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Creating a "flesh and blood" lovable monster out of ink and paint and making him come alive on the screen turns out to be no small challenge

The first time Ken Andersen, a veteran cartoon art director for Walt Disney Productions, saw a treatment for "PETE'S DRAGON", only one animated sequence was planned. In that scene, the malevolent Dr. Terminus would try to chop Elliot the dragon into marketable pieces. Elliot was scheduled to remain invisible in every other scene.

Anderson's immediate reaction was that this might make the characters in the film appear to be stupid. "They were continually making excuses to explain the actions of the unseen dragon," recalls the veteran animator. "I felt the audience would quickly lose patience."

He countered by creating a dragon with a distinct personality that could be finely woven into the overall context of the story. There are two kinds of dragons in literature, Eastern and Western. Anderson chose the Chinese dragon as a model for his drawings and added an impish personality.

"The Chinese dragon has magical qualities and is generally associated with good rather than evil," Anderson explains. The cartoon director wanted the dragon to be fun to see. "I was thinking of Wallace Beery when I drew Elliot for the first time."