Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mickey Mouse Magazine


Despite growing up loving Disney animation since I was a young kid, these days I am not particularly enchanted with the company. In fact, I think that when they changed the name from Walt Disney Productions to the more corporate The Walt Disney Company, that signified the beginning of the end for me. Still, back in the 90s, I must admit I was getting some very good freelance jobs, some from within Disney itself, but mostly from their licensed vendors and publishers. Here are some samples I thought I'd post of various illustrations I had done for The Mickey Mouse Magazine, a very nicely produced publication put out by Welsh Publishing from about 1991 through 1996. They were also putting out Duck Tales Magazine at the same time, which of course was a tie-in with the popular TV cartoon. I was a regular freelancer on both publications for the duration of their run.

The art director I was dealing with on both magazines was a delightfully wacky lady with a sly sense of humour named Margaret Ottosen. Margaret was just wonderful to work with and she would always send her rough layouts to me in envelopes covered with various rubber stamped images cobbled together in amusing situations, just for a laugh.


I had a lot of fun on these illustrations, as I got to take each one from rough sketch, through clean-up pencil, to finished painting. All of these were painted in gouache on illustration board. Even if I were to do these today, at most I would only use Photoshop to perhaps paint the characters on a separate layer like an animation cel, but I would still paint the backgrounds traditionally with real paint. Trying to paint in a style as close to the look of the animated cartoon shorts was always my goal.


I also liked to include obscure secondary characters from the shorts whenever an animal was called for in a scene, rather than just make up some generic cartoon animal. The cat in the above Pluto illustration was from the cartoon, Plutopia. I guess I must like Spike the Bee, as the little rascal snuck into both of the illustrations above!

Margaret knew that I had a particular penchant for drawing the Disney ducks, so I would often get assignments featuring Donald, Daisy, and the nephews.





Alas, Disney no longer does much with their standard characters anymore. No longer in vogue in publishing or other merchandising, Mickey and friends have instead been relegated to babysitting the preschool set on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse series. Additionally, they've been given a bland CG makeover too, as the Disney brass have made it quite clear that they really don't like cartoons.

28 comments:

Willem Wynand said...

these are beautiful matey =) Defnitly reminds me of my childhood growing up with similar things =)

And yep corporate exects ruining the world chasing dollars.. same old sad story, but what can you do =)
thanx for the post

Lucky said...

Oh wow, you were an inspiration to me and I didnt even realise it! I've seen some of these pages, I used to collect these magazines for years as a kid! And I was in Bulgaria back then, after the fall of comunism there we got exposed to so many western things. Even things like disney comics wouldn't be seen/allowed before 1990. I'm so happy to see my childhood's favourite comics again!

Niki said...

I miss childish things, but I guess if anything is left to someone who doesn't like their product it's going to be bad huh? I'll never work at Kroger again.

A.M.Bush said...

i love these. they're so easy to look at. They're just so "edible".

Pat said...

Great illustrations that are pleasant to the eyes. Not like that airbrushed crap. I really like the slight textures that you leave as part of the shadows.

Bitter Animator said...

I had heard that they were stopping Mickey Mouse Clubhouse because the characters were now being seen as preschool-only. I don't know if there's any truth in that.

It is, however, one of the blandest shows of nothingness, only topped by My Friends Tigger & Pooh.

Still, got to love the Hot Dog song, eh?

Am I the only one put off by the blue of the ducks' eyes?

Pete Emslie said...

Bitter - Yeah, I may have gone a bit too deep with the blue on the ducks' eyes in the "Away We Go" illustration. It's tricky with those ducks, as you want to show some distinction between their eyes and the stark white of their bodies.

I hope that you're right about "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" coming to an end. To be fair, I think there's some decent animation on the show, but those characters just were not meant to be portrayed in CG. The whole candy-coloured plastic look of the show really puts me off. I hope that Mickey and friends get something better to do in the near future.

Jeff said...

In my somewhat clumsy english, let me say that I really enjoy your work. Cartoonist talent is becoming rare but Photoshop (which I use every day in my work as a free lance graphist here in France) will never replace it.
There is a kind of authenticity, youth and sincerity in your work that computers will never equal.

JohnK said...

I like them a lot too. Very fun to look at and much better than some of the 1970s Walt Disney magazines I have.

Pete Emslie said...

Hey John, I'm glad to see you discovered this post - I was hoping you'd see these, as I know you're a fan of gouache painted cartoon illustrations. I'm going to post up some more samples from both the Mickey Mouse and Duck Tales magazines over the next little while. I wish I could get more work like this today, but Disney just doesn't seem to do anything outside of "The Three P's": Princesses, Pixar, and Pooh. What a limited diet...

Alexander said...

