Saturday, March 10, 2007
Princess comics-- behind the scenes...
The Princess program was based on '50's romance comic strips like "The Heart of Juliet Jones", "Mary Perkins" and the graphic beauty of Ken Bald's "Dr. Kildare".
I've known Ken since 1980, when he came aboard as Creative Director of Illustration at Gem Studios in NYC. In fact I helped him move in. In those pre-Google days Illustrators would file away reference in file cabinets referred to as "morgues", and their contents were called "scrap". Ken's reference filled eight file cabinets, and he knew the exact location of every bit of information.
In addition to my own assignments I'd assist Ken in small ways, like rendering product in storyboard panels. But mostly I'd observe and ask questions on the how's and whys of illustration every chance I got. Ken was very patient and generous with all of us younger guys and as a result we would learn more from him in a workweek than we'd ever learned in a semester at art school.
Mr. Bald worked at Gem until retiring a few years ago, and still accepts the occassional assignment. But mainly he's been painting and enjoying himself and the company of his wonderful wife Kaye.
When I got the go-ahead from my then VP, Janet Parks to produce the Comic Strip program my first and only choice for the illustration assignment was Ken Bald. Working from my concepts Ken produced pencil art for all of them and one final inking for the Cinderella piece. The original intention was to create the art in a more photo-realistic style, without the Disney stylizations. But we decided to stay true to the film designs- with me producing the finals and working with a "Princess Artist" and an outside production freelancer.
The best part of it all was the fact that I was able to work with my dear friend and mentor at Disney. I thought that this was the first time that Ken would be working with Disney, but I was wrong- Ken created art for the theatrical poster campaign for "Old Yeller" in its original release.
In addition to Ken's Snow White pencil art I've included a few sundays from his syndicated "Dark Shadows" comic strip. The strip was collected in paperback a few years ago, and may still be available from the publisher or Amazon.com. Here's the contact info for the publisher: Pomegranate Press, Ltd. - P.O. Box 17217 - Beverly Hills, Ca. 90209-3217. They may even have a website, so do a little searching. And while you're searching, Google Ken Bald and check out his body of work. You'll be glad you did!