Genre: Animated Film
Studio: MovieToons division
Company Walt Disney Pictures
Project Phase: Cancelled
Source: Disney History
[Swabbies was the second in what was supposed to be a number of half hour projects to get the classic Disney characters back in the spotlight. The first was the ill fated Sport Goofy in Soccermania caught in the midst of studio regime change. This was the very first Disney Special Projects Unit and was set up off the lot to cut costs and train new animation talent. It was a bold stroke at the time, using Acme-punched paper rather than Disney punched paper (so that more people could use existing home set-ups to freelance on it). Everything was done on Acme 12 field rather than Disney’s much larger paper (which roughly translated to an Acme 16 field) to save line mileage. Paints were off-the-shelf Cartoon Colour Cel Vinyl rather than the Disney Studio’s custom mixed paints. It also inadvertently turned out to be a great training ground for the new bruising method of studio politics as practiced by some of the masters of full contact studio politics, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Eisner. Needless to say, Special Projects did not fare well under such heavy hands.
The basic premise of Swabbies was a retread of Stripes, the now classic Bill Murray/Harold Ramis comedy. The story found our heroes, Mickey, Donald and Goofy out of work, out of luck and in need of a job. They end up enlisting in the Navy and going to boot camp with Pete as their exasperated drill instructor and then meet their feminine counterparts, Minnie, Daisy and Clarabelle who are all WAVs. Once they put to sea, they encounter a submarine full of the Beagle Boys, who all spoke a Russian sounding gibberish (remember, we were still in the Cold War in those days). Of course, our heroes came out on top in the end.
The entire film was storyboarded, recorded and an animatic was created. Complete model sheets of all the characters were printed up and layout as well as some animation had begun before it came to an abrupt halt. Some of the talent involved was Ed Gombert, Joe Ranft and Michael Giaimo on story, Kelly Asbury and Fred Cline in layout, Chris Buck, Toby Shelton and Ed Gombert on animation, model sheets by Chris Buck and Mike Gabriel and it was to be produced by Tad Stones and directed by Darrell Van Citters. I suspect that Swabbies would not have been seen as a classic since its basic premise was derivative and the Disney Studio direction in those days was to look backwards rather than forwards. However, the Special Projects Unit did provide opportunities for a new generation of animation talent. People like Kirk Wise, Chris Bailey, Kevin Lima, Bob Scott and David Cutler all made their first entrée into studio production in that unit. ]