Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Legendary "Mr. Fun"!

Today the Walt Disney Company named several more longtime Disney personnel as "Disney Legends". One of this year's inductees is "Mr. Fun" himself - writer/cartoonist, Floyd Norman. Though I can't really claim to know him well myself, I do think back fondly on the one time back in about 1981 when I met Floyd briefly. He was working in Disney's comic strip department writing the Mickey Mouse daily strips at the time, and I recall him showing me how he'd rough out the ideas visually before passing them onto the artist assigned to draw up the finished strip. The department was headed up by the dry-witted Carson Van Osten, who was quite the cartoonist himself, and I also remember meeting the phenomenal Daan Jippes too, who went on to being a highly sought after animation character designer later on. It sure looked like it was a fun place to work back then!

No, mostly I know Floyd as many of us do: as the ever genial presence on various animation related website discussion boards. For many of us, Floyd is a refreshing link back to the glory years of the Walt era at Disney, as he always extolls the creative sensibilities and genius of "The Old Maestro", as he calls him. His reminiscenses of the films he worked on and the artists he worked alongside of have made for a lot of great reading for those of us who wish we'd been there at the time. Floyd has written many online articles that have been featured on Jim Hill Media that may be found right here! I particularly enjoyed the multi-part article he wrote on his memories of working on "The Jungle Book". I'm hoping that Floyd will gather up all of this material into a book someday. Of course, Floyd is already the author/cartoonist of the book, "Faster! Cheaper!", which is a collection of his one-panel gag cartoons commenting wryly on his long history working at Disney.

One side of Floyd that has to be mentioned is his great generous spirit towards young artists. I know that Randeep Katari, one of my Sheridan students from a couple years ago, considers Floyd a personal artistic hero and mentor for having graciously given of his time answering questions and providing helpful tips over the last few years in their correspondence. Randeep got to finally meet Floyd when he visited LA a couple summers ago and I remember how exciting that was for him. I believe it's important for young artists to have heroes that they can learn from, and it's guys like Floyd that can be proud of the way their generosity has helped to inspire many others who want to keep the art of animation vibrant in the years to come. In my opinion, that generous spirit is what constitutes a true "Disney Legend". Here's to you, "Mr. Fun"!