One of many the fun behind-the-scenes moments of the recent Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) was watching animation historian Jerry Beck go through boxes and boxes of animation art and ephemera at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum the afternoon before introducing a program of films from the Walter Lantz Studio at the Wex.
This was Jerry’s fourth visit with us, but his first since the Billy moved into its amazing new facility, and he was very excited to get a special tour of the museum, and to help the staff identify as much of the art work as he could in the time available—a game of beat the clock for one of the world’s pre-eminent animation historians.
With the Billy’s Caitlin McGurk and Ann Lennon showing him work and documenting his comments, and me trying to confirm Jerry’s hunches online, we spent the afternoon looking at cels, pencil sketches, scripts, promotional material, storyboards, character references, and more for the better part of the afternoon.
Much of the work was immediately recognizable to all of us: cels from The Fox & the Hound, Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings, and the Fleischer Studio’s Gulliver’s Travels; pencil drawings from Disney’s Peter Pan and Pinocchio, for example. What was really amazing was watching Jerry look at a single drawing or cel from a film—even featuring a well-known character such as Donald Duck—and nail the film on the first or second guess, confirmed by finding a corresponding still image or even the finished film online.
It was a whirlwind of an afternoon—fun, educational, and, truth be told, even a little exhausting but one that was a highlight of CXC’s hugely successful inaugural weekend.
Below is a small sample of the work identified by Jerry.
All images are from The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum's International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection.
Alpine Climbers (1936) Pencil drawing for a Disney short featuring Mickey, Donald, and Pluto.
Dumb Bell of the Yukon (1946) Pencils drawing for Disney short featuring Donald Duck.
Sleepy Time Donald (1947) Series of pencil drawings for Disney short featuring Donald Duck.
The Haunted Mouse (1941) Original pencil drawing of character poses for Tex Avery cartoon at Warner Bros.
The Coyote’s Lament (1961) Cel with background painting from “Walt Disney Presents” television show.
And three more that didn’t need identification but are worth sharing:
Fantasia (1940) Pencil and colored pencil drawing for the “Dance of the Hours” sequence.
Mickey’s Nightmare (1932) – pencil sketch for Disney short.
Gulliver’s Travels (1939) – one of numerous consecutive pencil drawings for Fleischer Studio’s feature.