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"Maybe we all take it for granted, " says Don Hahn, "but people sitting outside this door start with s blank piece of paper every day, and out of that comes this very sophisticated piece of art." The door of Hahn's office is in the new Disney Animation building, the one with the giant Sorcerer’s Apprentice hat in front of it, and outside his door, the walls are filled with sketches, paintings and designs for the new animated fantasy, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the 34th full-length animated feature from the Walt Disney Studios, and it reunites much of the team that made Beauty & the Beast, still the only animated film ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Hahn is back as producer (he also produced The Lion King), and Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise are aboard again as the tag-team directors (COMICS SCENE #23), with Oscar-winner Alan Menken composing the score and songs. They head a vast team—600 in all—of animation directors, storyboard artists, animators, in-betweeners, ink-and-paint artists, special FX directors, actors, composers and many, many others.

At first glance, The Hunchback of Notre Dame  seems a very unlikely Disney animation project. A singing, dancing Quasimodo, the hunchback of the title? Molten lead poured on screaming crowds? A whipping
scene? All this from a novel heavy in symbolism and very dark in theme and action. Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris was first published in 1831, when the writer was only 28. It gained fame in the English-speaking world
under the title The Hunchback of Notre Dame—along with Les Miserables, it remains Hugo’s best-known work outside of France. But Hugo was the preeminent man of letters in his native country in the 19th century. Poet, playwright and politics, he was almost literally the „conscience“ of France.