Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Small Sampling of Sanders' Early Disney Art

It's March 8th. That leaves only a year and fourteen days until The Croods is released. Are you camped out in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre yet?



I kid, of course. We're animation aficionados, after all. Not 'space fantasy' fanatics. We're above that slavish sort of fan-boy devotion. We're perfectly content to just sit back and wait patiently, slowly sipping some of that Lasseter brand wine while whiling away the weeks posting self-serving comments on Cartoon Brew. We're DEFINITELY not checking and re-checking our Google Alerts, obsessively awaiting some new news about Chris Sanders the animator and NOT Chris Sanders the college football player who was kicked off his team for stealing from other players or Chris Sanders the wrestling reporter whose admirable/insane work ethic has him posting upwards of five stories a day. Cuz that would be weird. I mean, at most - AT MOST - we're doing something kinda-sorta-tangentially related to The Croods... an unofficial blog...

...or an unpopular Tumblr...

...or a crummy piece of MS Paint fan art...

...or a carefully curated collection of some of the artwork that Chris Sanders did for Disney's story department pre-Lilo & Stitch.

Oh, wait. There's no link on that last one, is there? And it's the only one of those ellipsesed options that you're even the tiniest bit curious about, isn't it? In fact, you're probably wondering why I bothered wasting your time with all of that other crap instead of just jumping right into the good stuff, aren't you? AREN'T YOU?

Well, for starters, that's very rude of you to wonder. And for non-starters...yeah, you're right. So without any further ado-doo, I humbly present the drawings.

Beauty and the Beast

I'd always assumed that Stitch introducing his 'broken' family to the Grand Councilwoman was the first time that Chris Sanders reduced me to a blubbering mess of snot and tears. Turns out, he actually achieved that way back in 1991 with the death scene in Beauty and the Beast. Sanders describes story boarding this beautiful moment in the book Tale As Old As Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast:

"Of all the memories I have of the Disney Studio, working on Beast's death and resurrection is one of the most vivid. If you can be aware that you're doing something important, that would be one of the few times I was. [...] Linda [Woolverton] had written the scene, and I had gone through it putting lines through all the extraneous things. I brought it down to the moment where Beast says, 'You came back' and touches her face. It struck me that the whole movie was in that moment."

I'd say he nailed it. How about you?


Do you dig Chris Sanders' take on ginormous jungle cats? Then make sure to check out the ferocious feline star of his upcoming flick, The Croods.

Speaking of jungle cats, next up is:

The Lion King

According to the documentary included on the Lion King DVD, the film's creators struggled for quite a while with the scene between Simba and Mufasa's ghost. Directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff eventually assigned Chris Sanders to it, but even after multiple attempts, Sanders could not seem to summon the scene's intended emotion. Then one night at 3 AM, Sanders story boarded it all out one last time. Showing it to Brenda Chapman - the only other person still in the studio at that late hour - he breathed a sigh of relief. "There it was," he recalled years later. "I'd found that little piece of the movie."

To see a bunch more of Sanders' story sketches for The Lion King, go here.


Lilo & Stitch
and How To Train Your Dragon fans have got two HUGE things to thank this movie for. I'll let Sanders tell you what they are.

"On Mulan I started out as the head of story and actually ended up doing quite a bit of writing for the movie. And from there I went to Lilo and Stitch. I should mention that Dean [DeBlois] and I met on Mulan, where we both were writing the story."

You get that? Without Mulan, there would be no Lilo & Stitch. And without Lilo & Stitch, there would be no How To Train Your Dragon. I don't know about you, but my life would be a little less wonderful without those flicks.

Alright, seeing as how I couldn't find that many of Sanders' story sketches for Mulan, I'll end this post with a relatively recent drawing Sanders did of the iconic, occasionally cross-dressing, warrior princess. 'Tis pretty badass, no?

Note: The above illustration comes the collection of animator Tom Bancroft. To see more of Tom's artwork and art collection, click here.

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