This 1978 photo of the animation crew from Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings fascinates me and not just because one of my former animation teachers, Lenord Robinson, is in it. (If you want a difficult job, try teaching me animation!) No, the other reason I enjoy looking at it is because it represents the diversity of the animation industry during the 1970s.
The era is commonly viewed as the dregs of animation history, which is true in many respects, especially in regards to the mainstream American animation industry. But even during this uninspired lull in stateside animation, some amazing things were happening behind the scenes, and there was a grand payoff a decade later.
As this photo so beautifully documents, the Seventies were a unique moment in animation history when industry newcomers had the opportunity to work alongside not only experienced animators like Phil Roman and John Sparey, but Golden Age legends like Irv Spence, Alex Ignatiev, and Marty Taras. In the Lord of the Rings crew pic, Spence was 69 years old at the time of this photo, Ignatiev 65, Taras 64.