, you have no sense Pinocchio was an important work of art produced at the same time Capra and Hawks were working, only that it has as much value as the latest soufflé at a Disney restaurant.

    But this magazine is here to attract the casual “fan”, and not to replace the “Walt’s people” series or Canemaker’s books. In the long run, while they appeal to Disney “fans”, they only reinforce what most people find repulsive in “Disney”, and that’s too bad.

  2. on 23 May 2009 at 10:21 am 2.Michael said …

    Since this magazine seems to be part of a fan club, the D-23, I’m not sure how it would attract te casual “fan”. I agree that there is little depth behind the articles in this first issue, but I’m not sure if they have any agenda at this point other than promoting “Disney.”

  3. on 23 May 2009 at 12:16 pm 3.bill said …

    Michael-

    Thanks for the flashback. I remember that “animation tour” from Disney’s “Wonderful World of Knowledge” book. How I loved those illustrations!

    I’m sure I’m not the only one out here who would like to hear the story of your visit to the Disney studios.

  4. on 23 May 2009 at 1:20 pm 4.Michael said …

    There’s not much to tell about the trip. It was arranged by friend/animator Chrystal Russell (nee Klabunde). We went to the building I wanted to see, the animation building, and were met by a guide. He told us that the building was virtually shut down to tourists (me) because of the mad chaos in finishing Pete’s Dragon.
    We looked and laughed at those boxes on the main floor and saw no other people.

    The guide offered to show us Pete’s Dragon’s “cave” – the set. So we went.

    Then he offered the old ink & paint room where they once mixed powdered colors into paint. Of course, I had to take it in and enjoyed the memory of some of those old Disneyland TV shows that were shot in that room.

    I enjoyed just being on the lot.
    That was it.

    Chrystal and I were trying to take in all the studios in one day. We kept missing people.
    Bakshi was out to lunch, Chuck Jones was upstairs having a cocktail with some people. Filmation depressed me in that it looked like a public school with those two-toned walls. However, I got to meet a lot of really nice people who had a lot to say, and I remember them all.

    I did get to see most of the studios again on subsequent trips. Tom Sito was a brilliant host taking me all around the Glendale studios when they were making The Lion King. He took me to the hat building after it had just opened and we had lunch with Don Hahn. Actually, I met him at Filmation a couple of years earlier. I believe he gave me a Gilligan’s Island Cel at that point. It gave me a better memory of Filmation to walk away with.

  5. on 23 May 2009 at 6:48 pm 5.Tom Minton said …

    Tim Burton’s “Hansel and Gretel” is shot in color and is mostly live action mixed with some stop-motion animation. It’s closer to charming than it is dark. It is surprising that it’s not on DVD somewhere, given Burton’s rep.

  6. on 24 May 2009 at 12:31 am 6.David Nethery said …

    I remember seeing Tim Burton’s “Hansel & Gretel” on the Disney Channel, back when the Disney Channel was actually considered one of the premiere cable TV channels . Hard to imagine something as artistic as Burton’s “Hansel & Gretel” running on today’s Disney’s™ X-TREME TeenZ TV’z or whatever it’s called .

  7. on 28 May 2009 at 11:25 am 7.Jenny said …

    The best thing in Tim’s “Hansel & Gretel” is Joe Ranft’s performing the gingerbread man (a hand puppet) with a neo-Peter Lorre voice, by Joe.

    It’s a strange production. I mean, strange for Tim Burton, which is saying something. Not that that’s a bad thing.

  8. on 29 May 2009 at 6:23 am 8.Brian Sibley said …

    The artwork for those box models (which I also remember seeing on my first visit to the studio) was included in the August 1963 issue of National Geographic as part of their major article on Disney and Disneyland, ‘Walt Disney: Genius of Laughter and Learning’ . There was a four-page feature (168-171) entitled ‘ANIMATION Mickey Mouse explains the art to Mr G O Graphic’

  9. on 29 May 2009 at 6:25 am 9.Brian Sibley said …

    Ooops! I should have checked Hans’ blog first! Of course he mentions the National Geographic connection… Visit his post to see the spreads form the magazine. :-)

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