Building A Beast. From the New York Times November 17th, 1991, Glen Keane talked about his work on Beast in Disney’s animated feature Beauty and the Beast (1991): “He’s a beast here on earth rather than some bizarre otherworldly creature. I started looking at different animals and taking different elements. Most of the designs in the fairy tale books I looked at were animal heads stuck on human bodies. On the CBS television series (with Ron Perlman in 1987-1990), I saw it once and didn’t like it. To me that beast looked like a guy with a lion’s head.
“I started with the heavy brow and skull crest of the gorilla because of massive strength. Then I added the mane of a lion because it was soft and an ideal frame for the head. The general shape of the buffalo’s head had sort of a heaviness that gave it a general sadness I really liked.
“To give the Beast ferocity, I added the tusk of a wild boar. The upper torso is that of a massive bear but unlike a bear who walks on his heels like humans do, we wanted him to walk on his toes like a dog. I settled on a wolf and a wolf’s tail. I started with the skeleton and then added muscles and finally skin and fur all in the proper proportions so that the Beast would both look and move like a real animal.”
Keane spent hours watching a variety of animals at the London Zoo. He studied the slow swirl of his arm and the curl of his fingers. He donned a cape and stormed through the converted warehouse that served as home to the film’s animators. He tracked the movement of his lips as he growled, matching his inflection with the soundtrack of Robbie Benson. He studied ballroom dancers and even took a spin around the floor with animator James Baxter who was lead animator for Belle so he could get a realistic feel for the way the characters should move together.
“I started out with his main problem, his selfishness,” stated Keane. “He’s a guy who’s extremely self-centered and has an incredible temper. It’d be like you could draw a picture of your emotions when you’re extremely angry. What do we look like? We look like a beast and that’s what happened to Beast and suddenly he looked the way he was inside.
“I kept thinking ‘How is it that Belle could fall in love with Beast?’ It felt very unrealistic that she would ever feel for this guy who is keeping her captive. Then he did something that was a really selfless act, the only thing he could do to show his love. He set her free. That’s where it crystallized for me.
“If I get five minutes of just me on the Beast, I’ll be happy. I like it better when it’s not scattered through the film but lumped in one section. When I watch it, my heart starts to pound. I get sweaty and my stomach gets sick. It’s awful and it’s wonderful. It’s your moment up on the screen.”
Davis on Kahl. Animator Marc Davis was asked in the L.A. Times April 21, 1987 to offer any comments about fellow animator Milt Kahl who had passed away of pneumonia two days earlier. Davis said, “He was a master draftsman, better than anyone else at the (Disney) studio, but he wasn’t interested in just drawing things. He was interested in moving them and acting. He did the straight characters who had to carry the stories in the features.”
Jay Ward’s Lesson. In the Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 10, 1989, writer Chris Hayward who worked on The Bullwinkle Show as well as several respected live action television sitcoms said, “Unlike most people in television, Jay (Ward) didn’t underestimate the intelligence of the audience. It’s the most important creative thing I ever learned. We were always taking potshots. It didn’t matter the target – politics, social status, television or ourselves.”
Don’t Work There. In New York Times Magazine November 23, 1969, producer and writer Bill Scott said, “Hanna-Barbera is an enormously efficient operation that can produce an enormous amount of footage at low cost. I wouldn’t want to work there.
“Nothing’s going to happen on a Hanna-Barbera show that you haven’t seen before. Their style of humor is about 1950 Warner Brothers: entirely predictable. As a result their techniques of animation can be done at an enormous saving. But the limited action cartoon is essentially a story medium. It has to be written richly – with lots of scenes, lots of jokes, lots of plots and really funny dialogue. Because when an animated cartoon is thin in animation, it has to be fat somewhere. But nothing happens verbally on any Hanna-Barbera show.”
The Wisdom of Walt Peregoy. In New York Times Magazine November 23, 1969, Walt Peregoy was heading Hanna-Barbera’s background department. He said, “We key the environment to the story and the personality of the characters. We create a mood and an attitude consistent with the characters. For example, Penelope Pitstop has a fresh, direct charm, so that’s the quality you try to get into the backgrounds. I keyed 101 Dalmatians (1961) and The Sword in the Stone (1963). Walt didn’t like Dalmatians. He felt it wasn’t Walt Disney. I still dream of doing a really good animated Don Quixote one day.”
Charles Beaumont. Writer Charles Beaumont wrote many “speculative fiction” stories for magazines, books, movies and for the Twilight Zone television series. He was born Charles Leroy Nutt. He wrote about two dozen comic books stories for Western Publishing including two Mickey Mouse adventures in collobration with writer William Nolan (The Mystery of the Whaler’s Cove 1955 and The Mystery of Diamond Mountain 1956).
Historian and good friend Dana Gabbard located an article written by Beaumont about comic books in the May 1955 issue of Fortnight magazine that is generally considered the first mention of Carl Barks and his work. Here is the link to the nine page article.
Why this makes it a segment of Animation Anecdotes is that I have uncovered some information that Beaumont apparently may have worked very briefly in MGM animation sometime in his early twenties (which would make it sometime in the early 1950s). I have no more information but am still digging — but by 1954 he was writing for television series and he certainly dabbled in many different fields.