Ron Husband Retires From Disney, Prepares to Direct a Film

Ron Husband retired from the Walt Disney Company on Friday, September 20, after 38 years with the company. Per his own bio:

Beginning as a Trainee in 1975, working my way up through in-betweener, breakdown artist, assistant animator, animator, and then supervising animator and working on such titles as Rescuers, Pete’s Dragon, Small One, Fox and Hound, Black Cauldron, Great Mouse Detective, Oliver & Co., The Little Mermaid, Rescuers Down Under, Aladdin, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Hercules, Atlantis, Fantasia 2000 and Treasure Planet before moving on from the animation world into the publishing world and working as a Character Artist for Disney Consumer Products.

Ron isn’t riding off into the sunset though. He’s busier than he’s ever been. His son, Jai, who works in the Atlanta animation scene, announced yesterday on his public Facebook profile that he was working on a film with his father:

That’s not all for Ron. Next week, Focal Press will release his new book Quick Sketching with Ron Husband. He has also started a blog at RonHusband.blogspot.com. If the first few posts are any indication, it will be a fascinating read. Ron, by virtue of being one of the first black artists (if not the first) to achieve the rank of supervising animator at Disney Feature Animation, has an incredible perspective on animation history and surely has plenty of great stories to tell.


  • Animator606432

    I know, as a black animator as well, it’s nice to know there are other’s that actually made it. Would love to talk to him one day.

  • Richard Bailey

    I had the pleasure of working with Ron at the Sydney Disney studio where he spent a couple of stints. He was a wealth of knowledge, very approachable and a genuine lovely guy. Congrats on the retirement and the directing opportunity!

  • MRKid

    When I was a young pre-teen, I wrote to Disney because I wanted to be an animator. I sent drawings and a long letter to anyone that would listen. Somehow, it got to him and Phil Young. Both wrote back and sent great encouragement. Ron was very kind and even took the time to give critiques of each of the drawings I sent, by applying thin animation paper overtop mine and drawing his suggestions. It was one of the coolest moments of my young life. He’s an unsung hero and I look forward to seeing where he goes from here.

  • George Comerci

    i wonder if the film will be animated? i sure hope so!

  • LeSean Thomas

    This is exciting, to say the least. Ron, along with Dan Haskett and Bruce Smith (and later discovering Frank Braxton) were among the key reasons I saw myself working in animation. Good luck, Mr. Husband. Will be watching!

  • James Madison

    Good post!

  • http://www.distrakt.com/ DISTRAKT

    Ron Husband is one of the greats and a masterful animator!

  • Skip

    Great, I hope it will be a 2D film.

  • Guest

    I don’t think you have to compare and check if other people who happen to be categorized in the same group as you have succeeded in something first before you try it yourself. There are many animators and artists who happen to be or not be Black that influenced me.

    • guest

      The impression that Disney is like this can be somewhat discouraging to young people http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJT2RBkFhic and that, is one of the reasons is why it is encouraging to hear hear updates on disney artists like Ron Husband

    • oNuttz

      ((I don’t think you have to compare and check if other people who happen to be categorized in the same group))

      Perhaps that’s because you were born within a paradigm of entitlement, but I was raised at the tail end of the Jim Crow era where an entire race was brainwashed into viewing themselves as inferior.
      Today I’m an accomplished character designer, but as a kid, a Detroit News editor warned me to only draw “funny animals” because “my people” would “never” be shown in comic strips. Through the years, art agents would either reject representing my illustration work, or admit that they would only use me if a “special black” project came up.

      It was only after the movie “Do the Right Thing”, that hiphop culture flourished, and “black projects” entered the mainstream. Even so, I’ve been admonished by animation art directors who took offense whenever I’d dare attempt to coach them on drawing African American “lips” correctly.

      Even today, you can visit the “hub” of the illustration market, (invitation only) drawger.com and notice the absence of a single black artist… hmmn, I guess no one is talented enough to qualify in this millennium. So yes, it is extremely inspiring to see a black artist who was able to break through the infamous glass sealing that is apparently invisible to the uninitiated.

  • Jamaal Bradley

    Ron is a good guy and I wish him all the best… I appreciate all the good advice he gave me! Keep Grinding

  • OtherDan

    Congrats Ron! He’s a very nice man whom you alway saw sketching in a book. A couple memorable characters he animated as a lead were the elk in the Firebird Suite, which I thought was beautifully done; and Dr. Sweet in Atlantis who a fun character.

  • guest

    Thanks for the essay, but I’m aware of all that. I said it was ‘one of’ the reasons that I found it encouraging to hear about.

  • iseewhatyoudidthere

    I see what you are saying, but the problem is that for a lot of minority people, especially when they are children, racial representation really does matter.

    When The Cosby Show first premiered, there was a phenomenon of young black males reporting to news papers, school surveys, and through fan mail saying that they were inspired to pursue medecine and the sciences because of Bill Cosby’s character. For a lot of these kids who don’t see too many people like them working as doctors and scientific professionals in their neighborhoods, as well as on tv, this WAS a huge deal for them. When 70% of real life and 90% of the media don’t look like you and the few that do look like you don’t hold the same careers as groups with more representation (such a Caucasian Americans and Ashkenazi Jewish Americans) that can be big blow to self esteem.

    It’s very common for minority parents to hear their children go through phases where they say “I’m not black/Asian, etc., I’m white,” or “I don’t want to be black, Asian, etc.”

    http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/x1vx7/my_5yearold_son_insists_hes_white_were_asian/

    http://www.reddit.com/r/blackladies/comments/1seafq/my_son_told_me_that_he_wished_he_had_white_skin/

    And if most of their toys and cartoons look white because the creators are white, then why wouldn’t the kids feel this way? Representation is a bigger problem than most people think.

    http://ursulatheseabitchh.tumblr.com/post/64809510184/so-i-made-this-thing-and-im-pretty-proud-of-it

    No one is saying that race should be the only qualifying factor for why a creator is inspirational. That’s absurd. But if there aren’t too many people like you in the industry, it can definitely be that much more inspiring.