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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

You've been away too long, had your say too long...(Fats Waller)

Wow, it's been three months. Honestly, I wanted to post more often, but I've spent just about every waking hour doing three things: Working (which is still defined as 'teaching at RIT' at least til someone tells me different); writing my book, which is now about 80 per cent done; and playing Mouse Chase with Gizmo, pretty much in that order.

There are some excellent senior projects I'm supervising and the students have been kind enough to let me use some of their artwork in PREPARE TO BOARD! I've never worked so hard for so little money but I'm pleased to say that I think the book may just be worth it. Perhaps someone may buy it. I would like to think so.

The main problem so many animation how-to books have is that the authors do all the artwork themselves. I did not want to make this a one woman show so got some really super people to help me on this...and so I've got a little variety here. Some stuff from my collection goes in as well but the most important part of this book will probably be two things: my reworking of a famous 1940 production chart for animated films, since it's about time someone brought this into the 21st century; and my interview with Ken Anderson, the art director of 101 DALMATIANS, THE JUNGLE BOOK, and isn't that enough to know for now?

This is easily one of the best interviews I ever got. I often thank my (much) younger self for asking the right questions in these old interviews, amazing really considering how inexperienced I was (I was 21 and just about to leave school for my first job with Jack Zander.) But somehow, the right things got asked and answered. It's amazing to see how Ken sums up the entire book I took a year to write in just one session. (I edited out irrelevant or dated information since he went on for four hours with us. I'm going to donate the full tape to the new Cartoon Museum in New York if they'll take it.) I should just print his interview and the illustrations to save time...

Ken's got the last word in the book, and it's pretty devastating. Roy Disney kindly allowed me to quote him for the 'opener' and it's equally devastating. Grand stuff. Grand people.

The cat has been useful. She's here to distract me by asking to play Mouse when I've been at the computer too long. Gizmo has a very important job. No, she won't get a credit in the book, but she will appear in some of the illustrations.

I'm on track to finish at the end of August and the book should be out in January 2007.
I had to pinch myself at the beginning to think yes, finally, I REALLY have a book this time that won't disappear and prove to be some sort of dream or joke.

I hope it's not a joke. I've got a lot of humour in it though. I quote everyone from Georgia O'Keefe to Jack Handey (Deep Thoughts) and Louise Brooks in the opening quotes to each chapter.

Dad says it can't be a good textbook since it is readable. That's his way of paying a compliment.

I've also got a great art director vetting my chapters on design and two pro writers proofing other chapters. One corrected an historical error I made when speaking of a certain 'wabbit'.

Gonna do this right the first time since there will most likely be no other. Dad asked about a 'second edition with updates.' I had to explain that I'm talking about storyboard and character design...these things don't NEED updates. I think former classmate Darrell Van Citters said it best: the only program you need to use for it is Pentel 2.0 (a pencil)
And of course, imagination.