I’ve been animating professionally for over 20 years. Privately, I started animating way before that…but only in my head. See, growing up I didn’t have a camera, or a light table or a projector. I also had very little formal art training. But I did have a rich imagination and a seemingly unlimited supply of note pads. Oh, yes and colored pencils. Lots of those. But most importantly, I had stories to tell.
I was a latch-key kid whose parents both worked and every day starting when I was in third grade, I’d come home and start drawing. While other kids played outside, I was happy to remain sequestered at my drafting table in my little bedroom in Long Beach, NY. I logged many hours in that room and it was there that I drew my stories. This was mostly sci-fi- action/adventure stuff -- some with heavy titles like Beyond the Conscious Mind, New Dimensions and Vortex (all written when I was about seven years old) and others inspired by movies like Tron and Buckaroo Banzai.
Although primitive, these books allowed me to stretch my creative wings. I not only learned about the importance of a dramatic arc but also, lighting, composition, camera movement etc. For me, this was storyboarding 101.
But drawing these comic books provided something even more for me. It was a way to make real the films that were dancing around in my brain. See, these books weren’t really meant for anyone but me. Once finished, I’d read them again and again, using my mind’s eye to fill in the gaps between the drawings. I could SEE the movies that I wanted these comic books to be. Before there were 300 different cable channels to choose from, before there were digital downloads or DVD players or even VCRs there was Tom and Jerry every day at 3pm…and those comic books.
Somebody once told me that if you put what you love into a bubble and put what everyone else loves into a second bubble, the place where the two bubbles meet will be your path to success. I poured my heart into those books, filling the first bubble until it was near bursting. I didn’t realize then that they would become my stepping stones to a career in animation. Back then they were pure entertainment.