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How To Succeed in Animation

Chapter 30: Charlotte’s Web Graphics

See for yourself. No one before has seen these drawings.

Mirko Hanák produced many character model studies, a few watercolor paintings, and a 775-drawing full-color storyboard for Charlotte's Web before his tragic death, still in his prime. He was a master draughtsman, and simply "wrote" the drawings with a flow-pen. His watercolors were a perfect absorption of Chinese watercolor technique. His work was extremely popular.

Mirko was a natural, a rare genius illustrator of many classic books and calendars. His specialty was animals, and he could draw and paint them all, seemingly effortlessly. And as you can see in these pages, he was also a master of human figures, of expression, and action; a natural for Charlotte's Web.

His passing compounded the tragedy. We both felt that Charlotte could have been our master-work. It could have also been a failure, something beyond what we could have managed. My only comfort is that, not having done it, no one can say that it would NOT have been my masterpiece. It certainly was my extreme failure.

I present here a few of Mirko Hanák's studies and story sketches for Charlotte's Web. Maybe Henry White would say they are not up to the Hanna-Barberra standard. But I take satisfaction that Andy White loved them! And that's what I have as my satisfaction!

Mirko Hanák's model of Baby Wilbur

Mirko Hanák's model of Fern

Mirko Hanák's model of Arabel

Mirko Hanák's model of Charlotte

Mirko Hanák's model of Templeton

Mirko Hanák's American barn study

Mirko Hanák's animal studies in his watercolor technique

Two atmosphere sketches, made by Mirko Hanak as he was dying of leukemia – 1971. These were provided though the courtesy of his widow, Dagmar Hanakovà.

Finally, here is E.B. White’s own personal "free hand sketch of Charlotte"! He sent me this in a letter, with the notation in his handwriting.

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