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Thursday, December 15, 2005

NORMAN, Floyd

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Birth/Death

Birth: June 22, 1935

Occupation/Title

If there is a job in animation Floyd Norman has done it. His is truly a master of all trades and definitely a master of story telling. Floyd has been a producer, director, editor, animator, writer, publisher, storyboard artist, and even a voice actor to name a few.

Bio Summary

Floyd grew up in Santa Barbara California. He was drawing before he could even walk. He shared a story with me about how his mom would catch him drawing on the walls of the family house. He would continue to follow his passion for art by taking art classes in school. Floyd’s constant drawing led him to his first job as a cartoonist for Bill Woggon, the creator of the Katy Keene series for Archie Comics. Floyd’s science teacher played golf with Mr. Woggon and told Bill about Floyd and his drawings. Floyd had his first job as an assistant to Woggon at Archie Comics while he was still in high school.

Norman continued his studies at Art Center of College and Design as an illustration major. At this time there wasn’t an animation major much less animation courses to take. Floyd always had his eye on animation and when he was offered a job at Disney his third year into school he jumped at the opportunity to work and be surrounded by so many talented artists. He started out as an apprentice inbetweener and worked his way up through the tiers. Norman worked on Sleeping Beauty and even storyboarded the famous ‘kaa’ sequence in Jungle Book. Floyd worked at Disney for ten years from 1956-1966. He left Disney when Walt died.

Floyd started his own production company with his friend Leo Sullivan in the sixties called Vignette Films. While at Vignette Floyd made educational films ranging from African American history to television commercials and training videos for the Navy. Understanding that it was a long shot to get a feature the two young filmmakers found work where they could find it. The studio had an off and on again ten year run.

Floyd continued his career by joining Hanna Barbera Productions in the 1970’s. He started as a layout artist and made the transition to storyboard artist and even writer. Floyd’s writing skills would lead him back to Disney. In the 1980’s Floyd returned to Disney as a writer for their publishing group. He had been turning down calls for a year until he finally decided to come back. While at the publishing group he wrote comics and comic strips. This even lead to him writing development for television shows. At this time there wasn’t a television unit at Disney. The writers at the publishing group did all the early television development. Floyd learned a lot about story through his writing with the publishing group where he worked for ten years.

Floyd made his return to feature animation as a storyboard artist for the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Floyd knew the directors quite well they actually worked for him. Floyd has been privileged to work with many people at many studios that would lead to many other projects. Norman would continue storyboarding at Disney working on such films as Mulan and Dinosaur. In 1996 pixar contacted him to help out in their story department. The timing was perfect and he already knew most of the animators at pixar through previous work at other studios. While at Pixar Floyd worked on Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc. Floyd enjoyed working at Pixar because their films are based on a good solid story. He believes that the story is key and it doesn’t matter what medium it is portrayed. Even though Floyd is now retired his knowledge and expertise is still in high demand.

Early Life/Family

Floyd grew up in Santa barbera with his two brothers James and Wendell. His brothers were very talented musicians and he often played with them. His parents were from the south. They grew up in Mississippi and moved west to California for more opportunities. His parents ran a restaurant in Santa Barbara. Floyd remembered many service men would come to the restaurant during World War II. Floyd himself was in the military he was drafted right after the completion of Sleeping Beauty and was sent to Korea for fourteen months.

Growing up in Santa Barbara was a great opportunity for Floyd. The area provided some of the best schools as well as music and theatre. He might not have met Bill Woogon or attend Art Center if it wasn’t for growing up in Santa Barbara. In fact a local Santa barbera women helped Floyd get a scholarship to Art Center.

Floyd’s family was full of musicians. His father played the banjo, his mother played the piano, and his grandfather played the mandolin. Growing up Floyd remembered there being a piano in every house of his family’s much similar to how everyone has a television today. Floyd himself has a family of five children and nine grandchildren all with his first wife Belle. Floyd is now married to Adrienne a fellow artist he met at Disney.

