Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Thru the Mirror Part 3

Some beautiful animation by Bob Wickersham, showing how entertaining flexible shapes in motion can be. This is the underlying essence of animation and one that is too often ignored in favour of design or dialogue. I defy anyone to look at these drawings without smiling.

I'm going to write more about the animation in this cartoon, but Mickey achieves a kind of perfection in Thru the Mirror in terms of his proportions and his flexibility, especially in the hands of Wickersham and Dick Lundy. While The Band Concert might be a better cartoon, I much prefer how Mickey looks in this one.

Later cartoons with Mickey push his acting farther and are slicker. Maybe they're too slick. This cartoon is balanced between Mickey's primitive design origins and sophisticated motion. As the motion and drawing become more sophisticated in later cartoons, the balance tips and a lot of Mickey's basic visual appeal gets lost.


Pete Emslie said...

It's incredible when you think how much the medium of animation had evolved at Disney from Mickey's debut in 1928 up to the release of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937. I certainly appreciate that many Mickey fans prefer the little rascal of the early black and whites, or the more ideally proportioned, full colour Mickey of the late 30's, such as this look from "Thru the Mirror" or maybe "The Brave Little Tailor". But, considering how the medium was evolving in leaps and bounds, I really think Mickey had to evolve to at least how he looked in "The Pointer" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" just in order to stay relevant with the more sophisticated times.

Admittedly, I myself prefer the jaunty little Mickey with the big head, hands and feet of "The Little Whirlwind" and the other shorts of 1941-1942. I love the more dynamic posing and crazier proportions of that era, and I think they still hold up well today. As one who has drawn Mickey in all of his incarnations for various Disney consumer products and park art, I have to tell you that the big dot eyes were really a major limitation in putting over strong eye direction and expression. Give me separate whites and pupils any day!

Thad said...

Pure eye-candy!!! Thanks for sharing those frames.

Michael Sporn said...

Brilliant, Mark. Thank you. You couldn't have located a better scene from a better film to analyze. Bob Wickersham just doesn't get the attention, does he?
I do love The Band Concert Mickey more, but it's my perverse sensibility. I recognize how great Mickey looks here, and I think that this is certainly the peak for Mickey. In my biased opinion, the artists started getting too self conscious after this.
This is just great. Thank you. You developed the "mosaic" to a form unto itself.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Great job! This was one of the first cartoons that I analyzed frame by frame back in art school in the early 80's. I didn't have a VCR back then; I had to watch it on 16mm film. It was a real eye opener.

Kevin Koch said...

Beautiful to see it this way. Hey, Mark, do you do the mosaics in photoshop, or by some other method? I have a ton of screen grabs I want to put together in a similar way, and I'm not sure what the best way is. Thanks.

Mark Mayerson said...

I use pretty basic software to make these mosaics, Kevin. I am on an iMac and use freeware called SnapNDrag to capture the DVD images. They're put into MS Word. I create a table that's 4 by 3 and scale the images to fit. Then I use the print preview option in Word and use SnapNDrag to grab each page of the mosaics and save them as jpg files which I upload to blogger. That's it.

Kevin Koch said...

Thanks, Mark. I didn't realize how simple you'd made it. I've gone ahead and started learning a bit of photoshop, so I'm trying it that way.

Man, those mosaics take a lot of work, don't they!

Unknown said...

Leonard Sebring lived in Gardner, KS for several years before he passed away. He was one of my Step-Dad's best friends.
He was a prolific painter and continued with his artwork until the end. It doesn't surprise me at all that he had a knack for matching the animation to the music. One of the rooms of his home was filled with the "rolls" of music from player pianos. Leonard was fascinated by the mechanical pianos, collected the rolls of music, and sometimes "cut" his own music rolls from butcher paper. He was a very fascinating man. Contact me if you want to know more.