In “Tinker Bell: An Evolution” by Mindy Johnson we get to explore a detailed look at the history of Tinker Bell as well as the story of Peter Pan and the Disney film. Evolution may be a bit of an understatement for Tinker Bell, her history had many twists/turns/stop and goes and that is just the Disney portion. This book chronicles the challenges of bringing a Pixie to the stage and screen. The development time for each medium was substantial and underwent a lot of revisions. Mindy Johnson has put together an interesting narrative to tell this story and combined it with numerous archival photos, sketches, concept art, and storyboards from Disney as well as other collections to not only tell but show Tinker Bell’s story.
Mindy starts at the beginning with James Matthew Barrie who was a successful author and play write in the late 1800’s and early 1900s. Barrie wrote the original stage version of Peter Pan starting in 1903 and it opened on December 27, 1904. After some trial and experimentation it was decided that Tinker Bell was to be no more than a light reflection for her first appearances and would have no voice, just some bells and sound effects. In November of 1924 Peter Pan took to the silver screen with a silent film released by Paramount. Disney came into the picture in 1939 when Walt acquired the film rights from Paramount Pictures. The project as well as Tinker Bell’s look and role went through many transformations over the next decade and a half until the film was finally finished and released on February 5, 1953. Tinker Bell went on to play a role in Disney projects including television, Disneyland, merchandising, and in 2006 a leading role in her own film as the Fairies franchise was launched.
The largest portion of the book is devoted to the development of Disney’s film and as the title suggests the evolution of Tinker Bell. There are numerous pieces of concept art from the several years of development demonstrating just how much work goes into these films and the number of concepts that have to be explored to reach the final film is produced. The hundreds of concept drawing for just one character is a staggering amount of effort and that is before the thousands of drawings that the final film requires. If you are a fan of concept art this book will not disappoint. Every page features an image or set of images and there are quite a few full page and two page spreads featuring concept art, photos, or story boards.
Being a fan of the parks I tend to gravitate toward those sections. There is a small section/couple of pages on Tinker Bell’s role at Disneyland and some info on the early Tinker Bells. Being the geek that I am I was really hoping for more on this including a look at her role at the other parks and something on the new system that was put in place for Tinker Bell’s nightly flight at Disneyland for the 50th Anniversary of the park that allowed for more than a single fly by.
I found the book to be an enjoyable read and I learned quite a bit about the origins of the story and the numerous images and pieces of art included in the book were impressive. It was interesting to see the various attempts to define and create Tinker Bell and how many avenues were explored before they found the look that we have all come to expect.
The Geek’s Library includes a listing of many Disney related books I have collected over the years and my thoughts on them.