What is your Name and Current Occupation?
Eddie Fitzgerald: storyboard artist.
Past Crazy Jobs:
Crazy jobs? Hmmmm. Well, when I got out of school I washed dishes, bussed tables and was an agricultural worker. None of those jobs paid very much but I learned something valuable from each one, and I don’t regret the experience. My first art jobs had to do with designing menus, letterheads and all that, and that paid even less than dishwashing, because the clients were always changing their minds.
I have lots of favorites, but I guess the very best one was doing the “Tales of Worm Paranoia” short for Cartoon Network. There’s no high in the world like doing a cartoon of your own. I learned sooooo much by doing that. On the positive side I learned that I liked doing slapstick and character acting. On the negative side I learned that I have an odd tendency to fixate on depressing subjects. That’s not the way I am in real life, so it came as a surprise. Don’t feel sorry for me. Once I realized I had that vulnerability I was able to get it under control…mostly. Other favorites included working with John Kricfalusi on Ren & Stimpy, and Ralph Bakshi on some of his projects. Tiny Toons was a lot of fun and so was the Tex Avery show. So was working with Donovan Cook and…well, it would be a long list.
I’ve always loved funny cartooning, and animation is all about moving cartoons in a funny way. The devil is in the details. The fact that your character opens a door isn’t as important as how he opens the door.
How Did I Get into the Business?
I watched the black and white “Disneyland” show every week when I was a tiny little kid. I saw Alice in Wonderland, Mars and Beyond, Davy Crockett, Donald as a truant officer, excerpts from Three Caballeros…it was Heaven! I just thought the Disney artists had the best jobs in the world. Then there were Warner cartoons and Popeye, comic books, newspaper comics, magazine illustration, Mad magazine…what a feast! And on live TV there was Jackie Gleason, Ernie Kovacs and Sid Caesar. With all that old childhood stuff in my head I filled a thick sketchbook with drawings, showed it to Don Christianson at Filmation, and got my first industry job. I was walking on air!
What Do I Like Doing Best?
I like the challenge of making a film. Film is a mystical thing; you can’t superimpose any old thought on it. You have to try lots of ideas and see which ones catch fire. You have to be sensitive to what the medium wants to say. You have to psych yourself into being in a zone. That, and you have to do it on time or you’ll be fired!
What Do I Like Doing Least?
Reading scripts! Sometimes you get scripts that are twice as long as they should be. That causes the board to be overly long, and
when that happens the best gags and acting are cut. This industry would improve 100% overnight if scripts were shorter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to make things easy on myself. I believe in sweating blood to do a good job. I just hate to see my best efforts cut and in a wastebasket.
Brushes with Animation Greatness?
Definitely! With John Kricfalusi! He’s probably the best practicing line artist in the world, and on top of that he’s a killer writer and director. I don’t think I’ve had a single conversation with him over the years where I haven’t come out energized, and full of a sense of mission. Also I got to know Warners director Bob Clampett before he died. I can’t write about Bob without being overcome by sadness. I really miss the guy. He was a great director and a great human being. He’ll inspire creative revolutions for many years to come.
I’m working on a graphic novel and on an animation blog called “Uncle Eddie’s Theory Corner.” Check it out!
Advice To Young Animators?
Learn to draw and cartoon, even if that seems less relevant in the digital age. Be an artist who uses programs, not a programmer who knows a little about art. Content is everything. A hundred years from now there’ll be virtual reality and holographic cartoons and nobody’ll care about the strictly technical things we do now. They will care about expressive artists like Don Martin, Milt Gross, Wally Wood, Rod Scribner, Jimmy Tyre, John Sibley and the like.