Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Remembrance of 2013

This is my "2013 Remembrance" video to honor people in animation that have passed on during the last year. This tribute was put together between Christmas and New Year late at night so that I could spend most of the precious moments of the holidays with family and friends, so please forgive me for anyone that was omitted. They are all in our hearts. -MP

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Diane Disney Miller

On December 18, 1933, Walt and Lillian Disney were blessed with the birth of Diane, the first of two lovely daughters who like many children would give plenty of inspiration to their parents. In this case, the inspiration eventually included not only giving honest feedback from a child to her famous father as whether she liked the latest Disney animated feature but also introducing Walt to stories she and her sister Sharon enjoyed such as "Mary Poppins" and begging him to make them into films. Thank goodness for the rest of us!

Ron and Diane
Lillian, Walt, Diane and Sharon
I first met Diane, Ron and her delightful mom Lillian at a CalArts event in the mid 1970s and never forgot their graciousness and charm with a rough around the edges boy from the south who someday hoped to work at her dad's dream factory. Diane and Ron had just recently purchased land in Napa Valley that they would develop over the years into a world class winery known as Silverado Vineyards in 1981. After Lillian's passing, Diane's leadership was also key to seeing her mom's dream of the Walt Disney Concert Hall become a reality and that architect Frank Gehry's original design would be implemented when it finally opened in 2004 instantly becoming a center for classical music and the arts in Los Angeles. There was a well documented exchange between Diane and a couple of local politicians over the final design but Diane fought to see her mom's vision and tribute to walt Disney completed. Her husband, former studio president Ron Miller, could have told the dignitaries not to mess with her. Apprised of the "housewives" description, he countered, with a laugh: "If you like your housewives tougher than hell." Seeing that project through to fruition gave her the courage to take on further endeavors. 

Diane and the girls
Perhaps one of her greatest achievements, besides her 7 children with Ron, was her creation and development of The Walt Disney Family Museum built within a former Army barracks in the beautiful Presidio of San Francisco which opened in October of 2009. One of the things many of us  share with Diane is that on most Sundays our dads used to take the family out for drives. Down south the Peraza family would end up at Dipper Dan's for Ice Cream after a day at Gulf Shores fishing and swimming while on the West coast the Disney family would often end up in Griffith Park at the beautiful carousel and while waiting for Diane and Sharon to grab the brass ring Walt began to dream of a place where entire families could truly enjoy time together. That place would someday be known of course as Disneyland. 

Today that bright light she had lit has dimmed if for only a moment as Diane Disney Miller passed away at the age of 79. I thank you Diane for not only sharing so much of the wonderful history of your family with all of us but for keeping alive the vast legacy of your dad. From the Concert Hall through to the Museum, Diane was composing a musical memorial of sorts to honor her remarkable parents. The song may be ended Diane, but your melody will linger forever. -MP

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy 85th Mickey!

When folks ask me who my favorite Disney character is, it doesn't really take me long to come up with an answer... MICKEY MOUSE. Without Mickey, the world would have indeed been a much sadder place to live. Of course the same can be said for Mickey's papa, Walt Disney. I can't imagine a world devoid of either of their happy contributions.

A "baby picture"

Mickey has had several dates credited to his "birth". A Hollywood testimonial party with stars Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and humorist Will Rogers in attendance was celebrated on September 30, 1933. Yet in "Film Pictorial" magazine just one month later, Walt Disney himself is quoted as saying, "Mickey Mouse will be five years old on Sunday. He was born on October 1, 1928. That was the date on which his first picture was started so we have allowed him to claim this day as his birthday."

"Steamboat Willie"

Two years after Walt's passing, Mickey's 40th birthday was held on October 28, 1968, and it seems that the dates fluctuated to any day from September through December for years. When Mickey's 50th approached however, the Disney Studios decided to make the date a specific one. Thereupon the studio held a year long celebration of everyone's favorite little mouse with the agreed upon date of November 18, 1928, the original release of "Steamboat Willie".

