Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man (My 1st Impressions of this new book)

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I think all disneygeeks probably know the name Marc Davis. Walt Disney described Marc as his Renaissance man. “Marc can do story, he can do character, he can animate, he can design shows”.

Marc was one of Walt’s Nine Old men, a storied animator who worked on many of the studios early films and key characters. He brought some of Disney’s most famous (Cinderella, Alice, Tinker Bell) and infamous (Maleficent and Cruella De Vil) characters to life.

Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man

Walt asked Marc to join WED Enterprises (now known as Imagineering) in the early 60s and Marc made an impact on the 1964 World’s Fair shows and bringing more humor into the park (starting with the Jungle Cruise). He went on to be a key developer for many favorite attractions including Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Country Bear Jamboree as well as the World of Motion at Epcot Center. In addition to this Marc was also a well-respected teacher and mentor. And to top it off in his off hours he created works of art using a variety of mediums. Marc’s wife, Alice Davis, was also an Imagineer many may some of her most known work is for the costumes in it’s a Small World as well as Pirates of the Caribbean.

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The book consists of 10 chapters. Each features an essay focused on a quality of Marcs written by a friend/peer/student. These include Bob Kurtz, Andreas Deja, Glen Keane, Pete Docter, Charles Solomon, Marty Sklar, Don Hahn, Paula Sigman Lowery, and Mindy Johnson. Topics covered include Marc as a Teach, Animal Studies, Sketchbooks, Anatomy of Motion, Animation Art, Chanticleer, Imagineering, Fine Art, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands and Miss Alice. The format for each is the essay that talks about the topic and references several examples. Then several pages of examples from various collections showcasing Marc’s work.

Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man

As soon as I heard about this book several months ago I was very interested in it. It was not what I originally expected but instead a much more interesting read. I am about as far from an artist as you can get talent wise, but reading how Marc observed the world around him and broke those observations down to understand how it worked then translated it to his artwork is not that different from how an engineer or computer programmer looks at a problem and breaks it down to try solutions. The chapter I found the most interesting is the one that featured excerpts from an unpublished book by Marc that talks about the anatomy of motion. As a fan of the parks and many of Marc’s contributions there I would really have liked to have seen more than one chapter devoted to this work. But I am sure given the huge amount of material and interests cuts had to be made and Imagineering is only one of the many segments that make up Marc’s history. The format for this hard cover book allows the artwork to be shared in a large format, including many two page spreads throughout. I think most disneygeeks will enjoy learning more about this Disney Legend and will appreciate not just the Disney concept art and sketches in the book but some of the backstory to the man who brought these to life for us all.

The book is available widely now including Amazon as well as in the Disney Parks.


All images in this post are provided by Disney Editions

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