Storyboard artist and director William Ruzicka died suddenly on February 1. He was 45 years old.
According to colleagues, Ruzicka had been feeling unwell for around a week with cold and flu symptoms. After testing negative for Covid, Ruzicka’s symptoms got worse and he was having trouble breathing so he left his home to visit urgent care but fell while on the way to his car. Paramedics arrived shortly after, but they were unable to resuscitate him.
Ruzicka was born October 14, 1977, and graduated from the animation program at California State University Northridge. He began as an intern at Marvel Lionsgate in 2008. In 2011, he started working as a storyboard revisionist on Hasbro Studios’ Transformers Prime, G.I. Joe Renegades, and Transformers Rescuebots.
Since then, Ruzicka put together a diverse and impressive resume that included several major series productions. He had extensive experience working on both 2d and cg productions, coordinating with local and global teams on projects of vastly different scales.
His first work as a director came on Warner Bros. Animation’s Bunnicula seasons two and three.
Ruzicka later spent time at Crunchyroll, working on the original series High Guardian Spice and directing the show’s final episode. After Crunchyroll, he worked as a storyboard artist and assistant director on Netflix’s original animated series Blood of Zeus.
Other standout series that benefited from Ruzicka’s storyboard work include Ben 10: Omniverse, The Legend of Korra, Justice League Action, and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, among others.
In 2019, he began working at Skybound Entertainment on Amazon’s breakout hit adult animation superhero series Invincible. There, he boarded and directed the final episode of season one, including the iconic “Look what they need to mimic a fraction of our power” scene that has become one of the internet’s favorite memes.
Over the past several years, Ruzicka spent time at Sony Pictures Animation working on the canceled Boondocks revival for HBO Max and at Dreamworks where he storyboarded and directed episodes of Netflix’s Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight.
Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight executive producer Shaunt Nigoghossian, who worked with Ruzicka on numerous projects over the past 12 years, said on a public social media post of his long-time colleague:
William was one of the sweetest, kindest, most hardworking people I’ve ever known. We’ve worked on seven shows together spanning twelve years time. He was a generous and thoughtful leader to his teams, a good friend, and a good man.
Details about a memorial service for Ruzicka are still being worked out, but an event is tentatively planned for sometime in March.
Pictured at top: William Ruzicka shared on his Facebook page, Invincible storyboard art from Ruzicka’s portfolio.