Eyvind Earle was born in 1916 in New York City. He had a long and distinguished 60 year career as a contemporary artist, author, and illustrator. He had a one man showing in France when he was 14 years old. When he was 21 years old Earle bicycled from Hollywood to New York. He paid for his trip by painting forty two works along the way. He then had many one man shows in New York City. His early work was straight realistic. He studied the work of a variety of different artists. They included Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rockwell, Kent and Georgia O’Keefe. As time went on he developed his own unique dreamy style. Eyvind Earle was most famous for his prints and original watercolor landscapes. His contemporary art is in the permanent collection of many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
In the 1950’s Eyvind Earle worked for Walt Disney Studios. He began his career with Disney as an assistant background painter. In 1953 he created the look for “Toot. Whistle, Plunk and Boom”. This Disney short won the Academy Award and the Cannes Film Festival award. He was then kept busy as color stylist and production designer. He worked on many feature films including Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, and most notably Sleeping Beauty. The incredible concept art Eyvind Earle did for Sleeping Beauty created the look and style of the entire film. He also painted many of the production backgrounds shot and used in the film. In fact, when Disneyland was built in Anaheim, California he painted the dioramas for Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
Carl Barks storyteller extraordinaire and creator of Donald Duck’s Uncle Scrooge (among others) had a long, illustrious and influential career. Known affectionately by his legion of fans as The Duckman, Barks is especially known for his comic book tales he wrote and drew from the 1940’s through the 1960’s. These stories were such a fantastic combination of action, adventure, treasure hunting and comedy that they have had a lasting effect on everyone who has read them – even on popular culture itself.
Carl Barks took his ducks and his fans from the mountains from “Lost in the Andes” to “The Land Beneath the Ground”. From the interplanetary “Island in the Sky” to the underwater “Secrets of Atlantis” mixing thrills and humor on the way. As a matter of fact, these stories were a direct inspiration for two Carl Barks fans – Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. They have both praised Carl Barks for his inspiration to them. They both collect Carl Barks art. If you enjoyed their movies, especially Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars, you owe a certain amount of gratitude to Carl Barks and his ideas. When you examine many of his stories you will find almost a set of blueprints for certain portions of these films.
Taking us from ancient civilizations and their treasures to “Micro-Ducks from Outer Space” Carl Barks introduced us to non threatening, friendly (vegetarian!) aliens in a flying saucer. What a concept!
Carl Barks was born in Merrill, Oregon on March 27, 1901. After freelancing for humor magazines in the early 1930’s he began working for Walt Disney Studios designing gags for Donald Duck cartoons. He also worked on one Mickey Mouse cartoon, Magician Mickey.
This all led to the writing and drawing of the Duck stories for Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories comic books. Carl Barks refined existing Disney characters like Donald and his Nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. He created the inventor Gyro Gearloose, the amazingly lucky Gladstone Gander and villains The Beagle Boys. He founded the happy hamlet of Duckburg, but most importantly Carl Barks created the world’s richest (and toughest and most intrepid) duck, Donald’s Uncle Scrooge McDuck. Uncle Scrooge led the ducks on the aforementioned adventures and more. They traveled to Egyptian tombs for “The Mummy’s Ring”. They looked for and found “The Old Castle’s Secret”. They spent time “In Ancient Persia” and searched for “The Gilded Man”.
In the 1970’s Carl Barks began a series of oil paintings of the ducks, many of which have sold for six figures. But those stories and adventures he took us all on in those comic book stories ensures that the effect and influence he had will always continue.
Mary Blair was born in 1911 in Oklahoma. She began her career as a well received fine art watercolorist, but soon moved to working in the animation industry. Her best work was for Walt Disney Studios. Her concept art was used for cartoons, full length animated features and so much more. Most notably Mary Blair’s work for Alice in Wonderland is considered by many one of her greatest contributions.
Fantasia animation cels are one of the most popular animation cels. Many collectors in the hobby feel this way. The most desirable Fantasia animation cel is probably one of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice preferably with a broom.
Fantasia was produced by Walt Disney and released in 1940. It really broke ground combining animation and classical music. Story direction was by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer. The production supervisor was Ben Sharpsteen. It was the third Disney animated feature film released. The first two were Snow White and Pinocchio. Fantasia consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Deems Taylor, also a composer and music critic serves as the film’s Master of Ceremonies. He introduces each segment in live action. Some collectors want a Fantasia animation cel from each of the eight segments.
The first segment is set to Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor. Animated lines, shapes and cloud formations reflect the sound and rhythms of the music. The second is to The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. A variety of dances are presented with fairies, fish, flowers, mushrooms, and leaves. They include “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”, “Chinese Dance”, “Dance of the Flutes”, “Arabian Dance”, “Russian Dance” and “Waltz of the Flowers”.
The third segment of the film is set to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas. Mickey Mouse stars as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The Sorcerer is named Yen-Sid; Disney spelled backwards. Mickey casts a spell which goes horribly wrong for him. A Fantasia animation cel of Mickey as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice is still the gold standard of any Fantasia animation cel.
The fourth segment is the Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky. A visual history of the Earth’s beginnings is depicted to selected sections of the ballet score. The sequence progresses from the planet’s formation to the first living creatures. This is followed by the reign and extinction of the dinosaurs. The fifth is a jazz jam followed by a humorously stylized demonstration of how sound is rendered on film is shown. Next is Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. A Fantasia animation cel from this segment would be from a mythical ancient Greek world. With centaurs, cupids, fauns and other figures from classical mythology. Of course portrayed to Beethoven’s music. Seventh is Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli. It is presented as a comical animal ballet. Finally the film closes with Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky and Ave Maris by Franz Schubert.
The Sunshine Makers is a story of happy gnomes who have the ability to distill sunshine and bottle it in milk bottles, which they deliver around the village. The scenes with the gnomes are in reddish-orange and white. The forest nearby is inhabited by goblins and they are sad. Their scenes are all in blue-and-white. The goblins can’t stand sunshine, because it makes them happy. “They don’t want to be happy. They want to be sad. They’re happy when they’re sad. They’re always feeling bad.” They attack the gnome village, but the gnomes fight back by bombarding the goblins with milk bottles. Soon the goblins are assimilated and everyone is happy. Why milk? Well, the cartoon was “brought to you” by the Borden Milk Company. I don’t believe as is often stated that Borden’s actually commissioned the cartoon, rather that they paid to have the ending added after The Sunshine Makers was completed. This wonderful cartoon was produced by Van Buren Studios and released by RKO pictures in 1935.
Those gnomes definitely did worship the sunshine; that’s for sure. That worship can be understood in more than one way. Many people interpret the film a bit differently and see it somewhat ahead (sic) of its time. If you’re old enough you might even remember it playing between sets by the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore East in 1969 and 1970. (But if you remember it you probably were not really there.) Those gnomes do look just a bit too much like Jerry Garcia. And I guess that the type of sunshine being bottled and distributed by these little Jerry Garcias were actually milk? Who knows for sure exactly what is was supposed to be? One thing – original animation art from this film is essentially non existent. And it sure is one great cartoon.