Conclusion, Work Cited, and Acknowledgements

Dear animation artists and fans everywhere,

I wanted to thank all of you for helping make the countdown of the 50 Most Influential Disney Animators an excellent journey and without a doubt the greatest learning experience I’ve had in my life.  I’ve taken so much out of writing this blog, researching for it, analyzing and studying the work and lives of the honorees, and from all the people I’ve come across because of its existence.  I find it so ironic that coming into this blog I thought I knew everything about Disney animation while after finishing it I feel like I know nothing even though obviously I know a ton more about it than I did when I started.  That’s part of what inspires me about animation: it’s a constant learning experience, a never-ending struggle, and there’s always more to be accomplished.  There’s a huge difference between having a skill or knowing something intellectually and actually understanding it.  This is something that I’ve learned big time from this blog.  I’m actually pretty amazed at how much all the honorees struggled during their careers and the fact that none of them are perfect animators! What’s important is they used their setbacks, flaws, and limitations to motivate themselves to do better and challenge themselves.  I personally don’t think it’s the amount of talent that defines an animator but how he uses it and how much he understands what he’s doing and what he’s trying to say.  In fact many of the top honorees weren’t naturally good draftsman and a ton of them came from situations as far removed from the animation industry as you can get.  Even during their careers these people always loved to take on a challenge and the fact that they won them is part of what makes their work so special.


Another valuable lesson I’ve learned from this blog is the fact that all these people are very unique and really have their own personal voice. The originality, uniqueness, and meaning behind the work of the honorees is a big part of what makes their work special.  Everyone of them did things in a way that was exclusive to them and their work reads like a signature. However they are all alike in that they really strived to do something good and something that had feeling behind it.  This is really important in animation and is part of what separates these gentlemen from anyone else.


Last is I learned that the most important reason these animators really did great work and had phenomenal careers was that they sincerely loved what they were doing all the way and really had a strong passion for Disney animation.  This was probably the thing I most took away from this blog: you’ve got to do something because you love it all the way and with that intention. It’s not about getting the job, the respect, the glory, or the destination but the fact that you love animation and really want to do your best at it.  This means wanting to learn as much as possible, being willing to sacrifice for it, being strong enough to stay strong through setbacks, doing nothing short of perfection, and having your love for it resonate in your work. When you love what you’re doing you know you’re in the right place and can’t do any wrong.   All the honorees really loved their craft all the way as well as their characters and the Disney studio. There’s no more fulfilling or powerful emotion in the world.  It’s what made them able to do such sincere, powerful work and really make audiences fall in love with the Disney characters.


It’s also important to remember that this blog is intended to be subjective and that everything on here is my own personal opinion.  My intent was to do a project that put my studies, analysis, and thoughts on who I feel are the 50 most influential animators in Disney history in the context of a high school student who is pursuing a career in the art form. I’m not trying to come across as an authority on Disney history or as someone who has been through the wars of animation.  Everything on here is my personal opinion and is coming from my personal studies.  I know that no one will completely agree with the list and I don’t’ want any of my writing to be seen as arrogant or disingenuous.

Since the last post I’ve thought a lot about all the honorees, especially Bill Tytla.   All of their stories are so inspirational and everyone really had all the three things I described above that really separate them from everybody else.  I’ve been thinking a lot about Bill’s love for his characters and the strong emotions that made his work possible.  It’s tragic to think that someone so powerful suffered because of Disney animation and losing his place in it but it’s important to remember that he really did love what he was doing and that really enabled him to have a huge influence on the art of Disney animation.  I think Tytla really would have understood what I’m saying about loving something all the way in a way that even I can’t.  Study the Baby of Mine scene in Dumbo and you can really see that it wouldn’t have been possible any other way.  Also Bill really worked hard to do better and really went past so many challenges to be able to do something with so much meaning.  He really is the best example of what Disney animation is all about and the one whose work really empowers me to have the gumption to do something really exceptional in animation someday.  I have so much more to go and I’m only at the very beginning of my journey but I really do feel I love Disney animation all the way.  It shows me a potential for fulfillment in life that I just don’t see anywhere else.  I feel that animation is where I feel the most comfortable in life, the thing I most understand, the thing that inspires me the most, the thing that motivates me the most, and the thing that most of all really speaks to me and serves as a place where I can express myself.  I feel like I really understand the world, other people, and most of all myself because of my studies in animation and I think it’s really made me a better, happier person in so many ways.  I can’t wait to see where I can possibly end up and have no idea where the destination is going to be but I do know that I love what I’m doing and that this is the road I feel is right to take.  Maybe someday I myself might have a career in Disney animation. Who knows? However I can guarantee I’ll give it my best shot and that I’ll always love it all the way!



