Holy Paraguay! Is this Walt Peregoy?! That's correct, boys and girls. These are color comps created by the gifted Disney background artist, Walt Peregoy. Honestly, I hadn't seen these comps in over fifty years. The production design work was pinned to a series of storyboards in the second floor hallway of the Animation Building. After completing his work on Walt Disney's “101 Dalmatians” and “The Sword in the Stone,” the Kipling story was Walt Peregoy's next assignment. The talented color stylist who had worked with Eyvind Earle on “Sleeping Beauty” would now tackle the styling of “The Jungle Book” by himself.
A number of young artists from the downstairs animation department made the trek upstairs to see what Walt Peregoy had done. As expected, the passionate painter had created a series of bold color comps as he explored the color styling of the latest Disney animated feature. Upstairs on the third floor, story master, Bill Peet was hard at work adapting Kipling's novel for the big screen. Peet had already created a room full of impressive storyboards and the new feature animated motion picture was clearly underway.
Peregoy was amazing having painted darn near every background in Walt Disney's “The Sword in the Stone” by himself. I know this because I made regular visits to Walt's second floor office near the rear of 2-F back in the sixties. Walt Peregoy wasn't letting any grass grow under his feet. The artist was already hard at work creating a series of color comps that would kick off the styling of the new Disney animated film. As always, Peregoy was prolific and he began creating a series of paints that showcased a bold, imaginative palette. Eager to break away from the traditional Disney house style, Walt Peregoy was ready to try something new and different.
Apparently this wasn't the thinking of Walt Disney because he immediately replaced the color stylist with the more traditional stylings of Disney veteran, Al Dempster. Of course, you also know that this was only the beginning. In time, the Old Maestro would bump heads with story master, Bill Peet over the tone of the film. “The Jungle Book” took another jarring bump when Peet quit the movie and walked out of the studio. A new story team was assembled to retool the movie, but that's another story.
Some time in the near future, this remarkable artwork will be featured at the Walt Disney Family Museum. If you're a fan of Walt Disney movies and “The Jungle Book” in particular, you might want to consider seeing this special presentation. It'll be an interesting visit to the Disney Studio in the sixties and a fun reminder of what might have been.