Now I'd to include a few words from Walt Disney himself, included in "Who's Who in Hollywood" printed back in 1948, Vol. 1, No. 3 April-June:

"I thought of him from the first as a distinct individual, not just a cartoon type or symbol going through comedy routines. I kept him away from stock symbols and situations. We exposed him to close-ups. Instead of speeding the cartoons as was then the fashion, we were not afraid to slow down the tempo and let Mickey emote. 

Walt and his "Alter Ego"

Naturally, I am pleased with his continued popularity, here and abroad, with the esteem he has won as an entertainment name, among youngsters and grownups. With the honors he has brought our studio. With the high compliment bestowed 
when his name was the password for the invasion of France, and with his selection for insignia by scores of fighting units during the war years. These are tributes beyond all words of appreciation. 

In his immediate and continuously successful appeal to all kinds of audiences, Mickey first subsidized our Silly Symphony series. From there he sustained other ventures, plugging along as our bread-and-butter hero. He was the studio prodigy and pet. And we treated him accordingly. Mickey still speaks in my own falsetto-pitched voice, as he has from the first. In the early days, I did the voice of most of the other characters too. It was not financially feasible to hire people for such assignments. In Steamboat Willie, in addition to speaking for Mickey, I also supplied a few sound effects for Minnie, his girl friend, and for the parrot. 

Psycho-analysts have probed him. Wise men have pondered him. Columnists have kidded him. Admirers have saluted him. The League of Nations gave him a special medal as a symbol of international good will. Hitler was infuriated by him and thunderingly forbade his people to wear the then popular Mickey Mouse lapel button in place of the Swastika. 
But all we ever intended for him was that he should make people everywhere chuckle with him and at him."  


Happy Birthday Mickey, and thank you Walt!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Patty, Queen of the Pixie Dust!

November is a very special month for most of us with the holiday season just peeking around the corner but for me it holds even more significance. My beautiful and talented wife Patty was born on November 10. 

I snapped this pic during one of our
visits to UCLA

I met Patty while in line at the CalArts bookstore purchasing some supplies for the first day of Character Animation classes back in the 1970s. She was a sweet thoughtful but determined young lady whose talent had already achieved a full scholarship at the school. She was the FIRST female to be hired by the Walt Disney Studios out of the new Disney Animation Program. Patty was hired in the Effects Department and never complained as she was often given the "worst" scenes to animate. By "worst " I mean scenes with lots of pencil milage and detail that other animators would purposely avoid to keep their footage looking good. Patty made up for it by taking those scenes home at night and over weekends in order to instill the quality she was demanding. Her effects creations can be found in Fox and Hound, Mickey's Christmas Carol, The Black Cauldron, Basil of Baker Street (Great Mouse), Beauty and the Beast, and numerous films for EPCOT, Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, and even TV shows such as Duck Tales.

Patty in her office with a view of the
Ink and Paint building from her windows.
Patty 1979
While waiting for "Black Cauldron" to ramp up into production, Patty worked on short films for the various Disney Parks. These projects could be anything from the cartoons guests enjoyed while waiting in line or even effects within the attraction itself.  Patty got word from her Assistant Director that they were screening some of her full color scenes for a Tokyo Disneyland attraction called "Meet the World" in the 3rd floor sweatbox and when she snuck in to watch she was horrified to see only two figures sitting in the entire theater. As her eyes got accustomed to the dim light, she recognized Ron Miller sitting next to her director Dave Michener. Her scenes came on with earthquakes, volcanoes erupting spewing lava, steam gysers and floods of water. Ron asked Dave if McManus had animated the scenes and he said no it was Patty Peraza. "Is she an animator?" he asked. When Dave told him no, Ron replied, "She is now!" As Walt had done many times at this magical studio over the years, Ron Miller was giving opportunities to those willing to work hard to earn them.

Patty's pastel and charcoal story sketches for "Black Cauldron"
were featured in "American Cinematographer Magazine"
So Patty became the first female Effects Animator in history at Walt Disney Studios. Volcanoes weren't the only things erupting as management soon realized Patty was the ONLY female animator at Disney Studios when during taping of "Good Morning America" that fact was brought up by GMA reporter Joan Lunden while interviewing Patty live from her room at Disney Studio.  The interview went fine but there seemed to be a slight underlying theme that they were trying to elevate about women not being treated equally at Disney Studios. Patty avoided that can of worms by concentrating her answers on current films in production and explaining how she accomplished the effects she was creating. Let's face it, Patty's promotion was itself proof that Disney was very interested in bringing about more equality between the guys and gals of Disney animation. We still have the VHS copy of that interview that the studio was gracious enough to give her.

