Animation Legends and Facebook Animation Legends and Facebook

Animation Legends and Facebook

I spent some time on Facebook last night compiling data that shows who the most popular classic animation artists are on the social networking site. As a historian, I’m interested in understanding how artists from the early years of animation are remembered within the online community. The results aren’t particularly encouraging. Of the forty-eight artists I managed to find, roughly a quarter of them have attracted over five hundred fans. That’s a small number considering that these are some of the most revered names in our art form. Furthermore, a majority of the artists (nearly 60%) have less than 300 fans.

However, there is a silver lining. Classic artists who have continued to receive exposure in recent years have a disproportionately larger number of fans, which means that people would care about these artists if they were more aware of their accomplishments. Mary Blair, who has had a couple gallery exhibits and books published about her recently is the sixth most popular animation legend on Facebook. Walt Stanchfield, whose instructional handouts were compiled into books last year, is one hundred times more popular than Bill Tytla, who despite his stature, has received scant attention in the past couple decades.

What is most surprising are the omissions. Are Bob McKimson’s cartoons so disliked that he can’t garner even one fan from a pool of 400 million Facebook users? And McKimson is the tip of the iceberg. For starters, where are Ken Anderson, Bobe Cannon, Norm Ferguson, Carlo Vinci, Hawley Pratt, Pete Burness, Dick Lundy, Emery Hawkins, Preston Blair, Rod Scribner, Ray Patterson, Bob Givens, Art Davis, Dave Hilberman, Hugh Harman, Rudy Ising, Dave Tendlar, Grim Natwick, Bob McKimson, Milt Kahl, Sterling Sturtevant, Frank Thomas, Tom Oreb, Eric Larson, Les Clark, Shamus Culhane, Bill Littlejohn, Ken Harris, Art Babbitt, Virgil Ross, Manny Gould, Willard Bowsky, Al Eugster, Joe Grant, Dick Huemer and T. Hee to name but a few. Nobody appreciates any of these artists enough to start a fan page for them on the world’s largest social networking site, and that says a lot when nearly everything else has a fan page or group on Facebook nowadays.

Animation artists have never been ones to hanker for the spotlight, and as a result, there are few celebrities in this art form save for the characters themselves. So while nobody may appreciate the name Bob McKimson anymore, his character the Tasmanian Devil has 82,000 fans on Facebook, and though the name Grim Natwick may draw blank stares, rest assured that his eighty-year-old character Betty Boop has 92,000 fans.

The list of classic artists on Facebook is after the jump. I’m curious to hear what others make of these numbers.

Note: Clicking on an artist’s name will take you to their fan page on Facebook. Certain artists had multiple fan pages and groups. In those instances, I used only the number of fans from their most popular page.

57,800 fans – Walt Disney
11,883 fans – Tex Avery
7258 fans – Chuck Jones
6511 fans – Osamu Tezuka
5078 fans – Ray Harryhausen
2590 fans – Mary Blair
2309 fans – Winsor McCay
1501 fans – Norman McLaren
1197 fans – Richard Williams
807 fans – Ralph Bakshi
758 fans – Max Fleischer
669 fans – Ward Kimball
589 fans – Walt Stanchfield
442 fans – Ub Iwerks
397 fans – Walerian Borowczyk
384 fans – Bob Clampett
344 fans – Marc Davis
328 fans – Lotte Reiniger
324 fans – Eyvind Earle
316 fans – Karel Zeman
279 fans – Ladislas Starevich
237 fans – John and Faith Hubley
232 fans – Jules Engel
231 fans – Friz Freleng
228 fans – Maurice Noble
221 fans – Homer Jonas
221 fans – Jiří­ Trnka
220 fans – Freddie Moore
165 fans – Walter Lantz
143 fans – Bill Peet
142 fans – Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera
133 fans – Paul Grimault
118 fans – George Pal
97 fans – Otto Messmer
89 fans – Art Clokey
88 fans – Jim Tyer
80 fans – Len Lye
77 fans – Jay Ward
65 fans – Frank Tashlin
55 fans – Michael Maltese
55 fans – DuÅ¡an Vukotić
48 fans – Bill Melendez
44 fans – Fyodor Khitruk
43 fans – Ollie Johnston
29 fans – Alexandre Alexeïeff
5 fans – Bill Tytla
1 fan – Woolie Reitherman