Education/Training

Floyd has always been training to be a better artist. He took art classes in elementary school and high school. He met his first mentor Bill Woggon at Archie comics. Assisting Bill lead to further education at Art Center which in turn led him to Disney. While at Disney Floyd was surrounded by amazing artists with amazing talents. He referred to it as being in a treasure house of art. Floyd learned from many great artists at Disney, but Vance Gary was one of the artists that affected Norman the most. He was an easy going mellow guy that teached Floyd the art of Disney storytelling.

Floyd even had the chance to work with Walt Disney himself on the Jungle Book. It was a great experience for a young Floyd to work with a legend like Walt and learn first hand what he liked and didn’t like. Since Jungle Book was Walt’s last film it was a truly special time for Floyd to have that opportunity.

Career Outline

Comments On Style

Floyd’s cartoon style has landed him the nickname Mr. Fun. His gag drawings of other artists and bosses has led to a heavy fan following and three books with another on the way. His drawing style easily portrays emotion and action which helps bring the story to live whether it is a dramatic storyboard or a humorous gag drawing of a fellow animator.

Influences

The illustrators of the 1950’s heavily influenced Floyd; he still has a collection in a folder of illustration he cut out of magazines at a young age. Norman was amazed at the talent of Illustrators such as Norman Rockwell. Once he arrived at Disney there were too many artists to mention that inspired Floyd. Every artist he worked with inspired him. The Disney experience for Floyd was both inspiring and mind blowing.

Personality

Floyd has been called Mr. Fun mostly because of his personality. He knows what is funny and how to get a laugh out of his audience. Floyd himself enjoys comedy. He enjoys Abbott and Costello as well as the three stooges. He loves making people laugh. He remembers playing a short animated piece he did in school and the excitement he felt when the audience laughed at his film. He realized that this was his calling. Floyd believes that humor is an important part of life. One of my favorite gags of Floyd’s was the Barbie gag in Toy Story 2, one gag that he fought to keep in the movie. Floyd has gone to the theatre to watch the audience laugh at some of his gags and it feels like acceptance to him when others relate to his humor and he feels validated.

Anecdotes

Floyd is a musician as well. Coming from a musical family he played the violin and double bass growing up, he also plays the saxophone, clarinet, and the flute. He played in many bands in school as well as played with Ward Kimball’s band, which consisted of a bunch of Disney artists playing for fun. Floyd is also a Macintosh lover. He remembers back in 1983 when he first saw a Macintosh computer for the first time. He was blown away by it. More so realizing what it could be and do in the future. Macs have always amazed him. He feels as if his life has come full circle thanks to Macs. He worked at Disney, which lead to Pixar, which is owned by Steve Jobs. Floyd today uses many different Macintosh products for writing, art, and film editing.

His drawing gags have lead to a stream of popular books. His first book of gags entitled Faster Cheaper had gags on Disney and Hanna Barbara. This book was so popular it led to another one entitled Son of Faster Cheaper. He even did one all about Michael Eisner entitled How the Grinch Stole Disney. He is currently working on another one all about Walt Disney. Floyd is also working on a book on all the columns he wrote about the animation business.

Miscellaneous

Filmography

Disney

Sleeping Beauty 1959
Jungle book 1967
101 Dalmatians 1961
Mary Poppins 1964
Sword in the Stone 1963
Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996
Mulan 1998
Dinosaur 2000

Hanna Barbera

Scooby Doo
Johnny Quest
Smurfs
Flintstones
The New Fred and Barney Show 1979



Pixar

Toy Story 2 1999
Monsters Inc. 2001

Among many others

Honors

Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 2002
Inducted in Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame

Related Links

A-HAA: Biography: Bill Melendez and Floyd Norman DVD
A-HAA:Media: Preston Blair's Animation 1st Edition Part Two

www.afrokids.com/floydsbio.html


Bibliographic References

www.afrokids.com/floydsbio.html

www.cataroo.com/010204.html

www.0-meon.com/pages/news&features/n&f-10-25-05.html


BIO-AAA-496

Contributors To This Listing

Cuyler Smith

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