Inspired by Finnish artist Jirka Väätäinen and his stunning collection of realistic re-imaginings of Disney characters, I’m back this week with some of my favourite alternative artworks of popular animated characters! Fittingly called Real Life Disney, Väätäinen’s gallery will show you exactly the kind of thing I’m going nuts for at the moment.
Basically, alternative art is a piece which is based on something but takes a different approach to style or form than the original, giving it a twist. Oh my God, look at Gaston’s punchable, punchable face. Perfection. Let’s get down to it.
The Flintstones - Flintstones Cover by Ivan Reis
Here’s a fantastic comic book style take on our favourite paleolithic power couple. Ivan Reis produced this cover for DC Comics’ Hanna-Barbera series recently and there’s so much to love. The way that The Flintstones represented technology was always super on point and this selfie piece keeps the series right on modern trend. Check out how the photo appears on camera too!
Samurai Jack - Fight Me, Aku! by Manuel Castanon
You already know how awesome we think Samurai Jack is here at the studio. The show always had a gritty, almost dirty sci-fi look and atmosphere that made Jack such an out of place hero and I think this disconnect between hero and location is communicated well here. Jack is in the foreground, light reflected in his sword grabbing your attention whilst Aku and the background is blurred and almost flattened by comparison. A great picture which departs from the look of the original but manages to capture the vibe flawlessly.
Dragonball Z - The Androids Saga by astoralalexander
Dragonball Z created by Akira Toriyama did a great deal for introducing young teens to Japanese anime. Here, it takes a pulp fiction twist which turns out to be a shockingly good fit, due in no small part to the skill of the artist known as astoralalexander. Check out the other 3 parts of his android saga collection if you get a kick out of this.
Frozen - Never Let It Go by Heather Theurer
I’ve tracked down a great couple of pieces this week where the artist has taken 3D and made it 2D, or vice versa as you can see with this case. You still can’t walk within a mile of a school without hearing that song being bellowed out by at least one kid, but thankfully Frozen captured Heather Theurer’s imagination in a far quieter and more refined way. She’s given the princesses a fine art makeover with an impressive attention to detail, especially Ana’s hands and expression, really capturing the emotion of this scene from the movie.
Pokémon - Team Rocket by Maariamph
You all remember the Pokemon Go craze of summer don’t you? It may have been a bit of a flash in the pan for most but this Finnish artist has taken the rollercoaster of emotions we felt during our catching spree and overlayed it upon the animated show’s Team Rocket in a punky, washed-out re-imagining. She actually managed to make meowth look cute too! Now I want a shoulder kitty like some kind of feline pirate…
Princess Mononoke - Princess Mononoke gender swap by Alice X. Zhang
Here’s an example of something quite common in the alternative art community - everyone loves to explore what their favourite characters look like as different genders and races (you might have seen this with Disney princes and princesses). Well I thought I’d try to represent one of my favourite studios: Studio Ghibli, and their fantasy movie Princess Mononoke. Here it looks more like Prince Mononoke and Princess Ashitaka though. As much as the artist protests that these were just rushed, I love how the blurry, vibrant strokes and bleeding colour seem to encourage defiance in established identity.
The Lion King - HAKUNA MATATA!! by chacckco
In a similar spirit to the previous, alternative artists love a bit of humanization, so here’s an anthropomorphisation of our favourite grasslands trio. This artist has captured the personality of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa so well with this static image I can’t even glance at it without wanting to belt out Hakuna Matata, so before I embarrass myself, let’s move on.
South Park - south park by Kanda3egle
Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s animated satirical giant isn’t best known for its animation complexity. Their studio works with speed in mind and what comes out is now seen as iconic luckily! So it’s cracking (if a little jarring) seeing these familiar families in something other than the classic South Park style. Aaaand there’s a dead Kenny just for good measure.
Rugrats - Chucky Finster by Guzz Soares
As soon as you clap eyes on this you will be craving the Pixar/Rugrats crossover that you didn’t even know you wanted. Such a simple little portrait one, this, but it totally captures Chuckie’s essence whilst casting him in a totally new light. The rest of this 3D artist’s work is actually incredible too, head over to his page, you won’t be leaving anytime soon. His Buzz Lightyear is an absolute gem.
Toy Story - Buzz by Luke Mancini
Speaking of Mr. Lightyear, I spotted another piece which caught my eye because of how far from the original it seemed. Luke Mancini has produced artwork for entertainment company Blizzard (World of Warcraft, Overwatch) and he has totally nailed the dark, sci-fi atmosphere on this one. The sparse lighting lends it an ooky spooky twist, which makes you realise that most space explorers probably have to cope with their fair share of the terrifying unknown. And with his wing all busted like that he’s only gonna be able to fall with style from now on. Gulp.
Transformers - 传世佛魔 (Handed Down the Buddha) by Zhang Wang
East meets west in this robotic mashup of sorts by Chinese artist Zhang Wang. All decked out in the Chinese wuxia hero style, Optimus Prime is looking like he just leapt off of an ancient scroll somewhere. Now, now, before I get accused of Autobot bias, here’s an equally sweet Megatron.
The Nightmare Before Christmas - Walking Dead by Alex Ruiz
Ack, you never really think of Jack Skellington as, well… a skeleton. But hey, that’s cool Sally, whatever you’re into. This artist leans heavily into the spooky side of The Nightmare Before Christmas with none of the accompanying joviality. I still dig it though, I think it looks like the cover of a gothic horror novel by Edgar Allen Poe or something.
Popeye - Popeye the Sailor by Lee Romao
Flippin’ heck, this makes Popeye look like a proper beefcake, where can I get me some of that spinach? Although that being said, it does make you realise just how bonkers Popeye’s proportions are. Nevertheless, I adore this one because it reminds me that Popeye is a badass sea captain, something you lose sight of when all you see is this goofy, angry bloke getting his girlfriend stolen all the time. The attention to detail is impressive too: the 1-17-29 tattoo? Popeye’s first screen appearance.
Iron Man - What are you Building, Stark? by Victor Hugo
Remember that Rugrats/Pixar crossover that I got you all super pumped about that will never happen? Here’s one that will make you wonder how the Marvel universe would have turned out had Disney handed it over to their Pixar Animation Studio… Victor Hugo gives us this glimpse into an alternate dimension with his stylish 3D artwork, even if the inclusion of beer seems totally bizarre if we’re talking Disney’s standards.
The Simpsons - Waiting for Homer by Kan Muftic
There’s boatloads of The Simpsons alternative art, but something about Waiting for Homer by Kan Muftic just stood out to me. It could be that it depicts such a familiar scene viewed from an uncommon angle mixed with the slightly muted colours which give this piece an eerie, uncanny feel. Or it could just be because I think Marge is one of the greatest characters ever written (but that’s a blog for another day). Honorable mention for Moe’s Tavern by Urealampien Essi too.
Seen some excellent alternative art? Maybe you’ve been inspired to do some of your own? Either way, we’d love to see it, pop it in the old email!