After the interview Ron Miller and Ed Hansen (who was head of Animation Management) spoke to Patty and requested names of other females she thought deserved the promotion to further demonstrate the studio's goals. So less than 2 weeks after her promotion, 2 other ladies also were made full animators (one was a name she had even submitted). Of course Disney hasn't stopped there and continues this day to give responsibility to anyone willing to work hard and earn the right which is evident in the latest Disney film soon to be released this month, "FROZEN", with a talented young lady named Jennifer Lee as a Director.

The honor of being the first female animator at Disney Studios of course belongs to Retta Scott who opened the door, albeit all too briefly, for women in animation at Disney and through her talent was credited as animator on films such as the Disney classic "Bambi" when Walt saw her amazing story sketches and assigned her to animating the ferocious dogs chasing Faline. Until Retta came on the scene, women in those days were employed only in the nunnery... er... Ink and Paint Department whereas the Animation Department was the sole domain of men. Hey don't send me any letters, I'm just the messenger here ladies.

Art Stevens
My room during Black Cauldron was a corner one between directors Art Stevens and Ted Berman. Long story but Art "retired" during that project and it was one of those awkward events where no one had planned anything to celebrate his long tenure at the studio. I told Patty who rushed to the local grocery store to pick up bottles of Champagne, cups, cheeses, coldcuts and threw a retirement party for Art. We got quite a crowd, mainly of the Disney veterans who were still there to attend. Afterwards, Art found out Patty had put it together and thanked her with tears in his eyes. That's my Patty, always trying to make everyone happy!

"Black Cauldron" producer Joe Hale
and Patty at the wrap party
Patty went on to be hired as  "Project Lead" for a new animated film titled, "Beauty and the Beast" directed by Dick Purdum and I was now working for my wife doing a little early concept work on that picture. By the way, the studio planned it as non-musical at that point! Of course that was before "Little Mermaid" was released and became a hit thus providing a "blue print" or" formula" as to constructions of many of the future animated features.

When our daughter Kim was born, Patty decided she wanted to spend more time being a mother and after a lot of thought, sadly turned down the request from Disney Studios to move to London for pre-production on Beauty opting for work that was closer to home. Today she concentrates on volunteering her services to a variety of community projects, speaking on film and animation panels and attending Disney fan events. She is currently a Disney Master Artist designing art pieces that are shown and sold in Disney Galleries located in Disneyland and around the world. She is also a proud Legacy member of Women in Animation where she is a mentor to the younger generation of up and coming ladies. Happy Birthday to my favorite Disney gal, Patty!

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Tools of the Trade"

I like to sharing trivia about various mediums we used at the Walt Disney Studios before the digital age came upon us so here are a few you might be interested in.

First, here's an interesting ad from the Saturday Evening Post published around the release of BAMBI,  showcasing Walt Disney and a vintage Everlast pen and pencil set. As fine a quality as these were, they were only used for writing and not drawing at the old studio. The fellows in animation production who sometimes used pens like Ken Anderson definitely favored the Montblanc brand with sketching nibs. 

With the "ONE-TWO " punch of a strike and war, Walt had to embrace even these little opportunities when they came along to put something back in the dwindling studio reserves. The set pictured was most likely used by Walt for a short time any way and I'm assuming as is the custom of many companies trying to sell their items, some free sets were probably given to the studio to be used as publicly as possible. More likely by writers though than by artists.

Just a note to anyone still using the old KOH-I-NOOR pencil holders like the ones we used to use for story sketches and roughs at Disney Studios. The various quality leads are becoming hard to find and lately I've picked up some very inferior ones at local art stores loaded with filler and binding material that fracture and break off in tiny specs while drawing.

