Also, the foreword that Lynn wrote for Nancy Beiman's book Animated Performance. Maybe when I'm less tired, it won't seem so tl;dr to me.
When I was a kid, I'd draw cartoons for my brother and he would laugh and laugh. Having an appreciative audience makes any performance worth doing even when the timing is wrong. It was difficult to concentrate in class when ideas and images fogged my mind. I doodled on everything, made tiny animated figures on the corners of my textbooks and it was a compliment to be called the class clown. Sound effects, word play, sarcastic retorts, facial expressions and goofy behavior were all part of learning what was later to become a career. Kids like me were not bad, we were just hard to tolerate.
Like others who were classified as "outsiders" the silly, artistic and outspoken kids sought comfort in the company of like minds. We were an even greater force when we pooled our talents and those teachers who saw the potential in us provided theater, creative writing and art classes. How we loved the teachers who gave us opportunities to express ourselves. We worked hard for them, drawing, painting sets, memorizing lines, composing music, and performing. Within the school system, they were rare. We pushed ourselves as hard as we could for them and for the joy of using the gifts we'd been given and did not yet know how to use well.
Years later, these teachers are the ones we remember. These were the people who appreciated our cartoons and comedy. They told us we had talent. We thrived on their encouragement. Our payoff was laughter and the joy of accomplishment. School wasn't always where our teachers were found, however. Cartoonists and comedians we admired became teachers, too. We studied their work, recording nuances of expression and subtleties of line. We copied and collected and traded and tried everything..... and we continued to stick together. Cartooning is largely self taught. You can either do it or you can't and if you CAN, you are captive. I became a comic strip artist, but my dream was to be an animator and now, through my work, I know some really good ones!
Nancy Beiman and I met through the National Cartoonists' Society more than 20 years ago. It was clear that had we been in the same grade, in the same class, we would have been on the inside of the outsiders. She draws for laughs. Seriously.
In the right hands, funny drawings are even funnier when they move. The technology to animate drawings was developed in our lifetime. From black and white, hand drawn "Steamboat Willy" to the 3 dimensional "Ratatouille" we have come a long way and although the process can be explained, to me it will always be magic. Combine the wonders of technology with the gift of comic illustration and the result is beyond spectacular. One skill is God given, the other is learned. Both take time and dedicated effort to perfect. Both require the encouragement and direction of a good teacher. Nancy Beiman is one of these.
Since she was a kid, (one of the outsiders!) Nancy has been working towards this book. From years of study to years in the industry, her knowledge and her willingness to share it has made her one of the most effective and entertaining teachers on the subject of animation. Her textbooks are used by students everywhere. Her interest in the next generation of animators has become an investment. Her support and encouragement are there to ease you in. Her enthusiasm is genuine. As someone with the gift, I hope you take advantage of the information that's here, turn it into something new and pass it on.