Grayson Ponti



Acknowledgements/ Work Cited


Before wrapping up this blog I really want to acknowledge a lot of my key sources on this blog(next time I’m doing a work cited with each post and I can assure you the importance of that is a lesson I’ve learned from this blog) and thank some of the key people. Here are a list of the sources I used (since the last Work Cited I put up):

-The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

–  Of Mice and Magic by Leonard Maltin

-The Nine Old Men and the Art of Disney Animation by John Canemaker

-Vladimir Tytla: Master Animator by John Canemaker

–  Hollywood Cartoons by Michael Barrier

– Enchanted Drawings by Charles Solomon

–  Animation Podcast and Tag Interviews

– Animated Views Interviews

– Deja View website (very important for pictures)

– Great Animated Performances columns by Rhett Wickham

I also wanted to thank a number of people for their support, encouragement, advice, inspiration, and knowledge they’ve shared with me that have made the experience of this blog exceptional and possible.  First of all I want to thank my dad, James Ponti, for teaching me about filmmaking, what makes a great film, and what makes one work. This has been really valuable in this blog and essential to my understanding of all thinks related to film and cinema.  I also want to thank my family and friends for being very supportive and encouraging of my pursuit for a career in animation and all the help they’ve given me in helping me work towards my dream.  I’m particularly grateful to James Nethery, the son of great Disney cleanup artist and assistant animator David Nethery and an aspiring animators, for the countless conversations and encouragement he’s given me that have helped make this blog as good as it is.  As for the honorees I’ve been fortunate enough to have gotten to speak to most of the living ones during the writing of this blog and I definitely owe them all a huge thank you for the advice, encouragement, and understanding they’ve given me. I’m particularly grateful to Ruben Aquino, Duncan Marjoribanks, and Nik Ranieri for really going above and beyond to be a help to me.  For all professionals in the industry I want to thank all the following people for in some shape or form being a help in the experience: Steve Anderson, Ruben Aquino, Debra Armstrong, Rasoul Azadani, Dale Baer, Tony and Tom Bancroft, Michael Barrier, Aaron Blaise, Andreas Deja, Tony and Barbara de Rosa, Ken Duncan, Russ Edmonds, Dawn Ernester, Rick Farmiloe, Brian Ferguson, Will Finn, Eric Goldberg, Ed Gombert, Milt Gray, Dan Hansen, Randy Haycock, Mark Henn, Jeff Johnson, Glen Keane, Mark Kirkland, Bert Klein, Alex Kupershmidt, the late Dorse Lanpher, Jamie Lopez, Leonard Maltin, Duncan Marjoribanks, Burny Mattinson,  David Nethery, Sue Nichols, Floyd Norman,  Sergio Pablos, John Pomeroy, David Pruiksma, Nik Ranieri, Karen Schultz, Bruce Smith, Mike Surrey, Barry Temple, Frans Vischer,  Andreas Wessel-Therhorn, Rhett Wickham, and Matt Williames. Last but not least I wanted to thank the honorees, all the artists in Disney animation history, and of course Walt Disney himself for making this blog’s existence possible and for leaving behind the great work studied for it.

5 Responses to “Conclusion, Work Cited, and Acknowledgements”

  1. Congratulations on a job well done. It clearly involved a tremendous amount of time, effort and research on your part to create these posts. Thank you for doing it.

  2. All I can say is congratulations on an excellent blog. Animation is hard to get into, trust me I know I’m trying myself at the moment, but once the bug has bitten you you don’t want to do anything else. I sincerely wish you the best of luck. Who knows maybe one day we will bump into each other at Walt Disney Animations.

  3. tom bancroft Says:

    Grayson, I can’t say enough how impressive this blog- and you- are! You’re knowledge, writing ability, and stick-to-it-ness are light years past your age. I hope Disney (or some publisher out there) is smart enough to tap you to do some research related writing for them in the future! I may not agree with all your choices (Milt Kahl at #7! and Tom and Tony Bancroft BELOW Mike Surrey!- Kidding on that last one.) but you gave great reasons for everyone being on the list. Take a break, but get back to doing what you are passionate about because you do great work when you do! BTW, only go to animation parties from here on out because you will bore the rest of the world with these stories!

  4. Gijs Grob Says:

    I can’t wait for this series, as I’m deeply impressed with the last one. I have difficulties imagining your age being only 17, which, of course, is a compliment.

  5. Dean Yeagle Says:

    I just found this blog – great work, very impressive. One huge missing person, though…Preston Blair! Being so young, you may not have been influenced by his Walter Foster books, but my entire generation of animators grew up on them (baby boomers). I was privileged to work with him in NYC on commercials in the ’70s and ’80s, and in fact I work now on an animation desk that belonged to him. He wasn’t at Disney all that long, but he did the hippos and alligators in Fantasia (nice piece of that in his book) as well as a good chunk of Mickey in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the Owl in Bambi. Some work in Pinocchio, too. Add to that his MGM stuff – Red Hot Riding Hood, for instance – and you’ve got one of animation’s greats.
    Dean Yeagle

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