Merry Christmas everyone! Today I’m sharing a piece of concept art from a Christmas classic, Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Isn’t this concept art of Scrooge in his house just gorgeous? I’m not 100% sure who the artist is, but judging by the technique used, the style of the drawing, and what I know about the short’s production, I’m going to guess it may have been either Michael Peraza or Don Griffith. The technique used to create this concept art, and all of the art in the film, is actually pretty incredible. It was based on a combination of old-fashioned printing press techniques and the xerox techniques used on 101 Dalmatians and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The technique is a little complicated to explain, but basically the artists hand-drew everything in special ink pens, xeroxed the drawings onto a new piece of paper, and then filled in all of the lines with watercolours. As you can see the final product created by this complex technique is stunning, and perfect for a story that takes it’s roots from the Victorian Period.
The story of how Mickey’s Christmas Carol came about is also a fascinating one. In the 1970s, Walt Disney Records created an audio retelling of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol using the voices of famous Disney characters. The star of this record was Donald Duck’s uncle, Scrooge McDuck, who had been previously featured in Disney comics. He was voiced by the Scottish co-writer of the record, Alan Young, who would go on to be Scrooge’s official voice until his death last year. One day Disney storyman Burny Mattinson heard the record, and asked Disney CEO Ron Miller if he could make it into a short film. He was given the green light to make the project and work began on adapting the classic tale as the record had. Of course, some changes were made for the film version, especially to the cast of characters used to to play the roles of the ghosts. While in the record Merlin from The Sword in the Stone played the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past, Jimminy Cricket from Pinocchio took over the part in the film version. In the record, the role of the Ghost of Christmas Future was played by the hag from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but in the film the role was recast and given to a different villain, Pete from the original Mickey Mouse cartoons. These changes were made for style reasons, as the realistic animation of Merlin and the hag would have stuck out like a sore thumb next to more cartoony characters like Scrooge. Soon a team of animators were chosen to bring these classic characters to life, many of whom went on to be some of the biggest names in animation. Mark Henn, one of my favorite animators, took on the task of animating Mickey Mouse, Glen Keane animated Willie the Giant, and even John Lasseter contributed. This crew of very talented animators helped make Mickey’s Christmas Carol the popular classic that children everywhere watch every Christmas season.
Hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about this classic Disney short film. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! and Happy Holidays!