Friday, March 21, 2008

Art Corner Restorations: Pete & Donald

Ah, the magical, mystical Art Corner. Long ago, it was Disneyland's dispatch center for thousands of vintage Disney cels, where you could buy original Disney artwork as a souvenir!

The Art Corner setups were often very puzzling - unlikely characters from completely different movies thrown together, with non-matching print backgrounds.

The cels were trimmed (often badly). I'm sure the idea was, the smaller the trim job, the smaller the mat... less cost! And the mats were not top-of-the-line to begin with!

All this showed how little regard was given to the actual artwork. It was making movies that was the thing... the artwork was just a part of the process, thought relatively worthless once photographed.

But thank God Disney sold these at the Art Corner instead of hauling them to the dump. Little did anyone know at the time, they were saving a significant portion of animation history.

As a collector, I find the Art Corner pieces intriguing for many reasons. Not least is the fact that you could buy hand-painted original Disney artwork for a dollar! (Occasionally slightly more. The very high end pieces I'm told were five dollars. That was for large setups with multiple characters.)

As a collector, I also enjoy saving pieces of animation history that might otherwise end up lost.

Such is today's story of Pete and Donald.

When I acquired this two-cel setup it was a mess. It had just about every problem possible. Cracking and missing paint plus major adhering problems. Not only was the bottom cel (Pete) adhered to the colored art board B/G (a common malady), Donald (the top cel) had adhered to the top of Pete. Specifically, the colored paint on the back of Donald's cel had adhered to Pete's ink lines on the top of his cel.

As I said, this was a mess. A big mess.

But the beautiful thing about cel restoration (done properly) is it can bring back damaged art. Even as bad than this!

The cels went to my talented restoration artist. And I began my research.

The Donald cel was immediately recognizable from DONALD IN MATHMAGICLAND. I digitally re-created the key master B/G.

As for the Pete cel, it's from interstitial material from "Donald's Award." Walt created his TV animation in color. Some of it was filmed in both color and black and white. Maybe someday the color version will surface and we'll see it.

In the meantime, the black and white version is on YouTube. Take a look!

The restorations turned out beautifully. But even more mind-boggling, my artist friend Kathy is capable of painting stunning reproduction key master backgrounds in every Disney style and from all eras.

I sent Kathy these screen grabs.

Using her imagination, she concocted the dandy custom B/G (and its color palette) for Pete. Fantastic!

Two wonderful pieces of vintage animation art are now restored with key master background presentations.

Is this a great hobby or what??!!!


Biblioadonis aka George said...

I can't imagine all of the art that ended up disappearing forever.

Thanks for sharing them with us!

Brian O'Neil said...

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