Monday, May 18, 2015

Jiminy Cricket

Designing a character can be a tricky thing. Sometimes the first few sketches an artist does hit the mark right away, and everybody agrees that this is the character as he or she should appear in the film. Then again, occasionally there are those times when nothing you draw seems to please the directors or the studio chief.
I remember what troubles I had when trying to get the required appearance for Gaston. Scar by contrast was a breeze. 
Ward Kimball surely was looking forward to animating Jiminy Cricket, after the bad experience he just had on Snow White. His brilliantly animated "Soup Eating Sequence" had been cut from the film, and now it was time for a fresh start on the next feature film Pinocchio. Even though Walt Disney personally assigned the Cricket to Kimball, the animator didn't seem to be able to please the boss with his initial designs. Not appealing, too grotesque and insect like! After many revised versions in which Ward de-insectified the design, Walt finally approved a design that though very appealing had very little to do with the anatomy of a real cricket. 
Joe Grant came up with these early rough model sketches, shown above.

The folks over on Fantasia drew cricket designs like this one, when a variety of insects were part of a musical piece for the film. Kimball basically used this kind of concept for his initial Jiminy designs.

Joe Grant's model department created this maquette, based on early concepts. I really love this version of the character.

The final model, in Kimball's words, turned out to be a little man with an egg-shaped head.

This beautiful animation drawing by Ward shows that he came to terms with Walt's vision for the character. Frank and Ollie thought that his animation of Jiminy Cricket was the most sincere he ever did.

In case you don't know yet, there will be Christmas this May. At the end of the month, J. B. Kaufman's book on the making of Pinocchio will be out, and I guarantee that it will be a major treat.
Here is the link to Amazon:

Some images are Heritage Auctions/Disney.