Thursday, 30 August 2012

Animaland: The Lion

The Lion (1948) is the first in the David Hand-produced Animaland series. It was directed by Bert Felstead, with animation by Stan Pearsall, Ted Percival, Bill Hopper, John Wilson and Chick Henderson. Like the other Animaland shorts it is rough around the edges but is unusual as an example of a British studio going all-out to emulate the style of contemporary American animation. Hand, of course, was a veteran Disney animator, having directed Snow White, Bambi and numerous shorts.

The Lion appears to have been Felstead's directorial debut, as I can find no film credits for him outside of the nine Animaland films. Steve Holland has a great blog post charting Felstead's career as a comic artist in the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Despite being the star the lion, later christened Zimmy, was not the character who caught on. Instead, the crew appear to have preferred the unnamed parrot that appeared in one scene: redesigned but with voice and personality intact he served as the basis for Corny Crow, a regular character from later on in the series.


  1. That parrot also shows up in one of the later Animaland cartoons "Ginger Nutt's Christmas Circus" as a spectator who sneaks into the circus with a stolen ticket belonging to another animals from a different cartoon (the film itself reprises many characters from previous Animaland cartoons).

  2. I think that The Cuckoo, rather than The Lion, was the first Animaland cartoon - principally because Bill Hopper, who animated the Lion as a cub, told me one of the first scenes he was given to do was of the Cuckoo snoring. (I gathered that this was when he was finishing his training and they were trying him out.)

    Bill was initally cast for 'cute' characters (the Lion cub, The House Cat as a kitten) then got the title character in The Platypus, and wound up as the animator of Ginger Nutt.

  3. All the sources I've seen agree that The Lion was the first in the series to be released, so I'm guessing that they must have been released out of order. Interesting...