Above: Bill Littlejohn at Playhouse Pictures in 1962
Whenever I’m depressed about the state of contemporary animation, I think about what inspires and excites me about this art form. One of those things is great animation, the type of abstracted and invented movement (largely non-existent today) that is unique to the medium, and which was practiced by master animators like Rod Scribner, Jim Tyer, Grim Natwick, Bobe Cannon, Emery Hawkins and Bill Littlejohn. Of those animators, only Littlejohn is still alive, and Tom Sito recently did this great interview with the legendary Littlejohn.
I’d often heard the story that during the early-’50s the animation business was so slow that Littlejohn took a job at a car dealership. It’s hard to believe that an animator of his caliber could ever be lacking for work but Littlejohn indeed confirms the story in this interview. Of course, things eventually picked up and from the mid-’50s onwards, he animated for just about every commercial studio in LA including Storyboard, Animation Inc., Playhouse Pictures, Fine Arts Films and many others.