Whatever you like doing, do it!

Since joining Pixar 22 years ago, award-winning animator Pete Docter has been influential in bringing some of the studio’s most successful movies to the big screen, including Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., and Up — the last two of which he also directed. In 2009, Martin Kelsey — a teacher at South Valley Middle School in Liberty

New Year Greetings

Here we have a wonderful New Year’s greeting from the early-1980s, written on an exposure sheet by the late-Norman McLaren—a pioneering animator who in 1941 established an animation studio at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, a studio in which he produced numerous award-winning films and taught countless aspiring animators until his retirement in

Don’t hesitate — Do it now!

Here we have a real piece of cinema history in the form of a hugely important letter from 1924, written by Walt Disney, in which he urges his good friend, the great Ub Iwerks, to up sticks and join him at the recently formed Disney Productions in Hollywood. Luckily for him — and us —

With great respect, Marge Simpson

Barbara Bush received a letter from the unlikeliest of sources in 1990, after an article in People magazine quoted the First Lady as saying The Simpsons “was the dumbest thing [she] had ever seen.” Marge Simpson‘s polite response can be seen below, followed by the transcript of an apologetic letter from Barbara Bush in reply.

SEVEN LITTLE MEN HELP A GIRL

When, in early-1986, Disney executives decided to change the title of their upcoming animated feature from ‘Basil of Baker Street’ to the less ambiguous ‘The Great Mouse Detective‘, its production team were less than pleased. One animator in particular, Ed Gombert, harnessed his displeasure to comical effect by creating, and circulating, the following: a fake memo

PERSIST

In May of this year, Pixar animator Austin Madison kindly hand-wrote the following open letter to aspiring artists, in a bid to inspire them through times of creative drought. It’s a lovely, eloquent letter, and in fact contains advice valuable to people in many a creative field. It was written as a contribution to the Animator

I dare you all, test your strength: Open a book.

January 24th, 1992. Writing to a class of students in an effort to promote the art of reading, legendary animator Chuck Jones urges them to open a book and recalls the literature that helped inspire the creation of Wile E. Coyote and Pepé Le Pew, just two of the many cartoon characters he had a hand

Script-written cartoons are like rap music

Happy new year everyone. To begin 2011, below is a letter from Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi (on letterhead of his now-defunct production company, Spümcø) to a fan, in which he discusses Rocky and Bullwinkle; reveals his love for Roger Ramjet; debates storyboard-written vs script-written cartoons; and then compares the latter to rap music. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of

DON’T GIVE UP!

From the pen of Pixar animator Aaron Hartline, here’s a highly endearing letter of encouragement to an aspiring animator named Willie Downs that only serves to confirm my suspicion that employees of Pixar can actually do no wrong. Downs – a huge fan of Pixar from the beginning who, it seems, was simply in need

This little girl has her Walters crossed

Thanks to the endearingly confused efforts of a young cartoon fan in 1964, we have the following charming sequence of letters to enjoy. The fan in question — Wendy — fancied acquiring some pictures of Woody Woodpecker and the character’s creator, and so attempted to ask him directly. Indeed the request reached Walter Lantz, but not

To All Potty-Mouthed Inbetweeners

At the risk of featuring too much Disney-related correspondence within such a short space of time, here we have an intriguing inter-office memo passed on to all members of the studio’s Inbetween Department in 1939 due to an influx of ‘gross language’ amongst certain artists. It seems the management were concerned about the impact of

How to Train an Animator, by Walt Disney

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the following eight-page memo. Written by Walt Disney in December of 1935 to Don Graham — a highly respected art teacher from Chounaird Art Institute tasked with helming art classes for Disney animators — this missive signalled the birth of a structured training program that would subsequently enable

Pixar films don’t get finished, they just get released

Mid-2008, hoping at best to receive a signed photo from his idol in return, a young man named Adam wrote to Pete Docter, the award-winning director of Monsters, Inc. and, more recently, Up. In the letter he spoke of his admiration for Docter and, as an amateur filmmaker and huge Pixar fan, mentioned his desire to

Walt Disney’s 25 million reasons to re-release Snow White

Here’s a quick, easily digestible business lesson, brought to you by Walt Disney. It was 1952, and a recent visit by Walt to a local hospital had inspired one of the young patients to subsequently send him an inquisitive letter. The child, Blaine, simply wanted to know why Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – originally

Your pal, John K.

In 1998, aged just 14, aspiring young cartoonist Amir Avni decided to send a letter to the creator of Ren & Stimpy, John Kricfalusi, along with a few cartoons he’d drawn, some of which contained relatively unknown characters of John’s. An incredibly generous reply soon arrived in the form of the wonderfully supportive, illustrated letter

No wonder Mary Poppins was awful in this regard

Following its release in 1988, the production team responsible for Who Framed Roger Rabbit were instantly applauded by the millions of stunned moviegoers who subsequently saw the film, and rightly so, as even now (an unbelievable 22 years later) the most hardened critic would have difficulty finding fault with the near-seamless interactions between live-action and

Disney, Day 1

On October 16th of 1923, just hours after striking a distribution deal with M. J. Winkler, near-penniless brothers Walt and Roy formed the company we now know as Disney. On the very same day, 21 year old Walt desperately wrote the following persuasive letter to the mother of Virginia Davis, a 5 year old girl

To all aspiring animators

In 1973, an aspiring young animator named Will Finn wrote a lengthy piece of fan mail to one of his idols, Disney legend Ward Kimball (pictured above), and Kimball responded with the wonderful letter below — an endearingly enthusiastic reply filled with friendly, sage advice. Even 15-year-old Will’s swipe at Hanna Barbera was dealt with expertly

Krusty the Clown is God

Says Jeff Trexler: Back in 1990, when I was researching my Ph.D. dissertation in religious history, I found a Christian tract featuring Bart Simpson as the sinner and Homer as the angry God. Simpsons counterfeit merchandise was ubiquitous. I sent it to Matt Groening and jokingly argued, since a Christian wouldn’t steal someone else’s intellectual

Lord Luv a Duck, Gov’nor

Prior to being called up as a B-17 pilot during World War II, David ‘Bud’ Swift worked as an animator’s assistant – and later animator – at Disney, initially under the watchful eye of Ward Kimball. His handiwork can be seen in films such as Pinocchio and Fantasia. The following amusing letter was sent to

UNADULTERATED HOGWASH

Whilst working for Leon Schlesinger Productions in the early 1930s, animators Tex Avery, Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett were highly instrumental in the development of the Looney Tunes cartoons, during what would eventually be known as the ‘Golden Era’ of animation. Fast forward to 1969, and animation historian Michael Barrier interviewed Clampett about that very