John Alan Lasseter is an American animator, director and the chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is also currently the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering. Lasseter’s first job was with joined The Walt Disney Company, where he became an animator. Next, he joined Lucasfilm, where he worked on the then-groundbreaking use of CGI animation. After Lucasfilm became Pixar in 1986, Lasseter oversaw all of Pixar’s films and associated projects as executive producer and he directed Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, and Cars. He has won two Academy Awards, for Animated Short Film (Tin Toy), as well as a Special Achievement Award (Toy Story). Lasseter is a close friend and admirer of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, and has been executive producer on several of Miyazaki’s films for their release in the United States, also overseeing the dubbing of the films for their English language soundtrack.
Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese manga artist and prominent film director and animator of many popular anime feature films. Through a career that has spanned nearly five decades, Miyazaki has attained international acclaim as a maker of animated feature films and, along with Isao Takahata, co-founded Studio Ghibli, an animation studio and production company. The success of Miyazaki’s films has invited comparisons with American animator Walt Disney, British animator Nick Park as well as Robert Zemeckis, who pioneered Motion Capture animation, and he has been named one of the most influential people by Time Magazine. During World War II, Miyazaki’s father Katsuji was director of Miyazaki Airplane, owned by his brother (Hayao Miyazaki’s uncle), which made rudders for A6M Zero fighter planes. During this time, Miyazaki drew airplanes and developed a lifelong fascination with aviation, a penchant that later manifested as a recurring theme in his films.
Osamu Tezuka was a Japanese cartoonist, manga artist, animator, producer, activist and medical doctor, although he never practiced medicine. Born in Osaka Prefecture, he is best known as the creator of Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack. He is often credited as the “Godfather of Anime”, and is often considered the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney, who served as a major inspiration during his formative years. His prolific output, pioneering techniques, and innovative redefinitions of genres earned him such titles as “the father of manga”, “the god of comics” and “kamisama of manga”. His grave is located in Tokyo’s Souzen-ji Temple Cemetery. He started to draw comics around his second year of elementary school. Around his fifth year he found a bug named “Osamushi”. It so resembled his name that he adopted osamushi as his pen name. He came to the realization that he could use manga as a means of helping to convince people to care for the world. After World War II, he created his first piece of work (at age 17), Diary of Ma-chan and then Shin Takarajima (New Treasure Island), which began the golden age of manga, a craze comparable to American comic books at the time. Japanese manga artists call him “Manga-no-kami sama” [the god of manga].
Ralph Bakshi is an American director of animated and live-action films. In the 1970s, he established an alternative to mainstream animation through independent and adult-oriented productions. Between 1972 and 1992, he directed nine theatrically released feature films, five of which he wrote. He has been involved in numerous television projects as director, writer, producer and animator. Beginning his career at the Terrytoons television cartoon studio as a cel polisher, Bakshi was eventually promoted to director. He moved to the animation division of Paramount Pictures in 1967 and started his own studio, Bakshi Productions, in 1968. Through producer Steve Krantz, Bakshi made his debut feature film, Fritz the Cat, released in 1972. It was the first animated film to receive an X rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, and the most successful independent animated feature of all time. Over the next eleven years, Bakshi directed seven additional animated features. He is well known for such films as Wizards (1977), The Lord of the Rings (1978), American Pop (1981) and Fire and Ice (1983).
Seth Woodbury MacFarlane is an American actor, voice actor, animator, screenwriter, comedian, producer, director, and singer. He is the creator of the show Family Guy (1999–2002, 2005–present) and co-creator of American Dad! (2005–present) and The Cleveland Show (2009–2013), for which he also voices many of the shows’ various characters. A native of Kent, Connecticut, MacFarlane is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design where he studied animation, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Recruited to Hollywood during the senior film festival by development executive Ellen Cockrill and President Fred Seibert, he was an animator and writer for Hanna-Barbera for several television shows, including Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, Dexter’s Laboratory and I Am Weasel and his own Family Guy sort-of ‘prequel’, Larry and Steve. MacFarlane created his own series for 20th Century Fox called Family Guy in 1999. MacFarlane went on to co-create American Dad! in 2005 along with Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman for the “Animation Domination” lineup on Fox. Also for the same network lineup, he co-created The Cleveland Show in 2009. He later served as executive producer on the Fox sitcom The Winner.
Phillip Bradley “Brad” Bird is an Academy Award-winning American director, voice actor, animator and screenwriter. He is best known for writing and directing Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles (2004) and Ratatouille (2007). He also adapted and directed the critically acclaimed 2D animated 1999 Warner Brothers film The Iron Giant. Reviewing the Ratatouille DVD, Eye Weekly offered this characterization of Bird’s work: “It’s very hard to think of another mainstream American director with a comparably fluid visual style or such a vise-grip on storytelling mechanics.” He also directed The Simpsons ‘ episodes “Krusty Gets Busted” and “Like Father, Like Clown”. Bird was born in Kalispell, Montana, the youngest of four siblings. His father, Phillip, worked in the propane business, and his grandfather, Frank W. Bird, was a president and chief executive of the Montana Power Company. On a tour of the Walt Disney Studios at age 11, he announced that someday he would become part of its animation team, and soon afterward began work on his own 15-minute animated short. Within two years, Bird had completed his animation, which impressed the cartoon company. By age 14, barely in high school, Bird was mentored by the animator Milt Kahl, one of Disney’s legendary Nine Old Men. Bird recalls Kahl’s criticisms as ideal: Kahl would point out shortcomings by gently delivering thoughts on where Bird could improve. After graduating from Corvallis High School in Corvallis, Oregon in 1975, Bird took a three-year break. He was then awarded a scholarship by Disney to attend California Institute of the Arts, where he met and befriended another future animator, Pixar co-founder and director John Lasseter.
Christopher McCulloch, also known by the pseudonym Jackson Publick, is an American comic book and television writer, storyboard artist, and voice actor known for his work on several Tick properties and for the animated television series The Venture Bros. He authored the comic book miniseries The Tick: Karma Tornado, a spin-off of The Tick, and was a staff writer and storyboard artist on the 1994 Tick animated series. He also worked on storyboards for PB&J Otter and Sheep in the Big City and as a writer on the 2001 Tick live-action series. He created The Venture Bros. in the early 2000s and produced its 2003 pilot episode. He and Doc Hammer are the series’ co-creators, writers, editors, and directors, producing the show through their animation company Astro-Base Go. McCulloch voices over 20 characters in the series, including Hank Venture, The Monarch, and Sergeant Hatred.