However, I just received a pack from GIOCONDA 6 that are actually made for KOH-I-NOOR/HARTMUTH from the Czech Republic in SEPIA that exhibits no filler problem, goes onto paper in smooth soft strokes and the leads really hold up to hard use. I hoarded a couple of boxes from the old studio that date back to the 30s and these really match them for handling and appearance.

I should add that a number of manufacturers make various versions of these pencil holders that work pretty well if you can't find a KOH-I-,OOR the lead is the most important element of the two. 

The holder pictured here is a vintage 5649 that dates to 1937 and was given to me by Ken O'Connor.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hyperion Studios Documentary

The Disney Animation staff 1934
Animating Snow White
This post is my first public announcement concerning a documentary film I have been working on that tells the story and share the history of one of the most important yet almost forgotten studios in motion pictures, the Hyperion Sudios of Walt Disney by Mike Peraza. It is a subject I am passionate about and believe the public would enjoy if they only knew about it. For the video teaser or trailer included below, I created all the graphics, CGI models, restored and repaired old film footage and provided the rough narration. This is but a small example of the imagery I have located along with that I have digitally created from scratch. So far, everything has been out of my pocket so I am seeking financial help in order to proceed and give this documentary and the amazing people it represents the respect and acknowledgment they deserve. I want to hire personnel that can aid with additional research as well as provide material that will help gain insight to the sometime rocky road of that exciting period. I also need help transcribing interviews from Disney employees that worked at the old studio.
Lunchtime at the old Hyperion Studios
To keep the film balanced, it contains interviews with studio personnel that worked at Hyperion during that time and often used the moniker given to the project as “Walt’s Folly”. We will share the good times the crew enjoyed along with the tensions that were slowly building concerning financial inequality that would eventually erupt in a violent studio strike shortly after the move to Burbank. How women and people of color gained their rights albeit slowly to achieve equal respect as well as job positions.

In the end however it will celebrate the triumph of a talented team of young people working together overcoming many difficult obstacles to produce one of the greatest achievements in the history of animation. The Walt Disney Studios of the 1930s which released so many classic films no longer exists but was demolished many years ago to be replaced by a grocery chain (albeit a nice one) and parking lot. 

Without the successes of Hyperion, there would very likely be no Disney Cruise Line, no Disney Afternoon, no Disneyland, well you get the idea. The groundbreaking successes produced under that old tile roof made all things that came after it possible for the young visionary Walt Disney and his talented crew pf men and women. -Mike Peraza

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Happy Birthday BAMBI!

If you were in London on August 8, 1942, you might have enjoyed the premiere of one of the most beautiful of all the Disney classics: "Bambi". If you are among the few who has not seen this film, do yourself a favor, turn off your computer and go watch a copy of this heart warming masterpiece. 

It was directed in 1942 by Dave Hand and of course produced by Walt Disney.

This is a powerful "coming of age" story as we follow "the little prince" as he goes through life, and death. MGM had the rights to "Bambi' but was unable to come up with a method to tell the story and so Sidney Franklin sold the rights to Walt Disney in April 1937. There were many challenges faced by the Disney staff. The novel was written for adults and was considered too grim for the usual Disney audience. 

Artists went back to school to learn to draw animals in a more convincing and life like manner. There were many "starts and stops" in the story development including sections that were developed and dropped such as the "talking leaves" and the "ant hill" sequence. Personally, as a conceptual artist, I was drawn to the magnificent background design of Tyrus Wong who introduced a revolutionary look in Disney films that drew the eye to specific points while keeping a soft impressionistic feel to the forest. 

When Bambi was released during World War II it failed at the box office yet today it is hailed as the Walt Disney classic it deserves and has not only recouped its cost many times over but was named 3rd best film in the animation genre by the American Film Institute. Happy Birthday Bambi!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


MiceChat is planning a magical booth in the Collector’s Forum area of the D23 Expo in Anaheim on August 9, 10 and 11. Meet MiceChat staff, special guests and Disney legends whom we have scheduled throughout the three day show. 

We will also be giving away lots of great prizes, including unique Disney merchandise, hotel stays and an iPad Mini (stop by our MiceChat booth for details)! There will be some very special guests joining us so don't miss the fun!!!!!

