One of the things I always find odd is how long animation in the United States has remained a children’s medium. Which is not to say that there haven’t been animations aimed at mature audiences – but for the most part the commercially viable animation has been in the children’s section. And yes, we can talk about the rise of anime in the marketplace, but that’s still not American animation, now, is it?
Every now and then, we catch glimpses of what might have been in American cinemas if the artists had had their way – Ralph Bakshi notwithstanding. There’s Walt Disney’s concept images for The Song of Hiawatha – a darker movie in tone than anything else he had ever produced, which was ultimately abandoned in favor of the more kid-friendly Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. There’s the still kid-friendly but more wild and woolly The Thief and the Cobbler, which was canceled midway through production and the unfinished footage sold to hackwork animation studios that have released it in butchered form on DVD.