Welcome to the web log of illustrator, cartoonist, writer, motorhead, and future Wal-Mart greeter Lou Brooks. I've gone cold turkey blogless for the last few months, and let me tell you, friend, it hasn't been easy! Have you missed all your old familiar pals?... Balloon Face, Typositor Tom, Mr. Irresponsible, and those endearing rascals, The Ass Puppets? Well, to be honest, they're not here, and they're never coming back. But lots of others are just waiting to make all this worth your while, so let's get going! Shall we?

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot... check out my newest Internet brainchild, The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, where tools of the trade that have died or have just about died a slow death are cheerfully exhibited -- Over 300 of them and counting (all submitted by folks like you!).

 

Labor Day, September 5, 1944. I remember the day I was born. I suddenly noticed there was a lot more room, which was nice. There was a radio on. Then a man in the room said, "Jesus Christ, that nurse talks too much!" That would have been my father. I didn't know who this Christ guy was, but as life went on, my father brought his name up a lot. My mother would occasionally call out, "Jesus Jenny!" I have no idea who that was either. August 6, 1945. Things had been going pretty swell. Then there was this sadness, and everybody seemed to get real quiet. Beginning that day, the world seemed different. Like I was put in exile or sumthin' for no reason. April 27, 1962. My father still wouldn't give me permission to smoke in the house. I told him in the kitchen that I wanted to spend my life as an artist. He smoked Camels and blew out one of those quick sarcastic smoke puffs, you know, the kind they blow out the side of their mouth and it makes their one eye squint and gives them this really scary half-grin besides. "What are you gonna paint," he said, "FLOWERS?"

 

Let's get down to... MONKEY BUSINESS!

Courtesy Grand Comics Database www.comics.org

Check out Lou's book of tongue-twisting limerick madness for kids of all ages! Visit the Twimericks website now or die!

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Saturday
Dec172011

The Fairest of Them All

I guess the Christmas season got hold of me the other night, and I found myself like an uncontrollable salmon in heat going through my DVDs and Blu-rays for a classic Disney fix, finally settling into Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The optional commentary track for the film is mostly of Walt himself, taken from various interviews about the making of the picture -- that alone's worth the price of admission!

I've had a Disney jones all my life going back to al least when Disneyland hit TV. Not the well-oiled marketing machine Disney we've all come to know and, uhhh, love... but the man, Walt Disney. There he'd sit on the corner of his desk in that expensive sharkskin suit, sun-tanned and talking to us in that squeaky happy voice of his while Donald ran amok on the desk. Along with the Ricardos and the Mertzes driving to Hollywood for Ricky's movie deal, it was to me -- even at eight years old -- somehow California all the way. Walt was my first hero, and still is.

I tried to pick the top eight influences in my life. There are way more than eight, but from top left anyway: Bullwinkle J. Moose; Spike Jones; Moe Howard; Moe Strauss; Jon Gnagy; Alfred E. Newman; and, of course, Walt (from a book-in-progress on the art of Lou Brooks).

The neon sign at night shines brightly over the Disney Studios of the 1930s.Walt Disney was in many ways the Steve Jobs of his day. He changed things profoundly with ideas and innovations made possible by astounding risks he took over and over again throughout his life. His explanations for such risks seem to obvious to us now. But up to 1938, for example, others in Hollywood felt that making a full-color feature-length film the likes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the dumbest thing they'd ever heard of. Let alone doing it as such an expensive gorgeous jaw-dropping work of art.

Snow White took about two years to complete at a cost of about $1,500,000. Interesting thing is, Disney and his brother Roy had at times the same doubts as the others as to whether the little studio should ever have tried it. But Walt got them out in the deep water, and everyone just kept swimming. The Disney Studios' experience was limited to turning out short funny animal cartoons using proven "squash-and-stretch" animation techniques. Animating realistic humans was another thing all together.

Early-on attempts to draw the film's main characters. The prince turned out to be the most problematic, and his part eventually had to be reduced to minimum appearances. But the most striking development lies in how the artists got the Wicked Queen to the iconic version below (from The Art of Walt Disney by Christopher Finch, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1973).

The Queen commands her huntsman to kill Snow White and bring back her heart in this box.

The more conventional "squash-and-stretch" approach was used for the dwarfs, and shines through in these masterful key drawings of Grumpy (from The Art of Walt Disney by Christopher Finch, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1973).

The Studio searched high and low for just the right model the Disney artists could draw from. They found the perfect Snow White in a dancer/actress named Marjorie Belcher, daughter of a Los Angeles dance teacher. She later changed her name to Marge Champion. She and Gower Champion had a lengthy helping of their own remarkable stardom in both movies and TV (from Life Magazine, thanks to Amid Amidi and Jerry Beck at Cartoon Brew at www.cartoonbrew.com).

As a little sidelight, I wanted to show you this gem of a book from Clare's childrens' book collection. Published in 1938 when the film was first released, it's an example of Walt's merch savvy, decades before he created the Davy Crockett coon skin cap frenzy!This early version of the wicked queen indicates that the film was far from finished when the book was assembled. All Snow White images © Walt Disney Productions.

Buy Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs now at Amazon.com

Reader Comments (3)

Two things:

I used to ink and paint cels, but I'm not a pretty girl. Is it true that Disney only hired pretty girls for the paint department?

I've always wondered why the plural of "dwarf" isn't "dwarves." Self/selves, shelf/shelves, elf/elves. Is it just me?

Great blog!

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Burd

I've heard, though, that within the shipping department and custodial staff, there were hundreds of gruesome men.

December 20, 2011 | Registered CommenterLou Brooks

I adore the quality of the animation in Snow White. Modern animation is amazing in it's way, but old animation is human. Uncle Walt was my hero too. I dreamed of heading to California to work for Disney. Lou, we share other heros too: Bullwinkle J. Moose; Jon Gnagy; Alfred E. Newman.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaryZ

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