The Dead Animators Society
(continued from page 5)

Things at the studio have become too focused around money. I never cared for money except that we needed it to live out our dreams and to keep things hopping. We never did make much of a profit but kept pouring it back into projects, so had there been the kind of enormous wealth we are seeing associated with Walt Disney Enterprises at this time, we likely would have spent it in more experimentation, perhaps creating more wildly fantastic interactive amusements of the sort we'd begun in the parks.

LC: What are you doing now?

WD: I'm not quite sure to be truthful. We just spend each day in wonderment, amazed at all that's gone on since our days on earth. We watch the passing parade of events with great interest and are also "out of time" so to speak as our available focus includes times past and future. We think there will be a return to gentler conditions of employment, more sharing of equity and a greater degree of cooperation between management and employees, more trust, more allowing of ideas to be shared and less of a hierarchy.

LC: How do you feel about the films you created?

WD: I am very proud of my legacy and to have been the first to do all the things we did. It is an impressive body of work and of course we strove to hire the most impressive group of artists we could find. These were men of great brilliance.

LC: What do you think of the animation of today?

WD: I don't think there is the same love of the art in all cases as we had. It's different when you have the sort of pioneering spirit we had from today, where money is the name of the game. I know how you feel about the state of the media conglomerates, the centralizing of focus and the pressure to create profitability which often destroys artistic initiative. But we can tell you that times are going to be changing for the better in this regard and in fact, a return to the pioneering days is coming as more individuals are creating on a small scale without being held back by committee-like corporations, or by profitability considerations.

Australian Pat Sullivan was a newspaper cartoonist in New York when he began to create animated films based on those characters. Later his Pat Sullivan Studio produced and marketed the wildly popular Felix the Cat series, which shone until the coming of sound. Later years revealed, however, that Sullivan was little more than a figurehead when it came to actually producing the cartoons.

Pat Sullivan: I was racked by feelings of inadequacy, for I saw the things the other men [animators] were capable of that I felt I was not. In fact, had I buckled down I might have produced work of some value myself for I was infused, and enthused, with the creative spirit at the onset of my life. It had to do with my father, a very belittling man who never thought I'd amount to much. He didn't enjoy my cartoon drawings and took all the fun out of it for me. I therefore couldn't wait to escape from the drawing and creating part of cartoon art for I felt guilt and shame even as I endeavored to pursue it. Remember, these were heady times [the roaring Twenties] and there was much excitement, much revelry, drinking, traveling and thrills, always. Boy, didn't we have fun, but I always thought I was influencing the business and fancied that I'd been instrumental in the process of creating the cartoons because whenever I'd head into the Pat Sullivan Studio I'd make some little comment or make them change things around. So I thought I was making improvements and what would they have done without me, after all? I was the boss. Otto [Messmer] was my right hand man, who really kept the business running and I was very thankful for him though quite envious of his abilities for he really WAS Felix the Cat: it was Otto's personality that spilled out onto the screen. He was a man who couldn't say much but whose ingenuity came forth on paper. I was a man with little ingenuity and only a half-developed drawing style for I hated myself whenever I used it.

LC: What do you think of the animation industry today?

PS: I can't get over what's become of this world, not to mention animated cartoons. I think the technology is amazing. We never used computers to draw, or to think for us! There are so many things I'd like to say about the world now. I want to be clear that mine is only one opinion but there is so much stress and worry out there. Don't follow another's voice instead of your own; do what YOU want to do and that's the way to happiness. And another thing, too many people are confused about what it is they should be doing. You need to look squarely at yourself and make out what it is you're fit for and do that. The thing is a personal goal where each man does the best HE can do, not worrying about what others are doing, because we're all on different tracks toward the same goal of oneness or unity.

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