Being the history geek that I am, I guess it is kind of surprising that I haven't really done a "historically accurate" animation series before, but after seeing that awesome Buzzfeed Disney Princess video, and of course all the amazing art on here, I was inspired to make my own. I guess it is better late than never!
As I've said before elsewhere, from an artistic standpoint, I'm not at all bothered by the animated designs of the characters in Disney and Dreamworks films. They weren't documentaries after all so in most cases they didn't need to be accurate, and in animation in particular, it is more important to convey character and style in the designs. I am not trying to "fix" anything because I don't think there is anything to fix! That being said, it can still be fun to learn how your favorite characters might have looked if they had existed in real life.
For my series, I am trying to be as accurate as I possibly can. I'm taking the country of origin, the social class, the culture, and the specific decade into mind (instead of just a general sweep of multiple decades), and also adapting the colors and styles to fit what was available and worn everyday. I will try to keep the characters recognizable where I can, but I want to make my pictures realistic and so some elements of the original designs might be altered in the process.
Here is the last female character I am going to add to my Historically Accurate series, Jane Porter from Tarzan! Jane’s character design in the movie was very deliberate, showing the transition from her fussy gown to her later, more practical costumes as an example of her growing connection to the wild. In that way it was effective but…come on, Jane hasn’t been living under a rock her whole life, and she would know you don’t go to the jungle in a bustle gown! So I wanted to do her more credit and show what she would realistically wear as a “lady explorer.”
First of all, Jane wouldn’t be wearing a bustle at all. Even if this movie took place in the 1880s such extreme skirts were saved for evening wear, not activities which required much more practical skirts. But Tarzan actually seems to takes place in the early 1890s. In the slideshow during “Strangers Like Me” some of the slides depict the Statue of Liberty, the Benz Motorcar, and the Eiffel Tower which means the action takes place after 1889. Tarzan’s parents were also dressed in late 1860s/early 1870s style when the film starts, and apart from the bustle Jane’s clothes more closely resemble later fashions, so I felt it made sense to mark this taking place in the 1890s. I also marked this as England and Congo since the fashion is obviously English but the movie takes place in coastal rainforest Africa.
In the 1880s and 90s, women’s fashion was starting to become a little less restrictive. It began to incorporate some athletic and menswear touches, thanks in part to the growing popularity of the bicycle which required more practical clothing to ride. Interestingly, the same type of bicycle suit, with a loose jacket and flared skirt, is similar to the clothing worn by real lady adventurers of the time period like Fanny Bullock Workman. I based a lot of Jane’s outfit off Fanny’s clothing, including her hat complete with the gauzy scarf of a “globe-trotter”. (Jane’s helmet was something of a fashion accessory in her day – catalogs advertised them for all kinds of amateur explorers!) She is also wearing a gentlemanly collar on her blouse and a necktie. Instead of high button boots, Jane is wearing more practical leather boots with button up spats to protect them, another menswear nod that was also probably influenced by the British military uniforms. In the movie Jane’s clothes are yellow like her father and Clayton, and since the men are supposed to be wearing khaki uniforms, I decided to interpret Jane’s clothing as khaki too, which is also more accurate for this type of costume.
As for accessories, I think Jane would soon abandon them as impractical, but I was going for a “fresh off the boat” newbie type of feel, so I drew her wearing a pair of leather gloves and carrying an umbrella (but not a parasol) to protect her against the elements. XD I think as Jane became more “wild” she would maybe remove her jacket and gloves and pick up a few of the men’s tools, like a gun or knife, to help protect herself. But she wouldn’t strip down to her underwear, like she does later in the film, any more than we would today!
Other than that, awesome picture by the way.
like, even the more gritty adaptations of the story have him clean shaven
it makes sense that the movie is set in the Congo since that's where a lot of gorillas live (they also live in Uganda and Rwanda, with several families living in the Virunga National Park, which opened in the 1920s.