Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Days of DuckTales, PART 4 (fin)

I opted to re-deisgn the small comic Mansion completely into a Tudor estate 

I had done work for TV years before like Hanna-Barbera  but had long since settled into working for Disney features. As such we had the budget and the time to put in extras and push the quality. Even the Disney TV division had devoted more resources into their product than most of the other studios and it had showed in "Gummi Bears". I had busted my hump like everyone else to make "Ducktales" special so when the day came to screen the first episode I had been busy finishing a couple of keys for a future show. Everyone started coming down to tell me how great the show looked and I finally caved in and went down to enjoy it. I wasn't quite prepared for what I was to see. I was less than enthused over the results on screen. I think everyone's accolades beforehand made it seem all the worse when I viewed it. When the lights went up I saw a lot of happy faces looking at me to get my opinion. What could I say? I just smiled and nodded, not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings. Over time I realized my reaction was one of outright ignorance. The show had a set and limited budget and schedule. Everyone involved did the best they could.
Disney Fine Art announces latest works from Disney Art Director Mike Peraza

A scene based on but not found in Carl's comic
I confided my feeling with Alan that maybe the "DuckTales" show wasn't exactly up to par as a Disney production and he assured me that it was actually a good effort by the studio. He was right of course and when "Ducktales" aired, it was an immediate hit with fans of all ages. Soon after it premiered and over the years since that time I have been fortunate to meet many fans from all over the world who really love the series. I guess sometimes we just get too close to our own work and need to step back, take a deep breath and listen to other opinions a bit more. As I looked back through my notes and artwork while researching this blog, I realized I had worked on two out of four versions of "Scrooge McDuck" to reach the screen. The first was "Spirit of '43", followed by "Scrooge McDuck and his Money" in 1967 (Ward Kimball supervised and wanted to include the darker side of Money, something he said Walt would have done but was vetoed), "Mickey's Christmas Carol," and "DuckTales". I guess maybe we could include the 2 second clip of him during the opening of "Mickey Mouse Club",  ... nah.

Studio invite to Wrap Party
"DuckTales" went on to a second season in 1990 with 25 additional episodes and eventually reached a total of 100 for the entire series. It also became a theatrical feature with the release o f"DuckTales, Treasure of the Lost Lamp." There have been two spinoffs to date, "Darkwing Duck" (which I did the original concept art for over a long weekend when it was just known as "Double-O-Duck") and another one I did not work on entitled "Quack Pack" and tons of merchandise from clothing to action figures. Carl Barks was very impressed with the "DuckTales" series when it first aired on television but lost interest in the later episodes citing too many characters and the complicated plots. I received a mysterious yellow envelope addressed to Michael Peraza delivered by the traffic boy. I opened it to find a small yellow invitation to celebrate our hard work. So late on a Monday evening after work, the Disney Studio threw a nice little wrap party for us at Maison Gerard. Looking around the restaurant I realized how lucky I was to have worked alongside these people, from a management including Michael Webster and Tom Ruzicka, writing and the art department they were all amazing and I was kind of sad to see it end.  Still, it is truly fitting that the series originally inspired by Carl's' creation in a comic book was now not only a hit Disney series but would be re-introduced to a fresh generation within a new line of comics entitled what else? "DuckTales"!
Disney Fine Art announces latest works from Disney Art Director Mike Peraza

7 comments:

  1. Michael!
    You (and your team as well) did a great job. DuckTales is the one of best animated shows of 80s. You must be proud! And what about the Ron Jones's music? It was stunning! I wished we have more than 100 episodes.
    My favorite episode is ARMSTRONG. It is incredible well crafted episode! The shot where robot smashed the door jamb was unforgettable!
    If it is possible could you please tell us more about people behind DuckTales?

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  2. Hi Disneyfun. Thank you for all your kind words. Armstrong was a fun episode to work on and I'm thrilled to hear you liked it and the entire series so much. I would love to write more about the people and post more photos as well as artwork but I am running out of space. Maybe I should write a book, lol.

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  3. Great stuff Mike. I continue to be amazed by your artistic abilities and your stories from those days. Their needs to be a face to the talented artists behind these great animated features. You need to take the gloves off and tell some stories from the dark side as well!! lol

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  4. Mike, maybe you and the old gang at WDTVA SHOULD write a book! Those shows are loved but almost comically underappreciated by the general public. Disney DVD certainly didn't help by not including any extras in its collections.

    I also loved your art in the holiday story "Tis the Season" for the old Disney Comics line. Remember?

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  5. Hi Chris. I really enjoyed working on those shows and hopefully that feeling came through in my writing.

    Yes I do remember, Disney's "Tis the Season." A touching story written by my good friend Bob Foster who asked me to illustrate it. I'm glad he did, it was one of my favorite comic book jobs. The art they used by the way was actually my color roughs, I had done those in pastel and watercolor as a guide for my final watercolors but they liked them as they were. Oh well.

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  6. Hi Mike,

    As someone who grew up with DuckTales and to whom the show has been a life-long favorite, I really enjoyed this series of reminiscences about working on the series. (And the art that you've included looks fantastic!) Count me as another who would be all for this spinning off into a book. Am looking forward to reading your other posts, too. (I'm glad that Chris Barat linked to your blog; that's how I came to it.)

    I noticed that you included "Spirit of '43" as one of Scrooge's appearances in animation. That short preceeded Barks' first use of Scrooge in "Christmas On Bear Mountain" by a few years. The Wikipedia article on "Scrooge McDuck" speculates that the (VERY!) Scrooge-like character in that short was a Scrooge "prototype". As far as I know, though, no one's ever turned up anything conclusive as to whether or not Scrooge's genesis can be traced to that short...I'm not even sure if Barks ever saw it!

    When I was a kid, I had "Spirit of '03" on one of those budget VHS tapes compiling animated shorts in the public domain that were sold in department stores, and always wondered about that Scrooge-like character. It's eerie how his voice evokes Alan Young's Scrooge!

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  7. Whoops, that should've been "Spirit of '43" that second time around there! ;)

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