All I had to go on was a pre-determined title, “Quintessential
Disney.” Apparently, they thought it would be a no-brainer to come up with five images that—pow!—just like that, would define
what Disney is. Uh, easier said than done. I have to admit that I had several sleepless nights trying to figure out how on
earth I would pick just five images; how I could possibly leave some things out; how, how how?
I came up with a very
long list of possibilities—scenes from Disney animated films that I thought would lend themselves well to the 3-dimensional
pop-up format. And then I had a conference call with my editors who had, in the meantime, gotten some guidance from Disney
Publishing in New York. Rule number one: keep all the images from films made by Walt Disney during his lifetime. Okay. That
would keep the book in line with the two “Treasures” books, and it had the benefit of limiting the number of films I had to
consider. Rule number two: no princesses. WHAT?! This was going to be tricky, since I had already penciled in a spot for a
pop-up image from Sleeping Beauty (which most people know is my all-time favorite Disney animated feature. Love that Prince
Philip.) It turned out that Disney Publishing was already considering a completely separate Disney Princesses pop-up book
to tie in with the new line of Princesses merchandise from Disney Consumer Products. But whatever, the reason, this eliminated
from consideration not only Princess Aurora, but also Cinderella. (Somehow, though, little Snow White managed to sneak in.)
with the list of films had been whittled down, this still left me with the dilemma of what images were “quintessentially”
Disney. I felt like there had to be some universal truths out there just waiting for me to pick up on, but I could never quite
reach them. Then, literally while lying awake one night, I had the thought: “It’s not what images are quintessentially Disney,
but what is quintessentially Disney.” In other words, what overall concepts make the best of Walt Disney’s films stand the
test of time? Almost before I could completely wake up, I had my answers: music, adventure, friendship, fantasy and romance.
I fell right asleep (ahhhhh, nothing like a flash of revelation to relax one), and the next day started to figure out which
images went with those five attributes.
The easy one first: “romance.” If you eliminated scenes with princesses, what’s
left? But of course: Lady and Tramp and their Bella Notte. (And by the way, pop-up master David Carter outdid himself on this
one by stringing the laundry up in the background on real string. I thought that was a fantastic touch.) For “music,” pretty
much my first choice was Walt’s first animated feature, and the happy-go-lucky entertainment sequence with Snow White and
Still determined to get a scene from Sleeping Beauty in the book somehow, my first choice for “adventure”
was to be a vibrant tableau of Philip fighting the dragon Maleficent amidst the thicket of thorns. Maybe it would’ve posed
some paper engineering challenges, but that would be someone else’s problem. For “friendship,” I proposed the serene scene
of Mowgli and Baloo floating down the river surrounded by 3-dimensional vines and flowers. Lastly, my strongest thought was
“how can you do a book about anything remotely quintessentially Disney and not include Mickey Mouse?” so for the “fantasy”
element, my idea was to have Sorcerer Mickey surrounded by an army of renegade brooms. For those of you who have the book,
you’re by now wondering where these last three ideas ended up. Yep—on the cutting room floor. I was never really given any
explanation for why those ideas didn’t make the grade. Perhaps they didn’t inspire the paper engineer; perhaps they didn’t
excite the folks at Disney Publishing. Who knows? But the bottom line was, I had to come up with three replacement images.
“adventure,” I started to think of rowdy boys for some reason, and the sword fight between Peter Pan and Captain Hook rushed
to mind. Done. For “friendship,” someone else suggested Bambi and Thumper. I thought it was a bit trite, personally, but it’s
a classic image and I threw Flower in for good measure. “Fantasy” was the theme that really tripped me up. I was so stuck
on Sorcerer Mickey that I just couldn’t think of anything else, but in the end somehow decided that if a wooden boy coming
to life wasn’t “fantasy,” then nothing was, so Pinocchio and Geppetto got a spot in the book.