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Disney's last cartoon

Classic Disney animator Milt Kahl

Milt Kahl, one of the key animators of "The Jungle Book", along with Ken Anderson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Kahl was responsible for animating the King Louie, Shere Kahn and Kaa characters.

A children’s book artist and really any illustrator is taught to think of the human or animal figure’s action in the moments before and after the pose.

"Woolie" Reitherman, director of "The Jungle Book"

Animators don’t merely think about the action, they include every bit and use it to define the souls of their characters.

An exquisite example of this, often thought of as the animator’s animated feature, is Disney’s 1967 movie The Jungle Book .

First published in 1894 and 1895, the Jungle Book stories are now in the public domain.

When Rudyard Kipling wrote them early in his career he had no idea that he’d become the first English language recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature or that in 1967 an animated cartoon musical would be made of them featuring the vocals of jazz musicians Phil Harris (Baloo the Sloth Bear) and Louis Prima (the Orangutan king.) Life is always stranger than fiction.

During the production longtime Disney storyboard artist-writer Bill Peet, who had first suggested The Jungle Book to Disney would leave after an argument with him over the story direction — and begin a new career as a children’s book author-illustrator.

The Beatles would burst upon the American scene and inspire a sequence in the film involving a quartet of cockney singing vultures.  And Disney would die of lung cancer the year before the film’s release in 1967.

Disney animators act out a scene

Bill Peet acts out with other Disney animators

For the next couple of decades the animation studio would founder without his genius — until the “Disney Renaissance” that began with The Little Mermaid (1989) and Beauty and the Beast (1991)

But The Jungle Book, the last animated film with his personal touch was an immediate  hit.

It is said to be the 29th highest grossing film of the U.S.

These are the last two videos from the documentary on the making of The Jungle Book. You can see parts 1 and 2 here and parts 3 and 4 here.

Publisher Lee & Low “New Voices” Honor book launch in Austin

Author-illustrator Don Tate and illustrator R. Gregory Christie create nonfiction picture book magic with their story of one of the great 20th century American artists. (It’s probably not who you think it is.) See the new post on How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator with the video interview of Don discussing his experience of writing a biography for the youngest readers.

Mowgli rides -- from Disney's "The Jungle Book"
Author-illustrator Mark Mitchell is the writer of this post and creator of the Make Your Splashes-Make Your Marks! online course on children’s book illustration.
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