Donald Duck, by Ib Steinaa
'Donald Duck', from Anders And & Co. #37, 1982.

Ib Steinaa was a Danish animator and occasional comics artist. He worked on several film projects with his friend Kaj Pindal in the 1940s and 1950s, and then served as art director of Nordisk Tegnefilm (1957-1966), overseeing the production of several advertising spots. With his own company Steinaa Film, he most notably produced the animated feature film 'Robinson Columbus' (1975). As a comics artist, Steinaa worked with Henning Dahl Mikkelsen on 'Ferd'nand' and 'Lisse og Lasse' in the mid 1940s, and on stories with Walt Disney's 'Donald Duck' in the early 1980s.

Early life and career
He was born as Ib Bernhard Jensen in 1927 in Aarhus, a harbour city in northeast Jutland. Ib Jensen later changed his surname to Steinaa. As a kid he developed a talent for music, which came in handy whenever he needed a composition for his later cartoons. While still a teenager in 1943-1944, he participated in the production of the first Danish feature length animated film, 'Fyrtøjet', by Allan Johnsen. It was based on Hans Christian Andersen's tale 'The Tinderbox', and released in 1946. Working in Bjørn Frank Jensen's unit, Steinaa became close friends with his future business partner Kaj Pindal.

Work for Henning Dahl Mikkelsen
With the movie finished, the animators were discharged. Steinaa managed to get a job in Henning Dahl Mikkelsen's atelier at the Dronningens Tværgade in Copenhagen. Pindal briefly joined him there and they co-worked on two animated shorts based on Mikkelsen's pantomime newspaper strip 'Ferd'nand': 'Ferd'nand på fisketur' ('Ferd'nand on a fishing trip', 1944) and 'Ferd'nand på bjørnejagt' ('Ferd'nand on a bear hunt', 1945). Steinaa also assisted on the 'Ferd'nand' daily strip. As Mikkelsen had plans to go to Hollywood, he left the children's adventure comic 'Lisse og Lasse' (1944) to Steinaa. Written by Harald H. Lund, it appeared as a serial in the weekly magazine Landet, and Steinaa got a credit byline (then still as "Ib Jensen").

Further collaborations with Kaj Pindal
After the war, Steinaa worked with Pindal again, first at the Bergenholz advertising agency, where Steinaa mainly served as a background painter. The two men then joined Børge Ring, Bjørn Frank Jensen and Arne Rønde Kristensen in their Copenhagen studio between 1946 and 1950. They worked on films commissioned by the government and UNICEF, as well as the ill-fated feature length film adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale 'Blockhead Hans'. In the early 1950s, Steinaa and Pindal worked in the Aktiebolaget Puck Film studio in Stockholm, Sweden, until they both had to return home to fulfill their military service. They were stationed at the Norwegian Armed Forces Film Service, where they made an instructional film for the military about "night vision". Back in civilian life, in late 1954, the two animators were hired by Ove Sevel at Nordisk Film Junior, but turned freelance two years later. One of their main assignments was a 7-minute sequence about the construction and working of B&W's large diesel engines, for which they also hired fellow animator Mogens Gylling. Steinaa's regular collaboration wtih Pindal ended in 1957, when the latter moved to Canada.


Ib Steinaa and his nephew Helge Christiansen, late 1950s.

Nordisk Tegnefilm
Ib Steinaa and his wife Kirsten teamed up with Ove Sevel to revive the defunct division A/S Nordisk Tegnefilm as a subsidiary of Nordisk Filmkompagni in 1957. Ib Steinaa became artistic director, and his wife served as production leader. Mogens Gylling was brought in as graphic artist, Steinaa's nephew Helge Christiansen as a logo painter, while skilled animators like Harry Rasmussen and Walther Lehmann were also hired. In the following years, the company trained young animators from both sexes, and produced advertising cartoons, short films, cut-out animations, credits for feature films and more. Ib Steinaa took care of the design and animation of the mouse Hannibal in Nicolai Lichtenberg's live-action movie 'Andre folks børn' ("Other People's Children", 1958). The mouse was originally a popular character in Inge Aasted's radio broadcasts, but Steinaa was the first to give him a face. Steinaa was also largely responsible for the cartoon segments of 'Thousands of G' (1962), a Swedish documentary film about industrial separators. Between 1958 and 1965 the team produced successful advertising spots for clients such as Hirschsprung cigars, Star lager beer, the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet and the Finnish coffee brand Tuko Kahvia, which were all trademarked by Ib Steinaa's experimental and inventive mind.


'Hannibal', by Ib Steinaa (from: 'Andre folks børn').

Several of the studio's own projects stranded in the production stadium, however. One was called 'Ping-Pong', about a ping-pong ball that ends up in a bird's nest and is confused for an egg. In 1959 the studio was visited by Walt Disney, who was given a tour by Steinaa and his wife. The team was however cautious not to inform him too much about their projects, afraid Disney would make use of this new-found "inspiration".

Steinaa Film
By 1967 Steinaa had the ambition to focus on his own projects. He left Nordisk Film, and launched his own company, simply called Steinaa Film, which he ran from his house in Birkerød, north of Copenhagen. Several of his former Nordisk colleagues joined him in his new venture, including Harry Rasmussen, and continued to work on advertising spots. In the early 1970s, Steinaa and Rasmussen, accompanied by painter Leo Beltoft, worked on the feature length film 'Robinson Columbus', about an imaginative nine-year-old boy who saves a little chicken and believes he's Robinson Crusoe. The film was written, directed and produced by Ib Steinaa, who was also co-composer of the soundtrack. The animation was made in the "limited animation" style popularized by United Productions of America (UPA) in the 1950s and 1960s. 'Robinson Columbus' premiered in 1975, but failed to impress critics or the audience. It was quickly taken out of circulation, and disappeared into obscurity.

Later career
Steinaa's wife Kirsten died somewhere in the late 1970s. Steinaa sold his large Birkerød house and settled in the Østerbro district of Copenhagen. His final movie projects were in cooperation with his nephew, the film producer Per Holst. He was involved in Holst's attempted cartoon adapation of André Franquin's 'Gaston Lagaffe' (1980) and was co-scriptwriter of the movie 'Walter og Carlo - Op på fars hat (1985). In the period 1982-1983 he also returned to comic book art, illustrating two short stories and three gags with Walt Disney's 'Donald Duck' for the Danish Anders And & Co. magazine.

Ib Steinaa died in Copenhagen as a result of illness on 22 March 1987, just over 60 years old.


English publication of a 1982 'Donald Duck' gag drawn by Steinaa, published in Uncle Scrooge #308, 1997.

INDUCKS entry

Ib Steinaa's biography on tegnefilmhistorie.dk (in Danish)

Series and books by Ib Steinaa in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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