Kelly Asbury Kelly Asbury

Animation director Kelly Asbury passed away in Encino, CA this morning at age 60. The cause of death was cancer.

Kelly Asbury.
Kelly Asbury.

Asbury directed or co-directed five animated features: Dreamworks Animation’s Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
and Shrek 2, as well as Gnomeo & Juliet, Smurfs: The Lost Village, and Uglydolls.

Throughout his 38-year career in the animation industry, he contributed in various capacities, mostly in hte story department, to over two dozen animated features, including Shrek, Toy Story, Frozen, Chicken Run, The Nightmare before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Kung Fu Panda, and The Prince of Egypt.

For Cartoon Brew, he had written a couple of commentaries about his work in the animation industry, including a candid and insightful piece about how he had dealt emotionally with the box office failure of his last two features.

Asbury was born January 15, 1960 in Beaumont, Texas. He attended Lamar University before transferring to Calarts in 1980. He started working as an inbetweener at Walt Disney Feature Animation in 1983 and stayed there through the mid-1990s, working in various roles including character design, story, art direction, and visual development.

After Disney, he worked as assistant art director on Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, story artist on Pixar’s first feature Toy Story, and co-head of story on Dreamworks Animation’s The Prince of Egypt, before transitioning into direction.

Asbury is survived by his wife, Jacquie Boggs; stepsons Andrew and Connor Boggs; sister Gwen Speed; and niece Leslie McKeller.

Kelly Asbury and Rob Minkoff
Kelly Asbury and Rob Minkoff, fresh out of Calarts in 1983.

Colleagues are sharing their condolences, a few of which are included below. Please share your memories in the comments.

The tweet below is the beginning of a lengthy tribute from story artist David Trumble. We highly recommend clicking through and reading his entire homage:

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Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Cartoon Brew.

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