With Mark Mayerson's Dumbo mosaic drawing to a close I realised I should post my impressions on the story sketches Michael Sporn posted on his "splog" back in May. They're a really interesting look at some unused (or changed) ideas the story-men came up with.
Casey Jones Jr
First of all, Casey Jr, "slow asleep" as Jerry Colonna would have it, in his shed. Notice the full name "Casey Jones Jr" which never appears in the film. (I remember a Little Golden Book or something which referred to the loco as "Casey Jones" though) The name comes from the American legendary figure of Casey Jones, who would later inspire Jack Kinney's short "The Brave Engineer".
Dumbo, Mrs Jumbo, and "friends"
Here we have the other elephants surrounding Mrs Jumbo, with Dumbo resting at her back end. Human figures can be seen in the foreground, and the backdrop (with coconut palm trees) suggests an outdoor setting. The elephants are arranged in the same semi-circular position they are when they complain about Dumbo in the film, but their expressions appear to be kind and indulgent. I'm not sure if this is meant to be a version of Dumbo's birth/delivery, but he already has the big ears.
Here we have Casey Jr (deliberately) scaring Dumbo and Timothy. Casey doesn't really behave in this manner in the film, where "he" doesn't do anything as humanised as his annoyed finger-drumming in his Reluctant Dragon segment.
Giant of the Jungle
Monarch of the Jungle
Now, these two are the big'uns. People have often wondered who Dumbo's father is. His mother is referred to as Mrs Jumbo, with a married woman's title, and Dumbo himself is originally named "Jumbo Jr." So, who is Jumbo Sr? The fact that Dumbo is delivered by a stork shows that, in this fantasy world, childbirth (and conception) doesn't really work the same way it does in our world, so we just generally assume he doesn't have, or need to have, a father.
But, these drawing suggest he was originally going to have one. Quite a famous one too, identified as "Jumbo, Giant of the Jungle", advertised on a poster for "...ingling Bros" circus. The elephants comment that Dumbo "belongs right alongside his daddy" and that "he'll be there soon". What does this mean? Are the other elephants encouraging him to go on to a greater circus? Was this before their personality/ies had been decided on? Or are they just wanting him out of their circus?
Following Pinocchio and with Bambi in production, it seems to fit the mold that Dumbo, as a young male protagonist, would have a father out there somewhere, if not by his side, and it seems that one of Dumbo's themes was, at one point, going to be about the little elephant trying to live up to his father's success. In the second sketch, look at the size of Jumbo Sr's ears! Were the storymen making these sketches even thinking there was to be anything "un-natural" about the size of Dumbo's own ears?
Keep watching this blog for more thoughts on these story sketches, and thanks to Michael Sporn for posting them up! I would be posting these as comments on his blog, if they were a bit shorter (and, if I hadnt waited until so long after he had posted them up in the first place...)
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