Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hollywood Animation 25 Years Ago

I can still hear the chuckle in Marc Davis' voice when he told me over the phone:
"We made the cover of MODERN MATERNITY magazine."
 Charles Solomon's article on the state of animated films at the end of 1990 had just been published in MODERN MATURITY magazine. I was flattered beyond belief to be included in the cover with Marc. I remember the photo shoot like it was yesterday. Feature animation at that time was still in Glendale on Flower Street. Marc and I were led into a specially darkened room with a red light washing the back wall. There was a spotlight aimed at a Mickey Mouse drawing I had prepared. 
The photographer asked us to hold still during the long exposure, which seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r!
I think it was somewhere around three minutes, and all I could think about was that poor Marc had to stare at my drawing, probably finding all kinds of flaws with it.

Who framed Roger Rabbit as well as The Little Mermaid had been released, and Disney's animation crew was riding high on the success of these films. But we had NO CLUE what was to come in the future. The Prince and The Pauper combined with The Rescuers Down Under as theatrical releases proved to be a bump in the road toward unimaginably successful projects that followed. Then a few years later the company would gradually loose interest in its signature type of animation, before abandoning Disney animation, as we know it, altogether.
I count myself lucky to have been a part of the resurgence of feature animation. And to find out that our films and characters still resonate with students and audiences to this day is simply extraordinary. As I continue to present my lecture on the Nine Old Men in regards to my book, people tell me during the signing session that movies like Aladdin or Lion King made them want to become animators. 
It is the kind of satisfaction I really can't describe in words.

It is very humbling to find myself among all of the distinguished animation artists who presented insightful comments in this article.


  1. Wow, that's some endorsement from Marc Davis! That must have been a thrill to read. "An excellent and inventive draftsman who shows good taste and great skill"... "It was these principles that were terribly important to Don, and they're terribly important to me, I feel Andreas' work is in this tradition"

  2. A large drawing are the best Disney animator who had, you're a true artist, have an incredible talent you drew a legend characters, I admire.

  3. I wonder if the Disney Animation you mention as abandoned can ever find a resurgence? I count myself among the generation inspired by your work on films like Aladdin and The Lion King. A bold return to the form after all the slick computer animation of zootopia and the like would be a huge PR coup for Disney, I think. Nothing sells like Nostalgia.

  4. like it or not, without the pressure coming from Don Bluth, Disney executives would have never invested so much resources into the new films. Ultimately the 9 old men left a great legacy: all the artists they trained (either Don Bluth or the Disney team) kept animation alive for another 30 years. And thanks to dedicated artists (like Andreas Deja) that the quality of Disney in the late 80's and the 90's almost matched the quality of the old Disney classics. Almost, because the originals cannot be surpassed by no one.

  5. It made me want to become an animator. And for that I cannot thank you enough.

  6. I've recognize the cover of the nine old men book in the picture of the page 48. I've been wandering about the source of inspiration for the cover.
    The book of the nine old men is real jewel, Andreas. Thank you very much for it.
    I'm from Uruguay, the land of the little Gauchito.