Friday, July 18, 2014


Photo: Emile Cohl

Celebrating animators and the magical art of animation is a good thing, but please let’s stop going on and on and on about Disney’s Nine Old Men. Doing so suggests nobody was as good before or since which is just not true.
The nine old men (and I’m not going to name them yet again) were  talented and inventive but they did stand on shoulders of giants:

Emile Cohl (France, 1857-1938) - Fantasmagorie
Winsor McCay (USA, 1867-1934) - Gertie the Dinosaur

Max Fleischer (invented Rotoscope) (USA, 1883-1972) - Boop-Oop-A-Doop
Otto Messmer (USA, 1892-1983) - Felix (the Cat) Revolts
Lotte Reiniger (Germany, 1899-1981) - The Adventures of Prince Ahmed
Walt Disney (USA, 1901-1966) - Laugh-O-Grams “Jack, The Giant Killer” (Walt was one of the animators)

Friz Freleng (USA, 1906-1995) - The Pink Panther
Tex Avery (USA, 1908-1980) - Dumb Hounded
Chuck Jones (USA 1912-2002) - What’s Opera, Doc?

Just as today’s animators stand on the shoulders of the Nine and future greats will stand on these shoulders:

James Baxter (UK) - Spirit   
Silvain Chomet (France) - l’Illusioniste 
Glen Keane (USA) - Beauty and the Beast pencil test
Caroline Leaf (Canada/USA) - The Street

Hayao Miyazaki (Japan) - The Genius and Wonder of Hayao Miyazaki   
Richard Williams (Canada) - The Thief and the Cobbler 
Kathy Zeilinski - (USA) Hunchback of Notre Dame: Frollo

Photo: Kathy Zielinski

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I have, on several occasions, vented my spleen about harassment in the animation industry. Here and here and here. This has, tellingly, caused some animation people to un-follow me.

Yesterday I was advised about an unpleasant and surprising event that occurred two days ago over at Cartoon Network. The male creator of the show CLARENCE was fired by Cartoon Network after allegations of sexual assault by a female storyboard revisionist. Cartoon Brew published this abrasive article where the comments say as much about sexual harassment in animation as the article

And *here’s what the alleged victim has to say. 

The alleged harasser has nothing to say so far.    

The alleged sexual assault was no surprise, but the quick firing was unheard of in the animation business. Usually the men who do such things get a little lecture and often a promotion while the victim is blamed and shamed and watches her career go down the toilet. In this case, *the man was not fired at the request of the alleged victim (see her statement above), it seems there were other factors and previous incidents involved. Note that every article published about this incident suggests that
her Tweets caused the alleged harasser to be fired that very day, yet basic logic tells us that a show's creator would never be fired on the spot merely because of one person's Twitter allegations.

The art of animation may be technically cutting-edge but the culture is mostly primitive, backward and unprofessional, lacking in simple courtesy and respect toward women. Surely everybody knows by now that harassment is illegal not a right or a privilege. It’s not an inconsequential gesture. It creates a hostile workplace, costs the employer and the victim money and reputation and makes the harasser look like a Neanderthal. Nobody can do their best work when they’re being insulted, ignored, slandered, called names and underpaid. Not to mention groped and grabbed at will with the complicity (sometimes participation) of management.

Animation workers deserve a safe workplace with zero-tolerance for all forms of harassment. We need to be able to say to harassers who’ve said it to us so many times: “If you don’t like it you can leave.”