My good friend Thomas Mclaughlin passed away last week. Some of you may have known him from the old Warner Bros days and others from his days at Cartoon Network. Tom, if you knew him was like an M&M, he had a hard shell but was all soft and sweet inside once you got past his Brooklyn bravado. Most only knew him as a sheet timer but he was much more than that being a talented painter and designer as well.
Tom was a superman to many of us. He was never afraid, at least outwardly, and he would truly take a bullet for you, never mind have your back in a bar fight or any trouble you might be in. In his early days he was a lifeguard and avid surfer and surfed regularly up until he died.
Tom had so many stories when you hung out with him and he was so funny that it was like watching stand up comedy. He a great sense of timing and delivery which is rare and a true gift for storytelling.
I met Tom on my first job about 25 years ago working on Broadcast Arts in NYC as I animated a Honey Nut Cheerios commercial and he would drop by my desk to chat and offer advice on my drawings. At the time he was coming off working on Pee Wee’s Playhouse and he had a development deal for a pilot back in ’87 to do a short called Jackie Bison for I think ABC. I was amazed that one guy could make a show. He had so much confidence and really inspired me with that one piece of film. He got another development deal at WB around 1999 about a kid who could travel through dreams and I was fortunate enough to be asked to board it for him. He had a million ideas coursing through his head and sometimes when you talked to him he would speak SO fast you had to decipher what he said. My wife and I still quote things he said 10 years ago.
Tom was a good dude and was about to embark on the next chapter of his life as he cruised into the digital age. The animation business he was in is very transient, you move from one job to the next, spending every day with people for years and then suddenly losing connection and as such for a short time Tom and I lost touch. He would occasionally text or email me and call me an ass. I’d call him Asshole, and he’d text back in true Tom fashion. “That’s Mr. Asshole to you.”
Last year, I reconnected with him and we spoke often. Towards the end he was taking my Storyboard Pro class at Studio Arts every Wednesday and I looked forward to seeing him each week. The night before he died I missed the class and cancelled it due to a bad back. The last thing he ever said to me was “You’re a retard for missing storyboard class. Love, Tom.” in an email. That was Tom in a nutshell. He is survived by his wife Brenda and his three children. I will truly miss him.
This fund is being set up for the McLaughlin family and the hole Tom left when he past away. My hope is that this money you all generously give might go towards his burial, and the trip that Brenda will take as she journey’s back with Tom’s ashes to let his lifeguard pals take him out to the ocean and spread his ashes there which was Tom’s wish. Please give generously, and if you have a special Tom story you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. We are trying also to get together some sort of memorial and perhaps might read them during the memorial so check back here regulatory for updates. –
You can donate to his fund here.