Mo Willems is an American writer, animator, and children’s books author/illustrator. After graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Willems spent a year traveling around the world drawing a cartoon every day, all of which have been published in the book You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons. Returning to New York, he kicked off his career as a writer and animator for Sesame Street, where he earned six Emmy Awards for writing during his tenure from 1993 to January 2002. During this period he also performed stand-up comedy in NYC and recorded essays for BBC Radio along with making a promo for Cartoon Network and animating the opening for a show on Nickelodeon. He later created two animated television series: The Off-Beats for Nickelodeon’s Kablam, and Sheep in the Big City for Cartoon Network. Sheep in the Big City was a success with the critics but ultimately failed to attract sufficient viewership and was canceled after two seasons. Willems later worked as head writer on the first four seasons of Codename: Kids Next Door, created by one of his colleagues from Sheep, Tom Warburton. He left the show to pursue his writing career.
Robert Emerson “Bob” Clampett was an American animator, producer, director, and puppeteer best known for his work on the Looney Tunes animated series from Warner Bros., and the television shows Time for Beany and Beany and Cecil. Clampett was born and raised not far from Hollywood, and early on expressed an interest in animation and puppetry. After leaving high school a few months shy of graduating in 1931, Clampett joined the team at Harman-Ising Productions and began working on the studio’s newest short subjects, titled Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. Clampett was promoted to a directorial position in 1937 and during his fifteen years at the studio, directed 84 cartoons later deemed classic and designed some of the studio’s most famous characters, including Porky Pig and Tweety. Among Clampett’s most acclaimed films are Porky in Wackyland (1938), Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943) and The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (1946). Clampett left Warner Bros. Cartoons in 1946 and turned his attention to television, creating the famous puppet show Time for Beany in 1949. A later animated version of the series, titled Beany and Cecil, ran on ABC for five years beginning in 1962 and ending in 1967, which was well loved by millions, and credited “a Bob Clampett Cartoon”.
William Richard “Billy” West is an American voice actor, singer and comedian best known for his voice-work in a number of television shows, films and commercials. He has done hundreds of voice-overs in his career such as Ren Höek (Season 3 and onward) and Stimpson (Stimpy) J. Cat on The Ren & Stimpy Show, Doug Funnie, Porkchop, Roger Klotz on Doug, Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg and a number of others on Futurama. He also does voices for commercials and is the current voice of the red M&M and Buzz, the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee. In addition to his original voices, he has also voiced Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Shaggy Rogers, Popeye, and Woody Woodpecker during later renditions of the respective characters. He was also a cast member on The Howard Stern Show.
Matthew Abram “Matt” Groening is an American cartoonist, screenwriter and producer. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell as well as two successful television series, The Simpsons and Futurama. Groening made his first professional cartoon sale of Life in Hell to the avant-garde Wet magazine in 1978. The cartoon is still carried in 250 weekly newspapers. Life in Hell caught the attention of James L. Brooks. In 1985, Brooks contacted Groening with the proposition of working in animation for the Fox variety show The Tracey Ullman Show. Originally, Brooks wanted Groening to adapt his Life in Hell characters for the show. Fearing the loss of ownership rights, Groening decided to create something new and came up with a cartoon family, The Simpsons, and named the members after his own parents and sisters — while Bart was an anagram of the word brat. The shorts would be spun off into their own series: The Simpsons, which has since aired over 450 episodes. In 1997, Groening, along with former Simpsons writer David X. Cohen, developed Futurama, an animated series about life in the year 3000, which premiered in 1999. After four years on the air, the show was canceled by Fox in 2003, but Comedy Central commissioned 16 new episodes from four direct-to-DVD movies in 2008. Then, in June 2009, Comedy Central ordered 26 new episodes of Futurama, to be aired over two seasons. Groening has won 11 Primetime Emmy Awards, ten for The Simpsons and one for Futurama as well as a British Comedy Award for “outstanding contribution to comedy” in 2004. In 2002, he won the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award for his work on Life in Hell.
John Alan Lasseter (born January 12, 1957) is an American animator, film director, screenwriter, producer, and former chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar and Disneytoon Studios. He was also the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering.
Lasseter began his career as an animator with The Walt Disney Company. After being fired from Disney for promoting computer animation, he joined Lucasfilm, where he worked on the then-groundbreaking use of CGI animation. The Graphics Group of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm was sold to Steve Jobs and became Pixar in 1986. Until his departure in 2018, Lasseter oversaw all of Pixar’s films and associated projects as executive producer. In addition, he directed Toy Story (1995), A Bug’s Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Cars (2006), and Cars 2 (2011). From 2006 to 2018, Lasseter also oversaw all of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ (and its division Disneytoon Studios’) films and associated projects as executive producer.
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].