The boy who wouldn't grow up

Peter Pan

Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up was a stage play written by J.M. Barrie. It premiered in London on December 27, 1904. Peter Pan ran there for ten years. During that time  it also ran on Broadway. Barrie also adapted Peter Pan into a novel, Peter and Wendy, released in 1911. It has always been a most beloved story.

(It needs to noted that there was certainly racism shown in the portrayal of the Indians. It was not controversial at the time. Walt Disney’s Peter Pan released in 1953 was much softer. Still there was an element of caricature in the portrayal of the Indians. Most of this was common in most of the 20th century. Not to say it was justifiable. But remember, when Peter Pan came out in 1953 Amos and Andy was still on TV. It was incredibly racist. Also incredibly funny with impeccable timing and comic reactions.)

Of course Disney’s animated film Peter Pan is the version loved by most. Disney acquired the rights to Peter Pan as early as 1939. Animation art from Peter Pan is always fun. Perhaps the best are fights between Peter and Captain Hook. After wicked witches, evil queens and wicked stepmothers we needed a great male villain. We got one in the good captain.

Hook's special smokes.
Hook’s special smokes.

Our Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up loves to fight Hook. He loves to torture him too.

The boy who wouldn't grow up
Peter Pan flying over Neverland.

Bobby Driscoll was the voice of Peter Pan and Hans Conried voiced Capt. Hook. Mr. Conried was also the voice of George Darling. Mr. Smee was Hook’s personal assistant. He was always bossed around by the Captain. Mr. Smee served as Peter Pan’s comic relief. He was voiced by Bill Thompson.

Comic relief
Mr. Smee never a dull moment

Like all good adventure stories there is a climactic fight. Peter Pan and Captain Hook fight all over the pirate ship. After his defeat Hook is seen fleeing while pursued by the crocodile Tick-Tock who wants more than just the captain’s hand he had as an appetizer.

Fight to the finish
The final battle

For children of all ages Peter Pan keeps us forever young.


Susie the Little Blue Coupe

Susie the Little Blue Coupe is an anthropomorphized car created by Walt Disney Studios for the animated short with the same name. To anthropomorphize is to assign human characteristics to non human objects. Either animals, plants or inanimate objects can be used. Of course, Disney Studios, along with all other animation studios have a long history of this. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Porky Pig are examples. These are all animals. This blog is about anthropomorphizing inanimate objects like Susie the Little Blue Coupe.

Some of my favorite cartoons are these kind. The way animators can imbue cars or hats or boats with a totally believable human personality can be quite entertaining. In the case of Susie the Little Blue Coupe, Susie often seems more human than many people you might meet. Susie is not the only inanimate object that Disney was able to give a human personality to.

Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet were two hats who fell in love. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy and girl get separated. Boy and girl are reunited. That’s the definition of a musical comedy. And all to the voices of the Andrew Sisters. This was the ninth segment out of ten which made up the Walt Disney anthology film Make Mine Music in 1946.

Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet


Susie the Little Blue Coupe is a stand alone animated short released in 1952. It is narrated by Sterling Holloway. Susie is a small coupe and is purchased by a wealthy man. She is battered over time and traded in. Residing in a junkyard seems to be her permanent fate. Finally, a young man finds her and restores her to a sleek and fine hot rod.

Susie the Little Blue Coupe
Susie the Little Blue Coupe

Susie the Little Blue Coupe animation cel

Susie the Little Blue Coupe served as inspiration for the Disney Pixar film Cars in 2006.

Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay and Little Nemo

Winsor McCay was an American comic cartoonist and animator. Winsor McCay lived from 1867 to 1934. He can be considered the true father of the cartoons we have watched and loved for over 100 years.

Winsor McCay began illustrating newspapers and magazines in 1898. He began working for the New York Herald in 1903. He first created the comic strips Little Sammy Sneeze and Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend. Then in 1905 Winsor McCay began his most famous comic strip: Little Nemo in Slumberland. This was a fantasy in Art Nouveau style. It wonderfully showcased McCay’s strong graphic sense and mastery of color and linear perspective. Winsor McCay experimented with the formal elements of the comic strip page.  He arranged and sized panels to increase impact and enhance elements of the narrative.

Winsor McCay was an early animation pioneer. Between 1911 and 1921 McCay self-financed and animated ten films. His first foray into animation was taken from his Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strip. James Stuart Blackton and Winsor McCay directed a ten-minute short film based on the comic strip, of which two minutes were animated. The film was first released on April 8, 1911. The first animated effort of McCay, it later achieved the status of an early animated classic. Its on screen title is Winsor McCay, the Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and his Moving Comics. It is usually referred to as Little Nemo. This version was named to the National Film Registry in December 2009. The two animated minutes told a story and had known characters. While it is not the first piece of animated film, it can be considered the first real cartoon. This poster seen below is really the very first cartoon movie poster in history.


Winsor McCay produced other cartoons including Gertie the Dinosaur in 1914 and The Sinking of the Lusitania in 1918. He inspired and influenced Walt Disney and most other animators for the next 100 years.

Bald Mountain – Fantasia’s Finest

Bald Mountain – Fantasia’s Finest

Night on Bald Mountain is the eighth segment of Walt Disney’s animated feature Fantasia. Fantasia was released by Walt Disney Productions in 1940. It was a never before seen combination of classical music and animation. The film was divided into eight segments. The most famous one probably is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice starring Mickey Mouse. Many consider the final segment, Night on Bald Mountain, to be the finest one of all.

