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October 09, 2007 Tuesday.
October 9th, 2007

My first book DRAWING THE LINE, THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE ANIMATION UNIONS FROM BOSKO TO BART SIMPSON is now one year old. University Press of Kentucky released it on October 6th, 2006.
Princeton University listed it for Distinguished Mention, The London Review of Books said "It was the most complete account of the Walt Disney 1941 Strike yet written" and Leonard Maltin praised it as " A must for all interested in animation history."

It took four and a half years to write, in between doing my regular job as a Hollywood animator. It was an amazing experience for me, getting to combine several of my passions at once- Animation, History, Unions, the stories of the rank and file artists in Hollywood’s Golden Age, and lots of fun anecdotes I’ve gathered over the years. Many was the time old animation vets and I would swap anecdotes of Golden Age artists and their times. Inevitably the conversation would climax with ” Somebody should write this all down one day!”

I’m grateful to the historians and writers like Karl Cohen, Bob Birchard, Jerry Beck, Paul Buhle, John Canemaker, Leonard Maltin, Mark Kausler and Mike Barrier. They took the time to read over my pages, and give me some valuable tips and critique. Once realizing my topic, some selflessly shared with me some valuable interviews, images and periodicals. Also literay agent-editor Julia Lord for having faith in me and encouraging me as a writer.

The proof-reading process, footnoting, indexing and securing the rights for images, took long weeks after I thought the manuscript was done. I was ever recalling one more detail I should add, one more name I might have inadvertently omitted.

The book signing tour was a lot of fun, traveling the country meeting old friends and making new ones. Seeing my book on a shelf in Barnes & Noble and the Strand in Manhattan was almost more of a thrill than all the screen credits I’ve had on the big screen. One author complained to me” What is the use of doing book signings? They never break-even for the trouble you go through.” But to me it was the celebration, it was like senior prom and graduation, what you dream of for during the long hours writing and rewriting. Check out my Gallery Section for the images of the tour.

I’m very grateful to Barnes & Noble for stocking up early on my book, and Tina Price and the Creative Talent Network for throwing my first book party at Gordon Biersch brewpub in Burbank.

Part of the reason I did the book was so the stories of some of the unsung people in animation would have their stories told for today’s artists and future generations. My greatest satisfaction was derived from the responses I’ve gotten from the families of these great artists. Barbera Babbitt, Linda Jones, Emily Hubley, Juana Culhane, Selby and Walt Kelly’s Family, Mark Hilberman, the Friedmans, Mo Gollub’s sons, and many more. And of course, also the living artists like Bill Littlejohn, Martha Sigall and Jack Zander.

I don’t think that Drawing the Line is the definitive study of the animation unions. I hope others build upon what I did for future works. But it gives me satisfaction to know it’s out there to educate the animators of the future of a part of their heritage just as central as the Hollywood Sign.

One Disney director once growled at me;" SITO! IF YOU FOCUSED ON YOUR DRAWING AS MUCH AS YOU DO HISTORY, YOU'D BE A BETTER ANIMATOR! Maybe so, but I confess I have caught the writing bug. I am writing a new history book. I hope it won’t take another four years, but however long it takes, I am up for the challenge. As Willa Cather once wrote, “ the end means nothing, the road is all..”

me by Hans Bacher

History for 10/9/2006
Birthdays: Camille Saint Saens, E. Howard Hunt, Jacques Tati, Alastair Sim, Bruce Catton, Joe Pepitone, cartoonist Mike Peters, Savannah, John Lennon, his son Sean Lennon, E. Howard Hunt,, Scott Bakula, Tony Shalloub, Peter Tosh, Charles Rudolph Walgren-the inventor of the modern Drugstore, Guillermo Del Toro is 43

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

1000 AD VIKINGS DISCOVER AMERICA.- Viking Leif Ericsson lands his dragonships in Labrador, Canada. He calls it Vinland and there are several theories why: one was because of an abundance of grapevines he discovered. Another is that the old Norse crossed with Latin Vinland could also be described as Land of Pastures. Still a third theory was that Leif may have described this barren rocky shoreline Vinland to get suckers interested in settling. The Vikings settled a colony in America, but it didn't take and was withdrawn for unknown reasons. The second expedition under Thorfinn Karlsefni called the Indians they met Skraelings, and claimed they met a race of one legged men.

1192- Richard the Lionheart left the Holyland. End of the Third Crusade. He planned to return in 1196 and take Jerusalem but never did.

1609- Invalid Captain John Smith is put on a ship back to England. Smith had earlier gotten stung by a stingray and almost died. This time a powder horn exploded on his hip and blew out part of his side. While Smith was leader of the Jamestown Colony he had many enemies among the jealous gentry and some don't think he had an accident. Opinions also differ as to why the Jamestown settlers put Smith through a two month Atlantic crossing that could kill even healthy men. Some say they were hoping he wouldn't make it. He survived but never returned to America. Nobody told Pocahontas he had left and when she visited camp the men told her he was dead and forget about him. She would meet him ten years later in England when she was a wife and mother of the children of settler John Rolfe.

1635- Pilgrim Roger Williams was banished from the Massachusetts colony for saying the government should not be involved in determining someone’s religion.

1701- Yale University chartered.

1779- THE LUDDITE RIOTS- A movement of English peasants and tradesmen started by a man named Ned Lud who felt that all this newfangled machinery was going to cost them their jobs. The Luddites roamed the countryside smashing any looms, pistons, flywheels or other such devices they encountered. A similar movement in France. French peasants would remove their wooden clogs, called sabots, and throw them into a machine's gears to jam them, and coined the term Saboteurs.

1809- The first Royal Jubilee celebrated in England. The monarchy had taken a number of hits lately. King George III was a blind, insane shut in and the Prince and Princess of Wales couldn't stand each other and were sleeping around. So an old widow named Mrs Biggs came up with the idea of a celebration of King George's 50th anniversary of his reign as a way to boost morale. It worked and it's been a custom ever since.

1855- James Stoddard patents the steam calliope.

1888- The Washington Monument finally opened to the public. Construction on it was begun in 1840 and discontinued for a decade during the Civil War. Work was also held up when Protestant workmen refused to use marble blocks donated by Pope Pius IX.

1905- The World Series resumes after a one year haggle between the owners of the American and National leagues. A best of seven contest between the N.Y. Giants and the Philadelphia Athletics. It would continue undisturbed until 1994 with the players strike.

1938 Eugene O'Neill's play 'The Iceman Cometh' opened.

1951- RKO Pictures asked Marilyn Monroe to please wear panties while working, She was distracting the filmcrew.

1986- The Fox Network's first program-the Joan River's Show, premiered. The show didn't last but future hits like The Simpson's, Married With Children and the X-Files made Fox a major network in ten years.