Bill Peet during the production of Disney's "Dumbo" (1941).
Bill Peet during the production of Disney’s “Dumbo” (1941).

Happy centennial birthday to Bill Peet (1915-2002) who was born in Grandview, Indiana, exactly one hundred years ago today.

If I ever had to name the artists who were most responsible for establishing the Disney feature animation style, Peet would rank very near the top of the list. Of course, animation is a collaborative art form, which makes even more remarkable the amount of influence that he single-handedly exerted upon the classic Disney films as both a story artist and designer. It’s a measure of his talent that he was able to make significant creative contributions for a span of twenty-five years on everything from Dumbo (1941) through Jungle Book (1967).

It is also unlikely that any story artist will replicate Peet’s feat of storyboarding an entire big-studio feature by himself, as he did with 101 Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone.

Below you’ll find a small gallery of Peet’s incredible draftsmanship, craft, and creativity. For more, we recommend his official website, Michael Sporn’s website for Peet’s storyboards, this analysis of Peet’s compositions by story artist Dave Pimentel, and this appreciation by story artist Mark Kennedy. Many of the images below are from animator Andreas Deja, who often posts about Peet on his blog though the posts are untagged so you have to search for them.

It’s also worth mentioning the following two books: Bill Peet’s candid illustrated autobiography and John Canemaker’s Paper Dreams: The Art And Artists Of Disney Storyboards, which contains an entire chapter devoted to Peet.

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