Meet Bob Sunday 11th,  2pm - 4pm


Rolly Crump is an Imagineer most famous for his work on The Enchanted Tiki Room, Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, and much more. He continued working on and off for Disney for years, including contributing ideas to projects for Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom & EPCOT Center. In addition to Disney, Rolly has also designed projects for Busch Gardens, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Jacques Cousteau, Knott’s Berry Farm and other projects around the world. Rolly was named a Disney Legend in 2004.

Meet Charles Saturday 10th, 3pm - 4:30pm

Charles Fleischer actor, stand-up comedian and voice artist most known to Disney fans as the voice of Roger Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Other voice roles for Fleischer include The Polar Express and We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story.

Meet Mike Friday 9th, 10am - noon

Mike Peraza is a Disney art director and concept artist who has worked for Walt Disney Feature Animation (Fox and the Hound, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Great Mouse Detective, Black Cauldron, TRON, Something Wicked this way Comes, Return to OZ, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast) Walt Disney Television Animation (DuckTales, TaleSpin, Goof Troop and Darkwing Duck) , Disney Comics, Disney Interactive, WED and Disneyana Galleries.
Meet Nik Saturday 10th, 11am - 1pm

Nik Ranieri is a former character animation for Walt Disney Animation. He started working on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and eventually moved on to work on The Little Mermaid and The Rescuers Down Under. Though his roots are in traditional animation, he also made the jump to CGI and worked on Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons.

Meet Sam  Friday 9th, 6pm - 7pm

Sam Gennawey, Author of Walt and the Promise of Progress City,  is an urban planner who has collaborated with communities throughout California over the course of more than 100 projects to create a great, big, beautiful tomorrow. Sam is a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Regional Planning History Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving municipal, county, and private sector planning documents from throughout Los Angeles County. 

Meet Margaret Friday 9th, 4pm - 6pm

Margaret Kerry is an American actress, motivational speaker and radio host best known for her 1953 work as the model for Tinker Bell in the Walt Disney Pictures animated feature, Peter Pan.

Meet Bob Sunday 11th, 2pm - 4pm

Bob Gurr was Imagineer for Disneyland’s early days and designed most of the early Disney attraction ride vehicles – including Autopia, the Disneyland Monorail, the Submarine Voyage, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and much more. He later gave himself the title of Director of Special Vehicle Development. He was named a Disney Legend in 2004. 
Meet Paige Friday 9th in afternoon

Paige O’Hara is an accomplished stage performer, having performed all over the world in such productions as Oklahoma, South Pacific, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Paige is best known to Disney fans as the voice of Belle from the film Beauty and the Beast. She was named a Disney Legend in 2011.

Meet Don Friday 9th, 10:30am - Noon
Don Ballard is an author and Disney historian famous for his love of the Disneyland Hotel and its history. He has written two books on the subject of the Disneyland Hotel and has new archival information to share .Meet Don on Friday August 9th from 10:30am until Noon

PLUS: Meet MiceChat columnists, podcasters and staff – such as Andy Castro, Fishbulb, Monorail Man, Doug Barnes, Scarlett Stahl, Rixter, Mickey Maxx, Jeff Heimbuch, Gwendolyn Dreyer, Sarah the MiceChatter, Indiana Jenn, Mamabot, Dustysage and more.


MiceChat is supporting All the Arts for All the Kids Foundation at the D23 Expo. All the Arts for All the Kids is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to developing, sustaining, and supporting the arts as an intrinsic part of every child’s education.

To raise money for this wonderful organization, local artists have decorated oversized hearts for auction. A Small World themed heart will be on display in the MiceChat booth.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Art for the Park!

I''m extremely excited to have a few more pieces that will be exhibited and sold in the Disney Parks this summer. The first one is based on an animated feature film that I was fortunate to have the opportunity to Art Direct called, Disney's"The Little Mermaid". That movie had outstanding direction, great songs, memorable music and lively animation from a great team of amazing animators. Besides a good story, you need a solid team and we certainly had that. Enchanted Paintings. Disney Fine Art. Disney Art.

