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Toon Tuesday: An old fashioned notion in the Cartoon Business

Toon Tuesday: An old fashioned notion in the Cartoon Business

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At the risk of being considered a grumpy old timer, I have a need to air a few gripes from time to time. Plus, my sixty or so years in the cartoon business has earned me the right to be critical on occasion. I'll say upfront that I have no personal ax to grind. I've been treated extraordinarily well during my years in animation and my personal complaints are few. Sadly, this hasn't always been the case for my colleagues.

I've watched this same scenario played out dozens of times during my career. A struggling young studio is working hard to make its mark and talent is a serious need. The call goes out to all willing to be a part of this team effort. Top talents are often reluctant to throw in their lot with an unproven start-up and they pass on the invitation. Eventually, a rag-tag group pulls together and creates the impossible. The little start-up attains eventual success while the “outsiders” look on in amazement. That's the way it works in this crazy business and I've been around long enough to see it happen more than once.

Of course, no one reaches the top by themselves. This is especially true in the business of entertainment. Although there may be a few arrogant enough to think this is possible. No, success comes from a team pulling together to do the impossible. That includes a captain on the bridge as well as a hard working crew “pulling the oars” down below. The team makes the miracle happen and those who believe otherwise are clearly delusional.

Sadly, here's what often happens once the scrappy little upstart has achieved success astounding their colleagues and competitors. Clearly forgetting how they got there - the company brass begins to scrutinize their staffers to see who might be expendable. Having clearly achieved success, the once-unknown company could now attract top talent and they were more than eager to do so. Management began to play their usual deceptive game by asking employees who had worked with the company for several years to suddenly “bring in a portfolio.” I remember one understandably upset artist having an answer for a bone-headed executive. “My portfolio is up there on the screen!”

Of course, none of this is new for this animation veteran. It's a game that will continue to be played out again and again. Back then there was an advantage in getting in on the “ground floor.” Even if you failed to excel in the company and climb the heights to becoming a producer or a director, you would at least have been guaranteed a job based on your company contribution. In the old days of the animation business we called it employee loyalty. Sadly, it's an old fashioned notion that is clearly out of style today.


Copyright Focal Press, Taylor & Francis Group, an
Informa Business. All rights reserved

Now jumping from an old fashioned notion to a brand new book: Floyd Norman's latest book, "Animated Life: A lifetime of tips, tricks, techniques and stories from an Animation Legend " (Focal Press, April 2013) is now available for purchase.

And if you haven't yet gotten around to purchasing Mr. Norman's original collection of cartoons and stories -- "Faster! Cheaper! The Flip Side of the Art of Animation" - this paperback is still available for sale over at John Cawley's Cataroo. And if you still haven't had your fill of Floyd at this point, feel free to move on over to Mr. Fun's Blog. Which is where Mr. Norman posts his musings when he's not writing for JHM.

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  • So, true.  

    I'm not in animation, but I've seen people who have worked in institutions, done a good to great job, only to be passed over for the outsider.  I chalk it up to the "grass is greener" on the other side phenomenon, as well as the powers that be like showing who is really in charge.  Of course, the higher-ups think that the success is due to their supervision, not the rank and file workers, or even mid-level folks.

    My advice to those who get the boot would be to move and press on with the attitude that it wasn't you, personally, just that these things sort of happen randomly, and sometimes for small reasons.  Of course, everybody can improve at what they do, maybe the "talent" brought in is better than you, but maybe not.  A lot of institutions want to cultivate the idea that they get the best and brightest from every corner of the earth, and forgot about the folks that have been there a while, they're too inbred, can't think outside of the box.

  • And as with most books here, its not available on iTunes.  Why don't people understand that some of us want books digitally nowadays?  When I got my iPad, I said I'm not buying paper books again because I don't have room to store them anymore.  If its not on iTunes, I'll sometimes look on the Nook or Kindle store, but I really like having all my books on one 'shelf' on my iPad.  Please push these people to go digital when you talk with them! :)

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