Monday, June 24, 2013

Mel Shaw's Beauty & the Beast

Mel Shaw was a very cool guy.
He was funny, and he could draw everything…really well…really fast! He was a wizard with pastels.
I first saw his art when I started at Disney in 1980. His office was overflowing with incredible Vis Dev work for a proposed sequel to Fantasia, then titled Musicana. As I mentioned before, the whole concept for that film was stunning!
Behind Mel in the photo are sketches for the Scheherazade sequence (top) and for Finlandia.

Mel later became a member of what I should call Le Groupe, a selection of Disney artists who in 1989 were sent to London and later the Loire Valley in order to prepare the next animated feature Beauty & the Beast. (I was lucky enough to be part of this group along with Hans Bacher, Glen Keane, Tom Sito and Don Hahn.)

You can find out more about this research trip on Hans' great blog:

Here are a few wonderful Mel Shaw doodles and sketches from this earlier version of the film.
They include Belle, the horse Philippe, but also a later eliminated character, her aunt Marguerite.

These continuity pages show several story threads: 
Maurice gets mad at his sister Marguerite, and Belle rides off on Philippe to find and prevent Gaston from killing the beast. Lovely thumbnails.

A couple of atmospheric pastels. Did this man know light or what ?!

I believe this photo was taken in a London restaurant. Hans Bacher might correct me on this.
After the death of his first wife Mel married John Lounsbery's widow Florence. She came along on the trip. And there's me with Hans.

Mel passed away not long ago on Dec. 5, 2012.
He had talents in so many areas, he was an architect, sculptor, painter and story artist.
There really wasn't anything he couldn't do.