Wednesday, October 10, 2007

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"!


Ward Jenkins said...

Big congrats to Floyd! Way to go, Mr. Fun! Excellent caricature, too, Pete. Love it!

Will Finn said...

I've been lucky to work with and know Floyed over the years and he is a wonderful guy and the single funniest "political cartoonist" in the industry. His book CHEAPER, FASTER, BETTER is a mirth-inducing chronicle of animation in the 60's, 70's and 80's Walt, warts, and all!

congratulations Floyd!

Kevin W. Martinez said...

Sadly, I've never gotten the chance to know Floyd personally (although I have read the blog and forum comments he occasionally leaves), but I can't have anything but the utmost respect for someone of his background.

Congrats, Floyd. And another excellent caricature, Pete

Randeep Katari said...

Great caricature Pete! I'll tell Floyd that you did this so he can check it out! Thanks for the mention too.

Pete Emslie said...

You're welcome, Randeep. I know that corresponding with and then meeting Floyd meant a lot to you. I did the same thing with my hero, Al Hirschfeld, back when I was your age!

Randeep Katari said...

haha, allll those years ago, eh Pete! Just kidding.
No seriously though it was a real honor meeting him and getting a chance to spend some time with him in person. Few people can say they worked with the old Maestro himself, and it's a real honor knowing him and listening to his amazing stories and experiences.

Brian Mitchell said...

Floyd Norman is the best!
He's a great talent that totally deserves this honor.
Congratulations Floyd!