Saturday, January 04, 2014


The animation master is, apparently, not hanging it up after all.

Ghibli giant Hayao Miyazaki has – to the surprise of nobody it seems – retracted his latest promise to retire, making it the 7th time he has vowed to quit only to think better of it.

The withdrawal, made in a radio broadcast on New Year’s Eve, marks the 7th such recantation (although by some counts he has done it as many as 10 times). ...

Many aren't surprised at this. I'm very not surprised.

The one constant of animation is that a lot of artists in the biz keep working until they're into the eighth and ninth decades. Joe Grant was still working at 97, when he died with a pencil in his hand. Chuck Jones was in his eighties when gravity finally took its toll. My old boss Woolie Reitherman stopped working in his seventies because he was shown the door by Disney management. Left to his own devices, he would have kept at the job until his pulse stopped.

Larry Clemmons, who mentored me when I got to Disney, kept working until his (retired) wife pressured him into hanging up the the nine-to-five routine and joining her in Friday Harbor, Washington. He wasn't thrilled about it, but he wanted to avoid spousal wrath so packed up and left town.

When I became business representative of TAG (around the time that the cartoon business began surging with new vitality), I got a load of phone calls from veterans eager to come out of retirement and get back into harness. Bob Bemiller, a cartoon professional since the days of Crusader Rabbit, used to ask: "Where's the work? Tell them I'm available, but don't tell them how old I am!"

So Miyazaki unretiring? Why the hell not? He's just like all the seventy-something animation artists I know about here in L.A. Once cartoons are in your blood, they're in your blood. And sitting at home catching up on your foot-dangling when there are storyboards to be drawn is the last thing you want to do.


Christopher Sobieniak said...

It's nice when some managed to stick around as long as they can. Too bad for Larry Clemmons though, but I guess that's what happens when your spouse thinks differently of your profession.

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