I'm commemorating that experience of working with such a talented group with this piece. It's gouache over a wash of watercolor done in the traditional steps Disney Studio background artists used in the 1930s and 1940s. A year or two ago I was asked to design the mural for the "Little Mermaid" attraction down at Walt Disney World. That mural was HUGE, probably why they call 'em murals... anyway, I wanted to get back to an earlier concept I had been tinkering with that revealed low rays of the setting sun peeking through the clouds to find a lovely but lonely Ariel on her rocky perch looking longingly towards Eric's ship anchored in the royal harbor. You can see this painting as well as most of my paintings done step by step with explanations as to the medium, how I am applying it, even what specific brush I'm using online in my Facebook pages. Also feel free to comment and ask any questions about the process, I'm always happy to share my techniques and methods. Enchanted Paintings. Disney Fine Art. Disney Art.

It's in a looser and more "painterly"style than I did for the attraction mural along with a much more colorful and saturated palette. You can find this new original and eventually some prints for sale in a marvelous store I always visit while at Disneyland located in the Disney California Adventure called, "Off the Page."

This store offers the guest an immersion of sorts into the retail wonder of Disney animation. Rumor is I might be called in to do a signing  which would be fun. It's always a honor to meet and personally thank the Disney fans out there who collect these pieces.

Not far from "Off the Page", over in Disneyland you'll discover the beautiful and recently re-modeled Disneyanna Gallery located on Disneyland's Main Street where you'll find a couple more of my paintings. This one, "Seasons of Magic" was done in gouache over 300 lb acid free board and it's a big one too. It's done in a whimsical style I have used over the years for commercials, shorts, TV and even some educational film strips I designed for WEDEMCO, an educational division Disney had back in the 1970s.

One of the iconic images for Disneyland is obviously the Sleeping Beauty Castle and I thought it would be unique and fun to illustrate it as a stage in four sections showcasing the seasons. Each season's palette was carefully chosen to compliment its particular time of year as well as using specific characters and poses that would fit into each season. I doodled a bunch of doodles (isn't that what you do when doodling?) at my old animation desk and once I had a composition I felt was OK, I transferred the sketch onto a big piece of 300 lb watercolor board. Disneyland artwork. Disney Fine Art.

Disney Fine Art
When I had that monster of a board firmly secured to my 1/2" thick tempered masonite backing, the fun really started. Out came the gouache and I quickly went for a bright and happy color scheme while keeping each season in mind. I had to consider not only the background setting but the characters that were interacting in front of each section. I also spilled one tiny jar of paint during this session and unfortunately my wife Patty heard me muttering and came up to the studio before I could clean it up so I'm not hearing the end of that.

Illustrating these pieces for the Disney Parks is always an honor I could never tire of. There is a long list of Disney Imagineers who have had their work exhibited and sold at the park including Mary Blair, Marc Davis, Collin Campbell, Herbie Ryman, Sam McKim and many other extremely talented folks. Knowing these originals and prints will go into someone's home or office to be enjoyed is something truly magical to me. I hope you will enjoy my latest paintings but will also take the time to see the fantastic work of so many other amazing artists.

Friday, July 5, 2013

DuckTales Deja Vu

One of the underground lost temples of "DuckTales"
Sometimes one ponders whether he or she might, "...solve a mystery or rewrite history." (Hmmm... sombody outa put dat to music) Well I recently got the chance to do just that with a return to the world of DuckTales. No I'm not "quacking up", you see, DuckTales is once again heading to the small screen although this time I'm not talking about your television screen. 

Thanks to Capcom and Wayforward Studios, we will be able to join Uncle Scrooge during his worldwide adventures and even dive into a refreshing swim in his money bin without leaving the comfort of your home. Yes, coming to a PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, Wii and PC this summer will be the DuckTales family we've all enjoyed watching over the years as one of the top rated animated series ever to surf the television waves.

