Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bill Peet

One a blog about storyboarding, it is a great oversight not to have mentioned Bill Peet earlier. Bill Peet was the greatest Disney storyboard artist ever, and would be virtually unknown if he hadn't left the studio to draw children's books during the 1960's. You can read all about his life in "Bill Peet: An Autobiography."

The world is very fortunate that Bill left the studio when he did. The quality of Disney films declined as a result (in my opinion) but he wrote and illustrated many great books for children. His amazing talent isn't hidden away in the Disney morgue, it is readily accessible for anyone who wants to experience it. If you want to learn about drawing, get these books (they are incredibly cheap for how great they are) and just look at what he does. Believe it or not I have known a couple of people in the animation business who said they didn't think Bill could draw very well. I think they were put off by the simplicity of his drawings and they didn't understand just how much knowledge went into each line that he drew, how he was communicating so much with so little effort, and just how sophisticated the palette of his quick little pastel drawings were.

Of course, there were other great Disney board artists, most of whom are unknown to the public. I will do my beat to rectify that and introduce you to their work, if you haven't seen it already.

But nobody ever did (or will) touch what Bill could do.


Cholki said...

Enough Talent and Imagination to go toe to toe with Walt. Nice

Wilbert Plijnaar said...

I find it an admirable initiative of you to drag these great storyartists from (relative) oblivion into the well deserved spotlight Mark.
Can't wait for you to deliver more insight on the late great and practically invisible Joe Rinaldi whom even John Canemaker all but ignores in his Paper Dreams.
Bill Peet is my hero and I feel up until this day he is not fully recognised at Disney for his immense contribution. For instance I was appalled to find out, the only photograph of him in animation building is placed right above a trashcan. Shame ! I am contemplating to find a worthy place for it myself if I can find a hammer and a nail.
In all seriousness: my hope is that one day someone at publication will think to honor these guys with their individual monography that includes the unseen boards and sketches which are burried in the morgue unseen by anyone but a selected few .

Anonymous said...

i met bill at a barnes and noble in 1996, he was buying 3 copies of his own autobiography. I approached him, expressed my admiration and asked him about that pic of him sitting on the floor with crumpled paper all around, he said the picture was "staged" and he thought "it was dumb". I asked him for his autograph and little did i know he had just recently had a stroke his wife intervened telling me so, adding they were sorry but couldnt do it. Bill whipped around to her saying "im fine, i can do it" in a very irritated and confident tone and insisted on signing for me. Brilliant, talented and kind. Bill Peet.


DanO said...

random thought...
i read this post about Bill Peet being accused of not drawing very well and then i dipped down below to find mention of Milt Kahl.
it made me think immediately of this quote by Milt Kahl on being an animator:

"It's a very difficult medium. Animation necessarily requires a pretty good draftsman, because you have to turn things, to be able to draw well enough to turn things at every angle. You have to understand movement, which is in itself quite a study. You have to be an actor. You have to put on a performance, to be a showman, to be able to evaluate how good the entertainment is. You have to know what's the best way of doing it, and have an appreciation of where it belongs in the picture. You have to be a pretty good story man. To be a really good animator, then, you have to be a jack-of-all-trades. I don't mean to say that I'm all these things, but I try hard. I got accused over the years of being a fine draftsman. Actually, I don't really draw that well. It's just that I don't stop trying as quickly. I keep at it. I happen to have high standards and I try to meet them. I have to struggle like hell to make a drawing look good."

its just the best quote i can think of regarding animation. its encouraging and spot on.
i tried to tattoon it on my inner lip, but alas it won't fit.
i got "will you come home with me?" instead.

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Bill Peet is the standard we all must try to live up to. Guitar players have Hendrix, we have Bill Peet. Anytime I have delusions of adequacy, I pull out a Bill Peet book, and see that I'm not even close. He deserves to be remembered along with the Nine old dudes. Where is Bill Peet's legacy panel?
A true unsung hero.

geenpool said...

I loved ALL of Bill Peet's books as a kid...hell, i still do...I'm buying them for my daughter. He made me want to draw. i would just look at the pictures, read the stories, and then draw, draw, draw. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thinks Bill kick's ass.

Benjamin De Schrijver said...

Can anyone of you advise any specific books? The autobiography, or any of the children books? They aren't available here in Belgium so I'd have to order one or two through amazon if I decide to buy any.

mark kennedy said...

Bill earliest books were more cartoony and stylized - later they became more literal. I like his early ones -

Hubert's Hair-Raising Adventure
Huge Harold
Fly Homer Fly
Kermit the Hermit

Are good to start. His Autobiography and Capyboppy are both in black and white. I like them a lot, but Bill's color sense is amazing, so get some color ones for sure.

Benjamin De Schrijver said...


OV! said...


yeah man, Bill is "THE" story artist.

i just wish i could find his complete "101 dalmatians" & "sword in the stone" storyboards.


Paige Keiser said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paige Keiser said...

Wow, your blog is an absolute treasure chest! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your wealth of knowledge--I can't wait to read all of your earlier posts!

Kevin Deters said...

Well said, Mark! With the gaining popularity of story sketches done digitally in photoshop and other programs, I think it is really important to keep an eye on the past (specifically Peet) to remind one not to be too tempted by all the extra stuff that the computer will allow you to do...keep it simple and clear, like Bill!

warren said...

I CAN"T WAIT to see more story artists' stuff! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do it

I work in a home studio in a tiny little Ontario town. It's tough to keep inspired some days, even though my shelves are overflowing with reference. The thing is, storyboard books are hard to find and hardly cut into the actual role when i do find them.

This is my equivalent to strolling down a big-assed studio's halls and getting inspired by what other artist's have on their desks/walls, and blabbing about it.

(Re)learning a lot over here. Can't thank you enough! Glad you're addicted :>

mark walton said...

All I can say is AMEN to all that has already been said. Bill Peet was a genius! Your 'blog is worth reading for his stuff alone!