Roll The Credits! Prologue

Anyone who has seen any of the blockbuster animation features of recent years, and has interest, patience and/or stamina to sit through the seemingly endless credit titles, knows that no single person can make such movies.

Though it is possible, with today’s technology, to do it, it could be an undertaking of years to make anything worth watching even by your own kids, who would be grown up and bored by the time you finished it. A professional animated film is not a one-man show.
I have won prizes and gotten credit for many films that were enriched by the work of others. But this book is not to list everyone who helped me make the thousand-plus-plus short films that carry my director’s credit. As director, I must conceive, write, guide and control my films, often draw staging layouts and key animation poses. If that sounds like “everything,” it isn’t. The meat on the bones, the design, animation, voice acting, music, the sound mixing, compositing… etc. etc. are the contributions of a studio full of talented and dedicated professionals. I cannot credit them all here. This book is attempting something broader; to give credit to the people who at each stage of my life and animation career inspired and guided me.

Here are some short and long stories about 65 amazing people I can blame or credit for whatever has become of me, plus ramblings I squeezed in, trying to get a handle on how
I managed to achieve a positive reputation in my profession in spite of the fact that nearly all of my large projects were failures! Failures made me what I am today, a success!  

Many people had a role in that, and I am taking this opportunity to give 65 of them the credit/blame for how I turned out. In spite of the fact that so many of my projects didn’t pan out, (that expression dates me!) I was helped, inspired, urged on, and provided with uninterrupted work for 65 years. After the first post-WW2 year, 1945, I’ve never been out of work!  Knowing how inexplicable that is, I feel I must write about it and give credit to those whose faith in me made my long career possible.

Many of the people named herein never made it to Google or the Wikipedia, but they are high on my list of “inspirators,”’ who influenced me, boosted me in my life, craft and art, worked with me, and contributed their talents to my projects. Many became my long time friends. To me they were all creative giants who deserve to be remembered, and I wish to remember them. They’re listed here more or less chronologically as they appeared in my life.  The tragic part is that of the 65 great people I’m writing about, 55 of them are no longer living. As an old Czech colleague once put it, “The chopping in the woods is getting closer!” With that heavy thought in mind, I figured that I’d better get on with the job of rolling the credits!

My hope and point here is that these people and events will remind you of parallels in your own careers, and will inspire creative thoughts. As most of the people remembered here are gone, I am relying my own memory as well as preserved documents. This is intended as an “open” book, and I welcome any additional material and thoughts, even negating, from any of you, which I can include to fill out the history.

– Gene Deitch, 2011

41 thoughts on “Roll The Credits! Prologue

  1. It was a big week in September 2011! Gary Groth, head honcho of Fantagraphics publishers, America’s leading publisher of books about comics, visited Zdenka and me in Prague, and along with his son, Conrad, saw what the mass of tourists here never see.

    Fantagraphics has brought out three books of my work, “The CAT on a Hot Thin Groove,” the collection of my Record Changer magazine stuff; the complete run of my comic strip,“Terr’ble Thompson!” and also “The Deitch Interviews,” a fat book of interviews with me and my three sons. Also, many books by my son Kim are in the Fantagraphics catalog. So this visit was a big-time occasion for us!

    It was Gary’s first visit to the golden city of Prague! I made sure he saw everything that could crammed into three days, and it became more than I’d ever hoped for:

    Miracles happen in Prague, and the current miracle here is that the new American Ambassador, Norman Eisen, is an avid collector of comics art ! When he heard that Gary Groth was coming to visit me, he invited us both and Zdenka to a private dinner together, and personally led us on tour at the eye-boggling U.S. Ambassadorial palace. You can be sure that none of the current convolutions of diplomacy and world events were even touched upon; the entire evening’s conversation was about nothing but comics and cartoons!

