Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ken Harris: Master Animator

I just found this very aptly named website dedicated to the career and work of Ken Harris. The URL 'masteranimator' pretty much says it all. Best known for his work with Chuck Jones while at Warner Bros., Ken also worked on various projects for Hannah Barbera, MGM, and later worked with Chuck Jones again on the classic animated production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! after Jones "left" Warner Bros.

In the middle there somewhere is time that Ken Harris spent working for Richard Williams on such projects as the title sequences for Return of the Pink Panther, Williams' animated production of Scrooge, and the mysterious and storied Williams feature production The Thief and the Cobbler. There are lots of little goodies to be found including cycles from Thief animated by Harris, and models sheets from various productions including some for the characters Pussyfoot and Marc Antony from the 1951 classic Feed the Kitty.

click to enlarge

I find his time working with Williams particularly meaningful since some of the the tutelage that Harris offered Williams and others at Williams' animation studio ended up inside the Williams' animation how-to The Animator's Survival Kit.

While the layout of the site is bare-bones and very basic, there are a lot of wonderful nuggets of animation greatness to be found. Special thanks to Animation Mentor student Jeff Weidner for having the link included on his blog. Also, while googling stuff for this post I came across Kevin Lanley's blog Cartoons, Models Sheets, & Stuff which has many, many samples of great stuff from the past, so check it out.

Wow this post is turning into a real link-o-rama so I'll just rap it up on a good, solid note...

The quote found on the front page of much sums it up:

"He was a master animator, a virtuoso... Ken Harris did it all."
- Chuck Jones

And we are all the richer for his contribution.



Jeff Weidner said...

Hey Erik,
Thanks for the link on your post about Ken Harris' site. I was lucky enough to have stumbled across the site a while back and I'm just glad other people are taking notice! There's some great stuff hidden in that site and the person who takes some time to go through it all definitely is rewarded. I think one of my favorites (among many on that site) was a cel from the Pink Panther - 4 different poses on the same cel - the fluidity that Ken captured in those just blows me away. I can stare at those for hours. Well, maybe not hours, but for a while anyway.

Erik Westlund said...

My pleasure Jeff. Thanks for making the Ken Harris link available in the first place. I always appreciate it when people take the time to leave comments. So, thanks again.

I like your work and will be checking back to see your progress from time to time. Enjoy SIGGRAPH and San Diego. Lucky Stiff.