Corny Cole: Draw Every Day
In addition to his tremendous body of professional and personal work, Cole was a devoted activist and humanitarian, one who sought to pass on his views to his many students.
"He would always tell his life drawing students 'you're looking at a human being up there. Until you understand that, you won't be able to draw them, to represent them,'" recalled CalArts Character Animation faculty member Steve Brown. Brown, like many who new Cole, spoke with great enthusiasm for his humanist point of view, and the broad sense of compassion that he brought to both his teaching and his private art practice.
Cole remained a visible and influential figure in the hallways of CalArts, where he jokingly referred to himself and his walker as “the slowest roadrunner you’ve ever seen!”
"I had him as a mentor my first year. I remember showing him my work…that he took a misunderstanding and made it into something beautiful," gushed current Character Animation student Tahnee Gehm, who was fortunate enough to be in one of the last classes Cole taught. Gehm, and other students, all remarked on Cole’s liveliness and sharpness of mind, as well as his advice to stay loose, and draw constantly.
Unfortunately, bad luck hit Cole in recent years. In the fall of 2008, a wildfire claimed Cole’s home, and all of his artwork, with the exception of what was in his office at CalArts. The animation community immediately sprang into action, with CalArts providing housing, and The Creative Talent Network holding an online fundraiser. CTN ultimately presented Cole with a check of over $12,000, a testament to how deeply Cole had affected those around him. A shocked and moved Cole was heard to remark, “This is ridiculous!”
Cole retired from CalArts after an injury to his hip in 2009. He maintained a close relationship with the Character Animation department, returning for a lecture organized by longtime friend Bob Kurtz. Though in poor health from his long battle with MSA (Multiple System Atrophy), Cole was as sly and spirited as ever.
Cole died the morning of August 8th of this year, at the age of 80, surrounded by his loving family. It is doubtless that memories of his warm heart, endless encouragement, and sparkling wit will forever keep him in the thoughts of those who knew him. Rest easy, old roadrunner. You’ve surely earned it.
The Fine Art of Corny Cole is on display through October 28 at The Animation Guild, 1105 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505. The gallery is open Fridays, 11 am-2 pm.
Zoe Chevat is a Los Angeles-based animator, graphic artist, sculptor, and author of both academic and fictional work. Originally from northern New Jersey, she graduated from Bennington College and is currently an MFA candidate in Experimental Animation at CalArts. She has worked on music videos and shorts for AfterEd TV, UnBroiled Inc., and Ariel Hart/DeMille Productions, as well as the anthological Today's Forecast, which debuted at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage, Oberhausen, Germany. A proud cinephile, she has been blogging about gender and film/video media for female geek-oriented newsblog The Mary Sue, and has been a recurring guest on a new podcast series for Anime News Network, entitled "Chicks on Anime".
Most of her critical writing is concerned with the portrayal of sexuality and gender in genre work, with a particular focus on trope subversion for fun and profit. She provides a ground-level insider's view on the new generation of animation fans and creators, with an eye to negotiating that tricky space between high and low art…or at least to rattling some cages along the way.
For more rants, spewings, and inky scribbles, follow along at http://www.zoechevat.com.