Characters & Competition: Interview With Animation Legends John Pomeroy & Tom Bancroft (Part 1) :: ArtCast #61

Mrs. Brisby meets The Owl in The Secret Of Nimh

You could power the entire Walt Disney World Resort with the passion that was captured in this podcast episode.

My plan for this episode was simple: Get these two living legends in a room and press RECORD.

And that’s all I had to do…

John Pomeroy started animating at Disney just a few years after Walt died.  He worked under the three most well-known Nine Old Men: Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and Milt Kahl and played a key role in the formation of the Don Bluth studio.

Tom Bancroft was a lead animator on Mulan and basically created the character of Mushu. Tom was part of the original creative team at Disney Florida and wrote the inventive new book Character Mentor.

I can’t begin to describe what it was like to listen to these two highly accomplished, talented animators light up with creative passion so you’ll just have to listen to the recording and experience it for yourself.

Here are just a few of the topics covered in the interview:

  • Appealing Character Design.
  • The old days at Disney and what it was like to work for Frank Thomas.
  • A first-hand account of the infamous origins of the Don Bluth Studio.
  • The origins of Steven Spielberg’s contribution to feature animation.
  • The formation of the Disney Florida studio.

If you want some powerful fuel for your creative fire, click through and PRESS PLAY.

Chris Oatley's Double Rainbow

This is the double rainbow that appeared while I was recording the intro to this podcast episode.
Click to see a big version.

“I think that when you’re in love with something and you’re passionate, you never measure the cost. You just do it automatically.”

-John Pomeroy

John Pomeroy on IMDB

John Pomeroy on Wikipedia

“One of the Ink & Paint ladies at Ralph Bakshi Productions told me ‘If you want to get married and have kids, don’t go into animation.’ I had just finished my freshman year at CalArts so it was devastating to hear that stuff. But then Roger Rabbit came out and it reignited the whole industry.”

-Tom Bancroft

Tom Bancroft on IMDB

Tom Bancroft on deviantArt

Listen To The Interview:

[ download the mp3 ]

Further Research:

Tom Bancroft was the lead animator for Mushu.

Tom Bancroft was the lead animator for Mushu.

Creative Character Design for Animation, Games & Comics

Tom Bancroft’s Character Mentor

The Illusion Of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

The Frank and Ollie Documentary

Waking Sleeping Beauty

Dream On Silly Dreamer

Chris Oatley’s interviews Tina Price

Chris’ reaction to the John Pomeroy/ Brad Bird/ Floyd Norman/ Andreas Deja Tribute To Milt Kahl (2009).

Here’s a video from CTNX where Don Bluth and Gary Goldman discuss the formation of the Don Bluth Studio:

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Now It’s Your Turn:

What did you learn while listening to the interview with John Pomeroy & Tom Bancroft?

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Matthew Sample II

Nice double rainbow! lol….

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Chris Oatley

Haha!! That was so awesome.

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Tegan Clancy

I would of been jumping up and down going “oh my god, oh my god!” if I saw that once in a lifetime rainbow

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Dennis

Great interview!

It’s really great to hear about those early days of animating.
Loving this blog more and more :)

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Chris Oatley

Thanks so much, Dennis!

Me too. Total geek-out.

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Cassandra Lee

Hearing how these guys started off is sooo exciting! :D I feel so inspired to push on after hearing that even those guys had negative people trying to discourage them when they first started out. Need to brush up on my knowledge of animation history some more.

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Chris Oatley

Heck yeah! I loved hearing how Tom started when the animation industry was in a downturn. That’s so encouraging.

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Bill Main

I love to listen to the masters talk shop and so this interview was just about one of my favorite things in life. The conversation definitely urged me to dig deeper into the history of the animation industry/craft. Super inspiring in terms of keeping a vision of what you want to accomplish and taking physical actions to step by step accomplish the goals. The Don Bluth garage studio was like,”What?! YES!”

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Chris Oatley

Haha! Awesome, Bill. #theinternetisthegarageofthefuture

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Britton Bucciarelli

I listened to this whole thing in amazement only to scroll down and see three comments?!

Scouring the site you have some amazing stuff here and I know I will be coming back time and time again and checking up on what is new.

Thanks : )

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Chris Oatley

Thanks, Britton! Just FYI: You can subscribe to the newsletter to be notified every time there’s a new post!

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Ely Anlér

This was a great interview/chat. I was very sad when it was over. It’s nice to hear one more time that the people that choose this path we are all silly dreamers and there’s still hope :D

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Chris Oatley

I couldn’t agree more. That was probably my biggest take-away, personally.

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Ben

Thanks Chris for sharing! Can’t wait for part 2 of the interview. Would you happen to have an eta for that?
The Don Bluth video is amazing. It really helped me put some things into perspective. “It isn’t about the medium, its about the story.” Truly inspiring!

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Chris Oatley

Thanks, Ben! No official ETA on Part 2 yet. Tom and I have a few ideas that we’re going to pitch to JP.

And, yes, Don is a Jedi Master.

