I just received a copy of Mindy Johnson’s wonderful new book Tinker Bell, An Evolution. It’s definitely a welcome addition to the Walt Disney bookshelf.
No supporting character (Figaro? Scamp? even Jiminy Cricket?) from a Disney feature has ever become as popular – or more popular – as each year goes by. Her fame has allowed for this book to be and the good news for Disney historians – the character is worth the “art-book” treatment, and Johnson did her homework.
Johnson covers it all (only the last thirty of its 192 pages are devoted to the more recent “Pixie Hollow” persona) and, as you’d expect from a Disney Editions publication, its lavishly illustrated with art from the archives. The text starts with a thorough history of J.M. Barrie and the earliest Peter Pan plays and silent movies (there’s a great publicity photo in this section I’d never seen before, of Betty Bronson – star of the 1925 Paramount Peter Pan – posing with a standee of the 1953 Disney feature).
Johnson devotes the next chapters to the development of the Tinker Bell character – beginning in 1935 and illustrated with rare drawings, story sketches, paintings and model sheets along the way. Over a hundred pages go by before we find Tink in her final form – in model sheets and numerous photos of the staff (Marc Davis, Roy Williams, Milt Kahl, Ham Lusk, among others) sketching models (including Ginny Mack, Katherine Beaumont and of course, Margaret Kerry).
Tinker Bell beyond Peter Pan is pretty interesting – as the character had an immediate afterlife that included the Disney’s TV shows, Peter Pan Peanut Butter commercials, aerialists at Disneyland, comics books and much merchandising. Up to her cameo in The Black Cauldron (1985) and her final scene appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) the book had me interested and intrigued. Pretty much everything I wanted to know about the character is here and documented with care.
So here’s to Tinker Bell – and to author Mindy Johnson. You did good. As for Disney Editions, I’d love to see such art book treatment given to other secondary characters – perhaps The Seven Dwarfs or the Cheshire Cat? Heck, I’ll take a tome devoted to Humphrey Bear? Who’s with me?