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Boyd Kirkland and John Dorman, RIP

John Dorman and Boyd Kirkland
Drawing by John Dorman (left) and still from “Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero” directed, written and produced by Boyd Kirkland

The animation community lost two major talents last weekend–Boyd Kirkland (1950-2011) and John Dorman (1952-2011). Click on their names to read their obits on the Animation Guild Blog.

Kirkland was a director of many classic episodes of the groundbreaking American superhero cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. He also directed X-Men: Evolution and directed, wrote, boarded, and produced at numerous studios since entering the business in 1978. More thoughts about his passing can be found at Comics Continuum.

John Dorman had worked in animation since 1974, primarily as a board artist, designer and art director. At Ruby-Spears, he supervised the development department where he brought on greats like Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, and Doug Wildey. His list of credits range from Ralph Bakshi’s Hey Good Lookin’ to Spumco’s The Ripping Friends to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas.

There are some nice memories of Dorman on Buzz Dixon’s blog including this memorable tale:

While working on the animated Moses film, Prince of Egypt, John was assigned the task of storyboarding the parting of the Red Sea. The Exec in charge had some Strong Ideas how the story should be told, or rather, re-told. Specifically, to make it more “female friendly”, the Exec ordered the scene written with Moses’ wife breaking his staff across her knee & telling him to have faith in himself if he wanted to part the sea.

John was not a very spiritual, much less religious man, but he knew enough about the Bible to know camel dung when he smelled it. Still, a job was a job & John needed the money, so he storyboarded the scene as written…but he also “plused” it a bit.

John turned the storyboard in and the Exec smiled at how well John had interpreted the Exec’s ideas, then noticed something and frowned. “This is all wonderful work,” the Exec said to John, “but who’s this figure here? The one in the cape with the horned helmet and a big hammer?”

“Oh, that’s Thor,” John said. “I figured since you were [m]ucking around with the Bible I might as well throw him in.”