Despite boasting memorable scenes of Val Kilmer going barbarian and the most phallic dragon in movie monster history, Ron Howard and George Lucas' 1988 fantasy film Willow didn't tear up the box office.
That probably explains why this Willow animated series never got off the ground. Here's a rich sampling of rare sketches and character designs from that abandoned project. In an alternate reality, Madmartigan was trouncing around all over Saturday morning cartoons.
This concept art comes to us from Cleveland, Ohio collector Joe Frese, who purchased this artwork in 2006 from a series of online auctions. These pieces don't specify the artist or studio behind the illustrations, but the accompanying certificates of authenticity from Howard Lowery state:
These [...] drawings of characters from the movie Willow (1988) were created by an artist during development of an animated series based on the film that was not completed.
Joe suspects that it could've been through the animators at Nelvana — who worked on the Droids and Ewoks cartoons — but he's not positive. As you can see in the character sketches, we have animated versions of Willow, Madmartigan, Sorsha, the Brownies, and an older Elora Danan. There are also new villains and a dragon that does not have a penile head modeled on Clint Howard's face.
A huge thank you to Joe for sharing this concept art with us. If anybody recognizes the artist's (or artists') work or knows exactly how and why this project was scuttled, feel free to drop us a line.
Semi-related: The Willow concept art of Moebius.