Is there any better Disney film to discuss on Halloween than Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas? Today’s featured piece of concept art is a collection of drawings of Jack Skellington done by Tim Burton himself in the very early planning stages of the film
Something many people don’t realize is that Tim Burton is not just a skilled director, he is also a very talented artist and in fact started his career as an animator at Walt Disney Animation. While he was still an animator at Disney, Tim Burton wrote a poem called “The Nightmare Before Christmas” that would eventually become the famous film. After writing this story, Burton began making little sketches and doodles, both in his free time and while he was working on other projects, of the man character of the story, Jack Skellington. These experiments with Jack’s expressions and his ability to take off his head were part of that very early doodle phase. Eventually Tim Burton left Disney (the reason for this will be covered in an article in the very near future) and took his ideas for the film with him.
After establishing himself as one of Hollywood’s top directors, Tim Burton was finally able to return to his idea for The Nightmare Before Christmas and he turned back to Disney for help. He began fleshing out his original story, adding new characters and sketching out his ideas for all of them. The rest of the film’s creative team would then use those sketches as their base to create the final designs for the character, first making more detailed drawings, and finally creating the full stop-motion puppets. Throughout this whole process Tim Burton constantly offered his own input, making sure the characters came as close as possible to his unique artistic vision.
So there is the very brief story of how one animators doodles of a tuxedo wearing skeleton became a classic Halloween character.
Image Credit: Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas: The Film, the Art, the Vision