A Cricket's Return

Digital animation may be slick and polished but few things outshine the glory of a hand ink, hand painted cel. I often look at this Jiminy Cricket in my private collection and it’s a wonder to behold. This was the way animation used to be when it was a hand made product.

If you’re a Disney geek you’ll know that this particular cel is not from Walt Disney’s famous animated masterpiece, “Pinocchio.” Nope, this is one of the Jiminy Crickets we did when we were working on the Disney television shows. If you look closely you’ll notice that the ink outline is heavier than the rather delicate inked lines created for the feature film. Back in the fifties, Walt Disney put the cricket back to work and he appeared in a number of television shows. He was seen on occasion on the Mickey Mouse Club that aired daily on ABC. The famous cricket was also used by Walt to hawk products in television commercials. I’m sure the Old Maestro was not totally thrilled by using his famous characters in this manner, but the studio was hard pressed for cash and Walt needed the money. We didn’t even need to hire a sound alike to do the voice of the cricket because Cliff Edwards, although up in years, was still available. It was not unusual to see the once famous, “Ukulele Ike” walking down hallway of the Animation Building.

Yes, boys and girls, back in the day the animator’s drawings were once inked and painted by hand by talented young women in the Ink & Paint Department. Animation was a totally hand made product and the digital revolution was still decades away. This was a time when Disney animation was tangible art and you could hold an original in your hands. Today, you can’t hold anything except a bunch of ones and zeros. Call me old fashion, but there’s still something very special about a hand inked and painted animation cel. Don’t you agree?

I worked on these animated Jiminy Cricket television commercials back in the fifties. The famous cricket returns, and he's inked and painted by hand.

I worked on these animated Jiminy Cricket television commercials back in the fifties. The famous cricket returns, and he's inked and painted by hand.