Very wonderful work. I miss seeing Disney illustrations like these that are hand painted instead of coloured on a computer.

And I to wish we would see more Mickey and friends in animated form. We did get the Hose of Mouse series but I think it is no being made.
Would be nice if they made more classic story adaptations featuring them like Christmas carol, The three musketeers and Prince and the pauper movies.

Thad said...

Any advice on drawing the beaks of Donald or the nephews? I've never gotten the hang of it. Very different than Daffy's.

Thad said...

"The Three P's": Princesses, Pixar, and Pooh. What a limited diet...

Similarly the new licensee, BOOM Studios, for the Disney comics is completely abandoning the traditional format of Walt Disney's Comics & Stories, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Uncle Scrooge. We will now have comics with these characters aimed at superhero and Harry Potter fans... the exact opposite of the kind of kids and people who got attracted to Disney comics in the first place! Carl Barks, Floyd Gottfredson, Gil Turner, Al Hubbard, Don Rosa, Bill Van Horn, Daan Jippes, be damned all of yo! You may have gotten readers for over half a century, but you're old hat now!

Weirdo said...

These are great. I like how you draw the cat from "Plutopia" (which has to be one of my favorite Disney cartoons). You draw the Disney characters so well. I would love to see them in new cartoons (traditionally animated, maybe something involoving Eric Goldberg). Keep up the great work. I can learn so much from you.

Rick Roberts said...
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Rick Roberts said...

Thad:

Remember one thing about the nephews that would help you alot, their eyes are fairly above their beaks. It's not too evident here but in Bark's drawings you really notice it.


As for this post. I love these drawings and I do notice your style in here Pete. Yes, it's a shame what they are doing the characters now. All this major motion picture studios don't know what to do with their classic cartoon properties.

Rick Roberts said...

Actually I just remembered something rather interesting Disney is doing with Mickey on the Nintendo Wii.

Epic Mickey

It's a platformer about the lower Disney-verse characters trying to over throw Mickey. Google "Epic Mickey" sometime and you'll find some pretty terrific images.

This maybe the future of many classic cartoon characters and I don't think it would be a bad idea. I could imagine a Uncle Scrooge game being a terrific video game.

Pete Emslie said...

Sorry Rick, but I do not share your enthusiasm for "Epic Mickey" in the least! This is precisely the type of thing that I do NOT want to see Disney doing, as it is a complete rape of their entertainment legacy. Ugly, bleak, post-apocalyptic visions of cartoons and theme parks do not add up to Disney entertainment in my book.

Rick Roberts said...
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Rick Roberts said...

Well Pete, Disney feature films and shorts has had it's fair share of haunting and down right dark imagery, Fantasia and Sleeping Beauty come to mind. I will agree that there are some images that don't associate with Disney in Epic Mickey and that pander to more of the "steam punk" image. However, I will wait to see to some game play footage and cut-scenes to really determine if Epic Mickey maybe truely un-attractive.

Rick Roberts said...

Something that without a doubt ISN'T Disney is making the classic characters dress up like Emo/club kids, pairing them up with metrosexual anime characters, making a cut and paste story of Disney films of the past 50 years, and sticking in various cliches for "dramatic effect".

Pete Emslie said...

Well, we agree on that, anyway. "Kingdom Hearts" is certainly something else I believe to be a big, big misstep. if Disney wants to pursue some sort of adventure in the gaming market, I think they should follow along the lines of what Carl Barks was doing with his Uncle Scrooge stories - take the Disney standard characters on adventures into exotic locales. But don't mix them in with all the feature film characters, as that just destroys the mystique of the Disney animated films. Ah, if only I could run the joint....

Jack G. said...

...the Disney brass have made it quite clear that they really don't like cartoons

Ughhh! I hate suits that have no respect for buit the Disney company.

Where's Roy Disney?
Disney animation needs his support.

Sabrina Alberghetti said...
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Sabrina Alberghetti said...

I had most of these as a kid, and it's funny...now looking at the ones you've done were always my favorite growing up.

Thanks so much for sharing these, I wish kids magazines with artwork this good still existed...

Andrew Blondin said...

These are with gouache? I bought a set of Russian gouache paints awhile ago with some Winsor & Newton tubes. What do you paint on? Masonite?

Floyd Norman said...

Nice work, Pete. And yes, I do remember those days.

What you said about the Disney brass is unfortunately true. They have no love for cartoons or cartoonists. Actually, I don't think they care for Walt that much either.

Sue DiCicco said...

Hey Peter, I've been thinking about Margaret and how much fun we had with her in those days. I've asked a few friends that worked with her in NY. No one has heard from her in many years. I Googled and found this post you made, but not much else (Nice work, btw!) Have you had any contact? She was great fun, wasn't she? Sue