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Walt Disney’s Ward Kimball’s John Carter of Mars and Beyond!

We’ve spoken about the Disney studio’s recent trip to Mars as well as Bob Clampett’s (non-Disney) attempt to animate the series of Edgar Rice Burroughs stories in 1936. But in 1957 Disney himself took a brief trip to Barsoom via Mars and Beyond, the beloved episode of the Disneyland television series directed by Disney animator and eccentric Ward Kimball.

The episode, which speculates on what man would find when they inevitably journeyed to the red planet, began with a retrospective of Mars’s influence on our culture. In true Kimball fashion we get a wacky look at the past, and on past theories about Martian life. One segment is devoted to the civilizations, flora and fauna of Mars as described in Burroughs’s series of John Carter novels.

I’ve always lamented that Walt’s studio never made much science fiction, and we can only dream of how wonderfully manic a true Kimball-directed John Carter movie would be. But these designs give a hint of how Kimball’s wild imagination envisioned the world of Barsoom.

The segment begins by discussing Burroughs's "Martian Dictionary", and all the terms he created for the population of Mars...

 

Here are Kimball's version of Barsoomians. Not exactly Lynn Collins, but...

 

...they do fight!

 

Calot: Described as "A large dog-like creature with a frog-like mouth and three rows of teeth", one of these creatures becomes Carter's pet, Woola, who appears in the recent film... looking very differently!

 

A Calot howling at the moons...


This is a Banth, a ten-legged Martian "lion"...

 

Beat that, Industrial Light and Magic!

 

This is a Martian Plant Man. They don't appear in the recent film...

 

...what's this?

 

Don't eat it, stupid! You don't know where that's been.

 

...what's all this, then?

 

OH SNAP. Ya burnt!

 

This is a thoat - an eight-legged Martian horse...

 

...this does not happen in the movie.

For your enjoyment, here’s the entire, fantastic special. It’d made a good dark ride for the parks, don’t you think? I certainly do. If you’re just interested in the Barsoomian action, it starts at 11:20. But I recommend watching the whole thing! And remember – vote GARCO in 2012!

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