Fred Moore, early 1940s
For anyone who loves beautiful, expressive and charming drawing, Fred Moore is the best friend we never met. Ever helpful with his examples, always entertaining with his work. His style is about as far from "impersonal" as it's possible to be. Everything's always in the right place in his drawings; there's never a feeling of stiffness, coldness or worry. If that sounds like a lot of anthropomorphizing of some two-dimensional marks on paper--it is. His work was completely alive, and one of the most profound poignancies of the art of animation is the real, breathing life that continues to exist when the artist himself has long ago left the scene.
I had a unique privilege recently, treated to a viewing of some of the most wonderful Fred Moore work--stuff I've never seen published anywhere before. Roughs, studies, caricatures, posed-out scenes that were cut before being finished--all sorts of treasure that must be a small fraction of the life's work of this unique artist. Thanks to the great generosity of animator James Walker, I'm going to start posting as much of it here as I can, from his collection. There are also some more items from my own collection I intend to post, along with excerpts from the interviews I conducted about Fred in the early 1980s.
For now, here's some images you don't see every day: the artist himself. I feel less odd than I otherwise might about posting these personal shots for several reasons. First, simply because he was so seldom seen, as were most of his colleagues at Disney's and elsewhere--and as a matter of pure historic interest I'd love to see off the cuff snapshots of every animation great that ever lived, from Mary Blair to Bill Tytla to Ward Kimball. And there's an added impetus--that of his much, much too early death. The guy was just forty-one. No time to enjoy any public, wider recognition of the kind accorded Kimball, Thomas and Johnston, Chuck Jones, et al. As a result many people are curious about Moore and want to know more about him--something, anything. In that spirit, posting these photographs seems appropriate.
Incidentally, the post that started it all on this blog--my first of any length on Fred Moore--is here: "One sketch--long caption: Fred Moore musings"
Fred about age 17, pre-Disney(barely): a star player on the lightweight basketball team
...and a drawing he did for a classmate that same year; althouth the style is quaintly dated to our eyes, and a far cry from what Fred would become famous for in ten years, the drawing's lines are sure and fluid, and it's obvious he did it effortlessly; there's no underdrawing or hesitiation at all.
Approximately ten years later, clowning in a crib at his home; one of his girl watercolors is on the wall at the rear
And another ten years on; a prematurely aged Moore, an unidentified friend, and animator John Sibley pose at Disney's in the late 40's-1952 period.
All photographs are from the private collection of James Walker, with the exception of the high school class photograph and the sketch, which are from the author's collection.