44. Dick Lundy
If you know anything about Dick Lundy you probably know he’s the creator of Donald Duck. You might not know that he was one of the first personality animators in Disney history and a pioneer in that aspect in the art form. Lundy came to the studio in the late 20s right after the steaming success of Steamboat Willie. He started in the ink and paint department but moved up to the position of animator in March 1930. Lundy was a principal animator on the huge hit The Three Little Pigs and also created Donald Duck in his animation in Orphan’s Benefit. He animated the duck all throughout his debut short. Dick next went on to animate the dwarfs in Snow White, where he was along with Art Babbitt one of only two animators not to get a raise on the film. In 1937 Lundy moved up to the position as a director where he directed many Donald Duck shorts and later 10,500 feet of war shorts. He left for Walter Lantz in October 1943. Besides Walter Lantz Lundy would also worked at MGM and Hanna-Barbara before retiring in 1973. He also was one of a group of veterans who controversially supported Ralph Bashki’s X-rated animated films.
Dick Lundy was one of the studios first analytical personality animators. In a letter to Mark Mayerson Lundy said, “I always tried to give the personality a comedy twist, with a gesture, a body action, or a twist of the mouth or head. When I animated dances I tried to do the same thing. Now with a funny personality leading up to a physical gag which was funny (usually the way the character reacted) you usually ended up with something twice as funny.” Before animators like him, animators wouldn’t give more personality and emotion than a simple reaction to something that was happening. They never had real feeling and you didn’t know who those characters really were. Lundy was one of the first to escape that trend and he really worked hard to give his characters a complete personality as well as communicate that personality through the character’s actions and movements. Lundy also was pretty analytical with his timing and movements. Study his walk scenes and you’ll get a great grasp of Lundy’s talents in full use. They’re caricatured and comic but they show real personality and his skills as at analyzing and thinking about a scene.
Lundy’s impact is by most sources very underrated. Most of his achievements are given soul credit to animators such as Fred Moore, Art Babbitt, and Ham Luske while actually his time at the Disney studio predated all three of those men. In the Illusion of Life Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston pointed out that Fred Moore was greatly inspired by Dick’s draftsmanship abilities and skills in understanding a character’s personality. At the time Lundy started doing his own thing the only animator ahead of him in that regard was Norman Ferguson, who was the first animator to stress thought process and performance in his animation. This is also completely leaving out Dick Lundy’s achievement of creating Donald Duck. Pay close attention in the shorts of the 30s and you’ll see that Lundy’s scenes were revolutionary and crucial in the development of personality animation.
What is inspiring to me about Dick is his understanding of a character’s personality and skill in communicating a gesture in the most effective way. To me the most important step for an animator to make artistically is to make his work have meaning and to show feeling & character. If not they’re just being careless like a drunk guy is playing with his glass or when a baby plays with a wallet. Not only do you have to understand this but you have to communicate it through walks, movements, gestures, and expressions. Like Milt Kahl once said “To be worth a grain of salt in this business you ought to understand movement.” I originally was more concerned with designs and cleanliness in my sketchbooks. However over time I realized my stuff felt like drawings, not something breathing and believable. I took my focus away on perfection and put it more on emotion as well as essence. When drawing a character I now try to think about their personality and what expresses their character in the most effective way. Studying the work of animators like Dick Lundy was a key way I knew I had to make this arc. However you can’t stop there and you have to keep working until you create something believable. Thanks Dick for your contributions to the art form and to my artistic development as well as the artistic development of countless others.
Snow White- Animator on Dwarfs