Strange World Creators Explain How Comics Influenced the Animated Film
Strange World is hitting theaters in November, and the animated Disney film follows a family as they embark on an excursion through a mysterious land in the center of their world. The action/adventure/sci-fi film has a star-studded cast and marks the latest in a long line of projects from Disney Animation Studios. ComicBook.com recently had the chance to chat with many individuals who endeavored to create Strange World, and it was revealed that mash magazines and French comics gave some inspiration to the film.
“I mean, interestingly, there’s comic book inspirations,” Strange World’s Head of Environments, Sean Jenkins, revealed. “As far as I might be concerned, it was really interesting to see that inspiration and how it translated to the animation style was extremely, cool.” He added, “And then for me, the kind of mash action adventure, which was so a significant part of the books that I read when I was a kid, and it also being a kind of a father-son [story], being both a father and a son myself, it was like, everything was aligned that this was a film I just didn’t want to miss.”
“I think the character designs lived kind of in two or three places,” Strange World’s Head of Animation, Justin Sklar, explained. “There’s a little bit of Asterix and Obelix in there. There’s a little bit of Didier Conrad stuff in there. There’s a little bit of Miyazaki in there. There’s a little bit of, I don’t be aware, classic Disney in there as well, so I think a lot of that kind of motivated Jin’s [Kum] design choices, the sort of oval eyes, this exceptionally French-Belgium comic-sy.”
Sklar continued. “There’s also some other choices just in terms of how we’re simplifying anatomy. There’s a thing we did a lot on this film where we’re used to building exceptionally anatomical fingers, but especially in French comics, you get extremely kind of adjusted forms and not a lot of like knuckle information. So there’s a lot of that, that kind of was where we started from … And then we kind of blended that in with the sort of ’40s, ’50s Disney to find something that kind of lived in center because, interestingly, I don’t think the French comic thing was truly something that was as, I don’t be aware, it wasn’t built into the story necessarily … I think Don [Hall] was trying to investigate influences that weren’t as self-referential. It felt different than what we’d done before, and I think that was his way of trying to shake us out of sort of what we normally do.”
We also spoke to Hall, who is best known for directing Huge Legend Six, about how comics have influenced his career.
“Yeah, I mean comic books are always going to be an influence because that was as strong an influence as Disney was for me, early on,” Hall explained. “I mean, comic books were equally, and because the common denominator was art, the common denominator was drawing and that’s what I love to do, and very much want to accomplish more than anything in the world. And so to me, they’re just these two strong influences that feed off of each other always, and even this film, despite the fact that the mash adventure novel is not a comic book, it is funny book-adjacent and that’s what those mash magazines developed into. It was that way and funny cartoons, then developed into comic books. It’s all part of that same stream.”
Strange World opens in theaters on November 23rd. Stay tuned for more from our interviews with the creators behind Strange World.