We love to hate them. How else do we best describe all of those animated Disney villains we have come to know over the years? Now, 10 of the most dastardly of the Disney evil-doers will appear on a set of stamps issued on a sheet of 20 forever stamps by the U.S. Postal Service.
The stamps were announced today and will be issued July 15 during D23 Expo 2017 — a Disney fan event — July 15 at the Anaheim, California Convention Center.
Among those featured will be the antagonist from Disney’s first animated feature-length film, the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
The other villains appearing are Honest John, from Pinocchio (1940), Lady Tremaine, from Cinderella (1950), the Queen of Hearts, from Alice in Wonderland (1951), Captain Hook, from Peter Pan (1953), Maleficent, from Sleeping Beauty (1959), Cruella De Vil, from One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), Ursula, from The Little Mermaid (1989), Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast (1991), and Scar, from The Lion King (1994).
Art director Derry Noyes of Washington, D.C, designed the stamps.
The stamps also are a tribute to the women — most of them young and eager to work for Disney — who worked long hard hours in the Ink and Paint Division to trace and color the film cels that were used to create the early Disney films, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio and Fantasia.
The department was formed in 1923. In the early days of animation, creating a film was a painstaking process. After the animators’ pencil drawings were finished, they went to Ink and Paint at which thousands of cels had to be created by tracing and coloring.
There, highly specialized artists meticulously recreated each pencil line in ink, capturing every nuanced movement and expression. In the early 1930s, the artists began using rich colors on the animation cels.
About 100 female inkers and painters would rouse themselves as early as 4:30 in the morning and work as much as 85 hours a week to do the intricate work in order to finish the film on time.
The last full-length animated Disney film to use the hand-painted cel process was The Little Mermaid (1989). Beauty and the Beast (1991) and The Lion King (1994) were hand drawn. The original pencil drawings for those films were then scanned and painted digitally. For these stamps, the characters Gaston (Beauty and the Beast) and Scar (The Lion King) have been recreated using traditional ink and paint techniques.
Patricia Zohn in 2010 wrote a fascinating story about the inkers and painters for Vanity Fair. She used much material from her aunt, Rae Medby McSpadden, and her friends, who worked in the Disney animation studios full-time in the early years and off-and-on into the 1960s.
“If you were there by nine you got the black pen,” remembers painter June Walker Patterson in Zohn’s story. “They’d change pens exactly at nine—when you got the red pen. I was in the red every time. I was docked for every minute that I was late.”
Rae made her way to Los Angeles and had been lucky to get in with the last trainees of January 1936. She was hired in January 1936 after five unpaid months and weekly, nerve-racking “elimination days,” when accuracy and speed were meticulously reviewed, Zohn wrote.
“ ‘They were very demanding,’ inker Yuba Pillet O’Brien remembers in Zohn’s story. ‘Out of our class [‘35] of 60, they only hired 3 and 1 was let go.’ All for the starting salary of $16 per week. But what some candidates lacked in experience or art education, they made up for in moxie.”