Frank Miller is an American comic book artist and writer best known for his dark, film noir-style comic book stories and graphic novels Ronin, Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City and 300. He also directed the film version of The Spirit, shared directing duties with Robert Rodriguez on Sin City and produced the film 300. Miller’s work has often been met with positive reception. The Dark Knight Returns was a critical success, and Batman: Year One was met with even greater praise for its gritty style. However, Miller’s later work often has been met with criticism. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again received less-positive reviews than its predecessor. All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder in particular was met with harsh criticism. When All Star Batman and Robin was reprinted in the UK by Panini Comics under the Batman Legends banner, a member of the Irish Rape Crisis Centre, on the Irish radio talk show Liveline criticized the content and the fact it was marketed to children. Some of Miller’s works have been accused of lacking humanity, particularly in regard to the abundance of prostitutes portrayed in Sin City. When it was released in 2008, Miller’s film adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit met with largely negative reviews, earning a metascore of 30/100 at the review aggregation site Metacritic.com.
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.
Ariel Schrag is an American cartoonist and television writer who achieved critical recognition at an unusually early age for her autobiographical comics. While attending high school in Berkeley, California, Schrag self-published her first comic series, Awkward, depicting events from her freshman year, originally selling copies to friends and family. Slave Labor Graphics subsequently reprinted Awkward as a graphic novel, followed by three more books based on her next three years of school: Definition, Potential, and Likewise. The books were republished by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster in 2008 and 2009. The books tell stories of family life, going to concerts, experimenting with drugs, high school crushes, and coming out as a bisexual and later as a lesbian. Schrag was nominated for the 1998 Kimberly Yale Award for Best New Talent (administered by the Friends of Lulu). Killer Films is producing a movie adaptation of Potential; Schrag has written the screenplay. Schrag graduated from Berkeley High School in 1998. She graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2003, and has continued to work as a cartoonist.
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.
Fred Marcellino was an American illustrator and later an author of children’s books who was very influential in the book industry. Publisher Nan Talese said that Marcellino could “in one image, translate the whole feeling and style of a book.” Such was the case with his evocative painting for Judith Rossner’s August, published and edited by Talese. Among many other commissions, he was responsible for the covers of Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities and the 1987 Dell Laurel Leaf edition of Allen Appel’s Time After Time. Born in Brooklyn, Marcellino began as an abstract expressionist painter and spent 1963 studying in Venice on a Fulbright Scholarship. Returning to the United States, he went in a new direction as a designer and illustrator with the main focus on LP cover art illustrating the albums of such singers and groups as Loretta Lynn, Manhattan Transfer and Fleetwood Mac. By 1969, he was creating record album covers for Capitol, Decca and PolyGram. He entered the book publishing field by 1974, producing 40 jackets a year for 15 years. He is sometimes credited with having revolutionized the style of book cover design in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s with notable work on such books as Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and William Wharton’s Birdy.