The Typography of Disney Animation Logos #3: ‘Dumbo’ and ‘Bambi’

Number three. Now moving onto the last two features that make up the Golden Age of the Walt Disney studios…

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio
  2. Fantasia
  3. Dumbo and Bambi
  4. Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, and Make Mine Music
  5. Fun & Fancy Free, Melody Time, and The Adventures of the Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  6. Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan
  7. Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, and The Sword in the Stone
  8. The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, and Robin Hood
  9. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Rescuers, and The Fox and the Hound
  10. The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, and Oliver & Company
  11. From The Little Mermaid to Aladdin
  12. From The Lion King to Hercules
  13. From Tarzan to Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  14. From Lilo & Stitch to Chicken Little
  15. From Meet The Robinsons to Now…

DUMBO

The Film Proper…

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Just right… A vintage American circus feel. Dumbo was actually the first single-story Disney animated feature to take place in the modern day, and the first to be set in the United States.

The re-releases…

Thankfully, the posters for the original 1941 release used circus-like fonts…

While not the great text used in the opening credits logo, these are quite great on their own. Colorful and fun, too, matching the Silly Symphonies-esque look of the film. Actually, the quad poster in the top middle is a masterpiece all around… Sans the white blurb on the top left, haha.

Dumbo was re-released in 1949, on a double-bill with the 42-minute Saludos Amigos. This would also be the final RKO-era release of the film…

They really scaled back here, going back to that plain font style that was used on the many re-release posters for Snow White and Pinocchio.

After searching around, I believe this is the 1959 re-release poster…

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Definitely keeping in line with the 1941 posters, it’s a little more minimalist than the previous ones, and something about the drawing of Dumbo seems very… 50s. Perhaps Disney didn’t need to re-release Dumbo anymore by this point, because Walt had actually shown the film – in edited, black-and-white form – on television! Walt didn’t want to air his feature-length animated films on television, because he felt they were events that needed to be seen in one place… The cinema.

Dumbo, I figure, was shown on television because it was a shoestring budget picture that ran a rather short 64 minutes. (Not that it needs to be any longer, the film is near-perfect as is.) Re-issues often paired it with longer pictures, especially in international territories.

Dumbo did not see a single US theatrical release for another decade. It returned to the big screen in 1972.

The posters you see here, which line up with a lot of Disney’s 70s releases, were used for both the 1972 and 1976 re-releases. It keeps the circus vibe, and yet they function well with less details. It shows that sometimes, less can be more. The 1976 re-release was the final American theatrical issuing of this picture…

Home video…

Since Dumbo was shown on television in the 1950s, the company was okay with it being released on home video. Walt Disney Productions did not fully embrace home video in the early 1980s, feeling that the animated classics – the most requested – were too fragile to gamble on. Would videocassettes and big shiny discs rob these animated classics of future theatrical re-release revenues?

Dumbo was released for rental only on videocassette in 1981. That came in a thick blue case with a sticker label, with the film’s title and some additional text. Unfortunately, I can’t find a photo of it… I have *seen* it, however, but many years ago.

The sales-only version of the video release arrived a year later… and I have that! One VHS copy, and two Betamax copies, to be exact. (My VHS copy is pictured below.)

MyOldDumboPhoto2012

They are some of my favorite collectibles in my big Disney videocassette collection. The cover re-uses the image of Dumbo and the logo from the 70s posters. I like the thicker outlines here, I think it enhances what I already liked about 1972 poster font.

Three years later, Dumbo was inducted into Disney’s then-new “Classics” line. The logo color scheme was changed.

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The spine artwork of the case, however, used this strange-looking logo that we would never see again. It certainly doesn’t scream Dumbo or anything…

OldDumboSpineExamplePhoto.jpeg

Never before and never again would we see this kind of thing on a Classics edition videocassette release.

Disney used this cover up until 1989. The next cover boasted a logo that looked very close to the one used in the film!

Dumbo1989Cover

Disney stuck with this cover and font for a long while. After the Classics line ended in 1994, it was replaced by the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection. Dumbo was one of the line’s launch titles, and it used the same artwork, and the logo was given an updated colored scheme to fit the overall color scheme of the package.

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Only difference between this and the film logo? The U, M, ad B have added the same pointed ends on the D and O in the in-credits logo.

This same font was slightly modified for the film’s first ever DVD release, the 60th Anniversary Edition.

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Dumbo got another DVD release in 2006. This “Big Top Edition” used the same look, though some alterations were made.

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This would be the last American home media release of the film to use this logo.

The 2011 Blu-ray release went the route of the Snow White and Fantasia Blu-rays. We now have a rather plain-looking logo…

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At least they have a little fun with the letters, giving it a bit of a circus feel, but also giving it a rather eloquent finish. This same font is used for this… Questionable cover that was released this past year.

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His ears are massive on this cover!

Like Fantasia, many of Dumbo‘s re-release posters and home video logos are pretty strong on their own. I like how many of the posters and some of the video release covers keep the aesthetic, while trying on different fonts and letter forms. Even the newest logo for the film has a little something going for it. The least interesting logo is easily the one from the 1949 re-release poster.

BAMBI

The Film Proper…

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Fancy, formal, suggests many things… A quiet and atmospheric forest tale, a romantic story, something that could be tragic even. It’s amazing how many messages these kinds of letter forms get across…

The RKO Years…

This may come as a shock to some young folk out there… When you see Bambi advertised, that is when it comes around to home media after being locked up in the vault for years, what do you normally see? Cutesy scenes of fawn-age Bambi having fun with Thumper and his cute bunny siblings. From these ads, you would think that Bambi is a saccharine, fluffy little tot flick about happy forest critters. Of course, anyone who has actually watched the film would know that isn’t the case.

