Gene Hazelton, R.I.P.

Gene Hazelton

Animation designer/comic strip artist Gene Hazelton passed away last Wednesday at age 85. For a thoughtful account of Gene’s work, see Mark Evanier’s blog. The only major part of Gene’s career which isn’t mentioned in Mark’s obit is his work as art director at Grantray-Lawrence Productions, where he designed hundreds of animated TV commercials between the mid-’50s and early-’60s. I mention this because back in 1999, when I interviewed Gene for ANIMATION BLAST #4, one of the nicest treats of our meetings was when he showed me the designs he’d created for the Grantray commercials. Seeing Gene’s incredible drawings certainly played a large role in sparking my fascination with 50s animation design and inspiring my journey to discover other great designers of that era. I’m saddened to hear that Gene won’t be around to see the results of what he started when my book on 50s animation design comes out next year, but I’m certain his work will continue to inspire many others in the future just as it inspired me.

(Gene Hazelton photo by John Province)