When I visited the Disney Animation Hat Building late last year, there were several concept art illustrations for King of the Elves on the wall. This was to be one of their CG pictures, doing the difficult job of fleshing out a Philip K. Dick short story for a family-friendly feature. Judging by the images, however, they were at least getting the look of the thing right.
The film's story was about a band of elves who adopted a human as their leader after he saved them from a troll in the Mississippi Delta, and much of the art was showing the design of the elves and the colour scheme of the delta. Very little of this ever made it online, but I've put a storyboard sketch from the film at the head of this post.
Unfortunately, a few weeks later, word spread that the film had been axed. Then all mention of it was removed from the Disney Animation website, which seemed pretty conclusive. Word came from inside Disney: the story wasn't working out, they hadn't been able to develop an involving structure, they'd put it on the shelf.
So… have they now gotten it back down again?
A new interview with artist Andy Harkness has been published by The Columbus Dispatch in which they simply report, "He's now deep into King of the Elves, a feature in the works."
So, rejoice. That's one more Disney project stepping up out of the shadows, and a very promising one at that. And it's not the only exciting thing that Harkness has on his plate:
He's illustrating a children's book, The Ballad of Nessie, for Disney that should be on shelves next spring, coinciding with the debut of an animated short by the same name he's art directing. By fall 2011, The Bug Zoo, a children's book he's writing and illustrating, should be out.
I was wondering where Nessie had gotten to. So, why's she expected to come to the surface next Spring? My best guess is that it will play in cinemas before Mars Needs Moms, due on screens in March.