It always delights me when animators do their own thing, like publishing sketchbooks, comics, and creating their own characters outside the studio system. Supervising animator Michael Surrey, who has played major roles on such Disney films as Home on the Range, Atlantis, Tarzan, Hunchback, The Lion King (supervising Timon), Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin (animating on the title character), is presently doing just that. Currently working on both Rapunzel Unbraided and The Princess and the Frog for the studio, he’s also teamed up with screenwriter Ron Harner outside the Mouse House to create a series of children’s books that gently impart valuable life lessons to kids. The first one, Suck it Up, Tate!, was inspired by a Thanksgiving dinner discussion between Harner and his three sisters:
“They all have kids, and they told me I needed to write a different type of children’s story — one that wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops — a story where a kid screws up and has to deal with it.”
Suck It Up Tate! is available for sale at www.ronharnerbooks.com. Harner and Surrey are currently working on two additional books featuring Tate and his pals, which are scheduled for release later in 2008.