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Tegan Clancy

Chris it sounds like you guys were having way too much fun!
I’ve got to say, listening to how John Pomeroy and Don Bluth created a team who had their same passion and just went with it, even if it meant leaving disney, gives me great hope. It encourages me to keep working with like-minded people, we all gravitate together for a reason, and I feel that same buzz feeling over at the Oatley Academy! Exciting times!

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Chris Oatley

I agree, Tegan. I even said to them that their stories gave me so much confidence. …and it got me dreaming even bigger about what we can achieve at OA. Thanks for the encouragement!

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Fred

A truly amazing podcast. Do more, do more!!

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Chris Oatley

Haha! Thanks, Fred. Will do.

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Scott Wiser

Oh man, that was just SO…AMAZING. Makes me wonder what it’s going to take to get out of this current animation slump … maybe the artists need to unite and do their own thing – that concept kept coming back to my mind and I wonder how something like that could come together.

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Phillip Burnett

Thanks yet again Chris for putting this together. There is so much valuable info that we aspiring artist need to hear.

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Chris Oatley

Thank you, Phillip! I was super-inspired while I was in the room with these guys. I am so happy it was recorded! I kept looking down at my recorder, paranoid that it was going to shut off suddenly! Fortunately, it got everything!

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Amanda Smith

This is so good. I know about Gary Goldman, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, etc so I feel like I’m really getting immersed in the history (and the heritage). But what am I DOING??? Man, I need to write, I need to draw. I need to do it today. Here at work, I need to just steal the time.

These guys just did it, they didn’t let their fears paralyze them, they didn’t hang back in the amateur realm. They just frickin’ did it.

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Chris Oatley

So true. Great stuff, Amanda.

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Amanda Smith

You know, 2D Disney animation hasn’t died out because there’s no audience for it. It’s wilted because it wasn’t being fed.

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Chris Oatley

Very well put, Amanda.

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Kevin Allen

Great artcast! So inspirational hearing from these masters. The amount of work and commitment these two possess is incredible. And THANK YOU for the links to those books. I’m going to purchase every single one. They’ll likely add to my art-bible shelf!

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Chris Oatley

Thanks, Kevin!

Whenever you order something on Amazon but go through a link here on ChrisOatley.com I get a small commission which goes toward my (insane) web and email hosting bills.

Thank you!!!

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Mary-Anne

I was one happy nerd listening to this interview. The more I think about it, The Secret of Nimh is the perfect animated film. Kids movies aren’t scary anough anymore. I love that element of it, and the drama. I mean it’s practically Shakespearian! Does anyone else find animated films to be too saccharine and slapstick these days? I’ll admit feminism while awesome, also robbed us of super romantic love stories. Now the guy is always flawed and the girl fiercely independent. And she has to save him bla bla. Come on movies should be bigger than life! Right? Can we stop hugging and learning and have more rat swordfights?

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Joe

Hearing about working animators developing the art in Don’s garage is so inspiring. Overflowing passion. As a student learning the craft, it brings on so much inspiration to move forward. Thank you Chris for this interview.

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Lance

Great interview Chris!
It was fascinating hearing John tell stories about the early days in the Bluth studios. I always have been a huge fan of Johns work, I own several original model sheets and drawings from Dragons Lair 2.
I also own all of Tom’s books and a fan as well.

What is John up to these days, is he retired, does he teach?

I hope you have part 2 soon!

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Nicolas

Wow!
It felt really inspiring to ear such greats artists who took their destiny by the horn when the animation business wasn’t going so well. The nine old man were the golden age of animation and John and Tom part of the ”renaissance” I just can’t wait to see whats next.
Has a new animator in the industry, I now feel like I could have a part to play in the upcomming event instead of just being a tool. I know they took alot of risks and worked like theirs no tomorow but it paid and I’m greatful they did what they did.

But I feel like artist these days are less united then they use to be. Is it because of the competition for the jobs or because the concept of mentors is slowly fading away ? So I wonder if such a revolution could still happen? What do you think is the main problem today cinema or what would modern animation need to keep growing?

thx for the great interview!

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Chelsea

Why do they live in Nashville?

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Jasmine Rossetto

Hi Chris,

I’m currently listening to this podcast and it is awesome! I’m curious though, first thought ever, Tom Bancroft/Ryan Woodward are the only Animator that I know of who may or may not have trained under the generation of animator’s that trained under the 9 old men (I know that Ryan Woodward did not). Surely there are more of these guys out there? Like, the 9 old men were super stars, Glen Keane’s generation were super stars, Tom Bancroft, Ryan are super stars, and I’ve heard of lots of up and coming vis-dev artists, but not so many Animators that still do hand-drawn animation… You know, who did Glen Keane and Andreas Deja and James Baxter train…? Am I just ignorant and need to get my butt to CTNX..? (I am getting ready for this by the way) I may have answered my own question, but do you know what I mean? Honestly I really miss hand-drawn animation and I think the most amazing thing I’ve seen lately that took my breathe away was Paperman… I don’t recognise anything, I don’t feel like there is any animation that is distinctive of someone anymore… And I miss that.

Keep up what you’re doing anyway, you could already have this set up in a podcast later down the track and I just need to wait for it :)

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