ANIMATION ANECDOTES
June 22, 2018 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #368

DRAGON’S LAIR: THE LEGEND. With the popularity of Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair videogame, plans were made for a sequel involving time travel and a possible feature length animated film entitled Dragon’s Lair: The Legend. Writer Alan Dean Foster was brought in to work on the story for the feature.

Bluth told a reporter: “I think we have a really good shot with the movie version. If the Dragon’s Lair name appears on a movie marquee, kids won’t be threatened by it. They won’t feel shy about going into the theater. Seeing Snow White might embarrass them, but Dragon’s Lair is already theirs.

“We figure we can fashion a really good Dragon’s Lair movie. We’re pulling out all the stops. We’re going to give them everything they want to see. Answer all their questions about our hero, Dirk, and his background. At the same time, we’re not going to aim the subject matter at the nursery level. We’re going to aim up.”

However, rather than follow the non-stop adventure format used in the game itself, Bluth developed a story of how Dirk and Daphne met as teenagers. He also included a main villain named Mordroc who looked and acted a lot like the Horned King character in Disney’s The Black Cauldron (1985).

A short film was produced to interest investors consisting of thirty or so lavish story sketches narrated by Michael Rye who had narrated the original game. The pitch reel also showed some of the work being done on the sequel to the Dragon’s Lair game.

One executive commented that Bluth should turn that idea into a feature instead. When the game market died, so did the interest in any LAIR project. Dragon’s Lair: The Legend is the name of a game released for Nintendo Game Boy in 1991 with little connection to the proposed feature film. A short lived Saturday morning animated television series by Ruby Spears with no involvement from Don Bluth, other than supplying some model sheets from the original game, was shown on ABC in 1984.


Faith Hubley. I got a chance to meet and talk with animator Faith Hubley in 1996 when I worked at the Disney Institute and she told me the next time she saw me, she expected to see a short animated film from me because she knew I could do it. I later found out she told everybody the same thing. I never saw her again and she died in 2001.

Faith Hubley

From the New York Times November 4, 1983, Faith who was teaching at Yale University said, “Johnny (her husband animator John Hubley who passed away in 1977) was a genius so part of what I want to do at Yale is make sure that anybody who’s interested in what he did can come there and find out about it. I say to my students, ‘I’ll share with you what I’ve learned but you get out there and go work like you’re really making a movie’.

“People used to tell me I looked like Johnny and that we had the same smile. And one day, I saw this guy walking down Hollywood Boulevard and he was wearing this Army uniform with a million creases, and his tie was off to one side and he had this big grin with a lot of teeth hanging out and I thought, ‘It has to be him’. (It was. She was 18 and John was 28. Faith had been working as a messenger for Columbia Pictures and doing lights for a theater group at night.)

“We were good parents. We made films in a place the kids could walk in and out of. They knew what Mommy and Daddy were doing. (Moonbird in 1959 was edited down to ten minutes from a three-hour improvisational conversation between the two small Hubley sons that John and Faith recorded.)

“I have drawn and painted all my life. I never made money at it but I don’t accept that as a criterion of anything. And I’m musical not verbal. I could play a Beethoven sonata before I could put a sentence together. But we live in a world where linear verbal thinking is preferred. Students are asked to verbalize, verbalize, write paper after paper. They come into my class and say they can’t draw. I say, ‘That’s ridiculous. When you were in nursery school, didn’t you draw? Does anybody tell you if you can’t write like Proust, you think you can’t write a sentence?’

“You have to work if you’re not born rich and I wasn’t born rich. The working is not that hard. Living is hard. And staying open when you’ve had a big pain is hard. And mourning is very hard. I’m still not over it. I still wait for Johnny to walk in the door.”


Creating Jafar. From the New York Times May 19, 1996, animator Andreas Deja said, “When I came onto Aladdin (1992) after Beauty and the Beast (1991) a lot of work had been done by story artists and there were some voice recordings by Jonathan Freeman, who was the voice of Jafar, to listen to. I talked to the directors and then animated a few scenes. You talk not about how it’s to be drawn. You talk about who the character is, what’s going on in his mid, how he relates to other characters, what’s going on in the scene before and after. You talk movie stuff.

“And the more I animated, the more I found that the less I move Jafar, the more menacing and the more of a presence he becomes. All of the characters are so bouncy. I decided if I just created this guy who watches everything from a distance, it created this dark cloud over all that bounciness. Whenever I could, I would do things with an eyebrow or a little head tilt and he became so much more evil.”


Bat Voices. Batman: The Animated Series episode entitled “Showdown” featuring the character of Jonah Hex, (September 1995) was the last acting role (as a barmaid) for actress Elizabeth “Betwitched” Montgomery who passed away in May 1995. The episode also showcased voice work by Patrick Leahy, the Democratic Senator from Vermont as the terriotrial governor. Leahy was a huge fan of Batman comics and had small cameos in live action Batman films like Batman Forever, Batman and Robin, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises and Batman Vs. Superman: The Dawn of Justice. All royalties and fees from Leahy’s roles have been given, as charitable donations, to the Kellogg-Hubbard library in Vermont where he read comic books as a child.

11 Comments

  • The second Dragon’s Lair game was eventually released in 1991.

  • I’m working on a Dragon’s Lair machine right now. The laserdisc player was going bad so we purchased a “DEXTER” board to completely replace the disc player. All video files are now on a USB thumb drive now instead of the laserdisc. Machine works so much better.

  • “However, rather than follow the non-stop adventure format used in the game itself, Bluth developed a story of how Dirk and Daphne met as teenagers.”

    Sounds like it’s the same basic story that he’s still trying to get made as an animated feature today, then: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dragon-s-lair-returns-animation#/

  • OMG! As lush and gorgeous as the Dirk was….this tv-thing is the 60s Popeye of Dirk!!

    • I was also struck by how much they “cleaned up” the design of Princess Daphne.

  • “They come into my class and say they can’t draw. I say, ‘That’s ridiculous. When you were in nursery school, didn’t you draw? Does anybody tell you if you can’t write like Proust, you think you can’t write a sentence?’
    “You have to work if you’re not born rich and I wasn’t born rich. The working is not that hard. Living is hard. And staying open when you’ve had a big pain is hard. And mourning is very hard. I’m still not over it. I still wait for Johnny to walk in the door.”–Faith Hubley.

    Faith was rightly named. It takes a lot of faith to pick our self up after a shattering experience and continue but what choice do we have? Kudos to her and to you for sharing. So many people believe they can’t because someone in authority told them they couldn’t. Part of my work is showing them they can. Sometimes I feel so defeated I need to be reminded myself. It does not get easier as we grow older nor do I want it to. We build muscles by lifting weights. We build our lives by lifting the weights life sends us. Good woman.

  • If there is one thing I have to respect about Bluth despite his shortcomings: he can create a proper model sheet.

  • DIdn’t Don Bluth & company in recent years had kickstarter for a new Dragon’s Lair feature? How’d that go?

  • “‘That’s ridiculous. When you were in nursery school, didn’t you draw?”
    My brother draws 3 successful web comics. When asked in interviews, “When did you start drawing?”, he turns that around to “When did you stop?”. So true. We all drew.

  • Can it really be 23 years since Montgomery passed away? Where did the time go??

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