    As I write this in early 2013, an updated reprint of the Fantagraphics’ CAT ON A HOT THIN GROOVE book is at the printers, and a new book, “NUDNIK Revealed” is in development, and will be premliered at the San Diego COMIC-CON, SUMMER 2013. Gary Groth has also offered to publish this blog, “Roll The Credits!” in printed book form! So after it’s been completely posted it may be committed to print. To speed the process. I’ll be posting new segments at a faster rate! So please, and write so your comments. They will be included!

  2. My gosh! If I get these kinds of comments AFTER you’ve read my book, I’ll be truly happy
    and fulfilled! STAY TUNED….and please don’t hesitate to argue with me if you feel like it!

    XXX Gene

    PS: Please see that I’ve just expanded the naughty photo album on the Tomi Ungerer piece!

  3. Dear Gene,
    So twice congratulated both with your B-Day and the blog!
    Good to hear you’re still going strong.
    x Lisette Looman

  4. Gene! Nice to see that you have a blog going! I’ll keep my eye on it, and one day… Maybe I’ll come out to Prague to see the city.

    Hope all is well, and say hi to Zdenka for me.

    Paul Mendoza

  5. You all who wrote, and all those who emailed and phoned me, have “Made My B-Day” and given me memories for many days and years to come. My hope is that you will enjoy this blog/book, and find value in it for yourselves! Each week I’ll be adding new chapters. Thank you!

  6. What a wonderful birthday gift you are giving to all of us! You deserve the biggest gift of all– whatever that might be. Looking forward to the book and thanks for including me. Birthday love to you and big hug to Zdenka


  7. Happy Birthday, Gene! Great blog! Looking forward to everything and anything you have to say. We are huge fans – as you know – at FableVision. Thanks again for Skyping into the studio to share your wisdom. You have inspired all of us!

  8. Happy Birthday, Gene! I’ve really enjoyed your past writings on animation, so I’m looking forward to your blog. Also, I had the pleasure to be in the audience (with Allen Swift) at a talk you gave at Donnell Library in New York some years back. Best Wishes to you, always.

  9. Congratulations Gene! And thank you for giving US this inspiring new gift on YOUR birthday!!! : )
    xoxox, yvette

  10. Happy Birthday , Gene. At that advanced age, most people are decrepit and wondering where their shoes are! And you’re publishing a new book and OMG!! BLOGGING!!!!!!! :-))

    Take care, my friend. And give that beautiful woman a hug for me.

  11. I have recently discovered your John Lee Hooker CD– a revelatory piece of history . I appreciate your persistence in getting it published. I’ve known your work since the 1950s, when I was a Sam Goody pilgrim and Bob and Ray fan. Pete Burness was married to my cousin Juana, so I’ve encountered your work in music, art, and film. And I’m still learning new things from you. Best wishes as you embark into the Blogosphere!

  12. Happy Birthday and Many More!

    Love, from your biggest fan in Gainesville, Florida.

    And, to the powers that be, how do we get Tom Terrific out of storage and on to a DVD? It’s time!

  13. Happy Birthday, Gene….you have been such an inspiration to so many of us; I can’t wait to read how “you happened*! My best to Zdenka. I have special, happy memories of the times we have spent together. You are both in my thoughts! This is such a wonderful Birthday gift that you have given us!

  14. How exciting, Gene! I look forward to reading your blog & learning so much more about you, your past & those that influenced you. Have a wonderful birthday! Thank you for including me…


  15. I want to first give credit to the Bulgarian Apple Wizard Zachary “Hary” Jordanov, who set aside his own problems to expertly put this hi-tech blog together and wetnurse it for me. Thanks, Hary!

    • That is so neat….I”m glad to have this link…because I get to have a little “across the world” connection with 2 of my favorite people — Hary and Gene! WHEEEE!

      Congratulations on your connection!

      • Thank you both!

        ‘Apple wizards’ really work for Apple, and I’m not employed by them, yet 🙂 I have been holding all my four thumbs UP for Apple since 1990, when they didn’t have the iMac and iPod and iPhone and iPad, but they still made a better (more user-friendly) OS than Microsoft! Thank you Gene for giving me this ANI-mazing opportunity to be “out there”!

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