Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dave's parting request

Dave Brain cartoon In 2007, DAVE BRAIN retired from the animation business after forty-one years, and also stepped down after five terms on the Guild’s Executive Board. His parting words, published in the September 2007 Peg-Board, were so popular that at least one candidate for that year’s Executive Board election said she was persuaded to run by his words. With Dave’s permission, here’s a reprint of what he had to say at the conclusion of his years of service ...

A month ago, I handed in my animation direction slug notes on a Nickelodeon show, thanked my director for the opportunity to work with him and drove home to start my retirement.

It was a great forty-one year career run that started at Disney Studios as an inbetweener on The World of Disney and the Jungle Book feature. It doesn’t seem that long ago really. Walt was still alive and I got to shake hands with him once.

Along the way I got to work with Ward Kimball and John Lounsbery, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Tex Avery, Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, Fred Wolf and Jimmy Murakami, Frank Terry, Corny Cole, Herb Klynn, Steve Bosustow and long stays with Phil Roman and Fred Crippen.

There are so many more people to mention but I need to get on to other matters. I want to say how impressed I am with the younger people I’ve worked with in recent years.

The level of talent, skill and dedication is every bit as superior as when I came into the industry. We are, in this town, an incredible group of creative animation artists.

I have watched the nature of the studios we work for change as they became divisions of conglomerate corporations. We used to be considered ongoing assets and family. Now the corporations consider its management corps as its family. We are “talent” hired or contracted to fill a present need. The corporation’s assets are its copyrighted material and entities.

If the animation people who started this union felt it was important and worked to establish it, how much more important it must be now. This is why I have served on the Executive Board for five terms.

Our union’s constitution and by-laws specify that only active members may serve on the Board and so I cannot run for office again. But you can.

Service on the Executive Board isn’t for everyone. You must believe in the rights of labor and collective bargaining as strongly as the corporations believe in their license to hold copyright. Copyright isn’t a natural law. It’s a legal construct and it makes imperative the right of employees to bargain collectively. Additionally, you must be in a situation to be absent from your family a few evenings a month. You must care enough about your workplace situation to listen patiently to others information and opinions about it and speak your own mind clearly and effectively.

So I’m probably addressing just a few when I ask you to attend the general membership meeting and have yourself placed in nomination.

You probably know whether this request addresses you or not. If it does, don’t shy away.

I’m among the latest in a long line who have served you. Now you must step up and serve.

It has been a great honor to work with my fellow board members and the Union staff, past and present. I highly recommend the job as worthy of your time and effort.

Respectfully and in solidarity,

— Dave Brain

Dave Brain’s illustrations for the September 1991 Peg-Board (see top) won him an award from the International Labor Communications Association.


Floyd Norman said...

Well said.

Thanks, Dave.


TotalD said...

While I am still animating I am not in the guild any more but I want to comment anyway =)

How sad to hear but what a wonderful career. Thank you David for all your work through the years on behalf of the membership. During my guild career I learned that it is the efforts of the solid members like yourself that made being in the union a joy. People who retain those core values are the ones who contribute the most. The board is losing a terrific guy and I wish you all the best in your retirement.

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