Saturday, September 28, 2013

Many kinds of pixie dust

Tinker Bell, the pots and pans fairy, has been envisioned by artists in more varied ways than Peter Pan himself. 

J.M. Barrie describes her as "exquisitely gowned in a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure could be seen to best advantage. She was slightly inclined to embonpoint." The French term meaning that she was probably plump and definitely busty, and the description in total implying she is proud of her charms. Artists have interpreted her more or less accordingly, with this less-than-ethereal, utterly 1980s version by Regis Loisel an apt interpretation.

Regis Loisel, 1992

Perhaps his description seemed too adult for earlier illustrators.

Marjorie Torrey, 1957

Disney's Tinker Bell is suitably sparkly and bratty, and I like how her wings are animated. I've never been able to quite get my head around the ballerina bun and shoe pompons, but this version is actually not far from Barrie's description.

Disney, 1953

The omnipresence of Disney's Tink has not prevented artists from seeing her in guises from this lovely, if slender, portrayal

Trina Schart Hyman, 1980

to glamorous, ethereal versions

Anne Graham Johnstone, 1988

to modern depiction like this one from Zenescope. Not a traditional portrayal, to be sure, but not as far from Barrie as one might at first think.

Even before she became the de facto ambassador for Disneyland, Tinker Bell had traveled far from her beginnings as a spot of light projected about a stage.


  1. Shapely and with a mouth like a sailor. Barrie might have had some interesting predilections, no? ;)

    1. Which, as far as I know, he would never have been able to act upon, poor man.

    2. That might actually explain the "mouth like a sailor" part.

  2. I've always found the Disney Tink a tad too narrow in bust to fit Barrie's description. I have always wondered what fetish or social requirements bred that particular look.

    1. Her appearance was actually based on that of Margaret Kerry, the actress who "played" her in the film. Kerry was also the inspiration for the red-haired mermaid.

      Still not understanding the bun or the pompons, though.

    2. I can see the resemblance, but the delta between hips and chest is super dramatized. With you on the bun and poms, though.

    3. I'm tempted to say "1953" and leave it at that. Dior's New Look debuted in 1947, and looks like an influence.

      But the studio started character design in the late 30s, so it might be more like animator Marc Davis's own personal preferences.

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