Actually that last segment was Night on Bald Mountain dissolving into Ave Maria. I think the dazzling imagery combined with ghosts, demons, lost souls and the devil himself was probably a bit much to close the film. The serenity of Ave Maria was needed. But it is Night on Bald Mountain all viewers remember.

At Walpurgis Night (the Witches’ Sabbath), Chernabog, god of evil, emerges from the peak of Bald Mountain (in reality Mount Triglaf, near Kiev in southern Russia) to summon all of his minions. These include ghosts, demons, lost souls, hags and harpies, who dance furiously as he throws them into the mountain’s fiery pit. The spirits dance and fly through the air until driven back by the sound of an Angelus bell as night fades into dawn.


   Demons, ghosts, lost souls, and harpies driven into the fire on Bald Mountain

Chernabog is driven away by the light of the dawn. A chorus is heard singing Ave Maria as we see a line of robed monks. They are walking with lighted torches through a forest and into the ruins of a cathedral. The sequence showcases the animation of Vadimir Tytla and the style of Kay Nielsen. It also includes the longest shot ever produced in the multi-plane camera (in the procession). 

Night on Bald Mountain was an orchestral work by the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky that was completed in June 1867. The work had not been performed in public at the time of the composer’s death in 1881. It was revised by his colleagues and still later by other generations of composers and conductors most notably by Rimsky-Korsakov.

Porky Pig in Africa Squeaks from 1940

Porky Pig was one of the stars of the many cartoons produced by Warner Bros. Studios. Others included Bugs Bunny of course, Daffy Duck, Speedy Gonzalez, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc. was the in house division of Warner Bros. Pictures. It was one of the most successful animation studios in American cartoon history. Warner Bros. Cartoons was most famous for its Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. These were shorts produced for theatrical release. Porky Pig was the star of many of them.

The creative staff members at the studio included the great Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Frank Tashlin, Bob Clampett and Bob McKimson. They are considered major figures in the art and history of animation. The Warners cartoon division was founded in 1933 as Leon Schlesinger Productions. Porky Pig was one of its earliest stars. Leon Schlesinger Productions was an independent company producing cartoons for release by Warner Bros. In 1944, Schlesinger sold the studio to Warner Bros., who continued to operate it as Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc. until 1963. 

Porky Pig was introduced in 1935 by Friz Freleng in the cartoon I Haven’t Got a Hat. Porky Pig appeared in 153 cartoons in the Golden Age of American Animation. One of these cartoons was Africa Squeaks in 1940 done by the fantastic Bob Clampett.

In Africa Squeaks produced by Warner Brothers the narrator introduces the audience to Africa. The journey begins at the heart of Darkest Africa. Porky Pig is leading a group of African people as they sing, carrying items. Then, during their song, they sing “We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re going!”. Meanwhile, a sign says, “Welcome to Africa Lions Club”. Then, Porky and the Africans approach a sour-pussed caricature of Spencer Tracy named Stanley. 

Dr. Livingstone I presume

Porky Pig and Spencer Tracy as Stanley and Livingstone cel inscribed by Leon Schlesinger

The cartoon is the parody of the movie Stanley and Livingstone starring Spencer Tracy and Cedric Hardwicke. The inscription on the cel reads This is an original painting I used in “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies – Leon Schlesinger. 


Eyvind Earle Disney Concept Art

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.

Eyvind Earle watercolor concept painting for Sleeping Beauty

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.


See this concept painting by Eyvind Earle of the castle and a sleeping guard

In 1988 at the Annie Awards Show in Glendale the International Animated Film Society gave Eyvind Earle the Winsor McCay award for lifetime achievement.

Carl Barks – The Duckman

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.


CB7                                       CB25


The Land Beneath the Ground by Carl Barks


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.



Magician Mickey by Carl Barks


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 Concept Art

Mary Blair Concept Art

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.


And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall, tell them a hookah smoking caterpillar, is giving you a call……

The Disney attraction “It’s a Small World”, was first designed and built for the Pepsi-Cola pavilion at the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair. It presents animated figures frolicking in miniature settings of many lands. It unified a theme of global peace. Today, there is a Small World attraction at Disneyland (in California), Disneyworld (in Florida), Tokyo Disneyworld, Disneyworld Paris, and at Hong Kong Disneyworld. 

     Pepsi-Cola, in conjunction with the United Nations Children Fund, presented the attraction as a salute to children around the world. The original full name was “It’s a Small World – A Salute to UNICEF”. A special adjoining exhibit extolled the theme that every child in the world has the right to security, good health, and education. 
     When it came to designing this international, child themed attraction, Walt Disney immediately thought of the perfect person to do it, Mary Blair. Walt not only loved her sense of color styling, but he really felt close to her unusual childlike style. Animation historian John Canemaker quotes Disney artist Roland Crump, “The way she (Mary Blair) painted – in a lot of ways she was still a little girl. Walt was like that… You could see he could relate to children – she was the same way.” Animator Marc Davis, who put Mary’s exciting use of color on a par with Matisse, recalled, “Mary Blair brought modern art to Walt in a way that no one else did. He was so excited about her work.” Also, in 1941, Mary Blair was part of a Disney expedition that toured South America for three months. She painted watercolor concepts that so perfectly illustrated the flavor of the Latin American countries, that Disney named her art supervisor on “The Three Caballeros”, and “Saludos Amigos”. This experience and her style made Mary Blair uniquely qualified to be the designer of “It’s a Small World”.