This is my story. It’s the tale of a young man growing up in Alaska who has a dream. His life journey is complete with adventures, life changes and career opportunities he never could have imagined. Like most good stories, there are many twists and turns. Here we go.
I’m the fourth child of 6 with 2 older brothers, an older sister, and 2 younger sisters. My family moved to Alaska in 1963, when I was 3 years old. My father followed his older brother, Uncle John, to the land of the Midnight Sun. “It’s the land of opportunity”, Uncle John proclaimed, and he would have known; he was the first Attorney General of Alaska when it gained statehood in 1959, and served as a State Senator throughout the 1960s and early 70s.
Mother was an ex-grade schoolteacher. Father was a Freudian analyst, the only one in the state for several years. I joke with my friends who complain of Catholic or Jewish damage that I grew up with Atheist-Freudian-Skinnerian damage.
As a child, I loved animation, especially Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons, and the Hanna Barbera action adventure TV shows designed by Alex Toth. In 5th grade I wished everything I watched on TV could be an animated cartoon, even if (or especially if) it was the cheapo Filmation kind, where characters would slide across the screen, cut off at the waist to avoid animating walk cycles.
My parents sealed the deal when they gave me the book “The Art of Disney Animation” for my 11th birthday. I decided I was going to be a Disney animator in the footsteps of Milt Kahl and Frank Thomas. The book decried, in its final chapter, the lack of inspiration in the up and coming crop of young animation artists. I vowed to reverse that trend single handedly.