Apr 16, 2008

A little more blogging on Oliver M. Johnston, Jr.

Of course with the passing of a now-legendary artist like Ollie Johnston the blogosphere as expected is filling up with tributes and ponderings of all kinds. If you read this blog you're bound to visit Cartoon Brew on a regular basis; they've just posted a lovely essay by Brad Bird that must be read.

Jaime Weinman writes a blog dealing with pop culture-entertainment that's one of the very best and most knowledgeable anywhere. I can't remember how I first found his site, but he writes often about animation and seems to have an archive of info at his fingertips(and I don't just mean Google).

To mark the loss of Ollie Johnston he's reproduced something I suspect Ollie would really love people to read: an article from the LA times about Ollie's backyard scale train--from 1956! Interestingly--although one would think it would be a great little tidbit of information--the fact that Ollie was a Disney animator isn't mentioned though Walt himself is, due to his purchase of trains for then-new Disneyland. One wonders if Walt himself was present at the "clambake" get-together the paper describes. Probably not, but you never know--if he was, he might well have asked not to be mentioned, as he'd have been enjoying his own off-hours personal hobby. But that's just wild speculation.

Read it here.

I also recommend a visit to Michael Barrier's reminiscence of Ollie(you might have to scroll down a bit). The photos taken with Frank and Ollie at Barrier's home in 1977 are priceless as time machines(if you've lived long enough to remember 1977).

Apr 14, 2008

Ollie Johnston 1912-2008

The last surviving member of the Disney animation review board during its golden age-the group of hand-picked artists Walt Disney called his own "nine old men"--and more importantly a beloved artist, mentor, patriarch and husband--passed into history today. Ollie Johnston was 95 years old.

This sad news just came over the transom. Later on I'll try to collect some thoughts, but I'm sure in the meantime many more eloquent tributes than anything I might compose will be posted.

10:45 pm:
I've had an awful lot of visitors to the blog today due to the news of Ollie's death. It makes me wish that I were better qualified to really write something of substance about him-he surely deserves it. But my take would have to be that of the admiring fan more than anything else. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but there are so many people out there, in the business and just in love with animation who had real, personal ties with and experiences involving him. I'm sure many of them will express themselves in print or elsewhere in days to come, as they have already, for years, in lectures and at schools, in interviews and at tributes and screenings. Those will be the ones to look for. There are bound to be some fantastic and moving memories.
Let's just say that if you ask anyone who's anyone in our business, they'll have a story about Ollie Johnston: his work, his advice, guidance, criticism, inspiration...encompassing all of it the sheer delight of watching his animation performances. That at least I can say I share with them. We all share in it-whether fan, pro, child or adult. He was one of a handful of geniuses of the art who made millions laugh, cry and dream, and most of all believe in his drawings, believe them to be alive. I don't know if he and Frank coined the term "Illusion of Life" but with their book they became the preeminent representatives of that mysterious, wonderful effect. It was all done with drawings. And talent, heart and sincerity. And a heck of a lot of backbreaking work over a disc, work that from his pencil seemed effortless--which was a big part of the trick.
The same goes for his former colleagues. here they are:

Johnny Lounsbery
Les Clark
Wooilie Reitherman
Milt Kahl
Eric Larson
Marc Davis
Ward Kimball
Frank Thomas
Ollie Johnston
Requisiat in pace

Apr 7, 2008

101 Dalmatians, 3 Bloggers

swiped/borrowed from Michael Sporn's blog, which you should visit immediately

A triumvirate of essential blogs are contributing to an analysis of the just-released-on-DVD "101 Dalmations". Hans Perk has posted the drafts(the records of who animated what for the entire film), Mark Mayerson is putting up his shot for shot "mosaics"--a kind of visual draft, and invaluable--along with his typically sharp and interesting commentary. And the redoubtable Michael Sporn has done a fantastic post on the "art student" girl's walk--the slouching gal with her matching afghan hound.

It's been said before of this kind of loose collaboration, but this is really the best of the blogosphere: when something like this is put out there and is available to everyone and anyone. What riches.

All of these guys deserve a lot of applause they can't hear for their efforts.