Sunday, December 8, 2013

(Old) Animation Development Art for "Wicked" by Disney Artist Minkyu Lee

Do you remember a week+ ago I posted an article highlighting a new Tumblr titled "Wicked Leaks" with news of an animated Wicked in production at a major animation studio (and that it wasn't Disney)? Well that Tumblr has since disappeared. No notes as to why and we can only speculate... BUT....

Not long after that, on December 4th, one of the trio of artists originally interested in bringing Wicked to animation, Minkyu Lee posted his old visual development portfolio on his personal Tumblr for an animated Wicked, done in his student days while still at CalArts. Now working for Disney, Mr. Lee was one of the trio of (then-budding) animation artists who loved Wicked and thought it would make a great animated film.

It was his friend, Heidi Jo Gilbert who storyboarded the Wicked song Defying Gravity in her spare time as a personal project and has garnered much positive critical attention ever since she released an animatic video (a "movie" of the storyboard with soundtrack). (You can see it in my post HERE.)

Just yesterday, December 7th, Broadway World picked up Minkyu Lee's Tumblr posts and once again, within days and weeks of renewed interest in the idea, word is buzzing about the possibility - and the potential - of a feature-quality animated film based on the musical.

From Broadway World:
Minkyu Lee, an animator and visual development artist for Disney whose credits include The Princess and the Frog and Frozen, revealed on his blog sketches based on a possible animated version of the Broadway blockbuster musical WICKED. Check out images from his developmental portfolio! 

Lee first created these WICKED concept drawings while studying at CalArts and interning for Disney. Aside from his work on 'Frog' and Frozen, Lee directed the Oscar-nominated short film Adam and Dog, which he also wrote and animated.

The only problem I see is that, after seeing Frozen last night (yes, I'm working on a review for you), it's pretty clear that the themes are rather similar, not to mention the way they're executed, using Wicked's most famous Elphaba, Idina Menzel, as one of the stars. A misunderstood enchantress with Idina Menzel Beautifully singing her lungs out would be a difficult pitch to Executives at any studio at the moment with Frozen quickly becoming the current youngest generation's new favorite animated film.

Let's hope the idea doesn't get completely shot down though. From the response to Frozen, to the Wicked animation artwork on the Tumblrs and the current upward-trends in misunderstood villains at present, I have no doubt it would be a win. Make it a truly great animated feature and you'll have an instant-classic making cash hand-over-fist at the box office, not to mention the merchandising potential. I'd love to see this happen if it was done with love, passion and excellence!
All images are from Minkyu Lee's personal Tumblr blog and (unfortunately) do not represent any current production in development.


  1. Minkyu Lee art is perfect :3
    I really want to read Wicked, but I haven't had an opportunity yet.

  2. Love the Elphaba art, but Galinda looks like Rapunzel with shorter hair, and Fiyero is COMPLETELY wrong - he's meant to have dark skin, to have diamonds tattooed over his face and body, and I always imagine him to be intelligent, not amiably dumb as he seems to be in this art...

    1. I think the art is based on the musical, not the book version. In the musical Fiyero absolutely comes across as dumb (even has a whole song about being brainless and dancing through life) but is later shown to actually be a smart character.

  3. Idina said her and Kristin were too old to play the parts, but if it's animated age clearly won't matter. I just hope they bring back the original cast members for their old roles, other casts were by far inferior.

  4. They are amazing! Great! Your works are very inspiring! ;)

  5. If Disney did this...

    it would be amazing!

  6. The art looks amazing. It would be incredible if they went through with this. It would be great to introduce a whole new number of fans to this excellent story.

  7. Awesome article! I am always on the lookout for new ideas and resources about disney home decor and paintings.

  8. One large problem with this proposal is Disney does NOT share IP. They would not want to deal with acquiring the rights to the property from whoever holds it on the Broadway side. Broadway is at least a potent enough part of the entertainment industry to put up a decent fight against the Mouse.