Monday, April 4, 2011

Four Lost Disney Shorts

A few very cool Disney animated shorts from recent times and long ago have popped up on Youtube recently. Because of formatting issues, I'm not going to embed these, but they need to be seen fullscreen anyway. Also, I have no idea when Disney's magical lawyers will take them down.

The quality of this video is iffy and it's in two parts, but "John Henry" is readily available through Netflix as part of a DVD collection called "American Legends". The DVD itself is pretty interesting, as it collects four different older Disney shorts based off American tall tales, and they are each introduced by James Earl Jones. It has the feel of one of the old anthology features and the disc was probably designed with classrooms in mind. In any case, the short, directed by Mark Henn, is very nice with an unusual visual style: the artwork is all computer-colored, as with most Disney animation of the era, but the animated figures are clearly drawn in pencil, with a distinctive "sketchy" look.

You may also have to go to Netflix for "Mars and Beyond", which was actually a television special run as an episode of "Disneyland" way back in 1957. It's on the "Treasures: Tomorrowland" collection and whatever you do, don't miss it, as there's some fantastic and unique animation to be seen here. This segment (if I'm lucky, it'll still be up for a while) speculates on what kind of life may have lived on Mars. The Martians essentially look like what Wayne D. Barlowe sees when he closes his eyes. Fantastic creature designs and strange effects highlight this segment.

"Off His Rockers", from 1992 and animated (and I say this with a twinge of sadness) at Disney's old Paris studio, is a very interesting experiment indeed. The short itself is kind of blah: Video games bad, old stuff your parents liked when they were your age good. But the early combination of fully-rendered CGI and cel animation is surprisingly well done for it's time.

I've saved the if-not-best-at-least-the-most-fascinating short for last: "Runaway Brain". The most recent theatrical Mickey Mouse short and made circa 1995, it was originally released along with a far more mediocre Disney film (some sources say "A Kid in King Arthur's Court" [which apparently got a theatrical release somewhere] while others say "Pocahontas" [that would have been something]). Packed with sight-gags and references only a psychotic Disney fan would get (hello), the short plays out more like a vintage Tex Avery cartoon than anything else Disney ever put their names on. It's pretty obvious why Disney buried this short faster than you can blink, but I've seen occasional references to it in everything from "Epic Mickey" to collectable pins to this thing, which, if it weren't so expensive and presumably fragile, I'd hide among the daffodils in my garden posthaste. Bwahaha...


Art of the Day!

Hey, have I showed you my Pokemon?

Pokemon White Team - 3.23.11

This team may be completely different next time I draw them. This is the first time since Red/Blue that I want a team of, like, fourteen.

1 comment:

Dr. Shoggoth said...

I distinctly remember watching Runaway Brain in a theater as a kid attached to A Kid in King Arthur's Court. I don't remember a damn thing about that movie except for the short. Doctor Frankenollie!

Also, the Mars shorts are amazing. Have you watched the others? Very cool turn-of-the-Space-Age stuff. And narrated by Paul Frees!