Various versions of snow covered Himalayas
I was contacted and asked if I had any old sketches I could loan the crew to help with visuals since I designed the look of the original DuckTales series. They also wondered if I could recommend anyone to design new locations in my style (whatever that is? ). Yes, I did know someone, me... Mike Peraza The director told me they had wanted me but didn't think I would be interested, are you kidding me? If you look past my baby fat in recent photos you'll see I'm a starving artist! And so I quickly re-enlisted for DuckTales  duty before they could change their minds and was soon busy sketching out locations from foreboding castles to Magical mountain fortresses to ancient jungle temples to spaceships, well you get the idea.
I'm completely surrounded by the
amazing WayForward animators!

It was a DuckTales Deja vu!  I was happily surprised how quickly I returned to the old series style after an absence of 25 years and the director and staff at Wayforward Studios were really a fun, professional and gifted bunch of "quackups" to work with. Austin Ivansmith was the Director along with Matt Bozon as Creative Director and between those two I was always given clear detailed descriptions of each setup they wanted me to draw and was even offered helpful suggestions on a couple of pieces I just wasn't sure about. I would do some quick rough thumbnails and send them via email to Austin who would then discuss them with Matt as to which version they wanted to see taken into final tight renders or sometime in full color. Oh the joys of working from home in my DuckTales Pajamas and slippers. Certainly couldn't do that back in the days of the original series, well maybe on "casual fridays.".

Tim Curry and other technical artists would slice my designs up into something resembling our old multiplane setups from Disney for a 3 dimensional look to the sideways scrolling action. Animators like Sasha Palacio would then work their magic using traditional and cutting edge CGI to bring the Duckburg cast back to life. The time flew by but I was just happy to have worked with this amazing amazing group called Wayforward and to have had a small part in resurrecting such a beloved property. Hey maybe with all this excitement we can bring back the series with fresh new episodes? There's lots more adventures we haven't even touched on and with the latest technology we could do this even better and without breaking the bank of Duckburg. There's obviously a big audience out there that would love it! Well who knows, maybe somebody from the studio will read this and give it a try.

A few more location roughs and concepts
Not long ago Patty and I had a grand tour of Wayforward Studios and they showed us various sections of the game in rough and semi-finished form and I have to tell you, it really looks like fun!  I just wish they'd hurry and finish so I can join Uncle Scrooge on some wild adventures.  Wayforward Studios and Capcom have created quite asome highly successful games that are enjoyed around the world but I can't help but think that this latest title will be the best yet.

Yes folks, "...life is a duck blur in Duckburg!"

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Coffee Talk

Over 100 people got up from their cozy beds on a Saturday morning and started the new day with a delicious hot cup of coffee and enjoyed some tantalizingly new artwork at the Chuck Jones Center in Costa Mesa July 6, 2013 from 9:30 to 11:30 AM. The staff served 3 new piping hot pieces that I hope didn't curb anyone's caffeine craving and as my butterfingers framers say, were good to the last drop. 

I shared some funny anecdotes about my 40 years of daily grind in the wacky world of animation from animated commercial breaks for the local television station WKRG Channel 5  in the early 1970s to working on some very beloved full length animated features and television series for all of the major studios from Disney to Warner Brothers (even a brief stint working with Chuck on a Bugs Bunny film) and a few stops in between. In other words in coffee-speak II was "spilling the beans" coffee beans that is!

A nice big group showed up for the talk

For these illustrations, I wanted a kind of whimsical retro throw back using a limited color scheme that one might see in the great WPA posters of the 1930s and 1940s. By the way, Coyote and Road Runner was actually painted with a little coffee mixed into the gouache and Taz had a spot of tea infused with gouache.  The group really enjoyed the pieces and I found myself signing prints immediately after the talk was done.

The Coffee was MUCH easier to paint with than the tea which took many and I mean MANY layers to even show up. The nice folks who purchased these prints really got a kick out of it and I enjoyed the opportunity to paint with such a unique type of "watercolor". Afterwards I did some embellishment by way of small paintings at the bottom done in what else? Pure Coffee for the Coyote and Road Runner, and likewise-  Tea for Taz (... and Taz for Tea... you and me... sorry I'm musically inclined). The extra embellishments were a hit and the collectors let me know it which certainly made my day.

It was a mighty delicious morning to spend with so many friends old and new, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Now it's time to head on back to the old desk and get back to drawing.

Well maybe just one last cup...  oh waitress?