Back in 1942, when Walt Disney was bringing his animation to its zenith, Bambi wasn’t marketed as that… At all…

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This logo for the film is certainly a little weird, and perhaps clashes with the mood, aesthetics, and style of the film. The cursive ‘Bambi’ on the book cover? Now I think that looks better, for it’s close to the one used in the actual film! That being said, this is a great poster that presents this Disney animated classic in a serious manner. A country mile from the way Disney and their marketing machine does it today. It also, oddly enough, emphasizes that it’s based on a book. Never again did a campaign for a Disney animated film do this kind of thing.

Also, Disney barely promotes it as a love story anymore! Here’s another original release poster, which is even stranger in some ways…

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Concept art-like sketches and a comic book-like reenactment of the scene where Friend Owl explains springtime love to Bambi and friends? Something you wouldn’t see today, for sure.

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There’s something very early 40s Hollywood poster-esque about the Bambi logo itself.

The 1947 re-release poster you see below emphasizes the characters more, and this was probably a smart movie because Bambi had flopped during its initial release due to World War II and audience indifference.

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The more stylized, wrapping ribbon-like cursive kind of works here. In terms of design, the poster is a bit all over the place, but this is at least an interesting font and not a more plain one.

The Later Re-releases…

Moving into the next decade, Bambi was the success it needed to be on its initial release. The 1957 re-release moved away from drama, and focused more on the leads and cuteness. We’re now in the Buena Vista era.

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Definitely lighter in terms of the composition, and the font just doesn’t do it for me. It seems very scribbled and not really all that stylistic.

The 1966 re-release poster goes the route many of Disney’s 60s and early 70s posters went. I think it works better, and the logo here is a little easier on the eyes.

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It’s still a little bit at odd ends with the film itself, but it fits with the era. It was re-used for the 1975 re-release as well, as far as I have seen.

The 1982 re-release poster is similarly minimalist, but introduces a logo that kind of set the course for future logos for this film.

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It is indeed eye-popping and nice to look at. I do get an 80s picture book vibe from it, for sure.

Here it is on the 1988 re-release poster…

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It was also used, alongside a modified version of the 1988 poster image, for the film’s 1989 home video release…

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It works on all of these posters. The big letter forms allow for neat color schemes and such. I’ve always like the way the “m” looked, too. Again, adds that sort of classic book feel.

Later home video releases…

Now here is where things get a little spotty. Bambi, like many of the best-selling Disney animated features, vaulted immediately. The next video release came in 1997…

Bambi1997

This is a rather interesting font. We’re back to all capital letters now, but the line-work here makes these letter forms look kind of like tree stumps, or just wood in general. Though this logo was never used again (here in the US, at least), I think it’s pretty neat in its own way. I think it’s also complemented by its border.

Bambi returned to home video in 2005, as a part of the Walt Disney Platinum Collection. The DVD cover’s logo goes back to basics…

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Kind of a “just there” logo, if you ask me. Not bad by any means, but it leaves little for me.

The 2011 Blu-ray release, the Diamond Edition, follows a similar route.

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I think the text is little nicer-looking, but other than that… It also leaves little.

It seems like Bambi‘s logo went all over the place since the film’s initial release. Few posters have had fonts that correspond with the in-film logo. I’ve found better cursive Bambi logos on some of its international posters, from all the decades no less. What’s actually fascinating is that the film’s direct-to-video sequel uses a modified version of the in-film logo on all the covers and posters… Yet the original does not.

What’s up with that?

Whenever Bambi comes back from the vault and joins the Walt Disney Signature Collection Blu-ray/digital line, who knows what logo Disney will use for it. Maybe they’ll change things up again? Or maybe they’ll stick to the tried-and-true.

(3-29-2017) Hey look! An update! Mere weeks after posting this, Disney revealed that Bambi is going to be the next release in the Signature Collection!

Covers are here and everything, aaaaaand…

BambiSignature

As expected, it goes for a minimalist font. While the previous minimalist fonts adhere to the basic ideas behind the font used for the 1982 re-release poster, this one is straight-up simplistic. Sans-serif for the first time in a while. Since the 60s…

Well, I kind of like this font better than the ones used for the Signature editions of Snow White and Pinocchio for some reason. I think its simplicity works here, or maybe it’s because this Blu-ray cover (tentative it may be) actually has artwork on it… But then again, so does the Signature Edition of Beauty and the Beast, and I don’t think that font is all that good either. Something about this one… It kind of sticks, but it isn’t my favorite by any means. Maybe with serif fonts, I expect a little more to be done with the designs?

I look at the 1982 logo, I think it works because there’s the bold letter form outlines. By contrast, the 2005 and 2011 logos don’t do it for me because it looks like you could’ve just typed those in on Microsoft Word or something. So to me, the new 2017 logo – if they end up going with it – is a little more successful to me. Maybe not being a serif font makes the lack of flourishes understandable.

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4 thoughts on “The Typography of Disney Animation Logos #3: ‘Dumbo’ and ‘Bambi’

  1. Pingback: The Typography of Disney Animation Logos #1: ‘Snow White’ and ‘Pinocchio’ | Kyle Loves Animation and More…

  2. Pingback: The Typography of Disney Animation Logos #2: ‘Fantasia’ | Kyle Loves Animation and More…

  3. Pingback: The Typography of Disney Animation Logos #4: Goodwill and Package Features | Kyle Loves Animation and More…

  4. Pingback: The Typography of Disney Animation Logos #5: Three More Anthologies… | Kyle Loves Animation and More…

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