Disney artists bid to recapture classic hand-drawn animation


Veteran Disney animator, James Lopez has worked in the industry for over 25 years. He was lead animator on The Emperor's New Groove and Hercules, and worked as a character animator on Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog and Timon in The Lion King.

His studio credits extend to Warner Bros. and Dreamworks, in both television and film, and he has tried his hand successfully at everything from storyboarding and layout to art direction, production and character design. With such a wealth of experience and talent, it was only a matter of time before he put these skills towards a project of his own, cue Hullabaloo!

The art of animation


Hullabaloo presents a unique steampunk world, full of science fiction heroines and villainesses

Hullabaloo is a handdrawn, 2D animated film that hopes to help preserve the dying art of 2D animation – a field in which James flourished back in the 90's. With the project, the team hope to showcase their imagined steampunk world and inspire investors to fund a full length 2D feature.

hullabaloo cat and ver

Hullabaloo turns the tables on the tradional Disney storyline - there are no damsels in distress, both hero and villain are female

"My wife suggested the concept of doing a Steampunk themed animated film few years ago," says James, "when I was trying to think of a good project to be done with 2D animation."

When James thought about doing the project, back in 2011, there wasn't (and still isn't) a lot of 2D animation being produced or even on the horizon of being done to the standards he says he had come to know.

"I felt as though it would be a shame if it were to go down in history as to why 2D animation went away was because of a lack of ideas or even a willingness to keep trying to make it successful."

cheshire cat

James has created a state of the art steampunk world, here is the villainess who wears an Alice in Wonderland styled Cheshire Cat disguise

Instead of waiting around for someone else to go ahead and come out with an idea, he decided to be proactive and initate his own project:

"I felt as though it was important to keep the artform in good practice and so there really was no other choice to be made other than to step forward and do it."

hullabaloo veronica daring

With a list of animators that includes Disney veterans, Hullabaloo promises to highlight why hand-drawn animation is an important artform

James enlisted some top-notch Disney pros to make his vision a reality including The Proud Family creator and Tarzan animator Bruce Smith, and veteran Disney animator who worked on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, Rick Farmiloe.

Veronica Daring

Veronica Daring is a Disney Princess for the new age: a brilliant young scientist

Other animators include: Sarah Airriess who worked on Big Hero 6 and Paperman, Minkyu Lee who worked as an animator on Frozen, Curious George's Samantha Youssef and Sandro Cleuzo, yet another veteran whose work can be seen in Enchanted and Kung Fu Panda.

Work in progress


Veronica Daring dons her mask and becomes the formiddable title character to save her father

The boasts a fiesty and strong female as the lead, far removed from a Disney princess – a progressive move for traditional 2D storylines.

It's the story of Veronica Daring, a brilliant young scientist who returns home from an elite finishing school to find her father (an eccentric inventor) missing without a trace!

Veronica Daring

One of James' original design sheets sees the brilliantly steampunk-styled Veronica Daring

Veronica assumes the secret identity of "Hullabaloo", a goggled crusader who uses wits and science to combat evil and rescue her father.

Watch the "proof of concept" trailer

"It's coming along slowly but definitely surely! Everything so far is looking great!" James reveals. "Although we are anxious to show it to the public so they can enjoy it, we're not rushed. Good things take time."

"We are currently in production on two of the films that will partly serve as a proof-of-concept to potential investors who will hopefully see the value in this property and the art form to want to support it to continue producing films like it."

Hullabaloo cat

The villainess of the story - donned in a cheshire cat mask, is a formiddable foe for Veronica Daring, who is striving to save her father

The team also have a series of educational videos that they are looking to create and have funded, to help further their passion for saving 2D animation. "We also have 2 video games that are in development as well as other ancillary merchandise that we are very excited about."

cheshire cat concept

The purrfect villain - concept sketches for the mysterious Cheshire cat

As well as this, James and the team are documenting the journey of making Hullabaloo.

There will be 4 shorts in total, James says, "We're hoping to be mostly, if not completely, done with the first two shorts this November."

Watch this space!

Watch the sizzle reel

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Alice Pattillo

Alice Pattillo is a freelance journalist with a passion for heavy metal, horror, science fiction, fantasy and comics. She has over seven years experience in magazines, formerly working as a staff writer at Creative Bloq, Imagine FX, Computer Arts and 3D World, as production editor for Guitar World and Guitar Player and online editor of Metal Hammer.