“Lou began working on Alice in 1946, just after the end of World War II. The way he told it, French francs were “frozen” after the war, and couldn’t be exported. They also were terribly inflated, and worth less every day. One way to get money out of the country was to invest in an American film, which could be produced in France and then shipped to America. […]He hired Art Babbitt, a former Disney animator, to design the motions of the puppets. He also had Bernyce Polifka and Gene Flury, a husband-and-wife design team from the Warner Brother’s cartoon studio, design the stylized sets and characters[.]”
She also writes about Disney’s suppression of the movie and the law suit against it.
This is a very sad thing: it would be the first of many projects of which Art Babbitt would put in enormous amounts of sweat equity with no return.
He left Disney’s expecting to make a name for himself in the burgeoning aesthetic of stylized animation, ready to leave the “fuzzy bunnies” of fairytale fare. Instead, due to no fault of his own, it was just one big let-down after another: Finnian’s Rainbow directed by John Hubley, Raggedy Ann and Andy directed by Richard Williams, and other personal projects.
These inspirational pre-production drawings (and these as well)were done in Paris around 1948, when Art Babbitt was excited about the future outside Disney, and eager to see animation stretch to new heights. Enjoy them – I’m sure Art enjoyed making them.