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.