Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cartoon a Day: Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan
Directed by Les Clark
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures - Disney Rarities

In keeping with the theme of so-called "one-shot" cartoons, let's look at one from Disney. "Paul Bunyan" is the studio's take on an American legend, and let's face it, nobody does faerie tales and legends like Disney. I can remember watching this film in the library at school one day, I had to be in kindergarten or first grade. It's strange to think now, but that was less than 20 years after this film was made.

This is a great example of the 50's style of design that is so much fun. Other Disney shorts such as "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" and "Pigs is Pigs" also employed this style. It's hard describe, but there are a lot of hard angles to the characters, some minimalist techniques used for background elements, and interesting uses of color.

This style seems perfectly suited to a story like this to me. In some ways it creates the look of another world, but at the same time it's a world that is based in what is familiar to us. Which is sort of the point when it comes to legends like Paul Bunyan.

Some folks get a little down on Disney for being too cutesy. This is an example of Disney doing a cute story but with a very stylized artistic approach.

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