Disclosure: I covered this interview for Disney during a recent press trip. All opinions are completely my own.
Interview with Legendary Disney Animator Floyd Norman
While in L.A. for the Into the Woods press trip, we took a few hours to visit Walt Disney Studios. During this visit we sat down with Legendary Disney Animator Floyd Norman. It was a laid back interview, where he explained how he got into the business and showed us how to draw Mickey Mouse and some of the 101 Dalmatian characters. I’ll tell you now that my Mickey Mouse looked nothing like his. Just know that somewhere in my home is my own version of Mickey. 😉
It was amazing watching him create these characters in just a few minutes. He did make it look easy, but I know that it’s second nature for him to draw these characters because he’s been drawing them for so long.
He was hired by Walt Disney Studios in the 1950’s, after majoring in Illustration t the Art Center College of Design. He told us the story of how he showed up at the front gate of Walt Disney Studios (before going to college) and was told by Walt that he needed an education, and to come back after he he graduated.
He did return and was hired as an apprentice, but within a year he was hired full time as an animator to work on sketching cartoons for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Disneyland TV Show, and more. His first feature film was Sleeping Beauty. He also worked under Walt’s supervision on story sequences for The Jungle Book and 101 Dalmatians.
Floyd Norman also worked on:
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- The Tigger Movie
At Pixar Animation Studios, Floyd Norman joined the story crew for both Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc.
When asked what was his favorite project to work on, this was his answer.
My favorite would have to be The Jungle Book. That is the only film I worked with Walt Disney. Which makes that a very special motion picture. Walt passed away after the completion of that film. So we never worked together again.
He spoke of the fact that he spent a lot of time with Mickey. He not only got to draw Mickey, but in the 80’s he also got to write Mickey in The Mickey Mouse comic strip.
I was now writing the comic strip I read as a child.
Floyd Norman worked on the original 101 Dalmatians story, but he also worked on the new 101 Dalmatians Diamond Edition. He shares some of that story on his website.
I wrote and storyboarded the ending of the “Thunderbolt” episode and we completely animated the sequence the traditional way using pencil and paper. It was a return to Old School Disney animation even though the year was 2014.
101 Dalmatians Exclusive Bonus Clip: ‘The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt’
Being able to watch the 101 Dalmatians Diamond Edition with my family, while telling them about one of the many people that worked on creating this film is an incredible joy. The time and effort that it took to make the original 101 Dalmatians is amazing, along with the fact that the drawing and coloring was all done by hand makes me enjoy it that much more.
I truly enjoyed taking part in this interview. I am grateful that Floyd Norman took the time to talk with us about his journey and about the making of 101 Dalmatians. He was open, honest, and unbelievably humble.
Read my review of 101 DALMATIANS Diamond Edition HERE.