Disney films are so timeless that it’s sometimes easy to forget the likes of The Jungle Book and Dumbo were actually released back in the middle of the 20th century.
Well, UK-based illustrator Tom Ward has given them an update. In a series of new illustrations, Ward has reimagined what classic Disney characters might look like in today’s world.
“I always appreciate visuals that feel familiar but say something new,” said Ward. “Disney characters are so iconic that I thought transporting them to our modern world could help us see it through new eyes, giving me an opportunity to communicate some issues I feel strongly about. e.g. circus animals, pollution and the ivory trade, using friendly and familiar visuals with a darker tone.”
Ward came up with the ideas for individual illustrations by imagining the various characters in a 2017 setting.
“I asked myself questions like ‘What would Simba or Tigger be doing in today’s world?’ or ‘Would people really let a strange boy fly into their bedroom?’,” he explained.
“My answers helped me work up ideas for each character. Even magic carpets need a good vacuum now and again. And Pinocchio’s nose extending had to be the cultural phenomenon that is the selfie stick.”
Ward admitted he has his favourites from the series.
“I like the joy in Gaston and LeFou at gay pride,” he said. “This was the most recent idea to take shape following the Beauty and the Beast live action movie release.
“I also really enjoy seeing Robin Hood fighting back against the fox hunters.”
The one he likes best, though, is a modern twist on The Sword in the Stone.
“If I was forced to choose, I think my favourite is the simplicity of Arthur from The Sword in the Stone and the message that he’s too engrossed in his phone to realise his true potential in life,” Ward finished.