Floyd Norman on Disney Mavericks

Tom Oreb, Ward Kimball and Walt Peregoy

Be sure and check out this terrific article by animation veteran Floyd Norman about how Walt Disney offered creative latitude in his studio to artists with non-Disney styles like Ward Kimball, Tom Oreb and Walt Peregoy. Norman writes, “As much as he wanted things his way, Walt Disney recognized he needed people on his staff that would challenge, disagree and go against him in his own animation department. This is the stuff that breeds and nourishes creativity and keeps the medium alive and vital.” His closing thought is aimed at today’s Disney studio but is advice that all studios would do well to heed:

Today, I see the Disney Company making some of the same mistakes that were made in the 1970s. Back then, there were artists with strange drawing styles. Some had odd and quirky ideas. There were those who wanted to break new ground with technology. However, these guys just weren’t Disney. They simply didn’t fit. The talented individuals who failed to conform to the company line were allowed to walk out the door – - only to be brought back years later at considerable cost.

Walt Disney Feature Animation has had a name change, and along with that I think they could use a new attitude. This studio could use a roomful of mavericks and “crazy men” to challenge the status quo. All too often the people the studio gets rid of are the very people they should embrace. The artists who refuse to “play by the rules” and make the movies that are acceptable to the establishment.


  • red pill junkie

    Artists are non-comformist by nature.

    If they weren’t, they would have chosen a job where you need to wear a TIE to the office.

  • uffler mustek

    i still wear a tie.

    but no underpants.

  • Russell H

    “This studio could use a roomful of mavericks and “crazy menâ€? to challenge the status quo. All too often the people the studio gets rid of are the very people they should embrace. ”

    Wow, what an original idea. Say, why don’t you put them all in a building by themselves and call it something like “Termite Terrace?”

  • Floyd Norman

    I wasn’t old enough to visit “Termite Terrace,” but I did visit the studio when it was on the Warner lot.

    They still had a few “crazies,” even then. What energy that studio had. Nothing like that even exists today.

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    Hey Floyd, nice article. Bill Peet was sure a maverick too, although he ultimately quit.

    Did you know a story guy/designer named John Dunn? He slipped thru the cracks at Disney at some point and went on to be a big part of DePatie Freleng, which was Disney’s loss. A real original.

    Bob Taylor was another one (animator/director) who could have made some great contributions if he had been able to stick around at the studio. Some of the connective bits he animated for TV were really promising and off-beat.

  • c’mon Floyd!

    Why does Floyd Norman choose to write these articles on a site that’s garbage. Half the stuff I read on that site isn’t true so therefore I choose not to visit it. I have a lot of respect for you Floyd but it’s a shame you choose to post an article there. Won’t be reading it. Please find another site with a little integrity.

  • http://www.raymation.net Ray Chase

    Great article Floyd! You need to start your OWN blog/site if you have not already…….

  • Floyd Norman

    Hey Will, I do indeed remember John Dunn. A very, very funny guy. His scripts and storyboards were terrific. Ward Kimball made good use of Dunn.

    Jim Hill invited me to write for his site some years ago. Initially, I was reluctant because I didn’t think anybody wanted to read my ramblings. Yet, over time I found an audience, and that’s nice. Respectfully, if you don’t like Jim, you’re not required to go there.

  • c’mon Floyd!

    Ray Chase – I agree, please start your own site.
    Jim Hill Media is for chumps and you’re not in that league Floyd.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com The Gagaman

    Surely the most recent “crazy guy” they kicked out (in a sense that he had a completely unique, non-”Disney” style of his own) was Chris Sanders? There was a reason Lilo and Stitch did so well, and I think the fact that is was so different for what you expect the typical Disney movie to be like, may of been one of them. Still, what do I know?

  • http://johnewing.info(Ithink) john ewing

    I was in the animation department at the Disney Studio in Burbank from 1956 to 1967, and unqualifiedly support Floyd’s premise that the place contained more fun characters per square foot than any other studio in the world. It was quite simply the most wonderful place I’ve ever known in which to learn many, many things, not the least of which, of course, was animation.