Andy's Art and Whatever

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Old School

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

Two of the greatest animators who have ever lived. I discovered them while I was taking animation classes in college and every new facet of their life i uncover just makes their work even more fascinating and amazing to me. Between themselves they animated almost all of the most beloved scenes and moments you can think of in Disney cinema. The two nearly single-handedly animated the Jungle Book by themselves! So common are they that many people don’t realize that Frank and Ollie are actually TWO words instead of 1.

You might’ve actually already have seen them before and not even been aware of it. They are featured as cameo’s in both of Brad Birds first 2 films "The Iron Giant" and "The Incredibles" and they’ve been referred to many times before in numerous Disney cartoons over the years (such as Micky Mouse going to see Dr. Frankenollie in "Brain Drain"). In "The Iron Giant" Frank and Ollie lend their own voices to their animated versions of themselves playing the train conductor who tells the villain that he hit a giant metal man. In "The Incredibles" they are two old men who watch the happy ending and comment "that’s old school!"

I’ve thought about drawing them for a long time, but yesterday inspiration just struck... I drew this illustration inspired by the many caricatures of them I’ve seen.

Frank was difficult, because I didn’t want to just use the same caricature I’ve always seen, and many different variations and components went into his final design. He’s got an odd mouth and a rather wide smile which make his features hard to draw.

Ollie was by far the hardest to draw because I couldn’t find any good reference pictures of him. I’ve got the documentary "Frank and Ollie" which helped, but he’s so much taller than Frank is, yet he’s always drawn with such a round face. Finally while watching "Peter Pan" i found my way out of my difficulty. Ollie was the lead animator for Mr. Smee and when Smee tilted his head just right in this one shot, he looked just like Ollie! So my version of Ollie is actually a slightly modified version of Mr Smee from Peter Pan!

This was a labor of love and I’m really proud of how it turned out. I don’t normally go to the trouble of painting my cartoons like this, but it gives it such a nice hand-drawn and old fashioned calming feeling to it. I’m so proud of it... it’s just a shame that so many people don’t know who they were and so won’t be able to appreciate it. If you ever get a chance, look up that documentary! It’s well worth the $10 it’s going for!


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